1 Introduction

The Committee on Electrometallurgical Techniques for DOE Spent Fuel Treatment has now entered the third phase of its activity, and its task has evolved in accord with progress made by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL)1 in its research and development program for electrometallurgical technology (EMT). The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) asked the National Research Council to focus on specific aspects of the original charge during the third phase of the committee's work (Appendix A). In this report the committee addresses the three aspects of its charge. The first is to monitor the scientific and technical progress of the ANL program on electrometallurgical technology for the treatment of DOE spent nuclear fuel. The second is to examine the viability of electrometallurgical treatment technology in light of technical progress in other possible treatment technologies. The DOE requested that the committee identify significant technical advances that might have occurred since the committee's 1995 report,2 with the specific focus on advances that might offer a preferred approach to the treatment of the EBR-II spent fuel that will remain at the completion of the demonstration. The third part of the revised charge to the committee is an evaluation of criteria by which the success of the demonstration project will be judged. These criteria were developed by DOE and ANL in response to an earlier recommendation by this committee.3

The ANL program on electrometallurgical treatment technology is now focused exclusively on the use of this technology for treatment of Experimental Breeder Reactor II (EBR-II) spent nuclear fuel. Consequently, the committee's evaluation of the demonstration project has that same focus. No other spent fuels in the DOE inventory are to be treated as part of the demonstration project, and therefore this report does not address the use of EMT for any spent fuels other than EBR-II fuel. A similar focus exists in the evaluation of alternative treatment technologies.

The present report responds to each of the tasks required of the committee. The committee was briefed on research and development at Argonne National Laboratory-East (ANL-E) and the demonstration project at Argonne National Laboratory-West (ANL-W) at its meetings in Idaho Falls on November 20-21, 1997 (Appendix C), and in Washington, D.C., on March 16-17, 1998 (Appendix D). In addition, representatives from a variety of nuclear-waste-processing facilities spoke on possible alternative technologies to the electrometallurgical process for the treatment of EBR-II spent fuel. Finally, DOE has developed success criteria for ANL's demonstration project that include specific goals to meet each criterion.

At the Idaho Falls meeting, the committee was briefed both on the R&D program at ANL-E and on the status of the demonstration project at ANL-W. Briefings included discussions on waste handling in electrometallurgical processing; waste form qualification, including hydration and leach tests; and production of metal waste forms that would be tested as part of the treatment demonstration. Representatives from ANL also spoke on the high-throughput electrorefiner and development of electrometallurgical processing of other DOE spent fuels.

Representatives from ANL made presentations concerning the spent-fuel demonstration project. Included under this topic were talks describing qualification of reference ceramic waste, measures to define the quality of waste products, and production and qualification of the metal waste form. Also discussed were high throughput modifications to the Mark-IV and Mark-V refiners.

1  

A list of acronyms and abbreviations is given in Appendix F.

2  

An Assessment of Continued R&D into an Electrometallurgical Approach for Treating DOE Spent Nuclear Fuel, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1995.

3  

Electrometallurgical Techniques for DOE Spent Fuel Treatment: Fall 1996 Status Report on Argonne NationalLaboratory's R&D Activity, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1997.



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ELECTROMETALLURGICAL TECHNIQUES FOR DOE SPENT FUEL TREATMENT: SPRING 1998 STATUS REPORT ON ARGONNE NATIONAL LABORATORY'S R&D ACTIVITY 1 Introduction The Committee on Electrometallurgical Techniques for DOE Spent Fuel Treatment has now entered the third phase of its activity, and its task has evolved in accord with progress made by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL)1 in its research and development program for electrometallurgical technology (EMT). The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) asked the National Research Council to focus on specific aspects of the original charge during the third phase of the committee's work (Appendix A). In this report the committee addresses the three aspects of its charge. The first is to monitor the scientific and technical progress of the ANL program on electrometallurgical technology for the treatment of DOE spent nuclear fuel. The second is to examine the viability of electrometallurgical treatment technology in light of technical progress in other possible treatment technologies. The DOE requested that the committee identify significant technical advances that might have occurred since the committee's 1995 report,2 with the specific focus on advances that might offer a preferred approach to the treatment of the EBR-II spent fuel that will remain at the completion of the demonstration. The third part of the revised charge to the committee is an evaluation of criteria by which the success of the demonstration project will be judged. These criteria were developed by DOE and ANL in response to an earlier recommendation by this committee.3 The ANL program on electrometallurgical treatment technology is now focused exclusively on the use of this technology for treatment of Experimental Breeder Reactor II (EBR-II) spent nuclear fuel. Consequently, the committee's evaluation of the demonstration project has that same focus. No other spent fuels in the DOE inventory are to be treated as part of the demonstration project, and therefore this report does not address the use of EMT for any spent fuels other than EBR-II fuel. A similar focus exists in the evaluation of alternative treatment technologies. The present report responds to each of the tasks required of the committee. The committee was briefed on research and development at Argonne National Laboratory-East (ANL-E) and the demonstration project at Argonne National Laboratory-West (ANL-W) at its meetings in Idaho Falls on November 20-21, 1997 (Appendix C), and in Washington, D.C., on March 16-17, 1998 (Appendix D). In addition, representatives from a variety of nuclear-waste-processing facilities spoke on possible alternative technologies to the electrometallurgical process for the treatment of EBR-II spent fuel. Finally, DOE has developed success criteria for ANL's demonstration project that include specific goals to meet each criterion. At the Idaho Falls meeting, the committee was briefed both on the R&D program at ANL-E and on the status of the demonstration project at ANL-W. Briefings included discussions on waste handling in electrometallurgical processing; waste form qualification, including hydration and leach tests; and production of metal waste forms that would be tested as part of the treatment demonstration. Representatives from ANL also spoke on the high-throughput electrorefiner and development of electrometallurgical processing of other DOE spent fuels. Representatives from ANL made presentations concerning the spent-fuel demonstration project. Included under this topic were talks describing qualification of reference ceramic waste, measures to define the quality of waste products, and production and qualification of the metal waste form. Also discussed were high throughput modifications to the Mark-IV and Mark-V refiners. 1   A list of acronyms and abbreviations is given in Appendix F. 2   An Assessment of Continued R&D into an Electrometallurgical Approach for Treating DOE Spent Nuclear Fuel, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1995. 3   Electrometallurgical Techniques for DOE Spent Fuel Treatment: Fall 1996 Status Report on Argonne NationalLaboratory's R&D Activity, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1997.

OCR for page 5
ELECTROMETALLURGICAL TECHNIQUES FOR DOE SPENT FUEL TREATMENT: SPRING 1998 STATUS REPORT ON ARGONNE NATIONAL LABORATORY'S R&D ACTIVITY At the committee meeting in March 1998, presentations included an update on the demonstration project at ANL-W and a presentation of the overpack strategy for DOE spent fuel. This was followed by a series of presentations on possible alternative technologies to EMT for the treatment of EBR-II spent fuel. Alternative technologies included direct disposal, glass-material oxidation, melt and dilute, PUREX, chloride volatility, and the plasma-arc process. Presenters represented a number of nuclear waste treatment facilities including Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Savannah River Site, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. This report's findings and recommendations are based partially on the aforementioned committee meeting presentations. In addition, documentation furnished both by the presenters (citations in the text) and by ANL (Appendixes B, Appendix C, and Appendix D) to the committee was also utilized in the preparation of this report.