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Solidifying oil with Nochar

For over a decade, DOE’s Mound Facility in Miamisburg, Ohio has debated about the best way to dispose of reservoirs of tritiated and heavy metal–laced mixed waste oil that exists at the site. The long-time use of vacuum pumps that support glove box operations has produced over 1,700 gallons of oil with an estimated inventory of 50,000 curies. As the debate continued over what to do, a viable baseline for treatment or disposal was hard to identify.

That is, until the testing of Nochar PetroBond® (Tech ID 2313).

Through sponsorship by a DOE technology development group, the Deactivation and Decommissioning Focus Area, and its Large-Scale Demonstration and Deployment Project (LSDDP) at Mound, Nochar PetroBond was introduced to provide a simple and effective disposal method for tritiated oil. This high-technology, polymer solidifying agent requires no mixing or mixing equipment. The polymer crystals can be specifically designed to address the characteristics of mixed waste oil as they exist at any given site.

When demonstrated at Mound during the LSDDP, Nochar PetroBond stabilized nine gallons of mixed waste tritiated oil in just a few hours. It met the strict waste acceptance criteria for the Nevada Test Site and was buried underground there. The demonstration was a success, and Nochar has now been chosen as the baseline technology at Mound.

A waste mangement engineer works on the solidification of tritiated oil in a radiologicaly contaminated area.“There’s no doubt it’s the technology of choice for mixed waste oil here in Miamisburg,” says Project Engineer Ward Brunkow. “They have ordered significant amounts of the Nochar polymer, and it’s here on their loading docks. It’s just a matter of settling the logistics before it gets put into complete use.”

Brunkow estimates that Nochar could save “a million dollars or more” at Mound compared to other disposal options such as incineration.

Why Nochar was better at Mound

Before settling on Nochar PetroBond, the Mound LSDDP examined various methods for treating tritiated oils, including incineration, long-term storage for decay, and solidification with organic agents.

The ability to absorb and solidify liquid waste has been around for many years but has not always been considered acceptable. The old-school technique of using clay “oil dry” material is unreliable and inefficient; absorbed volumes are high and have the tendency to form “islands,” or unabsorbed pockets with free liquids. Brunkow likens it to the clumping of kitty litter.

The difference with Nochar is that its combination of high-tech polymer crystals absorbs oil efficiently and with little increase in volume. It can even take on the consistency of rubber with the right formula.

Nochar’s uses vary from free-liquid control in storage and transport to the disposal of low-level radioactive waste and mixed waste. In addition to being a ready-to-use “enabling technology,” Nochar is clean and safe. Its polymer crystals are nontoxic, nonbiodegradable, and incinerable to less than 0.02% ash with an absorbent capacity of up to 15:1 (ratio of oil to solidification agent by weight). Nochar also makes polymer products that address aqueous-based waste material.
The Mound LSDDP found that Nochar was versatile, safe, easy to use, and cost-effective. The testing proved that the polymer solidifying agent can produce considerable savings for Miamisburg, as well as for other DOE cleanup projects.

The future of Nochar

Solidified mixed waste oil after Nochar treatment is placed in a high-density polyethylene burial liner.DOE plans to continue deployment of Nochar PetroBond at additional sites. It’s been tested and is being considered for use at Sandia National Laboratories, Savannah River, Rocky Flats, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, and Ashtabula, Ohio. To address the unique characteristics of each site’s oil, a specific combination of Nochar polymers was prepared to ensure successful application.
In addition to its use within the United States, Nochar PetroBond is also generating interest internationally. Companies in Canada, Mexico, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Taiwan are working with Nochar Corporation to implement the technology abroad.

“It’s been a success everywhere we’ve tested it,” Brunkow says. “It’s just a matter of getting it into people’s hands and into use.”

For more information on Nochar PetroBond®, see the Web site at http://www.doe-md.gov/LSDD/nochar.htm, or contact Nochar at (317) 613-3046, Nochar@IN.Net.


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