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Title: Characterization of the Kinetics of NF3-Fluorination of NpO2

The exploitation of selected actinide and fission product fluoride volatilities has long been considered as a potentially attractive compact method for recycling used nuclear fuels to avoid generating the large volumes of radioactive waste arising from aqueous reprocessing [1-7]. The most developed process uses the aggressive and hazardous fluorinating agents hydrogen fluoride (HF) and/or molecular fluorine (F2) at high temperatures to volatilize the greatest fraction of the used nuclear fuel into a single gas stream. The volatilized fluorides are subsequently separated using a series of fractionation and condensation columns to recover the valuable fuel constituents and fission products. In pursuit of a safer and less complicated approach, we investigated an alternative fluoride volatility-based process using the less hazardous fluorinating agent nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) and leveraging its less aggressive nature to selectively evolve fission product and actinide fluorides from the solid phase based on their reaction temperatures into a single recycle stream [8-15]. In this approach, successive isothermal treatments using NF3 will first evolve the more thermally susceptible used nuclear fuel constituents leaving the other constituents in the residual solids until subsequent isothermal temperature treatments cause these others to volatilize. During investigation of this process, individual neat used fuel components weremore » treated with isothermal NF3 in an attempt to characterize the kinetics of each fluorination reaction to provide input into the design of a new volatile fluoride separations approach. In these directed investigations, complex behavior was observed between NF3 and certain solid reactants such as the actinide oxides of uranium, plutonium, and neptunium. Given the similar thermal reaction susceptibilities of neptunium oxide (NpO2) and uranium dioxide (UO2) and the importance of Np and U, we initially focused our efforts on determining the reaction kinetic parameters for NpO2. Characterizing the NF3 fluorination of NpO2 using established models for gas-solid reactions [16] proved unsuccessful so we developed a series of successive fundamental reaction mechanisms to characterize the observed successive fluorination reactions leading to production of the volatile neptunium hexafluoride (NpF6).« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 2158-3226
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: AIP Advances; Journal Volume: 5; Journal Issue: 12
American Institute of Physics (AIP)
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States