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Title: Testing of Alternative Abrasives for Water-Jet Cutting at C Tank Farm

Legacy waste from defense-related activities at the Hanford Site has predominantly been stored in underground tanks, some of which have leaked; others may be at risk to do so. The U.S. Department of Energy’s goal is to empty the tanks and transform their contents into more stable waste forms. To do so requires breaking up, and creating a slurry from, solid wastes in the bottoms of the tanks. A technology developed for this purpose is the Mobile Arm Retrieval System. This system is being used at some of the older single shell tanks at C tank farm. As originally planned, access ports for the Mobile Arm Retrieval System were to be cut using a high- pressure water-jet cutter. However, water alone was found to be insufficient to allow effective cutting of the steel-reinforced tank lids, especially when cutting the steel reinforcing bar (“rebar”). The abrasive added in cutting the hole in Tank C-107 was garnet, a complex natural aluminosilicate. The hardness of garnet (Mohs hardness ranging from H 6.5 to 7.5) exceeds that of solids currently in the tanks, and was regarded to be a threat to Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant systems. Olivine, an iron-magnesium silicate that ismore » nearly as hard as garnet (H 6.5 to 7), has been proposed as an alternative to garnet. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory proposed to test pyrite (FeS2), whose hardness is slightly less (H 6 to 6.5) for 1) cutting effectiveness, and 2) propensity to dissolve (or disintegrate by chemical reaction) in chemical conditions similar to those of tank waste solutions. Cutting experiments were conducted using an air abrader system and a National Institute of Standards and Technology Standard Reference Material (SRM 1767 Low Alloy Steel), which was used as a surrogate for rebar. The cutting efficacy of pyrite was compared with that of garnet and olivine in identical size fractions. Garnet was found to be most effective in removing steel from the target; olivine and pyrite were less effective, but about equal to each other. The reactivity of pyrite, compared to olivine and garnet, was studied in high-pH, simulated tank waste solutions in a series of bench-top experiments. Variations in temperature, degree of agitation, grain size, exposure to air, and presence of nitrate and nitrite were also studied. Olivine and garnet showed no sign of dissolution or other reaction. Pyrite was shown to react with the fluids in even its coarsest variation (150-1000 μm). Projected times to total dissolution for most experiments range from months to ca. 12 years, and the strongest control on reaction rate is the grain size.« less
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Technical Report
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States