Backup battery system will keep Hanford’s waste melters from going cold

July 15, 2021, 6:31AMRadwaste Solutions
The DOE recently completed startup testing on the uninterruptable electrical power system for Hanford’s Low-Activity Waste Facility.

Department of Energy workers recently finished startup testing of a battery-powered backup electrical system for the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. According to the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM), the uninterruptable electrical power system is vital to safeguarding the facility, part of Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, in the unlikely event of a temporary power loss to the plant.

“The uninterruptable power system is an important step in the commissioning sequence and preparing for an upcoming loss-of-power test and then melter heatup later this year," said Mat Irwin, EM deputy assistant manager for the plant.

System need: A loss-of-power test will demonstrate the plant’s ability to respond in the event [DS1] of a loss of electrical power by placing the LAW Facility into a safe configuration and restoring power to two 300-ton melters for continued operations, the DOE said.

Once the melters are heated, they must be kept at a high operating temperature, or else they would need to be replaced. During waste vitrification, the melters will heat Hanford’s low-activity tank waste and glass-forming materials to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. The molten mixture is then to be poured into stainless steel containers for disposal.

Industrial-sized batteries: The plant’s main electrical switchgear building feeds power to the LAW Facility’s utility systems, the melters, and critical safety systems. The uninterruptable power system is located inside the LAW Facility and consists of several sets of industrial-sized backup batteries that can provide near-instantaneous backup power to plant systems.

The DOE said that it has handed over the system to plant management to begin the commissioning phase, which will ensure that the utilities and process systems are integrated and ready to support future plant operations. A total of 59 of the LAW Facility’s 94 systems have been handed over to plant management.

More: Information on the commissioning process, including melter heatup, is available on Hanford’s Journey to Melter Heatup website. The plant facilities can be viewed using the self-guided Hanford Virtual Tour.

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