Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Savannah River Technology Center have developed a more efficient formula for vitrifying radioactive waste. Vitrification is a process that combines concentrated radioactive waste with glass-forming materials. Scientists at PNNL and SRTC have applied glass property models to develop a new frit or glass-forming material. This new formula, Frit 320, showed a melt rate 20 percent faster than the previous frit in small-scale melter tests. Frit 320 also allows more waste to be incorporated into the glass when combined with a new technology developed by SRTC and is expected to yield significantly higher melter throughput. By allowing more waste to be mixed into each batch of glass and producing it faster, this new glass formula may significantly reduce the cost of vitrifying waste, an integral part of cleaning up the nation's nuclear waste.
The Defense Waste Processing Facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina has incorporated Frit 320 into its operating plans for the future.
The Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.