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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

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 contentmore » 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
Inventors:
 [1];  [2]
  1. (Livermore, CA)
  2. (Oakridge, TN)
Issue Date:
OSTI Identifier:
869903
Assignee:
United States of America as represented by United States (Washington, DC) LLNL
Patent Number(s):
US 5419820
Contract Number:
W-7405-ENG-48
Research Org:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
process; producing; enriched; uranium; 235; content; wt; via; combination; gaseous; diffusion; atomic; vapor; laser; isotope; separation; eliminate; hexafluoride; tails; storage; enrichment; capable; disclosed; consume; energy; produce; metallic; normally; produced; sharply; reduce; fluorine; comprises; feeding; isotopic; mixture; residue; containing; fluorinating; form; processing; resultant; final; product; 93; total; 71; converting; recycle; isotopic mixture; uranium content; atomic vapor; enriched uranium; vapor laser; separation process; isotope separation; process comprises; laser isotope; uranium hexafluoride; metallic uranium; gaseous diffusion; residue containing; uranium enrichment; normally produced; comprises feeding; enrichment process; uranium product; diffusion separation; diffusion process; produce metal; producing enriched; /204/423/

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