Technology Transfer Opportunities in the National Laboratories
Savannah River Site
Utility Federal Technology Opportunities (UFTO)
This report is part of a series examining technology opportunities at National Laboratories of possible interest to electric utilities
1 SRS Overview & Organization
3. SRS Technologies & Programs
10. SRS Contacts
This report is proprietary and confidential. It is for internal use by personnel of companies that are subscribers in the UFTO multi-client program. It is not to be otherwise copied or distributed except as authorized in writing.
This report details findings about technology and technology transfer opportunities at the Savannah River Site (SRS) that might be of strategic interest to electric utilities. It is based on a visit to SRS in December 1995, as part of the UFTO multiclient project.
Noting the tremendous scope of research underway in the research facilities of the U.S. government, and a very strong impetus on the government’s part to foster commercial partnering with industry and applications of the technology it has developed, the UFTO program has been established as a multi-client study of the opportunities thus afforded electric utilities.
People at SRS are quick to point out that “we are not a national lab”. It is a DOE facility, focusing on national security, economic development and tech transfer, and environmental and waste management activities. It is operated under contract by the Westinghouse Savannah River Company (WSRC), and covers over 300 square miles in South Carolina. It employs about 16,000 people, including employees of WSRC, its subcontractors, the National Forest Service, and the Savannah River Ecology Lab. Also, DOE personnel and Wackenhut, a contract services firm.
In 1989, SRS began lifting the veil of secrecy under which it had been traditionally operated, while its mission changed dramatically with the end of the cold war. SRS was built in the 50’s to produce tritium and plutonium 239 for nuclear weapons and other isotopes for research purposes. There were five reactors, two chemical separation plants, a heavy water extraction plant, a nuclear fuel and target fabrication facility and waste management facilities. All five reactors are now permanently shut down, and while production of new tritium won’t be needed for many years, the reloading of tritium in the current supply of weapons is a continuing site mission, using the new state of the art Replacement Tritium Facility (RTF).
Waste Management and Environmental Restoration
Weapons production over the years has produced 35 million gallons of high-level radioactive waste on site. Just recently, the Defense Waste Processing Facility began operation. It bonds radioactive materials in borosilicate glass. There are also low-level solid and liquid radioactive waste, transuranic waste, mixed waste, hazardous waste, and sanitary waste. SRS has over 400 inactive waste and groundwater units in its restoration program, where over 80 acres of land have already been certified as remediated. Decontamination and decommissioning of SRS facilities is also part of the effort. More than 600 surplus facilities are currently being assessed, involving chemicals, radionuclides, and/or asbestos. Clean up will take decades, and the technology to do it plays a major part in the tech transfer and economic development missions of the site.
The Savannah River Technology Center (SRTC)
SRTC is an applied R&D organization (known as the “Lab” division) that provides technical support for the Savannah River Site (SRS), developing and testing equipment and techniques for nuclear materials processing, environmental remediation, environmental protection, waste processing, decontamination and decommissioning, and industrial uses of SRS technology.
SRTC has approximately 1000 employees. The four main departments are:
– Applied Science and Engineering Technology (instrumentation, robotics, corrosion, fluid dynamics, computational modeling)
– Waste Management & Environmental Technology ( high level waste, solid waste, environmental restoration, assessments and modeling)
– Chemical Process Technology (analytical services, instruments, and sensors; chemical and hydrogen technology)
– Technology Business Development (includes Industry Partnerships)
In addition, there are the Community Outreach Division and the Environmental Safety, Health and Quality Assurance Divisions. Also, the University of Georgia operates its Ecology Lab at the site.
Technology Transfer at SRS
SRS/SRTC is a very recent entrant to the Federal government’s tech transfer effort. They were first allowed to do CRADAs only less than two years ago.
John Veldman heads the Technology Business Development Department, which handles government and industry alliances. Karen Azzaro is Manager, Industrial Partnerships, and a number of people in that group are each assigned to distinct “product lines”, including remediation, sensors/robotics, vitrification, waste management and hydrogen.
The primary contact for UFTO is:
Beverly Skwarek, Industry Partnerships,
803-652-1836, fax 803-652-1898, firstname.lastname@example.org
In an approach very similar to the one at Idaho National Engineering Lab (INEL), the Thermo Electron Corp. formed a new subsidiary to perform a contract at SRS to 1) support to SRS in market research and business plan preparation, and 2) evaluate and pursue commercialization of selected technologies.
