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Title: Process for producing enriched uranium having a {sup 235}U content of at least 4 wt. % via combination of a gaseous diffusion process and an atomic vapor laser isotope separation process to eliminate uranium hexafluoride tails storage

Abstract

An uranium enrichment process capable of producing an enriched uranium, having a {sup 235}U content greater than about 4 wt. %, is disclosed which will consume less energy and produce metallic uranium tails having a lower {sup 235}U content than the tails normally produced in a gaseous diffusion separation process and, therefore, eliminate UF{sub 6} tails storage and sharply reduce fluorine use. The uranium enrichment process comprises feeding metallic uranium into an atomic vapor laser isotope separation process to produce an enriched metallic uranium isotopic mixture having a {sup 235} U content of at least about 2 wt. % and a metallic uranium residue containing from about 0.1 wt. % to about 0.2 wt. % {sup 235} U; fluorinating this enriched metallic uranium isotopic mixture to form UF{sub 6}; processing the resultant isotopic mixture of UF{sub 6} in a gaseous diffusion process to produce a final enriched uranium product having a {sup 235}U content of at least 4 wt. %, and up to 93.5 wt. % or higher, of the total uranium content of the product, and a low {sup 235}U content UF{sub 6} having a {sup 235}U content of about 0.71 wt. % of the total uranium content ofmore » the low {sup 235}U content UF{sub 6}; and converting this low {sup 235}U content UF{sub 6} to metallic uranium for recycle to the atomic vapor laser isotope separation process. 4 figs.« less

Inventors:
;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
University of California
OSTI Identifier:
63442
Patent Number(s):
US 5,419,820/A/
Application Number:
PAN: 8-070,741
Assignee:
Dept. of Energy, Washington, DC (United States) PTO; SCA: 050500; PA: EDB-95:089188; SN: 95001401195
DOE Contract Number:
W-7405-ENG-48
Resource Type:
Patent
Resource Relation:
Other Information: PBD: 30 May 1995
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
05 NUCLEAR FUELS; URANIUM 235; GASEOUS DIFFUSION PROCESS; LASER ISOTOPE SEPARATION; HIGHLY ENRICHED URANIUM; SLIGHTLY ENRICHED URANIUM; MODERATELY ENRICHED URANIUM; PRODUCTION; FLUORINATION; URANIUM HEXAFLUORIDE; RECYCLING; MINIMIZATION; ENERGY CONSERVATION

