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 »
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