Kurion and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Sign Agreement to Demonstrate Kurion’s MVS

Kurion and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Sign Agreement to Demonstrate Kurion’s MVS
Kurion moving to commercialize its next set of technologies

​IRVINE, Calif.—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Kurion, Inc., an innovator in nuclear waste management, announced that it has entered into a cooperation agreement with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to test and demonstrate its Modular Vitrification System (MVS®) using radioactive waste simulants as the next step in its commercialization strategy. All testing and analysis will be performed by PNNL at its Radiochemical Processing Laboratory (RPL, a.k.a. Building 325) located at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford site. Kurion will pay a fee to cover the costs of the testing and will provide an MVS®, replicating an existing non-radioactive system except for slight modifications for research space compatibility. The contract includes specific provisions to preserve PNNL’s unbiased, independent assessment.

“Potential suppliers to the Department of Energy traditionally relied on government funding to test their technologies,” said John Raymont, founder and CEO of Kurion. “With increasing pressure on government budgets, particularly in funding innovative nuclear waste-management technologies, we are breaking from the traditional approach and taking on this development risk ourselves, a trademark of venture capital-backed companies and a value that Kurion brings to its customers.”

Mr. Raymont added, “After demonstrating success with our first technology phase, Ion Specific Media, to clean tens of millions of gallons of contaminated water at the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the company is now accelerating commercialization of its second phase, the Modular Vitrification System. To do so, it is important to obtain independent and respected neutral validation based on radioactive waste test data, with none more qualified than the scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, given their experience in testing melter designs and nuclear process science.”

The immediate goal of the PNNL team is to demonstrate the immobilization of radionuclides captured on Kurion Ion Specific Media used by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to process highly contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The lab will also perform additional demonstrations on the Low Activity Waste (LAW) feed to the Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP).

Radioactive simulants will be used to validate Kurion’s internal tests on non-radioactive simulants that show the spent Ion Specific Media processed at Fukushima Daiichi and the LAW feed can successfully be volume reduced and converted into stable borosilicate or iron phosphate glasses through vitrification. Test results will be included in studies to determine whether the Kurion vitrification technology can be effectively implemented to lower the lifecycle cost of permanently stabilizing the Fukushima Daiichi wastes and assist in accelerating and lowering the $59.9 billion lifecycle cost of permanently stabilizing the approximately 56 million gallons of radioactive and chemically hazardous waste stored at the Hanford Tank Farm.

“Kurion has successfully matured its Modular Vitrification System as far as it can go without using confirmatory radioactive simulants,” said Dr. Richard Keenan, vice president of engineering for Kurion. “Working with the world-class scientists and facilities at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory allows Kurion to replicate the non-radioactive testing successfully performed at our MVS® Test Facility using radioactive simulants, develop the highest pedigree of experimental validation, and raise the system’s Technology Readiness Level per the guidelines developed by the Department of Energy as the company moves towards commercialization.”

“More than 70 tests runs over a wide range of waste simulants using the Modular Vitrification System at the Kurion facilities confirm that the technology holds great promise and warrants a thorough independent demonstration,” said Dr. Mark Denton, Kurion’s chief technology officer. “We are pleased that Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has agreed to test and demonstrate our system, which we believe can dramatically reduce lifecycle costs and accelerate compliance for waste management programs at Department of Energy sites, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and nuclear plants and facilities worldwide.”