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Reference Number EP/I003002/1
Title MBase: The Molecular Basis of Advanced Nuclear Fuel Separations
Status Completed
Energy Categories NUCLEAR FISSION and FUSION(Nuclear Fission, Fuel cycle) 100%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND MATHEMATICS (Chemistry) 50%;
ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (Chemical Engineering) 50%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 100%
Principal Investigator Professor CC Pain
No email address given
Department of Earth Sciences
Imperial College London
Award Type Standard
Funding Source EPSRC
Start Date 01 June 2010
End Date 30 November 2013
Duration 42 months
Total Grant Value £132,157
Industrial Sectors No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Region London
Programme Energy Research Capacity
 
Investigators Principal Investigator Professor CC Pain , Department of Earth Sciences, Imperial College London (99.997%)
  Other Investigator Dr JLd Gomes , Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London (0.001%)
Professor AJ Goddard , Department of Earth Sciences, Imperial College London (0.001%)
Dr MD Eaton , Department of Earth Sciences, Imperial College London (0.001%)
Web Site
Objectives The following grants are linked : EP/I002855/1, EP/I002928/1, EP/I002952/1, and EP/I003002/1
Abstract Over 95% of used nuclear fuel is uranium and plutonium, which can be recovered and reused. However, because used fuel is intensely radioactive, this requires very complex processes. These processes can also be adapted to the separation of high hazard materials from the residual radioactive wastes, to simplify radioactive waste management. However, industrial reprocessing of used fuel primarily relies on a 50 year old solvent extraction process (Purex), which was originally developed for much simpler fuels. As a result, modern fuels can prove difficult to reprocess. We will therefore explore two different approaches to nuclear fuel separation in parallel, one based on the established Purex technology and the other on a much more recent development, ion selective membranes (ISMs). ISMsareporous, chemically reactive membranes which can bind metals from solutions then release them again, depending on conditions, thus allowing highly selective separations.In the solvent extractionsystem, we will focus on a common problem in solvent extraction, third phase formation, and on separation of a group of long lived, high hazard waste isotopes (the fission product technetium and the minoractinides). With the ISMs, we will first prove their utility in uranium/plutonium separation, then extend these studies to the minor actinides. Throughout, we will work with the elements of interest, rather than analogues or low activity models and in realistic radiation environments. In both strands of the project, we will explore the underlying physical and chemical processes then, building onthis understanding, we will develop a series of quantitative models, building from phase behaviour to unit operations and finally to process flowsheet models. We wil use the resulting models to explore different options for fuel reprocessing, based on scenarios defined with our industrial partners
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 12/08/10