Title: Recovery of Actinides from Spent Nuclear Fuel by Pyrochemical Reprocessing
Authors: SOUCEK PavelMALMBECK RikardMENDES EricNOURRY ChristopheGLATZ Jean-Paul
Citation: Proceedings of Global 2009 p. Paper 9217 (1156-1165)
Publisher: French Nuclear Energy Society (SFEN)
Publication Year: 2009
JRC N°: JRC56079
URI: https://www.sfen.fr/index.php/plain_site/global_2009
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: The Partitioning & Transmutation (P&T) strategy is based on reduction of the long-term radiotoxicity of spent nuclear fuel by recovery and recycling of plutonium and minor actinides, i.e. Np, Am and Cm. Regardless if transmutation of actinides is conceived by a heterogeneous accelerator driven system, fast reactor concept or as integrated waste burning with a homogenous recycling of all actinides, the reprocessed fuels used are likely to be significantly different from the commercial fuels of today. Because of the fuel type and the high burn-up reached, traditional hydrometallurgical reprocessing such as used today might not be the most adequate method. The main reasons are the low solubility of some fuel materials in acidic aqueous solutions and the limited radiation stability of the organic solvents used in extraction processes. Therefore, pyrochemical separation techniques are under development worldwide, usually based on electrochemical methods, reductive extraction in a high temperature molten salt solvent or fluoride volatility techniques. The pyrochemical reprocessing developed in ITU is based on electrorefining of metallic fuel in molten LiCl-KCl using solid aluminium cathodes. This is followed by a chlorination process for the recovery of actinides from formed actinide-aluminium alloys, and exhaustive electrolysis is proposed for the clean-up of salt from the remaining actinides. In this paper, the main achievements in the electrorefining process are summarised together with results of the most recent experimental studies on characterisation of actinides-aluminium intermetallic compounds. U, Np and Pu alloys were investigated by electrochemical techniques using solid aluminium electrodes and the alloys formed by electrodeposition of the individual actinides were analysed by XRD and SEM-EDX. Some thermodynamic properties were determined from the measurements (standard electrode potentials, Gibbs energy, enthalpy and entropy of formation) as well as information about chemical composition and structure of the deposits from electrolyses on solid aluminium electrodes.
JRC Directorate:Nuclear Safety and Security

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