Evaluation of the Hydraulic Capacity and Mass Transfer Efficiency of the CSSX Process with the Optimized Solvent in a Single Stage of 5.5-cm-Diameter Centrifugal Contactor
The Caustic-Side Solvent Extraction (CSSX) process has been selected for the separation of cesium from Savannah River Site high-level waste. The solvent composition used in the CSSX process was recently optimized so that the solvent is no longer supersaturated with respect to the calixarene crown ether extractant. Hydraulic performance and mass transfer efficiency testing of a single stage of 5.5-cm ORNL-designed centrifugal contactor has been performed for the CSSX process with the optimized
... ith the optimized solvent. Maximum throughputs of the 5.5-cm centrifugal contactor, as a function of contactor rotor speed, have been measured for the extraction, scrub, strip, and wash sections of the CSSX flowsheet at the baseline organic/aqueous flow ratios (O/A) of the process, as well as at O/A's 20% higher and 20% lower than the baseline. Maximum throughputs are comparable to the design throughput of the contactor, as well as with throughputs obtained previously in a 5-cm centrifugal contactor with the non-optimized CSSX solvent formulation. The 20% variation in O/A had minimal effect on contactor throughput. Additionally, mass transfer efficiencies have been determined for the extraction and strip sections of the flowsheet. Efficiencies were lower than the process goal of ≥ 80%, ranging from 72 to 75% for the extraction section and from 36 to 60% in the strip section. Increasing the mixing intensity and/or the solution level in the mixing zone of the centrifugal contactor (residence time) could potentially increase efficiencies. Several methods are available to accomplish this including (1) increasing the size of the opening in the bottom of the rotor, resulting in a contactor which is partially pumping instead of fully pumping, (2) decreasing the number of vanes in the contactor, (3) increasing the vane height, or (4) adding vanes on the rotor and baffles on the housing of the contactor. The low efficiency results obtained stress the importance of proper design of a centrifugal contactor for use in the CSSX process. A prototype of any centrifugal contactors designed for future pilot-scale or full-scale processing should be thoroughly tested prior to implementation.