Chop-Leach Dissolution of Commercial Reactor Fuel

Kessinger, G. F.; Thompson, M. C.
July 2003
AIP Conference Proceedings;2003, Vol. 673 Issue 1, p288
Conference Proceeding
The Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI) program is being developed to address the disposal of commercial spent nuclear fuel and improve the performance of the geologic repository. To decrease the volume of waste sent to the repository, commercial fuel would be processed and separated into multiple components: a transuranic (TRU) stream to be converted to AFCI fuel and transmuted by fissioning to generate electrical power; separate [sup99]Tc and [sup129]I streams to be converted into targets for transmutation to short-lived nuclides; a U stream that meets the criteria for Class C low-level waste; and a high-level waste stream for repository disposal. To achieve the AFCI separation objectives, new and innovative processes are under development. One such process is the uranium extraction (UREX) process. The UREX process is based on the well-known PUREX process (Pu extraction from irradiated U); however, in UREX, U and Tc are extracted into the organic phase (U and Tc are subsequently stripped into separate streams), but the other actinides and nonvolatile fission products reside in the aqueous raffinate. The primary goal of the present work was to demonstrate the use of the chop-leach (with nitric acid) process to produce a feed solution for the UREX process (nominally 290 g/L U and 1 M H[sup+]). The secondary goal was to test the efficacy of this treatment for leaching actinides from Zircaloy cladding.


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