Development of a Washing System for Soil Contaminated . Ind. Eng. Chem., Vol. 13, No. 3, (2007) 406-413 Development of a Washing System for Soil Contaminated with Radionuclides Around TRIGA Reactors

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<ul><li><p>J. Ind. Eng. Chem., Vol. 13, No. 3, (2007) 406-413</p><p>Development of a Washing System for Soil Contaminated with Radionuclides Around TRIGA Reactors</p><p>Gye-Nam Kim, Wang-Kyu Choi, and Chong-Hun Jung, Jei-Kwon Moon</p><p>Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, Duckjin-dong, Yuseong-gu, Daejon, Korea</p><p>Received November 10, 2006; Accepted January 17, 2007</p><p>Abstract: The purpose of this study was to develop a soil washing system, and to define the most suitable ex-perimental conditions for operation of its individual components, for decontaminating the radioactive soil around a TRIGA (Training, Research, Isotope, General Atomic) reactor in Korea. Analysis results indicated that the main radionuclides were Cs137 and Co60, the soil particle size ranged from 0.063 to 1.0 mm, and the ra-dioactive concentration was the strongest in soil particles smaller than 0.063 mm, as predicted. Meanwhile, ox-alic acid was found to be the most efficient chemical agent for washing, especially for the removal of cobalt. A scrubbing time of 4 h was optimal for obtaining a removal efficiency of more than 75 % for 137Cs and 60Co. A mixing ratio of the soil weight to the volume of the oxalic acid solution of 1:10 was observed to be best for washing, and it was estimated to be reasonable for two scrubbing cycles with 1.0 M oxalic acid to avoid the generation of excessive amounts of waste solution. The removal efficiency with hydro-cyclone was 30 % high-er than that without hydro-cyclone. Vertical plates and alum acted as important factors to reduce the sed-imentation time. The waste-solution could be reused after passing it through a column of strong acid resin up to five times.</p><p>Keywords: soil washing, remediation, cobalt, cesium, oxalic acid</p><p> Introduction</p><p>1)</p><p> The South Korean government has operated two re-search reactors, TRIGA Marks I and II, in Seoul for 30 years. The sites around these research reactors are con-taminated with radionuclides arising from their long-term operation . The main reason for the site contamination is the leakage of drainage boxes and the loss of radioactive sources at the site. KAERI (Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute) excavated the highly radionuclide- contaminated soil at the sites around the research reactors in 1988 and placed it in 4,000 sets of 200-L wastedrums; these drums have been in a radioactive waste storage fa-cility at KAERI since 1988. Firstly, 50 drums of soil were selected according to the effective dose rates of their soil drum surface and they were pulled out. The ef-fective dose rate indicates the degree of the effect that ra-diation has on the human body. Then, the soil in each drum was taken out and classified by three sizes of </p><p> To whom all correspondence should be addressed.(e-mail: kimsum@kaeri.re.kr)</p><p>sieves. Next, it was necessary to develop a technology for decontaminating the TRIGA soil contaminated with radionuclides. For the past decades, the need to develop economical techniques to decontaminate large contam- inated areas has grown. Soil washing and soil flushing are effective for decontaminating soils of a high hydraul-ic conductivity. Meanwhile, electro kinetic remediation [1,2] offers the possibility of in situ and ex situ re-mediation of contaminants in cases where conventional techniques are unfeasible [3,4]. In this study we developed a soil washing system for the removal of 137Cs and 60Co from TRIGA soil and in-vestigated the optimum experimental conditions for oper-ation of the equipment to maximize the removal effi-ciency of 137Cs and 60Co. The radio-waste storage facility at KAERI can take custody