Zone Freezing Study for Pyrochemical Process Waste Minimization

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Pyroprocessing technology is a non-aqueous separation process for treatment of used nuclear fuel. At the heart of pyroprocessing lies the electrorefiner, which electrochemically dissolves uranium from the used fuel at the anode and deposits it onto a cathode. During this operation, sodium, transuranics, and fission product chlorides accumulate in the electrolyte salt (LiCl-KCl). These contaminates change the characteristics of the salt overtime and as a result, large volumes of contaminated salt are being removed, reprocessed and stored as radioactive waste. To reduce the storage volumes and improve recycling process for cost minimization, a salt purification method called zone freezing has ... continued below

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Williams, Ammon May 1, 2012.

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Pyroprocessing technology is a non-aqueous separation process for treatment of used nuclear fuel. At the heart of pyroprocessing lies the electrorefiner, which electrochemically dissolves uranium from the used fuel at the anode and deposits it onto a cathode. During this operation, sodium, transuranics, and fission product chlorides accumulate in the electrolyte salt (LiCl-KCl). These contaminates change the characteristics of the salt overtime and as a result, large volumes of contaminated salt are being removed, reprocessed and stored as radioactive waste. To reduce the storage volumes and improve recycling process for cost minimization, a salt purification method called zone freezing has been proposed at Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI). Zone freezing is melt crystallization process similar to the vertical Bridgeman method. In this process, the eutectic salt is slowly cooled axially from top to bottom. As solidification occurs, the fission products are rejected from the solid interface and forced into the liquid phase. The resulting product is a grown crystal with the bulk of the fission products near the bottom of the salt ingot, where they can be easily be sectioned and removed. Despite successful feasibility report from KAERI on this process, there were many unexplored parameters to help understanding and improving its operational routines. Thus, this becomes the main motivation of this proposed study. The majority of this work has been focused on the CsCl-LiCl-KCl ternary salt. CeCl3-LiCl-KCl was also investigated to check whether or not this process is feasible for the trivalent species—surrogate for rare-earths and transuranics. For the main part of the work, several parameters were varied, they are: (1) the retort advancement rate—1.8, 3.2, and 5.0 mm/hr, (2) the crucible lid configurations—lid versus no-lid, (3) the amount or size of mixture—50 and 400 g, (4) the composition of CsCl in the salt—1, 3, and 5 wt%, and (5) the temperature differences between the high and low furnace zones—200 and 300 ?C. During each experiment, the temperatures at selected locations around the crucible were measured and recorded to provide temperature profiles. Following each experiment, samples were collected and elemental analysis was done to determine the composition of iii the salt. Several models—non-mixed, well-mixed, Favier, and hybrid—were explored to describe the zone freezing process. For CsCl-LiCl-KCl system, experimental results indicate that through this process up to 90% of the used salt can be recycled, effectively reducing waste volume by a factor of ten. The optimal configuration was found to be a 5.0 mm/hr rate with a lid configuration and a ?T of 200°C. The larger 400 g mixtures had recycle percentages similar to the 50 g mixtures; however, the throughput per time was greater for the 400 g case. As a result, the 400 g case is recommended. For the CeCl3-LiCl-KCl system, the result implies that it is possible to use this process to separate the rare-earth and transuranics chlorides. Different models were applied to only CsCl ternary system. The best fit model was the hybrid model as a result of a solute transport transition from non- mixed to well-mixed throughout the growing process.

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  • Report No.: INL/EXT-12-26425
  • Grant Number: DE-AC07-05ID14517
  • DOI: 10.2172/1056012 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1056012
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc828617

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  • May 1, 2012

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 9:45 a.m.

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  • Dec. 9, 2016, 9:47 p.m.

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Williams, Ammon. Zone Freezing Study for Pyrochemical Process Waste Minimization, report, May 1, 2012; Idaho Falls, Idaho. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc828617/: accessed July 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.