Remediation of low-level mixed waste: Cellulose-based materials and plutonium

Kimberly L. Ogden, Gregory E. Ogden, John L. Hanners, Pat J. Unkefer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Low-level mixed radioactive wastes containing cellulose-based materials and plutonium have been generated during various nuclear processing activities. Biological digestion of the organic- or cellulose- based material was examined as an environmentally acceptable and effective method of treatment for these and other similar wastes. Cellulase enzyme was used to initiate biodegradation prior to 90% destruction of the cellulose material by a sewage sludge consortium. Plutonium did not significantly effect the biodegradation. Bench-scale experimental data were used to design a batch treatment system. A cost and sensitivity analysis was performed to determine the optimal reactor size, materials of construction and media type. The sensitivity analysis indicated that while a 12-month treatment scenario using a carbon steel ball mill, sludge digester and vacuum thickener was the least expensive scenario evaluated on a levelized cost basis ($800 per ton of waste degraded per month), the 12-month scenario using stainless steel construction and the alternative dewatering system offered the most cost-effective treatment alternative and better corrosion resistance (levelized cost of $1130 per ton per month). The dewatering system consisting of a disk centrifuge and sludge dryer is capable of doubling the sludge solids content and produce an overall waste reduction of 67%. The proposed waste treatment system offers a cost savings of up to 31% compared to conventional disposal practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-130
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Nov 1996


  • Biodegradation
  • Cellulose-based material
  • Cheese cloth
  • Plutonium
  • Radioactive waste
  • Remediation cost analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Remediation of low-level mixed waste: Cellulose-based materials and plutonium'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this