The Promise of Glass Kurion’s innovative Modular Vitrification System converts environmental hazards into glass, the safest, and now increasingly cost-effective material for waste disposal
Reimagining the Route to Glass
Kurion develops its next-generation, faster and more adaptable vitrification technology at this test facility in Richland, Washington
The glass pieces are from an 1,800 year old Roman shipwreck that came to rest at the bottom of the Adriatic Sea. How – and why – did that glass stay intact? Can scientists and engineers identify and isolate specific properties from those shards that withstood the elements of the deep sea to create new vessels that can withstand the elements for millennia to come? Pacific Northwest National Laboratory scientists are embracing the ancient to secure the future.
Experts believe that glass is the most stable form to store nuclear and hazardous waste. Yet legacy technologies have prevented its adoption as a wide-scale waste storage solution because of its prohibitive costs. Despite its effectiveness, and because of its high costs, glass has only been used for some of the most dangerous waste where absolute long term safety is required.
Kurion is changing this paradigm. The company is developing a Modular Vitrification System to make glass a cost-effective, practical option for even low-level nuclear waste, delivering the highest environmental protection.
The Modular Vitrification System is designed for liquid waste, while Kurion’s GeoMelt process is ideal for solid waste and debris.
A Simple and Cost-Effective Solution – Modular Vitrification System (MVS®)
Kurion’s Modular Vitrification System (MVS®) produces leach-resistant, high quality glass at a test facility in Richland, Washington. It is dramatically less expensive and far easier to deploy than existing alternatives.
With conventional technologies, waste flows through giant melters that heat it into molten glass, which is then pour it into canisters for cooling and final disposal.
Kurion makes the disposal canister the factory itself, eliminating expensive facilities and the associated maintenance costs and failure risks.
In-Container Vitrification Proven in Three Mile Island Response
The concept of in-container vitrification was proven at Three Mile Island when more than 3.6 million liters of high activity water was decontaminated using inorganic Zeolite resins. The resulting waste was successfully converted into glass using an in-container vitrification system. Kurion’s Modular Vitrification System builds upon this approach.
Based on Fundamental Physics
The Modular Vitrification System is based on a fundamental physics principle – Fleming’s Law. An electrical current flows in the coils surrounding the canister to create a magnetic field, which then causes a current within the graphite metal located inside the canister. This current creates induction heat that melts the glass formers and waste into glass.
A simple approach: The Kurion Modular Vitrification System
While traditional vitrification technologies produce glasses continuously, Kurion’s system treats waste batch-by-batch, providing tremendous flexibility that dramatically lowers the total life-cycle cost for waste treatment, including:
- The ability to customize the glass formulation and melting temperatures for specific waste streams
- Reduction of size of pretreatment and off-gas systems
- The increase of waste loading capacity
- A significant reduction of maintenance costs