Development of Acetic Acid Removal Technology for the UREX+Process Page: 3 of 147
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It is imperative that acetic acid is removed from a waste stream in the UREX+ process so
that nitric acid can be recycled and possible interference with downstream steps can be avoided.
Acetic acid arises from acetohydroxamic acid (AHA), and is used to suppress plutonium in the
first step of the UREX+ process. Later, it is hydrolyzed into hydroxyl amine nitrate and acetic
acid. Many common separation technologies were examined, and solvent extraction was
determined to be the best choice under process conditions. Solvents already used in the UREX+
process were then tested to determine if they would be sufficient for the removal of acetic acid.
The tributyl phosphate (TBP)-dodecane diluent, used in both UREX and NPEX, was determined
to be a solvent system that gave sufficient distribution coefficients for acetic acid in addition to a
high separation factor from nitric acid. This solvent system was tested under various TBP
concentrations in the dodecane to provide information that can be used for further flow sheet
development. The role of water in the acetic acid removal step was quantified in this study and
is reported here. The performance of the annual centrifugal contactor for this acetic acid removal
step was also quantified and reported here.
Each step in the UREX+ process was examined to determine if there was any acetic acid
interference in the performance of any step of the UREX+ flow sheet that would make it
necessary to remove the acetic acid prior to that step. It was found that no interference with
acetic acid was present. Therefore, the acetic acid removal step can be placed essentially
anywhere in the process. For simplicity, it has been proposed to place the removal step at the end
of the process after TALSPEAK where all desirable metals have already been extracted and the
nitric acid waste stream is prepared to be recycled.
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Counce, Robert M. & Watson, Jack S. Development of Acetic Acid Removal Technology for the UREX+Process, report, June 30, 2009; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc927996/m1/3/: accessed December 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.