A high-fidelity spectrometric system for studying the behavior of drops and particles in industrial flame reactors has been constructed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in collaboration with researchers at the University of Arizona. The instrument was used to study the potential of thermal combustors for reducing the volume of liquid nuclear wastes for safe, long-term storage.
Vitrification of radioactive waste into glassy solids is the most popular approach for disposal. By spraying radioactive sludge into a high-temperature combustor, essentially all the water and other nonradioactive material could be removed, leaving only the radioactive metallic elements to be vitrified for burial. Under optimized conditions, up to 99.99 percent of the metal ions in a waste stream can be scavenged in the combustor.
"That kind of efficiency would be great for most applications, but it’s not good enough when dealing with radioactive waste," said Alexander Scheeline, a professor of chemistry at Illinois. "Understanding the cause of the unscavenged fraction and devising a way to reduce it are essential if thermal processing is to be used for nuclear waste treatment."
Jim Kloeppel | UIUC
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