Nukem completes test setup for in-drum waste solidification plant

January 30, 2024, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Nukem’s waste solidification plant mock-up. (Photo: Nukem Technologies)

Nukem Technologies, a German-based radioactive waste management company, announced last week that it has successfully completed a mock-up for a state-of-the-art waste solidification plant. The plant will use the in-drum cementation process for encapsulating various types of radioactive waste into a solid, secure form suitable for long-term storage.

According to Nukem, completion of the plant mock-up marks a significant achievement in advancing the safe and efficient treatment of radioactive waste generated during the operation and decommissioning of nuclear power plants and facilities.

The plant: The new plant mock-up will allow waste treatment machines and equipment to undergo thorough testing before being deployed at nuclear facilities. Its modular design and intensive training program ensures seamless installation and operation of the cementation unit at client sites, reducing the need for vendor supervision, according to Nukem.

The company added that its cementation units can treat a wide range of radioactive waste, including high salt-loaded evaporator concentrates, radioactive ash from incinerators, ion-exchanger resins, absorber and filter materials, and radioactive sludge, as well as naturally occurring radioactive material waste and hazardous waste from oil and gas extraction facilities, refineries, and the chemical or medical industry.

The process: Nukem’s in-drum cementation process, according to the company, involves sealing liquid radioactive waste inside a 200-liter drum. The end product is an externally uncontaminated steel drum containing immobilized waste in a cement matrix.

The entire process is designed for automatic operation, minimizing the need for operator interaction. A unique QR code containing essential information about the waste is generated for each drum, ensuring transparency and traceability throughout the process.

A hot cell—where mixing operations take place—uses a pneumatic sealing system to prevent any leaks during liquid waste pumping and dosing operations. An in-drum mixer with four degrees of freedom ensures a complete homogenous mixture with excellent compressive strength and retention of radionuclides within the final cement product.

The entire facility, including the in-drum mixer, roller conveyors, and other components, is remotely controlled from a central command center. Operators have real-time visibility into ongoing processes, allowing for quick response to any unexpected operational issues.

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