Electrochemical incineration of C-14-containing liquid wastes - first results and outlook
Liquid radioactive wastes containing carbon-14 are not acceptable for radioactive waste repository. At present incineration is the only approved way of treatment in Germany. But capacities are limited and incineration by itself is known to be a technically complex and rather expansive process. Therefore within an experimental proof of concept it should be examined whether an electrochemical incineration process is also applicable for this purpose. The R&D activities mainly comprised the gathering of informations about the chemical nature and constitution of such liquid wastes from enterprises, research laboratories and a number of the state owned collecting facilities, numerous electrochemical examinations with typical organic substances and finally electrolysis tests with original carbon-14 waste solution at lab-scale. We were able to demonstrate that electrochemical oxidation permits almost quantitative mineralization of the organic waste substances. The carbon dioxide released during electrolysis was completely fixed as solid calcium carbonate which is acceptable for final repository. An estimate shows that incomparison to conventional incineration a substantial decrease in the costs of treatment and repository can be expected. With regard to technical application further steps of development are necessary.