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1 IN1'RODUCIION Research on atomic vapor laser isotope separation (AVLIS) began in the early 1970s. AVLIS Is a promising technology for converting a feed stream into a product stream In which a selected set of isotopes has been enriched or depleted. The first step in the AVLIS process is the generation of atomic vapor streams by electron beam vaporization, a technology derived from commercial applications. The desired isotopic atoms in the vapor are then selectively photoioni7~-d by using precisely tuned copper-laser-pumped dye lasers. The product and waste streams are electrostatically withdrawn from the selectively ionized atomic vapor and collected as liquids. A schematic of the System developed at Lawrence Live~more National Laboratory (LLNI~) for uranium enrichment is shown in Figure 1-1, and a more detailed description is presented ~ Appendix A. The primary purposes for which the AVLIS process was developed are to enrich natural uranium (0.7~0 235U) for uses as reactor fuel (3% 235~ and to produce motopi~y refeed plutom~ for use ~ weave and other applications. AVLIS technology is capable of producing both isotonically and elementally pure materials. The AVLIS system also contains innovative technologies that might be applicable in other fields. While the fundamental concept is simple, the practical development of AVLIS at LLNL has required a major eng~neenng program over some 15 years at a cost of approximately $1.55 billion (for both urax~mn and plutonium AVLIS {U and Pu AVLIS] respectively). The estimated development costs In fiscal year 1991 are $1545 million for U- AVLIS and $665 million for Pu-AVLIS. To date, approximately 50 kg of uranium has been enriched from 0.7 to 1.0% 23su. On October 17, 1989, the Secretary of Energy directed the Assistant Secretaries for Nuclear Energy and for Defense Programs to request a study from the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering of alternative applications for this technology. The Secretary cited such uses as reduction or minimization of nuclear waste, enhancement of the corrosion resistance of metals, and improvement of the purity and quality of materials for the electronics industry [1~. The purpose of this study Is to characterize alternative applications of AVLIS and other applications of the innovative technologies incorporated into the AVLIS system and to evaluate their benefits and costs. The Statement of Task is reproduced as Appendix B. The Committee on Alternative Applications of Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation Technology was formed on June 17, 1990, and held its organizational meeting on July 23 and 24, 1990, at LLNL facilities, where the committee was beefed on AVLIS physics, technology, and processes; toured venous AVLIS facilities; and was beefed on an extensive senes of NIL proposals for alternative applications (see box, Study Milestones). In preparation for the committee's activities, the Department of Energy (DOE) conducted an internal solicitation of venous national laboratones on the potential alternative applications of AVLIS technologies. This was followed by a briefing for the national laboratories on March 27 and 28, 1990. The results of this DOE solicitation process were relayed to the committee at its first meeting. Following the first meeting the committee prepared, in consultation with LLNL, an overview document (Appendix A Is a modestly revised version of that document) of AVLIS process technology and capabilities that was distributed to over 153 organizations (listed in Appendix C) in the commercial/industrial, academic, and governmental sectors. These org~m7ntions were United to examine the AVLIS process and the technologies embedded in it, both to identify new applications of potential value and to make recommendations and suggestions to the committee in Me following areas: 3

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r 4 - - \ FIGURE 1-1 Atomic vapor laser isotope separation--major systems. \ Dye master oscillator \ ~ Laser system ~ \ Pump laser Amplifier Metallic uranium is melted and vaporized. The vapor is illuminated by visible laser light that photoionizes the selected isotope. The ion is then electromagnetically extracted. C ~ \ \Separator syst m Pump laser ~ Product I\\ \ _t c llector Sector\ ~ / Vapor ~9, \ Vaporizer \ \ Laser -

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6 To assist the interested org~ni~tions in preparing a response, a two-day AVLIS teleology briefing was organized at LLNL on September 25 and 26, 1990. is beefing was unclassified but, because it contour ed unclassified controlled nuclear information was Bruited to U.S. nationals. The briefing was attended by 43 participants representing 27 orgy lions. In response to the committee's invitation, eight industrial and two federal organizations submitted 12 and five alternative AVLIS applications, respectively. In two subsequent meet~g,s, the committee reviewed and prepared its evaluation of venous alternative applications, or~nadug from industry, national laboratones, or members of the committee. The scope of potential applications and research considered by the committee covered many fields. Specific proposals ranged from utilization of the entire technology to produce tons of isotonically ennched gadolinium to release of the plans for a high-power switch component in one of the laser modules. The AVLIS laser system has been exceptionally well engineered and thoroughly tested; it Is a major advance In laser engmeer~ng. The desk and performance characteristics displayed In Figures 1-1 and 1-2 and Tables 1-1 and 1-2 provided the basis for many of the alternative applications considered below. In the following discussion, applications are dinded roughly into four categories: 1. applications to nuclear fuel cycles; 2. enrichment of other isotopes; 3. materials design and processing, and 4. components spin-off. In addition to considering the feasibility and potential value of alternative applications, the committee discussed at some length possible mechanisms to ensure that the interaction between LLNL and industry would produce cost-effective development and commer~i~tion. EVALUATION PROCESS The following questions were consider-'! ;n th^ 'swolilot;^n of alto. .."t" a~r~l;^q' ~ c~ AREA leer other org~n~tions, and committee members: i_ ~ ~ - - ~V~ V- ~& ALLY C&~V~ ;~OL~" V' ~, 1. Is the application consistent with the DOE minion, or is there substantial commercial potential? 2. Is the application consistent with the technical direction and capability of the AVLIS process? 3. Does the AVLIS process have the potentba1 to be econom~caDy competitive with alternative approaches? 4. Is the availability of ~sotopically pure material the my barrier to commercial success? 5. Is the development cost justified relative to the likely payoff? In addition to reviewing alternative applications of the AVLIS process, the committee reviewed potential technology spin-offs based on unique components already developed. In most cases, the spin-offs were directed toward the commercial sector, but neither the development cost nor the potential payoff could be estimated without significant applications research. To both foster technology transfer and establish the cost/benefit ratio, the committee recommends preliminary collaborations among interested parties in order to better define both the approach and the potential payoff. Fmally, all proposals were judged in the context of the international diffusion of AVLIS technology and the national security implications of such diffusion.

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8 TABLE 1-1 Operating Characteristics of AVLIS Copper Lasers Optical power. System Single aperture Wavelength Frequency bandwidth Operational mode Prf Pulse duration Beam quality Laser head MTBF Electrical efficiency Power stability Up to ~10,000 W 600 to ~~00 W 511 and 578 rim ~8 GHz at 511 am ~ 12 GHz at 578 non Continuous, 24 in/day 2 to 230 1~, typically ~5 1~z 20 to 60 ns, 50 ns is typical 2-15 x diffraction limited ~1,000 h ~ 1% wall plug to light )5%/day +15%/week Average power. Typical peak powers are 4 x 103 times larger. Abbreviations: W. watts; am, nanometers; GHz, gigahertz; h, hours; kHz, kilohertz; Prf, pulse repetition frequency, ns, nanoseconds; MTBF, mean time between failures. TABLE 1-2 Operadug Characteristics of AVLIS Dye Lasers Optical power. System Single aperture Wavelength Frequency bandwidth Frequent y stability Operation mode PI Pulse duration Beam quality Maintenance cycle Efficiency, pop to dye Power stability MEOW Up to 1,500 W Tunable 500-1,000 em ~50 MHz ~120 MHz Continuous, 24 in/day 2 to >~0 kHz 20 60 ns ~Difhaction limited Mission dependent, ~ 100s of hours 20 60% Typically "me as excitation source Barrage power. Abbreviations: See Table 1-1.