Processing liquid wastes frequently generates off gas streams with high humidity and liquid aerosols. Droplet laden air streams can be produced from tank mixing or sparging and processes such as reforming or evaporative volume reduction. Unfortunately these wet air streams represent a genuine threat to HEPA filters. High efficiency mist eliminators (HEME) are one option for removal of liquid aerosols with high dissolved or suspended solids content.

HEMEs have been used extensively in industrial applications, however they have not seen widespread use in the nuclear industry. Filtering efficiency data along with loading curves are not readily available for these units and data that exist are not easily translated to operational parameters in liquid waste treatment plants.

A specialized test stand has been developed to evaluate the performance of HEME elements under use conditions of a US DOE facility. HEME elements were tested at three volumetric flow rates using aerosols produced from an iron-rich waste surrogate. The challenge aerosol included submicron particles produced from Laskin nozzles and super micron particles produced from a hollow cone spray nozzle. Test conditions included ambient temperature and relative humidities greater than 95%.

Data collected during testing HEME elements from three different manufacturers included volumetric flow rate, differential temperature across the filter housing, downstream relative humidity, and differential pressure (dP) across the filter element. Filter challenge was discontinued at three intermediate dPs and the filter to allow determining filter efficiency using dioctyl phthalate and then with dry surrogate aerosols. Filtering efficiencies of the clean HEME, the clean HEME loaded with water, and the HEME at maximum dP were also collected using the two test aerosols.

Results of the testing included differential pressure vs. time loading curves for the nine elements tested along with the mass of moisture and solid material on each element at final dP. Plots of overall filtering efficiencies for DOP (spherical aerosol) and dry surrogate (aspherical aerosols) at specified dPs were computed for each filter. Filtering efficiencies were determined as a function of particle size. Curves were also generated showing the most penetrating particle size as a function of dP.

A preliminary set of tests was conducted to evaluate spray location, duration, pressure, and wash volume for in-place cleaning the interior surface (reducing dP) of the HEME element. A variety of nozzle designs were evaluated and test results demonstrated the potential to overload the HEME (saturate filter medium) resulting in very high dPs and extensive drain times. At least one combination of spray nozzle design, spray location on the surface of the element, and spray time/pressure was successful in achieving extension of operational life.

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