Hanford

Solution developed for Hanford vit plant could help nuclear industry

First-of-a-kind HEPA filters developed for the Hanford Waste Treatment Plant are roughly 2.5-feet tall and 2 feet in diameter.
First-of-a-kind HEPA filters developed for the Hanford Waste Treatment Plant are roughly 2.5-feet tall and 2 feet in diameter. Courtesy Bechtel National

A high-efficiency air filter designed to survive the harsh conditions of the Hanford vitrification plant may also be used at other Department of Energy nuclear sites or nuclear plants.

“These robust HEPA filters have the potential to greatly improve safety across DOE and the nuclear industry,” said Bill Hamel, DOE project director for the vitrification plant.

The Hanford plant is being built to turn up to 56 million gallons of radioactive waste from the nation’s nuclear weapons program into a stable glass form for disposal.

Testing showed that the standard air filters used in the nuclear industry could fail in the high temperature and high humidity of the waste processing ventilation system at the vit plant.

DOE and its contractor, Bechtel National, cooperated with Porvair, a filter manufacturer, to develop a more robust filter. It is made of fragile fiberglass sheets, resembling paper, which are pleated and installed in a filter pack similar to a thick furnace filter.

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