Kurion, Inc., an innovator in nuclear waste management, announced that it had achieved a major milestone in December in the development of its Modular Vitrification System (MVS®) with completion of several glass making commissioning tests on its new prototype system. Fabrication and testing of the system was conducted at the company’s new MVS® Test Facility in Richland, WA.
System tests ran without interruption for as long as 20 hours operating at up to 1250˚C vitrifying Kurion’s Herschelite Ion Specific Media (ISM) in a Borosilicate glass matrix. This is an operating temperature that corresponds to a 100% higher waste loading potential than is possible for conventional joule-heated melters for certain waste streams. The flux rate, a metric regarding the speed of the melt that dictates economics, was high and the external stainless steel canister surface, also a key metric, was well cooled <500˚C vs. <650˚C objective. Kurion has been using this same Herschelite ISM to capture radioactive cesium from contaminated seawater used to cool the damaged nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi site in Japan following the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Devoid of the conductivity and refractory wear challenges that limit joule-heated melters to narrow processing ranges of about 1100˚C ±50˚C and limited glass formulation selectivity, the induction-based MVS® is uniquely capable of processing ranges that exceeds 1100˚C ±500˚C without glass formulation limitations. As a result, the batch-based MVS® offers exceptional flexibility to tailor its processing to the requirements of the incoming feed stream enabling reduced pretreatment and higher waste loading throughout the test runs.
The Engineering Scale MVS® is significantly larger than its Lab Scale system (see image) and was designed to demonstrate commercial scale-up by approximating the size of high level waste canisters used in Japan and Europe and to allow the company to claim, with support of its concurrent testing at PNNL, a Technology Readiness Level 6 per the DOE Guidelines. A TRL of six demonstrates commercial viability and is the threshold government organizations use to procure new technologies (i.e., prototype demonstrations in the relevant environment).
Vice President of Engineering Richard Keenan praised his team on achieving this important milestone: “This reflects the simple, first principals innovative technologies we are working on to lower the life-cycle cost of safely and compliantly stabilizing nuclear waste for isolation from the environment.” State and Federal officials have visited the facility and continue to show great interest as this technology matures.
Kurion provides innovative, easily deployable technologies to accelerate project performance and compliance and substantially reduce customer radioactive waste management life-cycle costs. Founded in 2008, Kurion is backed by leading energy investors Lux Capital Management, Firelake Capital Management and Acadia Woods Partners. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Kurion operates a Technology Development Center at its radioactive materials licensed facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., two facilities in Richland, Wash. for equipment storage, engineering and “cold” non-radioactive testing and performs “hot” radioactive testing at PNNL in Richland, Wash. For more information, please visit www.kurion.com.