Y-12 Honored with DOE Sustainability Partnership Award

Source: CNS Y-12 | Press Release | February 2, 2023

Oak Ridge, Tenn.—How do you reduce greenhouse gases, minimize waste, and improve waste treatment on a large scale? The answer for the Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12) is through teamwork.

Y-12 recently received a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Sustainability Award for Strategic Partnerships for Sustainability. The Y-12 team was recognized for its efforts to improve efficiency, sustainability, and resiliency of the site through partnerships with other DOE contractors and private companies.

The partnership efforts for which the team was recognized include Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) implementation, including facilitating the reuse of refrigerant, using additive manufacturing for unique part production, and implementing wastewater treatment process improvements.

Reusing refrigerant, reducing energy use and cost

Cylinders of refrigerant to be sent for reclamation.

Y-12 is replacing outdated equipment with energy-efficient equipment that reduces the site’s energy and water use and does not use greenhouse-gas-producing refrigerants. Part of that effort involves the safe removal of refrigerants from the systems. Initially, those refrigerants were destined for a reclamation company, but the DOE’s Savannah River Site had a need for the material, and the plan was modified.

Partnering with Johnson Controls Inc. and SRS, Y-12 was able to begin shipping cylinders of refrigerant to a vendor for reclamation and then to SRS for continued use. This transfer allows SRS to avoid the cost of purchasing this needed material, which is in addition to the documented cost avoidance of the ESPC work at Y-12.

This Y-12 ESPC initiative reduces power use by more than 10 million kWh each year with an associated savings of almost $500,000 in electricity. The project also reduces water consumption by more than 55 million gallons per year, with an associated savings of approximately $140,000.

Minimal waste, miniscule tolerances

In general, additive manufacturing minimizes waste by reducing the amount of scrap produced. When working with the U.S. Army at White Sands Missile Range, Y-12 took this advantage a step further by fabricating an irregular part with a crooked hole using limited material. Y-12 then machined the material exactly to specifications, working with tolerances of ±0.002 inches (about half the thickness of a dollar bill).

Improving wastewater processing

The upgrades to the West End Treatment Facility reduced chemical usage and eliminated obsolete equipment.

Since the late 1990s, wastewater had been captured in a holding tank that required treatment with large quantities of chemicals prior to safe release. After treatment, 400,000-plus-gallon batches were discharged to East Fork Popular Creek.

Reducing both the quantity of chemicals and the flow of discharge was the preferable situation. LATA Atkins Technical Services, Inc. (LATS) and Y-12 collaborated to complete requested upgrades to the treatment system, including allowing in-line pH adjustments using fewer chemicals along with direct discharge. This upgrade also eliminated obsolete equipment.

“Working with partners such as Johnson Controls, LATS, the U.S. Army, and the Savannah River Site allowed us to realize cost savings and improve sustainability and site resilience,” said Jan Jackson, Y-12

Sustainability and Stewardship manager. “Strategic partnerships expand our vision and provide the best result for the environment.”