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Commercial Alkali-Metal Experience

CEI's experience covers a range of topics including safety protocols, purification techniques, handling procedures, and the properties and behavior of alkali metals in various environments. With the increasing demand for alkali metals in various industries, the commercial alkali-metal experience is becoming an increasingly important area of expertise.

CEI has completed a significant amount of work with alkali metals for non-nuclear applications. Listed below is a brief description of other projects that CEI has led or participated in:

Research and Development in sodium purification

Drained a large sodium heat transfer system and reacted residual quantities of sodium from a complex network of sodium-contaminated piping, tanks, and heat exchangers using superheated steam processing.

CEI cleaned (reacted to sodium hydroxide) the contents of a large storage tank bearing approximately 6,000 pounds of sodium metal using the superheated steam process.

NaK was used as a catalyst to produce specialty rubbers. When the system was shut down, CEI reacted the remaining NaK and NaK residues to form hydroxides to clean out the system of tanks and pipelines.

CEI completed the final de-activation of suspected accumulation of sodium catalyst in a very large chemical storage tank.

 Worked with SARA, Inc. to test a system to convert ocean-wave energy to electricity, using magneto hydrodynamics (MHD) generators that use NaK as the working fluid.

Callery Chemical Company (now a division of BASF) – Some of the alkali metal projects completed while at Callery Chemical Company were:

  • Designed, installed and implemented a bulk NaK production facility which allowed Callery to increase the commercial supply for NaK, and improved the quality such that all NaK met high purity standards.

  • Designed, installed, and implemented a system for safe deactivation of alkali metals (potassium, sodium and NaK) by reaction with steam to produce potassium and sodium hydroxides and hydrogen. The system was used to react alkali metals in vessels, drums, and shipping cylinders to effect a thorough reaction of the alkali metal. This system has been safely used for 20+ years for cleanout of alkali metals with excellent reliability.

  • Upgraded an existing facility for production of potassium metal from 2,000 pounds per day to more than 10,000 pounds per day.

  • Designed, installed, and implemented an upgraded system to manufacture potassium superoxide using potassium as the primary raw material. The system has been used for more than 20 years to produce up to 600 tons per year of potassium superoxide.

  • Redesigned the commercial potassium and NaK production facilities to eliminate greater than 99% of the impurities. This resulted in commercial grade potassium and NaK that met high purity standards.

  • Redesigned the NaK and potassium shipping container to make it safer, more rugged, and simpler to use. Secured a DOT exemption for use of the containers.

  • Designed, installed, and implemented a large automated system for reaction of alkali metals such as potassium, sodium, and NaK with alcohols for the production of alkali-metal alcoholates.

  • Using Sodium Metal as a Raw Material CEI has designed, built, and started-up systems for production of other metals. Because of customer concerns for confidentiality, these products and customer identities are not listed here.

  • Sodium Methylate - CEI has designed complete systems for making sodium methylate. Designs have included sodium handling, raw material storage, reaction systems, and product handling. Worldwide sodium methylate production has increased recently because of its pre-eminent use as the catalyst to make biodiesel. CEI has designed both batch and continuous processing techniques.

  • KMR Dispersions, LLC

    • Installation and operation of a unit for manufacturing sodium dispersion on CEI’s plant site in York, PA - Creative Engineers, Inc., as part owner of KMR Dispersions, LLC, has operated the production facility for manufacturing sodium dispersion for more than ten years. Sodium dispersion is used in the treatment and remediation of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls).

    • Design and manufacturing of specialty electromagnetic pumps and flow meters

    • Design and fabrication of a mobile, skid-mounted alkali metal destruction system which CEI takes to customer sites for on-site sodium and NaK treatment with superheated steam.

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