An Investigation of the destruction of ion exchange resins
Ion exchange resins are used for many purposes in various areas of science and commerce. One example is the use of cation exchange resins in the nuclear industry for the clean up of radioactively contaminated water (for example the removal of 137Cs). However, during removal of radionuclides, the resin itself becomes radioactively contaminated, and must be treated as Intermediate Level Waste. This radioactive contamination of the resin creates a disposal problem. Conventionally, there are two main avenues of disposal for industrial wastes, landfill burial or incineration. However, these are regarded as inappropriate for the disposal of the cation exchange resin involved in this project. Thus, a method involving the use of Fenton's Reagent (Hydrogen Peroxide/soluble Iron catalyst) to destroy the resin by wet oxidation has been developed. This process converts 95% of the solid resin to gaseous CO2, thus greatly reducing the volume of radioactive waste that has to be disposed of. However, hydrogen peroxide is an expensive reagent, and is a major component of the cost of any potential plant for the destruction of ion exchange resin. The aim of my project has been to discover a way of improving the efficiency of the destruction of the resin thus reducing the cost involved in the use of hydrogen peroxide. The work on this problem has been concentrated in two main areas:-1) Use of analytical techniques such as NMR and IR to follow the process of the hydrogen peroxide destruction of both resin beads and model systems such as water soluble calixarenes. 2) Use of various physical and chemical techniques in an attempt to improve the overall efficiency of hydrogen peroxide utilization. Examples of these techniques include UV irradiation, both with and without a photocatalyst, oxygen carrying molecules and various stirring regimes.