Project Synopsis

Provide process engineering support for the design of a liquid radioactive waste treatment and storage system.

Project Summary


The client, a major engineering and construction firm, was contracted to design a liquid radioactive waste storage system (WSS) facility at a nuclear laboratory in Canada, for the ultimate client, an international nuclear energy company.  The radioactive waste is a highly caustic stream, requiring neutralization with nitric acid as a treatment to facilitate storage.  Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) was subcontracted to provide process support to complement the detail design work to facilitate construction.  Project tasks included:

  • Development of computer process simulations, mass and energy balances, and process flow diagrams (PFDs)
  • Equipment sizing based on process simulations including condensers, heat exchangers, and scrubbers
  • Estimate of an overall heat transfer coefficient for a jacketed vessel
  • Generation of physical properties data
  • Development of a batch simulation for an acid-base neutralization process
  • Development of new detailed equipment specifications
  • Revision of existing detailed equipment specifications
  • Literature/vendor review for selection of materials of construction

The primary purpose of the first five tasks was to either verify existing process design information developed by the client or to serve as an initial calculation which additional engineering calculations would attempt to validate.  The computer simulations, mass and energy balances, and scrubber equipment sizing were performed using PROCESS' licensed computer process simulation software, CHEMCAD.  CHEMCAD was also used to generate physical properties data used to verify calculations and estimations made by the client’s staff.  The heat exchangers and condensers were sized and designed using CHEMCAD’s CCTHERM heat exchanger design software.  The estimate of an overall heat transfer coefficient was performed using TANKJKT Spreadsheet Template Software, which calculates the rate of heating or cooling of tanks due to heat transfer from jackets and internal coils.  The batch simulation of the nitric acid/caustic soda neutralization was accomplished using a steady-state CHEMCAD simulation controlled by a Visual Basic (VB) routine in Excel developed by PROCESS.

The simulations developed also allowed the performance of specific equipment to be evaluated under various scenarios developed by the client to predict compliance with regulatory requirements.

Detailed equipment specifications were developed for the client for various process equipment, including pumps, condensers, heat exchangers, and scrubbers.  Existing specifications were edited to ensure uniformity and completeness.

Finally, a review of available literature and vendor data was conducted to determine potential materials of construction to withstand radiation exposure in nitric acid service.

Industry Type

  • Nuclear Waste Processing

Utilized Skills

  • Process design and process modeling
  • Heat transfer analysis
  • Equipment specifications

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