NNL and ANSTO on behalf of Sellafield Ltd have developed a process for the immobilisation of a range of Pu containing wastes and residues. Following the inactive demonstration of the technology the project is now focusing on the design of an active pilot plant capable of validating the technology and ultimately immobilising a waste inventory containing around 100kg plutonium. The diverse wastes from which it is uneconomic to recover Pu, require a flexible process with a wide product envelope capable of producing a wasteform suitable for disposal in a UK repository. Ceramics, glass ceramics and metal encapsulated wasteforms can be delivered by the process line which incorporates size reduction and heat treatment techniques with the aim of feeding a hot isostatic pressing process designed to deliver the highly durable wasteforms. Following a demonstration of feasibility, flowsheet development is progressing to support the design which has the aim of a fully flexible facility based in NNL’s Central Laboratory on the Sellafield site. Optimisation of the size reduction, mixing and blending operations is being carried out using UO2 as a surrogate for PuO2. This work is supporting the potential of using an enhanced glass ceramic formulation in place of the full ceramic with the aim of simplifying glove box operations. Heat treatment and subsequent HIPing strategies are being explored in order to eliminate any carbon from the feeds without increasing the valence state of the uranium present in some of the inventory which can result in an unwanted increase in wasteform volumes. The HIP and ancillary systems are being specifically designed to meet the requirements of the Sellafield site and within the constraints of the NNL Central Laboratory. The HIP is being configured to produce consolidated product cans consistent with the requirements of ongoing storage and disposal. With the aim of one cycle per day, the facility will deliver its mission of immobilising the identified waste and residues inventory within 3 years. During that period it will also be used to demonstrate the potential of this technology to deliver the immobilisation of a proportion of the UK plutonium stockpile that may not be suitable for use as MOx fuel should that decision be taken.

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