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Title: Laboratory studies of shear/leach processing of zircaloy clad metallic uranium reactor fuel

Laboratory studies of shear/leach processing of zircaloy clad metallic uranium reactor fuel The safety aspects addressed centered on understanding and explaining the undesirable reactions, ''fires,'' observed in a few instances during earlier processing of such fuel at the Nuclear Fuels Services (NFS) plant at West Valley, New York. Consideration of the dissolver fires that occurred at NFS leads to the conclusion that they resulted from rapid reactions with uranium metal, rather than with zirconium metal or with sensitized weld beads. The fires observed at NFS during hulls handling operations may have involved sensitized weld beads as suggested by earlier investigators, but current results suggest that these fires also could have been caused by reactions involving uranium metal. Very little pyrophoric activity was observed in leeached cladding hulls, indicating a very low probability for safety problems resulting from the U-Zr intermetallic zone in N-Reactor fuel. Consideration of the potential role of hydrides in the fires observed at NFS indicates that they were also not important factors. Consideration was also given to protective atmospheres to be used during shearing to prevent excessive reaction during that operation. A water deluge during shearing will likely provide adequate safety while meshing well with other process considerations. Studies on the dissolution of metallic uranium in nitric acid show more » an initial slower reaction followed by a faster reaction that proceeds at a sustained rate for a prolonged period of time. At solution concentrations typical of those encountered in practical uranium dissolver conditions, this sustained rate is governed by an equation such as: Dissolution rate = K (surface area) ((HNO3)+2(U))/sup 2.6/. Little difference was found in dissolution rates of as-fabricated and of irradiated fuel. The transuranic element content of leached cladding hulls was found to be approx. 400 nCi/g. This is too high to allow disposal as low-level waste. « less
Authors: ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:6315563
Report Number(s):PNL-5708
ON: DE86005100
DOE Contract Number:AC06-76RL01830
Resource Type:Technical Report
Data Type:
Resource Relation:Other Information: Portions of this document are illegible in microfiche products. Original copy available until stock is exhausted
Research Org:Pacific Northwest Labs., Richland, WA (USA)
Country of Publication:United States
Language:English
Subject: 11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; SPENT FUELS; ZIRFLEX PROCESS; URANIUM; DISSOLUTION; CHEMICAL DECLADDING; CHEMICAL REACTIONS; EXPERIMENTAL DATA; LEACHING; NITRIC ACID; SPENT FUEL ELEMENTS; TRANSURANIUM ELEMENTS; ZIRCALOY; ACTINIDES; ALLOYS; DATA; DECLADDING; ELEMENTS; ENERGY SOURCES; FUEL ELEMENTS; FUELS; HEAD END PROCESSES; HYDROGEN COMPOUNDS; INFORMATION; INORGANIC ACIDS; MATERIALS; METALS; NUCLEAR FUELS; NUMERICAL DATA; REACTOR COMPONENTS; REACTOR MATERIALS; REPROCESSING; SEPARATION PROCESSES; TIN ALLOYS; ZIRCONIUM ALLOYS; ZIRCONIUM BASE ALLOYS 050800* -- Nuclear Fuels-- Spent Fuels Reprocessing