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Title: Managing Zirconium Chemistry and Phase Compatibility in Combined Process Separations for Minor Actinide Partitioning

Abstract

In response to the NEUP Program Supporting Fuel Cycle R&D Separations and Waste Forms call DEFOA- 0000799, this report describes the results of an R&D project focusing on streamlining separation processes for advanced fuel cycles. An example of such a process relevant to the U.S. DOE FCR&D program would be one combining the functions of the TRUEX process for partitioning of lanthanides and minor actinides from PUREX(UREX) raffinates with that of the TALSPEAK process for separating transplutonium actinides from fission product lanthanides. A fully-developed PUREX(UREX)/TRUEX/TALSPEAK suite would generate actinides as product(s) for reuse (or transmutation) and fission products as waste. As standalone, consecutive unit-operations, TRUEX and TALSPEAK employ different extractant solutions (solvating (CMPO, octyl(phenyl)-N,Ndiisobutylcarbamoylmethylphosphine oxide) vs. cation exchanging (HDEHP, di-2(ethyl)hexylphosphoric acid) extractants), and distinct aqueous phases (2-4 M HNO 3 vs. concentrated pH 3.5 carboxylic acid buffers containing actinide selective chelating agents). The separate processes may also operate with different phase transfer kinetic constraints. Experience teaches (and it has been demonstrated at the lab scale) that, with proper control, multiple process separation systems can operate successfully. However, it is also recognized that considerable economies of scale could be achieved if multiple operations could be merged into a single process basedmore » on a combined extractant solvent. The task of accountability of nuclear materials through the process(es) also becomes more robust with fewer steps, providing that the processes can be accurately modeled. Work is underway in the U.S. and Europe on developing several new options for combined processes (TRUSPEAK, ALSEP, SANEX, GANEX, ExAm are examples). There are unique challenges associated with the operation of such processes, some relating to organic phase chemistry, others arising from the variable composition of the aqueous medium. This project targets in particular two problematic issues in designing combined process systems: managing the chemistry of challenging aqueous species (like Zr 4+) and optimizing the composition and properties of combined extractant organic phases.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. Washington State Univ., Pullman, WA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Washington State Univ., Pullman, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE)
OSTI Identifier:
1351946
Report Number(s):
13-5350
13-5350
DOE Contract Number:
NE0000674
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL, AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY

Citation Formats

Wall, Nathalie, Nash, Ken, and Martin, Leigh. Managing Zirconium Chemistry and Phase Compatibility in Combined Process Separations for Minor Actinide Partitioning. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.2172/1351946.
Wall, Nathalie, Nash, Ken, & Martin, Leigh. Managing Zirconium Chemistry and Phase Compatibility in Combined Process Separations for Minor Actinide Partitioning. United States. doi:10.2172/1351946.
Wall, Nathalie, Nash, Ken, and Martin, Leigh. Fri . "Managing Zirconium Chemistry and Phase Compatibility in Combined Process Separations for Minor Actinide Partitioning". United States. doi:10.2172/1351946. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1351946.
@article{osti_1351946,
title = {Managing Zirconium Chemistry and Phase Compatibility in Combined Process Separations for Minor Actinide Partitioning},
author = {Wall, Nathalie and Nash, Ken and Martin, Leigh},
abstractNote = {In response to the NEUP Program Supporting Fuel Cycle R&D Separations and Waste Forms call DEFOA- 0000799, this report describes the results of an R&D project focusing on streamlining separation processes for advanced fuel cycles. An example of such a process relevant to the U.S. DOE FCR&D program would be one combining the functions of the TRUEX process for partitioning of lanthanides and minor actinides from PUREX(UREX) raffinates with that of the TALSPEAK process for separating transplutonium actinides from fission product lanthanides. A fully-developed PUREX(UREX)/TRUEX/TALSPEAK suite would generate actinides as product(s) for reuse (or transmutation) and fission products as waste. As standalone, consecutive unit-operations, TRUEX and TALSPEAK employ different extractant solutions (solvating (CMPO, octyl(phenyl)-N,Ndiisobutylcarbamoylmethylphosphine oxide) vs. cation exchanging (HDEHP, di-2(ethyl)hexylphosphoric acid) extractants), and distinct aqueous phases (2-4 M HNO3 vs. concentrated pH 3.5 carboxylic acid buffers containing actinide selective chelating agents). The separate processes may also operate with different phase transfer kinetic constraints. Experience teaches (and it has been demonstrated at the lab scale) that, with proper control, multiple process separation systems can operate successfully. However, it is also recognized that considerable economies of scale could be achieved if multiple operations could be merged into a single process based on a combined extractant solvent. The task of accountability of nuclear materials through the process(es) also becomes more robust with fewer steps, providing that the processes can be accurately modeled. Work is underway in the U.S. and Europe on developing several new options for combined processes (TRUSPEAK, ALSEP, SANEX, GANEX, ExAm are examples). There are unique challenges associated with the operation of such processes, some relating to organic phase chemistry, others arising from the variable composition of the aqueous medium. This project targets in particular two problematic issues in designing combined process systems: managing the chemistry of challenging aqueous species (like Zr4+) and optimizing the composition and properties of combined extractant organic phases.},
doi = {10.2172/1351946},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Fri Mar 17 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Fri Mar 17 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}