of about 10,000 drums of ra-dio-waste; it is storing more than 9,000 drums at present. Therefore, it should secure storage space for future con-current radio-waste through a release of its current ra-dio-waste, whose disposal is possible after treatment. Thus, it is necessary that the radioactive soil be </p></li><li><p>Development of a Washing System for Soil Contaminated with Radionuclides Around TRIGA Reactors 407</p><p>Table 1. Particle Classification and Radionuclide Concentrations</p><p>Surface effective dose rate of waste drum</p><p>Soil Particle Size Volume (%) Co-60 (Bq/kg) Cs-137 (Bq/kg)</p><p>0.05 mR/h above(7 %)</p><p>&gt;1.0 mm 28.3 38.9-233.7 1.5-886.0</p><p>0.0631.0 mm 61.2 155.2-1079.3 16.3-6700.2</p><p>1.0 mm 48.5 2.6-24.0 0.3-35.1</p><p>0.0631.0 mm 46.5 6.3-217.8 13.9-436.7</p><p>1.0 mm 52.4 5.3-15.2 2.5-7.0</p><p>0.0631.0 mm 43.1 14.1-69.1 25.4-53.0</p><p>0.063 mm) of the TRIGA soil can be removed by a soil wash-ing method; in contrast, the 137Cs and 60Co contaminants in the fine particles (</p></li><li><p>Gye-Nam Kim, Wang-Kyu Choi, Chong-Hun Jung, and Jei-Kwon Moon408</p><p>Table 2. Contents of the TRIGA SoilComponent Content (%)</p><p>SiO2 68.1Al2O3 16.7K2O 8.27</p><p>Fe2O3 2.2P2O5 1.63CaO 1.51Na2O 0.97MgO 0.21</p><p>Table 3. Physico-Chemical Characteristics of the TRIGA SoilDry bulk density (g/ cm3) 1.20</p><p>Porosity (%) 43.6Water content (%) 12.00</p><p>pH 4.30</p><p>Figure 1. Process diagram of the soil washing system for re-storation of TRIGA soil.</p><p>developed in this study. A component of the TRIGA soil was analyzed by SRS-303 XRF (X-ray fluorescence, made in Siemens, Germany); the results are shown in Table 2. The soil sample dried for ca. 12 h at 110 oC in an oven was meas-ured for several soil parameters. Each parameter was ob-tained by the following equations; the results are shown in Table 3.</p><p> n=1-</p><p> =</p><p> Here, n is the porosity, b is the bulk density, s is the particle mass density, is the water content, Vw is the volume of water, and VT is the total unit volume. Meanwhile, b is the oven-dried mass of the sample div-ided by its field volume.</p><p>Figure 2. Each element of the soil washing system developed for restoration of TRIGA soil.</p><p>Development of the Soil Washing System</p><p> The soil washing system was manufactured under con-sideration of the contamination characteristics of the soil; it consists of individual elemental equipment, namely, a soil hopper, sieve, screw feeder, scrubber, mixing tank, hydro-cyclone, sedimentation, a waste-solution treatment equipment, reagent box, and a control plate, as shown in Figures 1 to 5. The sieve divided the contaminated soil into three sizes. The screw feeder transports the sieved soil to the scrubber. The two scrubbers washed the trans-ported soil consecutively with impellers. The hydro-cy-clone separated the washed soil from the waste-solution. Sedimentation removed the fine particles in the waste solution. A column of strong acid resin purified the waste solution. </p><p>Experiment</p><p> To develop a soil washing system for the removal of ra-dionuclides from TRIGA soil, several experiments were executed with individual elemental equipment for washing. To obtain a higher removal efficiency of the ra-dionuclides from the TRIGA soil, some parameters were optimized through the following experiments. </p><p>Selection of a Suitable Size for a Soil Washing The size of the contaminated TRIGA soil particles ranged from very fine to more than 1.0 mm. The volume of the soil particles larger than 1.0 mm was 2852 %, and the volume of the soil particles smaller than 0.06 mm was less than 410.5 %, but the volume of the medium sized particle of the soil was 4361 % as shown in Table 1. Meanwhile, the radioactivity was strongest in the soil particles smaller than 0.063 mm, as predicted. </p></li><li><p>Development of a Washing System for Soil Contaminated with Radionuclides Around TRIGA Reactors 409</p><p>Figure 3. Soil washing equipment and screw feeder equipment.