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Title: Use of ion conductors in the pyrochemical reduction of oxides

An electrochemical process and electrochemical cell for reducing a metal oxide are provided. First the oxide is separated as oxygen gas using, for example, a ZrO[sub 2] oxygen ion conductor anode and the metal ions from the reduction salt are reduced and deposited on an ion conductor cathode, for example, sodium ion reduced on a [beta]-alumina sodium ion conductor cathode. The generation of and separation of oxygen gas avoids the problem with chemical back reaction of oxygen with active metals in the cell. The method also is characterized by a sequence of two steps where an inert cathode electrode is inserted into the electrochemical cell in the second step and the metallic component in the ion conductor is then used as the anode to cause electrochemical reduction of the metal ions formed in the first step from the metal oxide where oxygen gas formed at the anode. The use of ion conductors serves to isolate the active components from chemically reacting with certain chemicals in the cell. While applicable to a variety of metal oxides, the invention has special importance for reducing CaO to Ca[sup o] used for reducing UO[sub 2] and PuO[sub 2] to U and Pu. 2 figures.
Inventors:
;
Issue Date:
OSTI Identifier:
5244514
Assignee:
Univ. of Chicago, IL () PTO; EDB-94-061884
Patent Number(s):
US 5282937; A
Application Number:
PPN: US 7-994786
Contract Number:
W-31109-ENG-38
Resource Relation:
Patent File Date: 22 Dec 1992
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; CALCIUM OXIDES; REDUCTION; ELECTROCHEMICAL CELLS; DESIGN; PLUTONIUM OXIDES; URANIUM DIOXIDE; ACTINIDE COMPOUNDS; ALKALINE EARTH METAL COMPOUNDS; CALCIUM COMPOUNDS; CHALCOGENIDES; CHEMICAL REACTIONS; OXIDES; OXYGEN COMPOUNDS; PLUTONIUM COMPOUNDS; TRANSURANIUM COMPOUNDS; URANIUM COMPOUNDS; URANIUM OXIDES; 050400* - Nuclear Fuels- Feed Processing