SRS is aggressively pursuing new kinds of economic and business endeavors for the site, noting a number of unique attributes, especially its land, facilities, and human resources. The Multipurpose Pilot Plant Campus is an R&D facility now available to outside organizations, offering buildings, support structures and a number of special purpose facilities and laboratories.
Since the site has been exhaustively characterized, it serves as a “National Environmental Research Park” and as a testbed for new energy and environmental waste management technology, like NREL is for renewables. In one case, SRS has a CRADA with an industrial firm to develop a clean slurry fuel from municipal solid waste. Another proposed project is for a micro algae pond adjacent to a coal plant.
SRS leads the DOE national Groundwater Plumes Focus Area, charged with acquiring and applying the latest cleanup technology. In fact 2 of the 5 DOE Energy Management/Office of Technology Development focus areas are centered at SRS. They also have the lead on landfill stabilization and contaminant phenomena focus area (These two have recently been combined).
Another target area is commercial nuclear waste, with an idea to establish a nuclear “corridor” in the southeast, capitalizing on all the nuclear expertise and capabilities in the region
SRS Technologies & Programs
Covered in this report:
• Robotics 4
• Sensors & Instrumentation Systems — temperature, H2, chemicals, level sensing 5
• Materials — NDE, Failure Analysis, hot metallurgy, corrosion 5
• Waste Processing — High level waste, vitrification, decontamination, effluent treatment 6
• Environmental Sciences — data management, bioremediation, “land farming” 7
• Environment Permitting and Compliance 8
• Flyash utilization 8
• Hydrogen Technology — hydrides, fuel cells, refrigeration, EV 9
• Industrial Assistance — high efficiency air filtration 9
General Telephone #s
1-800-228-3843 Industry Partnerships
1-803-725-6211 Site Operator
1-803-725-3001 Site Information
W. Ivan Lewis, Manager, Robotics Support, 803-725-3527
Greg Teese, Principal Engineer, 803-725-2051
Based on needs arising out of SRS’s own suite of low pressure/temperature reactors built in the 50’s, SRS has extensive capabilities to design, develop, build, install and operate unique robots, instrumentation, teleoperators and special purpose mechanical equipment for use in radioactive and hazardous environments (such as reactors, chemical separation facilities and waste processing and storage plants) for surveying, inspection, decontamination, dismantling and manipulation functions. These systems can be autonomous, or have a human operator in the loop
SRS has adapted a number of commercially available robot systems. For example:
SWAMI, Stored Waste Autonomous Mobile Inspector, is a modified version of the HelpMate robot produced by HelpMate Robotics, Inc. It will perform the required weekly inspections of drums of waste, improving efficiency, documentation and accuracy, and greatly reducing personnel exposure. Robots like this will become increasingly important for future increasing waste inspection needs associated with decommissioning. A second generation version SWAMI II, will identify rust spots, dents and blisters on drums.
Remote Controlled Mobile Devices, e.g., a forklift; a Bobcat Loader/Excavator; a Mobile Teleoperator equipped with manipulators of various kinds, or high pressure water scabbling, vacuum, superheated water, or pneumatic tools. A crane-like vehicle has been used to observe operations at a radioactive work site.
These systems can go on inspection tours looking for fire, security, radiation, leaks etc.
Pipe Crawlers range from a 2 inch inspection device, to one that can adjust to varying pipe dimensions, and units for pipe diameters up to 24″-36″ with ultrasonic inspection or welding capabilities:
FERRET (flowpath evaluation and reconnaissance by remote-field eddy-current testing) is an inspection device for small (2 inch) diameter pipes, originally developed to negotiate multiple tight bend elbows in SRS’s own storage tank cooling systems. It is propelled by the fluids already in the piping system. With it’s long range (1000 ft.) and sophisticated electronics, it could be adapted to any number of applications, from leak detection to corrosion detection in buildings or plant systems.
The Elbow Cutting Pipe Crawler can remove sections of pipe in 36 inch ductwork, and is capable of crawling through 90 degree elbows and up vertical pipe, carrying lights, camera and plasma arc torch, able to cut 1/2 inch stainless steel.