Technical Report:

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  • This project seeks to determine if (1) inorganic-based ion exchange materials or (2) electrochemical methods in ionic liquids can be exploited to provide effective Am and Cm separations. Specifically, we seek to understand the fundamental structural and chemical factors responsible for the selectivity of inorganic-based ion-exchange materials for actinide and lanthanide ions. Furthermore, we seek to determine whether ionic liquids can serve as the electrolyte that would enable formation of higher oxidation states of Am and other actinides. Experiments indicated that pH, presence of complexants and Am oxidation state exhibit significant influence on the uptake of actinides and lanthanides bymore » layered sodium titanate and hybrid zirconium and tin phosphonate ion exchangers. The affinity of the ion exchangers increased with increasing pH. Greater selectivity among Ln(III) ions with sodium titanate materials occurs at a pH close to the isoelectric potential of the ion exchanger. The addition of DTPA decreased uptake of Am and Ln, whereas the addition of TPEN generally increases uptake of Am and Ln ions by sodium titanate. Testing confirmed two different methods for producing Am(IV) by oxidation of Am(III) in ionic liquids (ILs). Experimental results suggest that the unique coordination environment of ionic liquids inhibits the direct electrochemical oxidation of Am(III). The non-coordinating environment increases the oxidation potential to a higher value, while making it difficult to remove the inner coordination of water. Both confirmed cases of Am(IV) were from the in-situ formation of strong chemical oxidizers.« less
  • This project seeks to determine if inorganic or hybrid inorganic ion-exchange materials can be exploited to provide effective americium and curium separations. Specifically, we seek to understand the fundamental structural and chemical factors responsible for the selectivity of the tested ion-exchange materials for actinide and lanthanide ions. During FY13, experimental work focused in the following areas: (1) investigating methods to oxidize americium in dilute nitric acid with subsequent ion-exchange performance measurements of ion exchangers with the oxidized americium and (2) synthesis, characterization and testing of ion-exchange materials. Ion-exchange materials tested included alkali titanates, alkali titanosilicates, carbon nanotubes and group(IV) metalmore » phosphonates. Americium oxidation testing sought to determine the influence that other redox active components may have on the oxidation of Am(III). Experimental findings indicated that Pu(IV) is oxidized to Pu(VI) by peroxydisulfate, but there are no indications that the presence of plutonium affects the rate or extent of americium oxidation at the concentrations of peroxydisulfate being used. Tests also explored the influence of nitrite on the oxidation of Am(III). Given the formation of Am(V) and Am(VI) in the presence of nitrite, it appears that nitrite is not a strong deterrent to the oxidation of Am(III), but may be limiting Am(VI) by quickly reducing Am(VI) to Am(V). Interestingly, additional absorbance peaks were observed in the UV-Vis spectra at 524 and 544 nm in both nitric acid and perchloric acid solutions when the peroxydisulfate was added as a solution. These peaks have not been previously observed and do not correspond to the expected peak locations for oxidized americium in solution. Additional studies are in progress to identify these unknown peaks. Three titanosilicate ion exchangers were synthesized using a microwave-accelerated reaction system (MARS) and determined to have high affinities for lanthanide ions in dilute nitric acid. The K-TSP ion exchanger exhibited the highest affinity for lanthanides in dilute nitric acid solutions. The Ge-TSP ion exchanger shows promise as a material with high affinity, but additional tests are needed to confirm the preliminary results. On the other hand, carbon nanotubes and nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes exhibited low, but measureable affinities for lanthanide ions in dilute nitric acid solutions (pH 3 and 6). The MWCNT exhibited much lower affinities than the K-TSP in dilute nitric acid solutions. However, the MWCNT are much more chemically stable in concentrated nitric acid solutions and, therefore, may be candidates for ion exchange in more concentrated nitric acid solutions.« less
