skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Development program to recycle and purify plutonium-238 oxide fuel from scrap

Abstract

Nuclear Materials Technology (NMT) Division of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has initiated a development program to recover and purify plutonium-238 oxide from impure sources. A glove box line has been designed and a process flowsheet developed to perform this task on a large scale. Our initial effort has focused on purification of {sup 238}PuO{sub 2} fuel that fails to meet General Purpose Heat Source (GPHS) specifications because of impurities. The most notable non-actinide impurity was silicon, but aluminum, chromium, iron and nickel were also near or in excess of limits specified by GPHS fuel powder specifications. {sup 234}U was by far the largest actinide impurity observed in the feed material because it is the daughter product of {sup 238}Pu by alpha decay. An aqueous method based on nitric acid was selected for purification of the {sup 238}PuO{sub 2} fuel. All aqueous processing used high purity reagents, and was performed in PTFE apparatus to minimize introduction of new contaminants. Impure {sup 238}PuO{sub 2} was finely milled, then dissolved in refluxing HNO{sub 3}/HF and the solution filtered. The dissolved {sup 238}Pu was adjusted to the trivalent state by an excess of reducing reagents to compensate for radiolytic effects, precipitated as plutonium(III)more » oxalate, and recovered by filtration. The plutonium(III) oxalate was subsequently calcined to convert the plutonium to the oxide. Decontamination factors for silicon, phosphorus and uranium were excellent. Decontamination factors for aluminum, chromium, iron and nickel were very good. The purity of the {sup 238}PuO{sub 2} recovered from this operation was significantly better than specifications. Efforts continue to develop the capability for efficient, safe, cost-effective, and environmentally acceptable methods to recover and purify {sup 238}PuO{sub 2} fuel in a glove box environment. Plutonium-238 materials targeted for recovery includes impure oxide and scrap items that are lean in {sup 238}Pu values.« less

Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ;  [1]
  1. Advanced Technology Group NMT-6 Nuclear Materials Technology Division Mail Stop E510 Los Alamos National Laboratory Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
21165710
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
AIP Conference Proceedings
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 387; Journal Issue: 1; Conference: STAIF-97: Space technology and applications international forum, Albuquerque, NM (United States), 26-30 Jan 1997; Other Information: DOI: 10.1063/1.51960; (c) 1997 American Institute of Physics; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Journal ID: ISSN 0094-243X
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; ALPHA DECAY; ALUMINIUM; DAUGHTER PRODUCTS; DECONTAMINATION; EFFICIENCY; FILTRATION; FUEL REPROCESSING PLANTS; GLOVEBOXES; HYDROFLUORIC ACID; OXALATES; PHOSPHORUS; PLUTONIUM; PLUTONIUM 238; PLUTONIUM OXIDES; PURIFICATION; RADIOLYSIS; SCRAP; SILICON; URANIUM; URANIUM 234; NESDPS Office of Nuclear Energy Space and Defense Power Systems

Citation Formats

Schulte, Louis D, Silver, Gary L, Avens, Larry R, Jarvinen, Gordon D, Espinoza, Jacob, Foltyn, Elizabeth M, Rinehart, Gary H, and Actinide Ceramics and Fabrication Group NMT-9 Nuclear Materials Technology Division Mail Stop E502 Los Alamos National Laboratory Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545. Development program to recycle and purify plutonium-238 oxide fuel from scrap. United States: N. p., 1997. Web. doi:10.1063/1.51960.
Schulte, Louis D, Silver, Gary L, Avens, Larry R, Jarvinen, Gordon D, Espinoza, Jacob, Foltyn, Elizabeth M, Rinehart, Gary H, & Actinide Ceramics and Fabrication Group NMT-9 Nuclear Materials Technology Division Mail Stop E502 Los Alamos National Laboratory Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545. Development program to recycle and purify plutonium-238 oxide fuel from scrap. United States. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.51960
Schulte, Louis D, Silver, Gary L, Avens, Larry R, Jarvinen, Gordon D, Espinoza, Jacob, Foltyn, Elizabeth M, Rinehart, Gary H, and Actinide Ceramics and Fabrication Group NMT-9 Nuclear Materials Technology Division Mail Stop E502 Los Alamos National Laboratory Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545. Fri . "Development program to recycle and purify plutonium-238 oxide fuel from scrap". United States. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.51960.
@article{osti_21165710,
title = {Development program to recycle and purify plutonium-238 oxide fuel from scrap},
author = {Schulte, Louis D and Silver, Gary L and Avens, Larry R and Jarvinen, Gordon D and Espinoza, Jacob and Foltyn, Elizabeth M and Rinehart, Gary H and Actinide Ceramics and Fabrication Group NMT-9 Nuclear Materials Technology Division Mail Stop E502 Los Alamos National Laboratory Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545},
abstractNote = {Nuclear Materials Technology (NMT) Division of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has initiated a development program to recover and purify plutonium-238 oxide from impure sources. A glove box line has been designed and a process flowsheet developed to perform this task on a large scale. Our initial effort has focused on purification of {sup 238}PuO{sub 2} fuel that fails to meet General Purpose Heat Source (GPHS) specifications because of impurities. The most notable non-actinide impurity was silicon, but aluminum, chromium, iron and nickel were also near or in excess of limits specified by GPHS fuel powder specifications. {sup 234}U was by far the largest actinide impurity observed in the feed material because it is the daughter product of {sup 238}Pu by alpha decay. An aqueous method based on nitric acid was selected for purification of the {sup 238}PuO{sub 2} fuel. All aqueous processing used high purity reagents, and was performed in PTFE apparatus to minimize introduction of new contaminants. Impure {sup 238}PuO{sub 2} was finely milled, then dissolved in refluxing HNO{sub 3}/HF and the solution filtered. The dissolved {sup 238}Pu was adjusted to the trivalent state by an excess of reducing reagents to compensate for radiolytic effects, precipitated as plutonium(III) oxalate, and recovered by filtration. The plutonium(III) oxalate was subsequently calcined to convert the plutonium to the oxide. Decontamination factors for silicon, phosphorus and uranium were excellent. Decontamination factors for aluminum, chromium, iron and nickel were very good. The purity of the {sup 238}PuO{sub 2} recovered from this operation was significantly better than specifications. Efforts continue to develop the capability for efficient, safe, cost-effective, and environmentally acceptable methods to recover and purify {sup 238}PuO{sub 2} fuel in a glove box environment. Plutonium-238 materials targeted for recovery includes impure oxide and scrap items that are lean in {sup 238}Pu values.},
doi = {10.1063/1.51960},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/21165710}, journal = {AIP Conference Proceedings},
issn = {0094-243X},
number = 1,
volume = 387,
place = {United States},
year = {1997},
month = {1}
}