A process for recovering fissile materials such as uranium, and plutonium, and rare earth elements, from complex waste feed material, and converting the remaining wastes into a waste glass suitable for storage or disposal. The waste feed is mixed with a dissolution glass formed of lead oxide and boron oxide resulting in oxidation, dehalogenation, and dissolution of metal oxides. Carbon is added to remove lead oxide, and a boron oxide fusion melt is produced. The fusion melt is essentially devoid of organic materials and halogens, and is easily and rapidly dissolved in nitric acid. After dissolution, uranium, plutonium and rare earth elements are separated from the acid and recovered by processes such as PUREX or ion exchange. The remaining acid waste stream is vitrified to produce a waste glass suitable for storage or disposal. Potential waste feed materials include plutonium scrap and residue, miscellaneous spent nuclear fuel, and uranium fissile wastes. The initial feed materials may contain mixtures of metals, ceramics, amorphous solids, halides, organic material and other carbon-containing material.
This invention was made with Government support under contract DE-AC05-960R22464 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corporation, and the Government has certain rights to this invention.