The Columbia River in Washington State is threatened by the radioactive legacy of the cold war. Two hundred thousand cubic meters (fifty-three million US gallons) of radioactive waste is stored in 177 underground tanks (60% of the Nation’s radioactive waste). A vast complex of waste treatment facilities is being built to convert this waste into stable glass (vitrification). The waste in these underground tanks is a combination of sludge, slurry, and liquid. The waste will be transported to a pre-treatment facility where it will be processed before vitrification. It is necessary to keep the solids in suspension during processing. The mixing devices selected for this task are known as pulse-jet mixers (PJMs). PJMs cyclically empty and refill with the contents of the vessel to keep it mixed. The transient operation of the PJMs has been proven successful in a number of applications, but needs additional evaluation to be proven effective for the slurries and requirements at the Waste Treatment Plant (WTP). Computational fluid dynamic (CFD) models of mixing vessels have been developed to demonstrate the ability of the PJMs to meet mixing criteria. Experimental studies have been performed to validate these models. These tests show good agreement with the transient multiphase CFD models developed for this engineering challenge.

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