November 26, 2019

Photos: Fred deSousa, Bechtel National Inc.

Glassblowers long ago discovered that adding certain materials to sand during the melting process not only changes the color of glass, but it also locks the added material into the glass forever. Iron, for example, gives glass a bluish-green hue. Once melted into the glass, the iron can never reconstitute. Researchers later discovered they could lock all sorts of radioactive wastes into glass, too.

The Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant project (WTP) in Washington state will use a comparable concept (developed in part by researchers at Catholic University’s Vitreous State Laboratory) to safely lock away radioactive waste produced during the Cold War.

Bechtel, the construction company which is building the Hanford Waste Treatment Center, recently published a blog entry detailing Catholic University’s contributions to this effort. Read more at