A cathode-anode arrangement for use in an electrolytic cell is adapted for electrochemically refining spent nuclear fuel from a nuclear reactor and recovering purified uranium for further treatment and possible recycling as a fresh blanket or core fuel in a nuclear reactor. The arrangement includes a plurality of inner anodic dissolution baskets that are each attached to a respective support rod, are submerged in a molten lithium halide salt, and are rotationally displaced. An inner hollow cylindrical-shaped cathode is concentrically disposed about the inner anodic dissolution baskets. Concentrically disposed about the inner cathode in a spaced manner are a plurality of outer anodic dissolution baskets, while an outer hollow cylindrical-shaped is disposed about the outer anodic dissolution baskets. Uranium is transported from the anode baskets and deposited in a uniform cylindrical shape on the inner and outer cathode cylinders by rotating the anode baskets within the molten lithium halide salt. Scrapers located on each anode basket abrade and remove the spent fuel deposits on the surfaces of the inner and outer cathode cylinders, with the spent fuel falling to the bottom of the cell for removal. Cell resistance is reduced and uranium deposition rate enhanced by increasing the electrode area and reducing the anode-cathode spacing. Collection efficiency is enhanced by trapping and recovery of uranium dendrites scrapped off of the cylindrical cathodes which may be greater in number than two.
CONTRACTURAL 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 (DOE) and the University of Chicago representing Argonne National Laboratory.