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Waste Minimization Study on Pyrochemical Reprocessing Processes

Abstract : Ideally a new pyro-process should not generate more waste, and should be at least as safe and cost effective as the hydrometallurgical processes currently implemented at industrial scale. This paper describes the thought process, the methodology and some results obtained by process integration studies to devise potential pyro-processes and to assess their capability of achieving this challenging objective. As example the assessment of a process based on salt/metal reductive extraction, designed for the reprocessing of Generation IV carbide spent fuels, is developed. Salt/metal reductive extraction uses the capability of some metals, aluminum in this case, to selectively reduce actinide fluorides previously dissolved in a fluoride salt bath. The reduced actinides enter the metal phase from which they are subsequently recovered; the fission products remain in the salt phase. In fact, the process is not so simple, as it requires upstream and downstream subsidiary steps. All these process steps generate secondary waste flows representing sources of actinide leakage and/or FP discharge. In aqueous processes the main solvent (nitric acid solution) has a low boiling point and evaporate easily or can be removed by distillation, thereby leaving limited flow containing the dissolved substance behind to be incorporated in a confinement matrix. From the point of view of waste generation, one main handicap of molten salt processes, is that the saline phase (fluoride in our case) used as solvent is of same nature than the solutes (radionuclides fluorides) and has a quite high boiling point. So it is not so easy, than it is with aqueous solutions, to separate solvent and solutes in order to confine only radioactive material and limit the final waste flows. Starting from the initial block diagram devised two years ago, the paper shows how process integration studies were able to propose process fittings which lead to a reduction of the waste variety and flows leading at an 'ideal' new block diagram allowing internal solvent recycling, and self eliminating reactants. This new flowsheet minimizes the quantity of inactive inlet flows that would have inevitably to be incorporated in a final waste form. The study identifies all knowledge gaps to be filled and suggest some possible R and D issues to confirm or infirm the feasibility of the proposed process fittings.
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  • HAL Id : cea-02355399, version 1

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H. Boussier, O. Conocar, J. Lacquement. Waste Minimization Study on Pyrochemical Reprocessing Processes. VM'06 conference, Feb 2006, Tucson, United States. ⟨cea-02355399⟩

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