This is a pyroprocess for processing spent nuclear fuel. The spent nuclear fuel is chopped into pieces and placed in a basket which is lowered in to a liquid salt solution. The salt is rich in ZrF.sub.4 and containing alkali or alkaline earth fluorides, and in particular, the salt chosen was LiF-50 mol % ZrF.sub.4 with a eutectic melting point of 500.degree. C. Prior to lowering the basket, the salt is heated to a temperature of between 550.degree. C. and 700.degree. C. in order to obtain a molten solution. After dissolution the oxides of U, Th, rare earth and other like oxides, the salt bath solution is subject to hydro-fluorination to remove the oxygen and then to a fluorination step to remove U as gaseous UF.sub.6. In addition, after dissolution, the basket contains PuO.sub.2 and undissolved parts of the fuel rods, and the basket and its contents are processed to remove the Pu.
CONTRACTUAL ORIGIN OF THE INVENTION
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-31-109-ENG-38 between the U.S. Department of Energy and the University of Chicago.