(ref: Nuclear News, Jan. ’96, Vol. 39, No. 1)
In-Service Inspection Pipe Crawler and Carriage can negotiate up to 3 elbows and dynamically change to accommodate pipe diameters from 12 to 16 inches, carrying a 100 pound payload. It is tether controlled and carries lights and an attachable inspection carriage with a 4 degree of freedom ultrasonic weld inspection device.
SRS is active in the Utility and Manufacturers Robotics Users Group (UMRUG) [see article in Nuclear News, Oct. ’95, Vol 38, No. 13, by Peter Hanby of Com Ed, who is UMRUG Chair].
• Sensors & Instrumentation Systems — temperature, H2, chemicals
Paul Cloessner, Manager, Analytical Services, 803-725-2198
Stanley Nave, Principal Scientist, Sensor & Analytic Technology, 803-725-1355
Wayne Jenkins, Manager, Sensor and Analyzer Technology, 803-725-3049
Pat O’Rourke, former Fellow Scientist, Sensor & Analytic Technology
Now with a small company developing applications, 803-652-3663
Optical temperature sensor, an R&D 100 Award winner, measures temperatures from -200° to +600° C, based on temperature induced shifts in the absorption spectrum of selected materials. With no metallic or conductive components, it is immune to electrical or magnetic interference. Also, it requires no calibration. It is ideally suited for remote, inaccessible and harsh environments, e.g. petrochemical processes, paper mills, nuclear facilities, underground, underwater or in space. (NOTE: a licensee is interested in developing a transmission line temperature monitor that would allow greater loading of lines. They would welcome utility help in determining the benefits and market potential.)
Fiber optic chemical sensors provide a means to detect the presence of specific chemicals in various forms and solutions, and can be used in industrial process (real time) control, exhaust stacks, ground water, etc. They operate by analyzing changes to the light spectrum as the sensor probe interacts with the surroundings. SRS has developed a number of complete sensor systems based on sol-gel colorimetric indicators, a new class of composite materials which change color in the presence of certain chemicals, and Raman spectroscopy.
Chemometrics: Advances in the software permit automatic data analysis and robust fiber optic sensors.
Hydrogen sensor — A new idea is under development for an all-fiber optic sensor which will work in reactive gas or liquid streams. (They aren’t in a position to discuss this, but it may be helpful if utility industry needs are explained to them.)
Radiation dose below background — working on some ideas for this, eliminating Compton scattering with digital signal processing techniques. Could be used for an in-situ real time monitor for the water in spent fuel storage tanks.
• Materials — NDE, Failure Analysis, hot metallurgy, corrosion
Tami Capeletti, Manager, Materials Technology Section, 803-725-3576
Extensive facilities and capabilities for hot metallurgy, failure analysis, mechanical testing, corrosion testing, etc.
Recycle of contaminated steels — Working with INEL, this technology is in use at SRS, using radwaste containers made of reclaimed mostly-decontaminated steel.
Residual Stress Measurement — a new experimental technique uses laser speckle pattern interferometry and spot heating to permit remote non-contact measurement Results are promising and could lead to development of a system where the technical complexities can be easily handled. Martin Pechersky, 803-725-1137, email@example.com.
• Waste Processing Technology — High level waste, decontamination, effluent treatment
Prevention and Treatment of Chemical and Radioactive waste.
Dan McCabe, 803-725-2054
Dave Hobbs, 803-725-238
Steve Wach, Business Development, 803-725-808
Effluent and Process Treatment — A wide variety of technologies (e.g. membranes, filtration, ion exchange, solvent extraction, chemical treatment, etc.) are applied to address unique streams or conditions (e.g. removal of organics, metals and radionuclides to drinking water standards.)
Waste Disposal Technology — SRS develops disposal concepts and validates them with lab and field experiments, assessing performance risk. They also characterize and select disposal sites for radioactive, hazardous and sanitary wastes. Disposal modeling deals with both the source term and ground water/goechemistry, and field tests examine environmental transport.
Vitrification — For waste immobilization, SRS has a internationally recognized and comprehensive in-house capability in vitrification, including glass formulation and process design and testing. Created by the need to manage high-level radioactive and mixed waste, this expertise is now being applied to low-level radioactive wastes and contaminated asbestos, ion exchange resins and medical wastes. A major system just went on line.
