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Separation of the rare-earth fission product poisons from spent nuclear fuel

United States Patent

August 30, 2016
View the Complete Patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office
Idaho National Laboratory - Visit the Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office Website
A method for the separation of the rare-earth fission product poisons comprising providing a spent nuclear fuel. The spent nuclear fuel comprises UO.sub.2 and rare-earth oxides, preferably Sm, Gd, Nd, Eu oxides, with other elements depending on the fuel composition. Preferably, the provided nuclear fuel is a powder, preferably formed by crushing the nuclear fuel or using one or more oxidation-reduction cycles. A compound comprising Th or Zr, preferably metal, is provided. The provided nuclear fuel is mixed with the Th or Zr, thereby creating a mixture. The mixture is then heated to a temperature sufficient to reduce the UO.sub.2 in the nuclear fuel, preferably to at least to C. for Th and up to C. for Zr. Rare-earth metals are then extracted to form the heated mixture thereby producing a treated nuclear fuel. The treated nuclear fuel comprises the provided nuclear fuel having a significant reduction in rare-earths.
Christian; Jerry D. (Idaho Falls, ID), Sterbentz; James W. (Idaho Falls, ID)
U.S. Department of Energy (Washington, DC)
13/ 622,034
September 18, 2012
GOVERNMENT INTERESTS The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. DE-AC07-05ID14517, between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Battelle Energy Alliance.