</p><p>Selection of a Suitable Chemical Agent Experiments were performed with many chemical agents for the selection of a suitable agent to decontami-nate the soil contaminated with 137Cs and 60Co. The TRIGA soil of a size 0.0631.0 mm was decontami-nated with many chemical agents, namely, H2O, citric acid, citric acid+HNO3, NH4NO3, FeCl3, (COOK)2H2O, (NH4)2SO4, H2C2O4H2O, NaOH, and Na3PO4 sol-utions to compare their removal efficiency of the radio-nuclides from the TRIGA soil.</p><p>Optimization of the Scrubbing Time To optimize the scrubbing time of the TRIGA soil, the contaminated soil and 0.5 M oxalic acid washing sol-ution were placed in the scrubber and then the soil was scrubbed for 30 min. The waste solution was removed from the soil mixed with a washing solution and the washed soil was dried for 23 days. 20 g of the dried soil was sampled; its radioactivity was measured by MCA. Next, the radioactivity of each washed soil was measured by the same method after washing for 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 h. </p><p>Optimization of the Mixing Ratio of the Soil Weight to the Volume of Oxalic Acid Solution Experiments were executed with different mixing ratios of the soil weight and the volume of the oxalic acid sol-ution, namely, 1:7.5 and 1:10. The removal efficiencies of the radionuclides from the soil were measured. Simultaneously, the removal efficiencies of the radio-nuclides were measured according to the change in the concentration of the oxalic acid (M).</p><p>Optimization of the Number of Scrubbing Repetitions and Chemical Agent Concentration: The TRIGA soil having a particle size of 0.0631.0 mm was used for this experiment. Because the number of scrubbing repetitions plays an important role in enhanc-ing the removal efficiency of the radionuclide, an experi-ment was executed with different numbers of scrubbing cycles to obtain the optimum removal efficiency of the radionuclides by the least number of scrubbing repeti-tion. As the removal efficiency was changed with the concentration of the chemical agent, several washing ex-periments were executed within the range of 0.21.0 M </p><p>Figure 4. Design of the vertical plate for a sedimentation tank.</p><p>of oxalic acid and 13 scrubbing cycles to determine the repetition number of scrubbing cycles and the opti-mum concentration.</p><p>Effect of a Hydro-Cyclone Another experiment was performed to determine the ef-fect of a hydro-cyclone located between the scrubber and the sedimentation. The soil in the sedimentation was slowly precipitated, while the soil in the hydro-cyclone was precipitated rapidly. Both soil samples were ex-tracted and dried. Thereafter, their radioactivity levels were measured by a MCA (Multi Channel Analyzer) to determine the effect of the hydro-cyclone. A mixing tank (Figure 1) was used to dilute the mixing concentration of the soil, which makes the hydro-cyclones separation work easier. The separated waste solution was trans-ferred to the sedimentation tank, while the separated soil remained in a bowl attached at the bottom of the hy-dro-cyclone.</p><p>Selection of a Method for Reduction of the Sedimen-tation Volume Because a large quantity of waste solution was gen-erated from washing the contaminated soil in the scrub-ber, a large sized sedimentation tank was required. A sedimentation tank with vertical plates as shown in Figure 4 was manufactured for reduction of the sed-imentation volume and the soil sedimentation time. The soil sediment time in the vertical plate sedimentation tank was compared with that in a conventional sed-imentation tank, and the effect of an alum addition was estimated, as shown in Figure 5.</p><p>Ion-Exchange to Reuse the Waste Solution Because the bulk of the waste solution was generated from washing the contaminated soil in a scrubber, an </p></li><li><p>Gye-Nam Kim, Wang-Kyu Choi, Chong-Hun Jung, and Jei-Kwon Moon410</p><p>Figure 5. Comparison of the general sedimentation tank and the vertical plate sedimentation tank.