In the latest technological solution to a decades old problem, researchers have determined that using blast furnace slag through a process called vitrification, can reduce the volume of radioactive material by 90%. This astounding breakthrough in nuclear fuel disposal melts waste down into little cubes of glass making it way easier to dispose of.
The current treatment method for non-compactable plutonium contaminated wastes involves cement encapsulation, a process which typically increases the overall volume. If the new process can reduce the volume of waste that eventually needs to be stored and buried underground, costs can be reduced considerably. At the same time, the process can stabilize the plutonium in a more corrosion resistant material, which should improve the overall safety of disposal not to mention the public acceptability of geological disposal.
CM Furnace History with Nuclear Material Processing
Interestingly, CM has a history of being used in the processing of nuclear material by both government and private concerns. CM furnaces have been used by the Savanna River Nuclear facility in the sintering of ceramic nuclear pucks for waste disposal. For more information on this application see our blog on Furnaces for Nuclear Fuel Disposal.
Furnaces Applicable to Nuclear Fuel Sintering and Glass Melting
CM has supplied customized furnaces to the nuclear industry based on our Rapid Temp Furnace line, with automated bottom loading options. These units are excellent for nuclear applications for a number of reasons.
- Glovebox application with heating elements inside the chamber instead of outside, allow furnace temperature in excess of the 1300C needed for sintering ceramic pucks in the plutonium immobilization process.
- Supplied with an integral, automated lifting mechanism for loading the trays and pucks inside the furnace.
- Design to meet the furnace temperature schedule requirements, including a ramp up rate of 4 deg. C/min. to 300 deg. C, a two hour hold at 300 degrees C, a ramp up rate of 5 deg. C/min. to 1350 degrees C, a four hour hold at 1350 degrees C, and a rapid cool down
- Design to accommodate incorporation of a linear transport system that transfers the tray stack and furnace door into position underneath the furnace for loading into the furnace
- Design to lift the furnace door and tray stack from the linear transport system for final positioning inside the furnace and to deliver the furnace door and tray stack back to the linear transport system after puck sintering is complete.
- Features to facilitate ease of maintenance in a glovebox, such as glovebox replaceable thermocouples and heater elements.
- Trace cooling water and annular space air cooling systems designed to maintain furnace exterior shell temperatures below 50 degrees C in order to minimize heat load to the glovebox and to minimize cool down time for the tray stack
In an application such as that proposed in the new research, our Rapid Temp glass melting furnace could be modified to act as a reducing furnace at glass and/or ceramic melting temperatures as high as 1800C.
CM makes custom Furnaces for the Nuclear Industry.
For more information contact our sales team or visit our website at http://www.cmfurnaces.com