One of the main constituents of the K Basin sludge is iron oxide hydroxide, which is known to catalyze peroxide decomposition. Therefore, one of the early challenges was to identify process conditions that would minimize the volume increase arising from continuous addition of fresh peroxide to maintain its concentration. The addition of chelating agents or phosphate has been shown before to retard peroxide decomposition. However, neither of these approaches demonstrated any reduction in the decomposition rate, probably because the iron was in a solid form rather than in solution. Reducing the iron concentration relative to uranium also reduced the decomposition rate but this approach was discounted because of the difficulty in achieving this solid-solid separation on a production scale. Instead, the approach adopted was to reduce the reaction temperature from ambient to 10oC. Doing so also reduced the uranium dissolution rate but the reduction was significantly less than the reduction in the peroxide decomposition rate.
This presentation will describe the chemistry development work and indicate how this forms the basis of a production scale process for stabilizing the K-Basins sludge.
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