Alkali-Metal Remediation

Creative Engineers, Inc., specializes in removal of alkali metals from tanks, piping, cold traps, and other components. Sodium, potassium, lithium, and various alloys such as NaK present a significant hazard to clean up. A number of processes have been developed over the years, but only one promises to clean up both large and small quantities in a controlled manner.

The list of potential processes includes:

  • Superheated Steam (SHS)
  • Water Vapor Nitrogen (WVN)
  • Water sprays (only in very rare situations)
  • Water filling (only in very rare situations)
  • Dissolving the residues in ammonia
  • Alcohol washing
  • Flowing a solvent with a reactant (alcohol) through the system weathering

photo of Creative Engineers staff Suited up for caustic and radiological hazards

Proper technique selection is generally driven by safety considerations. CEI evaluates each system containing sodium, NaK, or other alkali metals for the unique hazards involved in the installation or situation. Each system will be evaluated with regard to:

  • How well it can be drained
  • Disposition of removed sodium
  • Whether or not the tank or system be cleaned in place
  • Advantages of removing the equipment for cleaning
  • Cleaning technique to be applied
  • Whether or not the system be re-used
  • Final disposition of system and components
  • Safety and radiological requirements

CEI has a working knowledge of all the processes above for sodium, potassium, and/or NaK. Through more than 30 years of regular hands-on experience, CEI’s staff has come to believe that the superheated-steam process is best. This endorsement of one particular process is not taken lightly, because the clean-up projects typically involve CEI’s owners actually running the process. They are personally at risk and go to extreme lengths to prepare systems and procedures to ensure the safety of their crews, the customer’s equipment, and themselves.

> Important Information on caustic stress corrosion cracking (CSCC)

> Why choose superheated steam?