The efficiency of high-level waste (HLW) melters is limited by spinel settling and accumulation on the melter bottom if the waste loading is increased above a certain limit at which spinel crystallizes from the melt. Spinel accumulation interferes with melter operation and shortens melter lifetime. The mathematical modeling of spinel settling in a HLW melter was applied to define the critical level of spinel deposition during the lifetime of the melter and the corresponding increase in waste loading.
In this study, spinel settled on the bottom, slant melter walls, and in the output pipe with a linear growth of spinel-sludge thickness after its concentration stabilized inside the melter. The calculations provided a higher concentration of spinel crystals in the melter regions where the temperature was lower then the liquidus temperature, i.e., T<TL. The effects of the following parameters on sludge-layer thickness were examined: 1) the impact of input concentration of spinel crystals of the same size, 2) the impact of different input size of spinel crystals of the same concentration entering from cold cap (melting batch on the melt surface), and 3) the influence of the average temperature (Tavg) inside of the melting space. The calculations showed that higher a concentration and bigger crystals caused thicker sludge layers in the melter, either because of a higher settling density of crystals or because of their higher settling rate. The nucleation of spinel crystals plays a more important role with decreasing of average temperature inside of the melter, and the thicker layer was formed at lower average temperatures.