SRNL, FIU Collaborate on Fixative Testing to Better Stabilize Contamination

JP Pabon of EM’s Technology Development Office joined Florida International University students and Savannah River National Laboratory representatives in a demonstration of fixative techniques for radioactive materials.

JP Pabon of EM’s Technology Development Office joined Florida International University students and Savannah River National Laboratory representatives in a demonstration of fixative techniques for radioactive materials.

AIKEN, S.C. – EM’s Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) and Florida International University (FIU) are teaming to examine a range of fixative and coating materials that could be a major improvement to help stabilize residual contamination in excess nuclear facilities.

“Once you’ve ‘fixed’ the residual radioactive material in a building and/or a surface, you’ve substantially reduced risk and potential worker exposure,” SRNL engineer Michael Serrato said. “You’ve also created a much more stable envelope for any future disposition activity that may be selected for a facility. Once we can demonstrate the durability of the material we’re using, this can be a very significant tool to use in excess facilities around the world.”

Conventional decontamination and fixating platforms are widely used. Most, however, are inherently flammable. SRNL and FIU tested a number of commercial fixatives and decontamination agents based on parameters that included non-ideal environmental conditions, radiological exposure, and flame testing. FIU performed the flammability testing at temperatures up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit.

While a number of materials have been tested, the fixative material that looks most promising is a commercially available compound typically used as a fireproof coating in the commercial construction industry.

SRNL staff and FIU students conducted a cold test of the material in July at a mockup facility at the Savannah River Site (SRS). The mockup is being used as a training and test facility prior to radiological work in the 235-F facility, an inactive SRS facility that was once used in the processing of plutonium-238 for deep space missions. The cold testing allowed team members to demonstrate application techniques (direct pour versus spray coating application) and quality control measures, and gave the FIU students a firsthand look at the remediation challenges at an excess nuclear facility.

A field demonstration in two locations within the 235-F facility is scheduled for later this month.

Performance monitoring of the fixative material is planned over the last several months of 2018. The various demonstrations enable SRNL staff to develop formal testing standards that could be used in future applications. The activity is being carried out through EM’s Technology Development Office and as part of the DOE-FIU Science and Technology Workforce Development Program, an innovative program between EM and FIU’s Applied Research Center designed to create a “pipeline” of minority engineers specifically trained and mentored to enter the DOE workforce in technical areas of need.

Original article published at https://www.energy.gov/em/articles/srnl-fiu-collaborate-fixative-testing-better-stabilize-contamination

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