Decontamination and Volume Reduction — SRS provides comprehensive consulting services including field support to evaluate and demonstrate best available technology and to treat equipment, facilities and soils for chemical and radionuclide contamination. Techniques used to decontaminate equipment include carbon dioxide blasting, strippable coatings, foamers and Kelly machines.
Process Modeling and Evaluation — Comprehensive capabilities that integrate physical and economic considerations and support pollution prevention, process development and optimization, life cycle cost analysis and business planning. Commercial software packages are adapted to study the dynamic and steady state behavior of complex systems (chemical and fluid dynamics and heat transfer), and providing graphical/pictorial outputs.
Facilities and Laboratories included analytical and materials labs, radioactive handling facilities and a number of demonstration facilities. The Multipurpose Pilot Plant Campus is in effect a “user facility” (though not formally set up as one), and has 135,000 sq. ft of permitted facilities and systems. The Effluent Treatment Facility removes organics, salts, mercury and radionuclides using reverse osmosis, filtration, and a number of other technologies.
Pollution Prevention — SRS has developed a number of solutions to DOD and industry needs to reduce pollution, e.g. by prolonging the life process chemicals through separation and purification, or to transition to supercritical CO2 cleaning processes.
• Environmental Sciences Deborah Moore-Shedrow, Manager, 803-275-5179
Environmental Biotechnology — Contact Dr. Terry Hazen, 803-557-7713
10 senior professionals with strong technical reputations. Work effectively with regulators. In situ and bioreactor systems, develop national protocols. Biofouling, biocorrosion, bioaerosols (e.g. Legionnaires), monitoring, expert witness. A number of bioproducts licensed to and in use by industry.
Methane enhanced in situ bioremediation is an 1995 R&D 100 winner combines natural gas injection with air stripping to speed the degradation and removal of chlorinated solvents in ground water and sediment. Tests have shown it to be much more efficient and cost-effective than other methods
Other bioremediation techniques include the use of added phosphates to fuel bacterial growth and reaction rates.. ThePHOSter process involves adding a safe gaseous form of of phosphorous to injected air, resulting in dramatic remediation rate increases.
Risk-based ecological restoration — risk based decision making for selection, design and deployment of remediation technologies, and use of “green solutions” (e.g. “ecological detoxification” where a balanced ecosystem is developed with the capability to break down the contaminants). Prepared-bed Land Farming has been certified in several sites. Field screening — systems for rapid inexpensive on-site analyses.
Groundwater restoration — optimize existing clean up systems and develop new processes
Treatment, stabilization and containment of solid residues, and assessment of long-term risks
Associated Capabilities: hydrogeology, ecosystem management, data synthesis, analysis.
Environmental Data Atlas Hal Mackey, 803-725-5322
This Integrated GIS for Environmental Applications provides efficient access to large amounts of diverse spatial information, including GIS and remotely sensed data relating to physical and man-made features. Spatial data keys link all data to a common geographical data base. All data is accessible at the scientists’ desktops, regardless of what type of computer they’re using. The system incorporates both bibliographic and photographic data and scanned maps. It provides sophisticated browsing and modeling capabilities by taking advantage of the latest advancements in database, programming language and networking integration.
[Ref: “Design and Implementation of an Integrated GIS…”, D. Cowen, et.al., Photogrammatic Engineering and Remote Sensing, v 61,#11, Nov. 95, pp. 1393-1404.]
DataDelve Client and EcoTrack Server Jim Bowers, 803-725-5213
This is an spatial data system for environmental information to support managers and professionals performing environmental assessments during remediation and restoration activities, particularly sites under CERCLA. The system is a client server application using Heuristic Optimized Processing System (HOPS, International supplies this commercial database engine) which permits rapid access to and analysis of very large and diverse data files. [Ref: see complete description in SRS report # SWRC-RP-95-194]
• Environment Permitting and Compliance
SRS Environmental Program, Chuck Hayes, 803-725-8838
SRS has a great many facilities and processes requiring active attention to environmental permitting and compliance. They have developed a strong capability to keep track of all the complex requirements, i.e. to ensure compliance with regulations and to monitor and document the impact of operations on the environment and coordinated all contact with regulators, while maximizing the Site’s overall programmatic goals.
