Journey to Melter Heatup
The Department of Energy’s Hanford Vit Plant is on a journey to heat up the first of two melters, considered the heart of a process that transforms nuclear waste into a glass form safe for storage. This process – called vitrification – will help protect our environment and rivershore communities from Hanford’s legacy waste. Follow us on this journey toward achieving Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste in 2025, which follows a process called Commissioning to reach operations.
Commissioning is fully underway. Learn more about key steps along the Commissioning road with these interactive waypoints, below.
MELTER HEATUP PROCESS 3D ANIMATION
Three-Dimensional Animation of Melter Heatup Process
The Hanford Vit Plant team has prepared a three-dimensional animation that shows the process our team will follow to heat up the first Low-Activity Waste Facility melter. In under six minutes you will gain a better understanding of the process steps the Vit Plant team will take to heat up the melter to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Vit Plant team last week poured the first batches of glass-forming beads, called frit, into a melter heated to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature, the beads melted and created the first molten pool inside the melter, which during future hot operations will immobilize radioactive and chemical tank waste in a form safe for permanent disposal.
A second attempt began on Saturday to heat up the world’s largest radioactive waste melter to turn waste into a stable glass form at the Hanford nuclear reservation site.
The Vit Plant recognized a significant team achievement when the last of its eight shift operations managers finished a rigorous qualifications process.
Bechtel today named Senior Vice President Brian Hartman as project director for the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) project at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Hanford Site.
Hanford Site crews recently completed the first transfer of test water from the Vit Plant’s Effluent Management Facility (EMF) to the nearby Liquid Effluent Retention Facility (LERF). The transfer of 6,000 gallons was the first simulation of the process that will be used to treat secondary liquid waste from the plant’s Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility during Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) Program operations to treat tank waste.
Considered the “heart” of the Low-Activity Waste Facility, two 300-ton nuclear waste melters – the largest nuclear industry melters in the world – will be used to heat Hanford’s low-activity tank waste and glass-forming materials to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The heated mixture is then poured into stainless steel containers for permanent storage – a process called vitrification. Employees have finished assembly of the melters and these key pieces of equipment are now undergoing extensive startup and commissioning testing to ensure successful melter heatup and operation.