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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.degree. used for reducing UO.sub.2 and PuO.sub.2 to U and Pu.
Inventors:
 [1];  [2]
  1. (Naperville, IL)
  2. (Lockport, IL)
Issue Date:
OSTI Identifier:
869140
Assignee:
University of Chicago (Chicago, IL) ANL
Patent Number(s):
US 5282937
Contract Number:
W-31109-ENG-38
Research Org:
Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), Argonne, IL
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
conductors; pyrochemical; reduction; oxides; electrochemical; process; cell; reducing; metal; oxide; provided; separated; oxygen; gas; example; zro; conductor; anode; salt; reduced; deposited; cathode; sodium; beta; -alumina; generation; separation; avoids; chemical; reaction; active; metals; method; characterized; sequence; steps; inert; electrode; inserted; step; metallic; component; formed; serves; isolate; components; chemically; reacting; chemicals; applicable; variety; special; importance; cao; degree; uo; puo; chemically reacting; chemically react; oxygen gas; active metal; metal oxide; electrochemical cell; metal oxides; cathode electrode; chemical process; -alumina sodium; metallic component; active components; gas formed; chemical reduction; electrochemical process; active component; active metals; conductor cathode; /205/204/