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Gravenstraat 73 / B-2480 Dessel / Belgium
Phone: +32 14 33 41 11
Fax.: +32 14 33 40 99
E-Mail: info@belgoprocess.be

Plasma thermal technologies

The operation and maintenance of nuclear power plants, the nuclear fuel cycle in general, research laboratories and pharmaceutical, medical and industrial facilities generate low-level radioactive waste which, along with the historical radioactive waste from past nuclear activities, needs to be treated to minimise the waste volume to be disposed of. Plasma technology offers a very effective way of treating this waste with a high volume reduction factor, free from organics, liquids and moisture, and meeting all acceptance criteria for safe storage and disposal.

Using a plasma beam of approximately 5000°C, the inorganic material is melted into a glassy slag, containing the radioactive isotopes while the organic material is gasified and afterwards oxidized in an afterburner and purified in an off-gas cleaning system.

Because the waste can be treated as is – drums can be fed unopened – there is no more need for costly sorting and pre-treatment infrastructures or other treatment facilities for non-burnable waste and direct radiation exposure and contamination risks to personnel is minimised.

Belgoprocess provided start-up services for the first full-scale plasma system, the ZWILAG facility in Switzerland, which was taken into nuclear operation beginning 2004. Two campaigns per year of about 10 weeks are organised to treat the stored waste. Per campaign, about 500 drums or 100 tons of waste are processed. The limit of two campaigns is not due to technological restrictions but for logistical and organizational purposes.

Another full-scale plasma facility is ordered for the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant site in Bulgaria. The Joint Venture Iberdrola Ingeniería y Construcción - Belgoprocess won the engineering, procurement and construction contract. The facility consists of a tilting plasma furnace equipped with a non-transferable torch of 500 kW as heat source and will treat 250 tons per year, spread over 40 operational weeks.

Safety, a priority

Sustainable operations are only possible if every activity is conducted and completed safely by all the parties concerned.
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