Project Synopsis

Preliminary design activities for a caustic byproduct purification unit within a catalytic extraction waste thermal treatment system.

Project Summary


The client company, the owner and developer of a catalytic extraction waste thermal treatment system, bid its technology for a transuranic waste treatment project.  Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) was contracted to perform preliminary design activities for one of the subsystems of this project, the caustic byproduct purification system.  Project tasks included:

  • Process design basis preparation
  • Characterization of the caustic purification system feed stream
  • Development of performance specifications for the caustic purification process
  • Alternatives technical screening
  • Feasible alternatives preliminary process design.

The process design basis preparation included characterization of the feed streams to the caustic purification system and the development of performance specifications for the caustic purification process based on required product purities.  PROCESS developed and utilized a comprehensive computer model of the waste-producing processes to characterize the caustic purification system feed stream.  Proposed specifications for the caustic product were developed based on manufacturers’ specifications, market site wastewater discharge limits, and potential client waste water effluent guidelines.  A thorough literature search, as well as PROCESS’ knowledge of, and experience with similar applications were utilized to identify and screen applicable technologies for the caustic purification system.  The technical screening resulted in the identification of feasible caustic purification technologies including their strengths, uncertainties, and recommendations relative to their suitability for more detailed technical and economic evaluation.  The preliminary process design included the development of process flow diagrams (including heat and mass balance information) for technically-screened technologies that could produce a sodium hydroxide product meeting the proposed product specifications. Caustic purification process alternatives considered during this evaluation included:

  • Ion exchange
  • Extraction
  • Metals distillation
  • Electrolytic reduction
  • Crystallization
  • Mercury separation
  • Condensation
  • Flotation
  • Steam stripping.

The preliminary process design report delivered to the client included:

  • Process design basis summary
  • Waste process / caustic purification system feed stream computer simulation results
  • Proposed sodium hydroxide product specifications
  • Purification technologies technical screening results and conclusions.

Industry Type

  • Catalytic Extraction Waste Thermal Treatment

Utilized Skills

  • Product purification
  • Feasibility studies
  • Front end engineering design study
  • Technical alternatives evaluation

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