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Uranium dioxide electrolysis

United States Patent

December 29, 2009
View the Complete Patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office
Argonne National Laboratory - Visit the Technology Development and Commercialization Website
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.
Willit; James L. (Batavia, IL), Ackerman; John P. (Prescott, AZ), Williamson; Mark A. (Naperville, IL)
The United States of America as represented by the United States Department of Energy (Washington, DC), N/A (
11/ 215,202
August 24, 2005
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.