</p><p>Figure 6. Soil decontamination efficiencies of each chemical agent.</p><p>ion-exchange experiment to reuse the waste solution was executed with a resin. The radionuclide-removal ability of a strong acid resin in a batch mode was analyzed. The waste-solution separated from the vertical plate sed-imentation tank was passed through a column of strong acid resin for removal of the radionuclides. Then the first recycled waste solution was manufactured with the addi-tion of some oxalic acid to the eluted waste solution. The first recycled waste-solution was reused for the TRIGA soil washing. The second recycled waste solution was manufactured using the same method as that for the first recycled waste solution. Next, the third and fourth re-cycled waste solutions were manufactured using the same method. Each recycled waste solution was analyzed to check its removal efficiency.</p><p>Results and Discussion</p><p> The soil contamination characteristics are given in Tables 1 to 3. The experimental results of the elemental </p><p>Figure 7. Radionuclide removal efficiency plotted as a function of the attrition scrubbing hours.</p><p>equipment in the soil washing system are shown in Figures 6 to 11. </p><p>Determination of a Suitable Size of Soil for a Washing Experiment The classification of the soil particles and concen-trations of the radionuclides are shown in Table 1, which illustrates that the most abundant particle size ranges from 0.063 to 1.0 mm. Because it is easier to decontami-nate a soil having a particle size larger than 1.0 mm, the TRIGA soil particles having sizes that range from 0.063 to 1.0 mm were chosen for the soil washing experiments. The content of the TRIGA soil components are described in detail in Table 2 and the physical characteristics are presented in Table 3. </p><p>Determination of a Suitable Chemical Agent The results of the washing experiments with H2O, citric acid, citric acid+HNO3, NH4NO3, FeCl3, (COOK)2H2O, (NH4)2SO4, H2C2O4H2O, NaOH, and Na3PO4 sol-utions are shown in Figure 6. When oxalic acid (H2C2 O4H2O) was used as a washing agent, the removal effi-ciency of cesium was very high and that of cobalt was comparatively high. Oxalic acid is decomposed biologi-cally, forms a stable metal-complex, and dissolves hy-droxides [14,15]. What is more, its price is reasonable. Therefore, oxalic acid is an optimal chemical agent for soil washing.</p><p> H2C2O4 + 2Cs+ Cs2C2O4() + 2H+() (1)</p><p> H2C2O4 + Co2+ CoC2O4() + 2H+() (2)</p><p>Determination of Optimum Scrubbing Time The measurement results of a soil radioactivity versus different scrubbing times are shown in Figure 7. The re- </p></li><li><p>Development of a Washing System for Soil Contaminated with Radionuclides Around TRIGA Reactors 411</p><p>Figure 8. Radionuclide removal efficiency plotted as functions of the oxalic acid concentration and the ratio of the soil weight to the volume of oxalic acid.</p><p>Figure 9. Radionuclide removal efficiency plotted as functions of the number of scrubbing repetitions and the oxalic concent-ration.</p><p>moval efficiency of the radionuclide in the soil increased upon increasing the scrubbing time up to 4 h, but it lev-eled off thereafter. Because the overall soil washing time increases with an extension of the scrubbing time, 4 h was the optimal scrubbing time.</p><p>Determination of the Mixing Ratio of the Soil Weight to the Volume of Oxalic Acid Solution The removal efficiencies of 137Cs and 60Co are plotted as functions of the oxalic acid concentration and the mixing ratios of the soil weight to the volume of oxalic acid sol-ution in Figure 8. The removal efficiency of 137Cs at the 1:10 mixing ratio was 10 % higher than that at 1:7.5. Even if the volume of the req...</p></li></ul>

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