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OCR for page 23
ELECTROMETALLURGICAL TECHNIQUES FOR DOE SPENT FUEL TREATMENT: STATUS REPORT ON ARGONNE NATIONAL LABORATORY'S R&D ACTIVITY THROUGH SPRING 1997 Appendix C: Project History The following discussion of the ANL R&D program and its relationship to treatment of EBR-II spent fuel provides background information to clarify the committee's approach to these independent but related activities. The ANL R&D program under review by the Committee on Electrometallurgical Techniques for DOE Spent Fuel Treatment is considering techniques for the treatment of various DOE spent fuels for ultimate disposal using an electrometallurgical process. The 5-year program funded by DOE is intended to yield sufficient information to permit DOE to select by 1999 a fuel treatment technology to treat its inventory of spent fuels. It is estimated that more than 80% of that inventory consists of metallic spent fuel from EBR-II and oxide spent fuel from the N-Reactor at Hanford. The R&D program on electrometallurgical techniques for processing of spent fuel is being directed by ANL-E. The technology utilizes the processes developed for the ANL Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) concept that included fission and fast reactors together with fuel processing and fabrication operations all on one site. Government and industry rejected the IFR concept, and the terminated activity is no longer a viable option. The portion of the IFR strategy that employed electrometallurgical techniques for the processing of spent fuels is the foundation of the present ANL R&D program that is intended to show that this technology can be successfully applied to treat various DOE spent fuels. This committee is charged with evaluating this ANL R&D effort. For more than 25 years, EBR-II was successfully and continuously operated as a research reactor primarily by ANL-W in Idaho. That facility was recently shut down, and DOE has authorized program funds for its decommissioning and decontamination (D&D). This independent program of EBR-II cleanup continues to be the principal activity of ANL-W, which this committee does not review. In the evolution of the ANL-E R&D program, some aspects of its theoretical analyses were confirmed by laboratory and bench-scale experiments, while others remained unanswered. Because of the nexus between the two ANL programs, the ANL-E 5-year R&D plan included pilot plant testing of the electrometallurgical concept and demonstration of the process and equipment viability by treating a small portion of the EBR-II spent fuel. The original small portion was recently reduced substantially as defined in DOE 's 1996 Environmental Assessment. The ANL-E R&D program includes experimental verification of the electrometallurgical process. This committee has strongly endorsed this experimental verification of the electrometallurgical process and believes it is necessary if this technology is to be considered by DOE as being a viable option for treatment of its spent fuels. If such verification or demonstration cannot be accomplished successfully in the time frame required by DOE, this committee has recommended that the electrometallurgical process not be considered further.
OCR for page 24
ELECTROMETALLURGICAL TECHNIQUES FOR DOE SPENT FUEL TREATMENT: STATUS REPORT ON ARGONNE NATIONAL LABORATORY'S R&D ACTIVITY THROUGH SPRING 1997 This committee has sought to keep separate the requirements and activities of the ANL-E R&D from those of the ANL-W D&D program. There are obvious overlaps. Nevertheless, it must be kept in mind that this committee has concluded that the ANL-E R&D program requires experimental proof or demonstration, and it is logical to use EBR-II spent fuel in that pursuit while acknowledging that the D&D of EBR-II does not require a successful electrometallurgical technology since other cleanup options may be available.
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