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Radiochemical Processing Laboratory

Shielded Facilities Operations

Hot cell with manipulator arms
Hot cell with manipulator arms

The hot cells are used to conduct work with highly radioactive materials and also serve as the radioactive material receipt and distribution center for ~70% of the radioactive materials worked within the research laboratories. The High Level Radiochemistry Facility (HLRF), Shielded Analytical Laboratory (SAL) hot cell complexes, and the stand alone mini-cells provide unique, complimentary capabilities for conducting bench-scale to pilot-scale work with wide varieties and forms of radioactive materials. The proximity of the hot cell complexes to each other and to the RPL research laboratories allows highly efficient operations. All sample receipt, experimentation and analysis activities are conducted within one building, eliminating the need for multiple shipments of radioactive samples. Shielded Facilities Operations experience and capabilities include:

  • Radiochemical separation and purification.
  • Irradiated fuel/target sectioning and processing.
  • Metallography and ceramography.
  • Activated metals physical properties testing.
  • Thermal processing.
  • Materials physical properties testing (solid/liquid separation, centrifugation, settling behavior).
  • Radioanalytical and preparatory chemistry operations (acid dissolution, aqueous/solvent extraction or leaching, distillation, ion exchange, caustic fusion).
Work with the hot cells
Work with the hot cells

Hot Cell Capability Specifics

Criticality safety specifications are in place, and work is currently being performed in the SAL and HLRF hot cells with plutonium bearing materials. These hot cell facilities have previously been used to process large volumes of plutonium solutions in support of activities such as the Nuclear Waste Vitrification Project. The hot cell facilities are also located adjacent to existing and active plutonium handling glove boxes.

The hot cells also consist of aqueous processing capabilities. Each of the HLRF hot cells is equipped with several in cell vessels. Vessel capacities vary up to a maximum of 200 liters. Two of the SAL hot cells are designated as permitted Treatment, Storage and Disposal facilities and are equipped to process lab scale volumes of hazardous wastes. Additionally, the HLRF and SAL hot cells contain process lines that are connected to the RPL radioactive process sewer. This provides the capability to transfer hazardous radioactive solutions from the hot cell tanks to the laboratory 4000 gallon capacity shielded collection tank (Hazardous Waste Treatment Unit) for waste treatment and disposal. The SAL is designed for performing a wide variety of analytical chemistry operations using highly radioactive samples. Specialized analytical instrumentation located within or next to these hot cells permits several types of analyses to be completed without transferring the materials from the SAL hot cells to other analytical laboratories.

Point of Contact:
Randy Thornhill, Shielded Facilities Operations Team
Phone: (509) 376-6769

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