Center for Applied Separations Science and Engineering – CASSE

Investigators:

D. S. Kosson, K. G. Brown, M. D. Levan, P. N. Pintauro, and C. McCabe (Vanderbilt) and R. W. Rousseau, C. A. Eckert, M. Grover, Y. Kawajiri, C. L. Liotta, and D. S. Sholl (Georgia Tech) in collaboration with the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

Project Objectives:

The Center for Applied Separations Science and Engineering (CASSE) will bridge the gap between promising transformational separations discoveries and technology deployment. CASSE will develop synergy among academic and national laboratory researchers to leverage unique capabilities at each institution to provide the framework for an integrated, cost-effective path to deployable technologies. Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt will establish graduate program focal areas on nuclear chemical engineering emphasizing separations processes relevant to waste management.

Relevance and Impact to DOE:

Disposal of high-level waste (HLW) is very expensive, in large part because the radioactive matter in the HLW tanks at DOE sites has been highly diluted by ordinary inorganic chemicals. Vitrification is the preferred treatment of HLW for subsequent geologic disposal; however, vitrifying the entire HLW stream at each site is likely to be prohibitively expensive. Technologies are needed to remove radionuclides and other constituents (e.g., aluminum) of concern from HLW so that the bulk can be diverted to cheaper low-level waste forms and on-site storage. After a decade of technology development and demonstration, some technologies are on their way to implementation. However, transformational separations technologies are needed to provide the game-changing results desired by DOE. In addition, projected workforce shortages necessitate the development of targeted educational pipelines for nuclear chemical engineering, with emphasis on separations processes.

CASSE will target key technology gaps in the DOE-EM mission to reduce risk and cleanup of the environmental legacy from the United States’ nuclear weapons program while also providing benefit to other DOE missions. Successful deployment of innovative separations technologies will accelerate cleanup by several years at each of the DOE-EM sites and reduce costs on the order of $1B/yr at Hanford and $0.5B/yr at Savannah River.

  • Specific benefits to DOE from CASSE include:
  • Reduced Lifecycle Costs
  • Efficient development and deployment of advances
  • Technology portfolio
  • Adaptable technologies that accommodate advances
  • Reduced Programmatic Risk
  • Independent review and validation of technologies
  • Enhanced communication of discoveries and needs
  • Highly Trained Workforce
  • Efficient pipeline of scientists and engineers
  • Stable / tailored graduate and undergraduate programs
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