A resin slurry venting analysis was conducted to address safety issues associated with overpressurization of ion exchange columns used in the Purex process at the Savannah River Site (SRS). If flow to these columns were inadvertently interrupted, an exothermic runaway reaction could occur between the ion exchange resin and the nitric acid used in the feed stream. The nitric acid-resin reaction generates significant quantities of noncondensable gases, which would pressurize the column. To prevent the column from rupturing during such events, rupture disks are installed on the column vent lines.
The venting analysis models accelerating rate calorimeter (ARC) tests and data from tests that were performed in a vented test vessel with a rupture disk. The tests showed that the pressure inside the test vessel continued to increase after the rupture disk opened, though at a slower rate than prior to the rupture. Calculated maximum discharge rates for the resin venting tests exceeded the measured rates of gas generation, so the vent size was sufficient to relieve the pressure in the test vessel if the vent flow rate was constant. The increase in the vessel pressure is modeled as a transient phenomenon associated with expansion of the resin slurry/gas mixture upon rupture of the disk. It is postulated that the maximum pressure at the end of this expansion is limited by energy minimization to approximately 1.5 times the rupture disk burst pressure. The magnitude of this pressure increase is consistent with the measured pressure transients. The results of this analysis demonstrate the need to allow for a margin between the design pressure and the rupture disk burst pressure in similar applications.