Hanford’s new wastewater filter system to increase efficiency, lower costs

April 2, 2021, 11:59AMRadwaste Solutions
A front-and-back illustration of the new Hanford ETF filter system, which is intended to eliminate the need to shut down operations every 12 hours to replace filters during wastewater processing. Image: DOE

A new wastewater filter system being installed at Hanford’s Effluent Treatment Facility (ETF) is expected to increase waste processing throughput, improve efficiency, and save money as the site in southeastern Washington gears up to treat tank waste, the Department of Energy announced.

The DOE said that the new ultrasonic filtering system, which will replace existing ETF filters, will play a key role in supporting Hanford’s direct-feed low-activity (DFLAW) approach to treating Hanford’s liquid tank waste. DFLAW is a system of interdependent and integrated projects and infrastructure improvements intended to work together to vitrify tank waste.

Being installed by the DOE Office of River Protection’s tank operations contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), the new system will remove solids from wastewater before it is treated and processed at ETF.

The savings: “The new filters will prevent interruptions to effluent processing and save taxpayer dollars,” said Richard Valle, DOE program representative for the facility. “This will be particularly important during tank waste treatment operations, as the Effluent Treatment Facility will treat an estimated 5 million gallons of wastewater per year from the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, where the vitrification process takes place.”

The ETF’s current single-use filters are effective, the DOE said, but must be replaced after less than 12 hours of use. During a normal processing campaign, about 40 of the current filter units—some 720 filters—must be replaced. Replacement is labor intensive, requiring a shutdown of processing for four hours, and the annual cost of new filters is significant.

“The new system can be back-flushed and cleaned ultrasonically,” said Paul Townson, an ETF project engineer for WRPS. “The three-module system allows operators to flush or replace one module while the other two continue operating, so there will be little to no interruption of operations.”

The filters in the new system are designed to last a minimum of five years, generating significant savings and eliminating downtime, according to the DOE. Fabrication of the new filtration system is to begin this spring.


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