Recently, the Vit Plant team completed the first commissioning test for one of 37 remote-operated cranes inside the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility, bringing the plant one step closer to treating nuclear tank waste.
The commissioning test was also the first for any system inside the LAW Facility. The facility's remote-operated cranes will access plant components, transfer equipment, package materials, bring in empty stainless steel containers, and transport glass-filled containers out of the facility.
The bridge crane that went through commissioning will be used in the LAW process cell area that contains six large vessels. Three of the vessels receive, mix, and feed radioactive tank waste and glass-forming materials into the melters. The others cool the exhaust and remove particulates.
If needed during plant operations, the bridge crane will hover above the process cell area to lift metal floor hatches for access to the process cell below, remove and replace equipment inside the cell, and bundle potentially radioactive-contaminated equipment into waste packages.
What is the Low-Activity Waste Facility?
In the LAW Facility, concentrated low-activity waste will be mixed with silica and other glass-forming materials. The mixture will be fed into the LAW’s two 300-ton melters and heated to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. The glass mixture will then be poured into stainless steel containers to cool and solidify.
What is Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste?
Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste is part of the Department of Energy's sequenced approach to treating Hanford’s tank wastes. In this process, low-activity radioactive waste from Hanford tank farms is fed directly to the LAW Facility, and the Vit Plant will be able to begin treating waste as soon as 2023.
What is commissioning?
Commissioning is the fourth of five steps to complete the Vit Plant (engineering, procurement, construction, commisioning, operations). It is the process whereby constructed plant components and systems are verified by testing to meet requirements and placed into service.