Description: Laboratory-scale tests on methods for recovering uranium and thorium from graphite-base reactor fuel elements are reported. The 90% HNO/sub 3/ process, which involves simultaneous disintegration and leaching in 21 M HNO/sub 3/, is applicable to all fuel elenments which do not contain coated fuel particles. Leaching of irradiated (0.001% burnup) fuels containing 3 and 12% uranlum recovered approximates 99.3 and 99.9%, respectively, of the uranium in two 4-hr leaches with boiling acid. The graphite residue retained > 50% of the long-lived fission products. Three successive leaches of fuel containing uranium and thorium recovered approximates 99% of both elements. Uranium recoveries by combustion in oxygen followed by dissolution of the ash hn nitric acid or fluorlde-catalyzed nitric acid are quantitative only when the fuel is not coated, does not contain Al/sub 2/O/sub 3/-coated fuel particles, and is free from impurities such as iron. During combustion up to 95% of the Ru-106 was volatilized from irradiated specimens. Recoveries, by leaching with 70% HNO/sub 3/, from fuel specimens containing Al/sub 2/O/sub 3/-coated fuel particles were greater than 99% when the specimens were ground finer than 200 mesh to ensure crushing of the fuel particles. (auth)
Date: November 30, 1961
Creator: Ferris, L.M.; Kibbey, A.H. & Bradley, M.J.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department