Officials of the U.S. Department of Energy are celebrating the production of equipment that turns radioactive waste into glass.
The 65-ton Melter 2 has poured slightly more than 10.4 million pounds of glassified waste at the Defense Waste Processing Facility while its predecessor processed 5.2 million pounds during its seven-year run. Together they have produced 16 million pounds of vitrified waste since 1996, or about 4,000 of the 8,000 canisters expected.
The melters are used to blend waste stored in SRS tanks with borosilicate frit to form a molten glass mixture that is poured into stainless steel canisters. The canisters are decontaminated and parked on site for eventual permanent storage once the department settles on a location.
“They are always looking for better and safer methods to meet the liquid-waste mission at the site in a way that exceeds expectations,” said Mark Schmitz, acting president of Savannah River Remediation, a private consortium contracted to operate the glassification process.
Melter 2 was the spare for Melter 1. There is a spare for Melter 2 and even a spare for the spare on hand.
Technical improvements have been added to the melters to enhance production, such as installing agitation bubblers, fitting the pour spout with an improved insert and heating the internal area so the glass won’t stick to the spout.