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Design of a Particle Shadowgraph Velocimetry and Size (PSVS) System to Determine Particle Size and Density Distributions in Hanford Nuclear Tank Wastes

M.S. Fountain, J. Blanchard, R.L. Erikson, D.E. Kurath, D.T. Howe, H. Adkins and J. Jenks, Richland, Washington

(Neutrally buoyant Polyethylene: 10-27um)


Accurate particle size and density distributions for nuclear tank waste materials are essential information that helps determine the engineering requirements for a host of waste management unit operations (e.g., tank mixing, pipeline transport, and filtration). The most prevalent approach for determining particle size and density distribution is highly laborious and involves identifying individual particles using scanning electron microscope/x-ray diffraction and then acquiring the density of the materials from the technical literature. Other methods simply approximate individual particle densities by assuming chemical composition, rather than obtaining actual measurements of particle density. To overcome these limitations, a Particle Shadowgraph Velocimetry and Size (PSVS) system has been designed to simultaneously obtain particle size and density distributions for a broad range of Hanford tank waste materials existing as both individual particles and agglomerates. The PSVS system uses optical hardware, a temperature-controlled settling column, and particle introduction chamber to accurately and reproducibly obtain images of settling particles. Image analysis software provides a highly accurate determination of both particle terminal velocity and equivalent spherical particle diameter. The particle density is then calculated from Newton’s terminal settling theory. The PSVS system was designed to accurately image particle/agglomerate sizes between 10 and 1000 µm and particle/agglomerate densities ranging from 1.4 to 11.5 g/cm3 , where the maximum terminal velocity does not exceed 10 cm/s. Preliminary testing was completed with standard materials and results were in good agreement with terminal settling theory. Recent results of this method development are presented, as well as experimental design.