The committee then proposed that the demonstration project should proceed. Its recommendation included options for the treatment of other spent fuel in the DOE inventory:

ANL should proceed with its development plan in support of the EBR-II demonstration. Further development of the lithium reduction process should be carried out only if the DOE decides that it is likely that the electrometallurgical approach will be pursued as a possible treatment for the oxidized N-reactor fuel at Hanford. If the EBR-II demonstration is not accomplished successfully, the ANL program on electrometallurgical processing should be terminated. On the other hand, if the EBR-II demonstration is successful, the DOE should revisit the ANL program at that time in the context of a larger, “global” waste management plan to make a determination for possible continuance.


An Evaluation of the Electrometallurgical Approach for Treatment of Excess Weapons Plutonium (Report 3, 1996)

As a result of its statement of task for phase two (Appendix A), the committee’s composition was changed to emphasize expertise in weapons plutonium. The committee’s third report addressed the issue of the use of electrometallurgical technology for treatment of excess weapons plutonium:

  • Modified Spent Fuel Processing Flow Sheet Recommendations:

    • Pretreatment requirements for the nonmetal plutonium feed streams should be determined and, if possible, R&D should be started to validate the treatment and subsequent compatibility with the electrometallurgical process.

    • The effects of major impurities such as additional salts (NaCl/KCl and CaCl2) and other impurities such as Si, Mg, and C on the performance of the electrometallurgical treatment operations should be evaluated.

  • Greater priority should be given to the development of a strategy and a relevant test protocol to demonstrate acceptability of waste forms. This activity is of the highest importance relative to all other aspects in the development of the electrometallurgical technique for WPu disposition.

  • A decision on the use of the electrometallurgical technique for weapons plutonium disposition cannot be made until the demonstration of this technology shows whether or not this process is viable for treating DOE spent fuels. If a weapons plutonium disposition technology is to be selected for use with weapons pits before the electrometallurgical technology demonstration program is concluded, this committee recommends that the electrometallurgical technique not be included as a candidate technology.

  • The potential of the electrometallurgical technique as an adjunct for long-term disposition of non-pit excess plutonium remains a possibility, but the technology is still at too early a stage of development to be evaluated relative to disposition alternatives such as glass or MOX.

Electrometallurgical Techniques for DOE Spent Fuel Treatment: A Status Report on Argonne National Laboratory’s R&D Activity (Report 4, 1996)

The committee’s fourth report addressed the first task for phase two. The report provided an ongoing evaluation of the scientific and technological aspects of the R&D program for spent fuel treatment. The findings and recommendations relate to the demonstration project:

  • The committee recommends that DOE assign high priority to authorization of hot operations at ANL-W.

  • The committee recommends that ANL’s ongoing studies be extended to include efforts aimed at defining

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement