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Pyroprocess for processing spent nuclear fuel

United States Patent

6,461,576
October 8, 2002
View the Complete Patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office
Argonne National Laboratory - Visit the Technology Development and Commercialization Website
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.
Miller; William E. (Naperville, IL), Tomczuk; Zygmunt (Lockport, IL)
(Washington, DC)
09/ 657,003
September 7, 2000
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.