Belgoprocess is recognized nationally and internationally as a reliable partner for the safe performance of nuclear services.

We offer clients extensive knowledge on, and multifunctional facilities tor the processing, conditioning and storage of all types of solid and liquid radioactive waste as well as expertise in the dismantling of obsolete nuclear installations, including heavily alpha- and/or beta/ gamma-contaminated cells.

All activities are performed within a company-wide quality assurance system certified as being in conformity with ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 45001.

Belgoprocess treats foreign radioactive waste at its site and has been successful in the international nuclear services market, focusing mainly on thermal treatment technologies.

Treatment of

foreign waste

at the Belgoprocess site

Belgoprocess can process foreign waste at it’s CILVA incineration facility. The CILVA facility is the centralised treatment and conditioning facility for β and γ low-level and α-suspect waste. It includes a 2000-ton supercompactor and an incineration plant for solid and liquid low-level radioactive waste. Based on a weekly production time of 100 hours, the capacity mounts to about 7.5 tonnes of solid waste and 1 to 5 tonnes of liquid waste a week or about 100 kg of waste per hour. The incineration plant started nuclear operation in May 1995.

Thermal treatment technologies

Plasma treatment of radwaste

BELGOPROCESS offers a proven plasma treatment technology for low- and intermediate level radioactive waste and problematic chemical waste that uses a high-temperature plasma processing technique with operating features that eliminate the personnel exposure and costs associated with sorting, characterizing and handling this waste and gives a final product that meets most stringent acceptance criteria for final disposal.

By means of a plasma torch of about 5000 °C, the inorganic material is melted into a glassy slag containing the radioactive isotopes. The organic material is gasified and subsequently oxidized in an afterburner and purified in an off-gas purification plant. The glassy slag is free from any organic material and liquid/sludge and is very suitable for long-term storage and disposal due to the physico-chemical and mechanical stabilization of the waste.

Because the waste can be processed without pre-treatment – drums can be processed unopened – there is no longer a need for expensive sorting and pre-treatment infrastructure or other treatment installations for non-combustible waste. In addition, direct radiation exposure and contamination risks for staff are minimized.

Plasma technology can also be applied to recondition previously conditioned waste packages that no longer meet the present acceptance criteria for final disposal. Therefore, even historical conditioned waste in a bituminous or concrete matrix, which doesn’t meet current acceptance criteria for conditioned waste can be retreated in a plasma facility, resulting in a conditioned product that does meet these criteria.

Belgoprocess provided start-up services for the first full-scale plasma installation at the ZWILAG facility in Switzerland, which started operations in 2004. Two campaigns per year of about 10 weeks are organized to treat the stored waste. During each campaign, approximately 500 drums or 100 tons are treated.

The Joint Venture IBERDROLA – BELGOPROCESS, with MONTAIR as a main subcontractor, has built a plasma melting facility for the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant in Bulgaria. The facility, which started operations mid 2018, can process 250 tons per year, spread over 40 operational weeks.

In 2018-2020, Belgoprocess performed a feasibility study for the treatment of Belgian radioactive waste in a plasma installation. This study was performed with the support of the Energietransitiefonds (Energy Transition Fund) of the FPS Economy.

Today, Belgoprocess is a process provider for various plasma studies across the world.

PRIME- Installation – Pyrolysis of low- and intermediate-level spent resins

Pyrolysis of Resins In a Mobile Electric – Installation

Belgoprocess and Montair developed the innovative PRIME-Installation.

A compact and mobile installation fully electrically powered, to treat low- and intermediate-level spent resins in one single reactor without pre-treatment and without intermixing of other additives or waste, allowing for easy traceability and isotopic characterization of the end product.

Pyrolysis is a controlled endotherm process in which by adding heat under an inert atmosphere with temperatures of up to 500°-600°C, the organic molecules decompose into a mineralized product. Because of the relatively low processing temperatures, there is limited carry-over of contaminated particles and the pyrolysis residual product contains practically all concentrated radioactivity.

In addition to the pyrolysis reactor, the PRIME installation consists of an innovative electrically heated thermal oxidizer that operates at a temperature of at least 850°C with a residence time of 2.5 seconds and acts as a classic afterburner,  a quench tower and a scrubber unit for capturing potential sulphur originating from some type of spent resins.

The installation is designed to fit a footprint of a 20-foot ISO container, which also makes it a mobile installation.

Intermediate-level problematic sludges and organic solutions are also suitable for pyrolysis. These substances are first mixed with an organic absorbent and subsequently introduced to the pyrolysis plant as a solid.

In 2020-2021, Belgoprocess is performing additional tests with various types of resins, sludge and organic solutions, with the support of the Energy Transition Fund of the FPS Economy.

Pyrolysis of TBP-containing liquids

Belgoprocess has extensive experience with pyrolysis of tributyl phosphate (TBP)-containing liquids and/or plutonium-containing organic products.

In this process, the TBP is decomposed at a temperature of 500 °C, in underpressure and under a nitrogen atmosphere, into phosphoric acid, various butylene fractions and water, while the hydrocarbons volatilize in the reactor. The phosphoric acid is neutralized by magnesium hydroxide and the resulting pyrophosphate, together with the ashes, is collected in 200 l drums. The hydrocarbon vapours are sent through a candle filter to an afterburner chamber, where they are heated to 1150 °C under an excess of air, for their conversion to CO2 and water. The off-gases are quenched, scrubbed and filtered before being released to the atmosphere. The solid end product of the process is embedded into cement.