RICHLAND, Washington – Crews at the Hanford Site recently made history when they made the first pour of melted test glass from a 300-ton melter into a stainless-steel container at the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant.
This first pour is an important step in commissioning the plant as it gears up to immobilize millions of gallons of radioactive and chemical waste into glass for safe disposal in a process called vitrification. Vitrification involves mixing the waste with glass-forming materials, heating it to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit, and pouring it into stainless steel canisters to cool and solidify. In this glass form, the waste is said to be stable and safe for storage.
No waste or chemical simulants are used in the glass used to test the melter and associated equipment at the plant’s Low-Activity Waste Facility. Workers monitored the pour from a control room as the stream of glass was poured in batches that are about 4 feet wide by 7.5 feet high.
Workers are scheduled to start heating up the second of two melters in the LAW Facility in December, applying lessons learned from heating up the first melter. In 2024, cold commissioning using simulated waste will commence, and hot commissioning using real waste is scheduled to begin in early calendar year 2025.
Photo via Bechtel National Inc. shows test pour of molten glass (upper left).