Citation Formats

Horton, J.A., and Hayden, H.W. Jr.. Process for producing enriched uranium having a {sup 235}U content of at least 4 wt. % via combination of a gaseous diffusion process and an atomic vapor laser isotope separation process to eliminate uranium hexafluoride tails storage. United States: N. p., 1995. Web.
Horton, J.A., & Hayden, H.W. Jr.. Process for producing enriched uranium having a {sup 235}U content of at least 4 wt. % via combination of a gaseous diffusion process and an atomic vapor laser isotope separation process to eliminate uranium hexafluoride tails storage. United States.
Horton, J.A., and Hayden, H.W. Jr.. Tue . "Process for producing enriched uranium having a {sup 235}U content of at least 4 wt. % via combination of a gaseous diffusion process and an atomic vapor laser isotope separation process to eliminate uranium hexafluoride tails storage". United States. doi:.
@article{osti_63442,
title = {Process for producing enriched uranium having a {sup 235}U content of at least 4 wt. % via combination of a gaseous diffusion process and an atomic vapor laser isotope separation process to eliminate uranium hexafluoride tails storage},
author = {Horton, J.A. and Hayden, H.W. Jr.},
abstractNote = {An uranium enrichment process capable of producing an enriched uranium, having a {sup 235}U content greater than about 4 wt. %, is disclosed which will consume less energy and produce metallic uranium tails having a lower {sup 235}U content than the tails normally produced in a gaseous diffusion separation process and, therefore, eliminate UF{sub 6} tails storage and sharply reduce fluorine use. The uranium enrichment process comprises feeding metallic uranium into an atomic vapor laser isotope separation process to produce an enriched metallic uranium isotopic mixture having a {sup 235} U content of at least about 2 wt. % and a metallic uranium residue containing from about 0.1 wt. % to about 0.2 wt. % {sup 235} U; fluorinating this enriched metallic uranium isotopic mixture to form UF{sub 6}; processing the resultant isotopic mixture of UF{sub 6} in a gaseous diffusion process to produce a final enriched uranium product having a {sup 235}U content of at least 4 wt. %, and up to 93.5 wt. % or higher, of the total uranium content of the product, and a low {sup 235}U content UF{sub 6} having a {sup 235}U content of about 0.71 wt. % of the total uranium content of the low {sup 235}U content UF{sub 6}; and converting this low {sup 235}U content UF{sub 6} to metallic uranium for recycle to the atomic vapor laser isotope separation process. 4 figs.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Tue May 30 00:00:00 EDT 1995},
month = {Tue May 30 00:00:00 EDT 1995}
}
  • An uranium enrichment process capable of producing an enriched uranium, having a .sup.235 U content greater than about 4 wt. %, is disclosed which will consume less energy and produce metallic uranium tails having a lower .sup.235 U content than the tails normally produced in a gaseous diffusion separation process and, therefore, eliminate UF.sub.6 tails storage and sharply reduce fluorine use. The uranium enrichment process comprises feeding metallic uranium into an atomic vapor laser isotope separation process to produce an enriched metallic uranium isotopic mixture having a .sup.235 U content of at least about 2 wt. % and a metallicmore » uranium residue containing from about 0.1 wt. % to about 0.2 wt. % .sup.235 U; fluorinating this enriched metallic uranium isotopic mixture to form UF.sub.6 ; processing the resultant isotopic mixture of UF.sub.6 in a gaseous diffusion process to produce a final enriched uranium product having a .sup.235 U content of at least 4 wt. %, and up to 93.5 wt. % or higher, of the total uranium content of the product, and a low .sup.235 U content UF.sub.6 having a .sup.235 U content of about 0.71 wt. % of the total uranium content of the low .sup.235 U content UF.sub.6 ; and converting this low .sup.235 U content UF.sub.6 to metallic uranium for recycle to the atomic vapor laser isotope separation process.« less
  • Uranium hexafluoride having a high U-235 content is driven out of a transportation container by heating in a correspondingly heated container using a halogenated hydrogen free organic liquid as the heating medium. There is also provided an apparatus for carrying out the process comprising a container having a reflux condenser and an insert for holding the transportation container closed at the bottom by condensate outlet.
  • Uranium enrichment in the United States has utilized a diffusion process to preferentially enrich the U-235 isotope in the uranium product. In the 1970s, the US Department of Energy (DOE) began investigating more efficient and cost-effective enrichment technologies. In January 1990, the Secretary of Energy approved a plan for the demonstration and deployment of the Uranium Atomic Vapor Laser isotope Separation (U-AVLIS) technology with the near-term goal to provide the necessary information to make a deployment decision by November 1992. Initial facility operation is anticipated for 1999. A programmatic document for use in screening DOE sites to locate a U-AVLISmore » production plant was developed and implemented in two parts. The first part consisted of a series of screening analyses, based on exclusionary and other criteria, that identified a reasonable number of candidate sites. The final evaluation, which included sensitivity studies, identified the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant (ORGDP) site, the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP) site, and the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PORTS) site as having significant advantages over the other sites considered. This environmental site description (ESD) provides a detailed description of the PORTS site and vicinity suitable for use in an environmental impact statement (EIS). This report is based on existing literature, data collected at the site, and information collected by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) staff during site visits. The organization of the ESD is as follows. Topics addressed in Sec. 2 include a general site description and the disciplines of geology, water resources, biotic resources, air resources, noise, cultural resources, land use. Socioeconomics, and waste management. Identification of any additional data that would be required for an EIS is presented in Sec. 3.« less
  • Uranium enrichment in the United States has utilized a diffusion process to preferentially enrich the U-235 isotope in the uranium product. The U-AVLIS process is based on electrostatic extraction of photoionized U-235 atoms from an atomic vapor stream created by electron-beam vaporization of uranium metal alloy. The U-235 atoms are ionized when precisely tuned laser light -- of appropriate power, spectral, and temporal characteristics -- illuminates the uranium vapor and selectively photoionizes the U-235 isotope. A programmatic document for use in screening DOE site to locate a U-AVLIS production plant was developed and implemented in two parts. The first partmore » consisted of a series of screening analyses, based on exclusionary and other criteria, that identified a reasonable number of candidate sites. These sites were subjected to a more rigorous and detailed comparative analysis for the purpose of developing a short list of reasonable alternative sites for later environmental examination. This environmental site description (ESD) provides a detailed description of the PGDP site and vicinity suitable for use in an environmental impact statement (EIS). The report is based on existing literature, data collected at the site, and information collected by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) staff during a site visit. 65 refs., 15 tabs.« less
  • In January 1990, the Secretary of Energy approved a plan for the demonstration and deployment of the Uranium Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation (U-AVLIS) technology, with the near-term goal to provide the necessary information to make a deployment decision by November 1992. The U-AVLIS process is based on electrostatic extraction of photoionized U-235 atoms from an atomic vapor stream created by electron-beam vaporization of uranium metal alloy. A programmatic document for use in screening DOE sites to locate the U-AVLIS production plant was developed and implemented in two parts (Wolsko et al. 1991). The first part consisted of a seriesmore » of screening analyses, based on exclusionary and other criteria, that identified a reasonable number of candidate sites. These sites were then subjected to a more rigorous and detailed comparative analysis for the purpose of developing a short list of reasonable alternative sites for later environmental examination. This environmental site description (ESD) provides a detailed description of the ORGDP site and vicinity suitable for use in an environmental impact statement (EIS). The report is based on existing literature, data collected at the site, and information collected by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) staff during a site visit. The organization of the ESD is as follows. Topics addressed in Sec. 2 include a general site description and the disciplines of geology, water resources, biotic resources, air resources, noise, cultural resources, land use, socioeconomics, and waste management. Identification of any additional data that would be required for an EIS is presented in Sec. 3. Following the site description and additional data requirements, Sec. 4 provides a short, qualitative assessment of potential environmental issues. 37 refs., 20 figs., 18 tabs.« less