A model for recovery of scrap monolithic uranium molybdenum fuel by electrorefining

Melissa A Van Kleeck, Purdue University


The goal of the Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors program (RERTR) is toreduce enrichment at research and test reactors, thereby decreasing proliferation risk at these facilities. A new fuel to accomplish this goal is being manufactured experimentally at the Y12 National Security Complex. This new fuel will require its own waste management procedure,namely for the recovery of scrap from its manufacture. The new fuel is a monolithic uraniummolybdenum alloy clad in zirconium. Feasibility tests were conducted in the Planar Electrode Electrorefiner using scrap U-8Mo fuel alloy. These tests proved that a uranium product could be recovered free of molybdenum from this scrap fuel by electrorefining. Tests were also conducted using U-10Mo Zr clad fuel, which confirmed that product could be recovered from a clad version of this scrap fuel at an engineering scale, though analytical results are pending for the behavior of Zr in the electrorefiner. A model was constructed for the simulation of electrorefining the scrap material produced in the manufacture of this fuel. The model was implemented on two platforms, Microsoft Excel and MatLab. Correlations, used in the model, were developed experimentally, describing area specific resistance behavior at each electrode. Experiments validating the model were conducted using scrap of U-10Mo Zr clad fuel in the Planar Electrode Electrorefiner. The results of model simulations on both platforms were compared to experimental results for the same fuel, salt and electrorefiner compositions and dimensions for two trials. In general, the model demonstrated behavior similar to experimental data but additional refinements are needed to improve its accuracy. These refinements consist of a function for surface area at anode and cathode based on charge passed. Several approximations were made in the model concerning areas of electrodes which should be replaced by a more accurate function describing these areas.




Fentiman, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Nuclear engineering

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