Kurion’s GeoMelt® technologies are a group of patented and proprietary vitrification processes that are configured in a number of ways to meet a wide range of site remediation and waste treatment needs. More than 26,000 tons of vitrified glass has been safely and compliantly generated to stabilize nuclear, hazardous and mixed waste since the 1990s.
These technologies result in the destruction of hazardous organics, immobilization of radioactive materials and heavy metals, and the means to deal with difficult waste.
The GeoMelt® technologies use electric current to convert waste into a stable glass and crystalline product. The process uses soil or industrial mineral blends to provide the glass-formers necessary for vitrification. The In-Container Vitrification (ICV™) process uses commercially available containers, which are then refractory lined to serve as the melt container. These containers are typically drums, standard waste boxes, or roll-off boxes. Contaminated material is placed in the lined container and then virtrified with soil or other glass-formers. When the melt has solidified, the container of vitrified waste is transported to the disposal site or the vitrified waste is removed and repackaged for disposal. Capital and operating expenses are minimized compared to other alternatives because the ICV™ container and its simple lining system serve as the melter vessel and as the shipping and disposal container.
The Sub-Surface Planar Vitrification (SPV™) process was developed to allow a maximum degree of flexibility in its application. The SPV™ process involves establishing two vertically oriented planar melts in the subsurface. The melts are initiated at the desired depth and separation. This results initially in two independent melts that coalesce into one melt as it assimilates and treats the waste. This allows control of the melting process so that it can be focused for optimal treatment of the waste zone. The GeoMelt® treatment applications are highly robust and mobile, with equipment easily transported to site by truck. The process also accommodates a wide range of mixed waste and debris, including drums, scrap metal, concrete, boulders, asphalt, wood and plastic. It is an effective treatment for a wide range of contaminants, such as pesticides, herbicides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, asbestos, arsenic, mercury, lead and mixed transuranic (TRU) waste.
The process can be designed to accommodate very high waste loadings and has been successfully demonstrated on a 33 weight percent mixture of concentrated organo-chlorine waste mixed with soil. The process has gained a high degree of regulatory acceptance in the U.S., Japan and Australia and has been granted national authorization to treat PCBs by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The GeoMelt® vitrification technology has been used commercially in Japan since 2003 for the treatment of hazardous waste, including asbestos, PCBs, dioxins, and other persistent organic pollutants. Operations safely and compliantly generate approximately 500 tons of vitrified waste annually.
At the Hanford site, a full-scale GeoMelt® plant for the treatment of Low Activity Waste (LAW) has been designed as a supplemental approach to treating a portion of the 47 million gallons of LAW. This plant was designed by GeoMelt® staff and their subcontractors and is based on more than five years of testing of simulated and actual Hanford LAW. This extensive testing has resulted in the production of more than 200 tons of glass and reflects the technology’s considerable process maturity.
Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico
The GeoMelt® Sub-Surface Planar™ technology was successfully demonstrated at large-scale for the U.S. Department of Energy as part of an evaluation of potential remedies for mixed waste-contaminated-liquid waste adsorption beds at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL) Material Disposal Area-V (MDA-V) site. The MDA-V site contained three adsorption beds that received effluent from a nuclear laundry as well as research-derived liquids from 1945 to 1978. The adsorption beds and the volcanic tuff below them contained various radionuclides, inorganics and organic contaminants. In April 2000, a full-scale “hot” (radioactive) demonstration melt was successfully performed within one of the adsorption beds. Approximately one million pounds of mixed waste contaminated soil was treated in this demonstration.
GeoMelt® - A Safe and Durable Product
The GeoMelt® technologies transform hazardous chemical and radioactive waste into an ultra-stable, vitreous and crystalline material similar to volcanic obsidian that is typically 10 times stronger than concrete. Unaffected by wet-dry or freeze-thaw cycling, the product is unsurpassed in leach resistance and is expected to maintain its physical and chemical integrity over many tens of thousands of years. Corrosion tests have demonstrated that the GeoMelt® product is more durable than granite or marble.
The GeoMelt® Advantage
The GeoMelt® vitrification process offers significant advantages for site remediation and waste treatment:
- Commercially proven at large scale
- Can simultaneously process mixed organic, inorganic, and radioactive contaminants
- Extremely high waste loadings
- Mobile for onsite or offsite use and can be performed in situ or in a batch plant
- High tolerance for debris, such as concrete, scrap metal, wood and plastic
- Unequaled residual product properties, such as leach resistance, strength, and weathering resistance
- High degree of public and regulatory acceptance
Key capabilities provided by Kurion to support the GeoMelt® technologies include:
- On-site or off-site treatability tests and demonstrations for clients
- Full-scale site remediation and waste treatment services
- Waste and site characterization
- Off-gas treatment system design, construction and operation
- Radioactive material handling, shipping and disposal
- Data acquisition system software development and hardware configuration
- Theoretical and computational modeling of engineered and natural systems