Operators tested the Blue Grass hydrolysate processing system using chemical solutions that simulate real hydrolysate processing during a 30-day shakedown period that ended in early April. This follows a successful system demonstration using water plus isopropyl alcohol in January.
“The shakedown was designed to be as realistic as possible to train each crew to be proficient on the operation of the supercritical water oxidation, or SCWO, system,” said Dave Apodaca, SCWO deputy manager. “We used a surrogate solution to replace the energetics hydrolysate, as it will now not be produced in the main plant, and a solution to simulate GB nerve agent hydrolysate during this shakedown period.”
Crews started up, operated and shut down SCWO reactors during the shakedown to gain familiarity with the equipment and procedures, Apodaca said. They also tweaked and tuned instrumentation for optimal operations. The crews concentrated on two of the three reactors with one reactor to be selected for a four-month pre-operational assessment after the shakedown results are complete.
“The shakedown went well and provided us good information,” said Chuck Hieronimus, interdisciplinary engineer, Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. “The SCWO team is preparing a report on the results of the activity. Once the report is reviewed and approved, the system is scheduled for a pre-operational assessment to evaluate the sustained performance of the system before we start processing the agent hydrolysate produced by the main plant.”
In operations, the SCWO system will process hydrolysate, the product of the chemical weapons neutralization process, using a high-pressure and -temperature process. Water, carbon dioxide and a brine solution will be the end result.
Progress continues at the site and includes workforce measures in accordance with the most up-to-date guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure their health and to prevent the potential spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.