This is a single stage process for treating spent nuclear fuel from light water reactors. The spent nuclear fuel, uranium oxide, UO.sub.2, is added to a solution of UCl.sub.4 dissolved in molten LiCl. A carbon anode and a metallic cathode is positioned in the molten salt bath. A power source is connected to the electrodes and a voltage greater than or equal to 1.3 volts is applied to the bath. At the anode, the carbon is oxidized to form carbon dioxide and uranium chloride. At the cathode, uranium is electroplated. The uranium chloride at the cathode reacts with more uranium oxide to continue the reaction. The process may also be used with other transuranic oxides and rare earth metal oxides.
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.