Water, Wastewater & Surface Water: NPDES Permitting, construction permits, operational compliance (82 NPDES outfalls; 216 wastewater permits, 167 drinking water permits).
Air (CAA Mandates): NESHAP radionuclide and Asbestos, construction (any new source), compliance (200 air permits).
Solid & Hazardous Waste: prevention and minimization, permitting, operations and disposal compliance.
Environmental Restoration & Groundwater Protections: Waste site closures, CERCLA, etc. (over 300 CERCLA/RCRA waste units).
Because the Site has such a wide range of situations, they often must come up with creative solutions and approaches to deal with unusual permitting applications. In some cases, site-wide permitting has been successful, and they sometimes use “generic applications” that can be adapted to later changes.
Customer Service Tools developed for internal use could be made available to others:
— Permit Forecasting/Tracking Database keeps tabs on all permits already in place, and based on data on future needs and new facilities plans it provides a timetable and early warning system about steps that need to be taken.
— Environmental Permitting “HOW” Manual is a how-to cookbook on permitting.
Contact Laurie Coward…
• Flyash utilization
The Savannah River Ecology Lab, University of Georgia, is located on at SRS. They are working on an EPRI TC project with SCE&G touse flyash as a soil amendment. The idea is to apply the maximum amount possible on land not involved in a food chain, including sod farms, golf courses, athletic fields, and eroded areas needing rehabilitation. The only concern is ground water, and the project is measuring over 60 parameters of water, plants and soil properties in tests where as much as 500 tons per acre have been applied. This work will be published in the open literature.
In another test, flyash and chicken litter are being applied at 250 tons/acre (a depth of 2 inches) to amend soil at an airport construction soil fill. It improves the soil’s physical condition, the soil/plant/water relationships, and the silt range (i.e. if soil is too coarse or too fine).
Contact: Prof. Domy Adriano, 803-725-2472; firstname.lastname@example.org
• Hydrogen Technology — hydrides, fuel cells, refrigeration, EV
“HyTech” is a new “virtual laboratory” centered at the Savannah River Technology Center, focused on development of new hydrogen technology. It draws on the resources of over 80 scientists and 40 groups at SRTC. As the nation’s primary Tritium production and technology facility since 1955, in support of defense and environmental programs, SRS has tremendous expertise and capabilities which makes possible a tremendous synergy with commercial hydrogen programs. For example their Replacement Tritium Facility is the single largest use of metal hydride technology. HyTech anticipates important new developments for storage, composite membranes for separation, sensors, hydrogen production, materials compatible with hydrogen, and even a novel new metal hydride high-COP heat-pump refrigerator concept.
Contact is Dr. James Knight, 803-725-1089, or Ted Motyka 803-725-3665
SRS, through its Economic Development Division, is also leading a major program to develop a hydrogen fueled bus, to be demonstrated in the local area. Hydrogen will be generated onsite using water electrolysis and metal hydride storage. Low temperature hydride storage will provide the onboard hydrogen, and the bus will use a series-hybrid electric drive system (Westinghouse) with an IC engine that will be adaptable to future fuel cell systems. The schedule calls for testing in mid 1996, with city operation thereafter.
Contact: Dr. William A. Summers, 803-652-1846
• Industrial Assistance Program — High Efficiency Air Filtration
Mr. D. Maynard Dykes is the SRS site authority, and a world-class expert, in air filtration. He helps government and industry with design, tests, test methods, procedures, procurement specifications, systems qualification, and health/safety/environmental issues.
For example, whenever nuclear isotopes are used, there are special requirements to maintain a decontamination factor with filtration. At SRS, he’s contributed to dramatic reductions in the number and cost of systems required. For textile companies, he’s helped with air balance, cold spots, and lint problems. HVAC consultants can generally do heating and cooling, but are less likely to be able to deal effectively with problems like contaminants. Mr. Dyke trains people in-house at SRS and elsewhere to be able to deal with these issues.
Maynard Dykes, 803-952-3628
The primary contact for UFTO is:
Beverly Skwarek, Industry Partnerships,
803-652-1836, fax 803-652-1898, email@example.com
General Telephone #s:
1-800-228-3843 Industry Partnerships
1-803-725-6211 Site Operator
1-803-725-3001 Site Information