  • The TRansUranic EXtraction process (TRUEX), as developed by E.P. Horwitz and coworkers at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), is being evaluated as a TRU extraction process for Idaho Chemical Processing Plant (ICPP) wastes. A criteria that must be met during this evaluation, is that the aqueous raffinate must be below the 10 nCi/g limit specified in 10 CFR 61.55. A test was performed where the TRUEX solvent (0.2 M octyl(phenyl)-N-N-diisobutyl-carbamoylmethyl-phosphine oxide (CMPO), and 1.4 M tributylphosphate (TBP) in an Isopar-L diluent) was contacted with actual ICPP dissolved zirconium calcine. Two experimental flowsheets were used to determine TRU decontamination factors, and TRU,more » Zr, Fe, Cr, and Tc extraction, scrub, and strip distribution coefficients. Results from these two flowsheets show that >99.99% of the TRU alpha activity was removed from the acidic feed after three contacts with the TRUEX solvent (fresh solvent being used for each contact). The resulting aqueous raffinate solution contained an approximate TRU alpha activity of 0.02 nCi/g, which is well below the non-TRU waste limit of 10 nCi/g specified in 10 CFR 61.55. Favorable scrub and strip distribution coefficients were also observed for Am-241, Pu-238, and Pu-239, indicating the feasibility of recovering these isotopes from the TRUTEX solvent. A solution of 0.04 M 1-hydroxyethane-1,1-diphosphonic acid (HEDPA) in 0.04 M HNO{sub 3} was used to successfully strip the TRUs from the TRUEX solvent. The results of the test using actual ICPP dissolved zirconium calcine, and subsequent GTM evaluation, show the feasibility of removing TRUs from the dissolved zirconium calcine with the TRUEX solvent and the deleterious effects zirconium poses with the ICPP zirconium calcine waste. Test results using actual ICPP zirconium calcine reveal the necessity of preventing zirconium from following the TRUs.« less
  • A baseline flowsheet capable of partitioning the transuranic (TRU) elements from dissolved zirconium calcines has been developed. The goal of the TRU partitioning process is to remove the TRUs from solutions of dissolved zirconium calcines to below the 10 CFR 61.55 Class A waste limit of 10 nCi/g. Extraction, scrub, strip, and wash distribution coefficients for several elements, including the actinides, were measured in the laboratory by performing equal volume batch contacts. A solvent containing diheyl-N, N- diethylcarbamoylmethyl phosphonate (CMP), tributylphosphate (TBP), and a branched chain hydrocarbon as the diluent were used to develop this process. A non-radioactive zirconium pilot-plantmore » calcine was spiked with the TRUs, U, Tc, or a radioactive isotope of zirconium to simulate the behavior of these elements in actual dissolved zirconium calcine feed. Distribution coefficient data obtained from laboratory testing were used to recommend: (1) solvent composition, (2) scrub solutions capable of selectively removing extracted zirconium while minimizing actinide recycle, (3) optimized strip solutions which quantitatively recover extracted actinides, and (4) feed adjustments necessary for flowsheet efficiency. Laboratory distribution coefficients were used in conjunction with the Generic TRUEX Model (GTM) to develop and recommend a flowsheet for testing in the 5.5-cm Centrifugal Contractor Mockup. GTM results indicate that the recommended flowsheet should remove the actinides from dissolved zirconium calcine feed to below the Class A waste limit of 10 nCi/g. Less than 0.01 wt% of the extracted zirconium will report to the high- activity waste (HAW) fraction using the 0.05 M H{sub 2}C{sub 2}O{sub 4} in 3.0 M HNO{sub 3} scrub, and greater than 99% of the extracted actinides are recovered with 0.001 M HEDPA.« less