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Reference Number EP/I002855/1
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 F Livens
No email address given
University of Manchester
Award Type Standard
Funding Source EPSRC
Start Date 01 April 2010
End Date 30 September 2013
Duration 42 months
Total Grant Value £683,653
Industrial Sectors Energy
Region North West
Programme Energy : Energy
Investigators Principal Investigator Professor F Livens , Chemistry, University of Manchester (99.995%)
  Other Investigator Dr SLM Schroeder , Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, University of Manchester (0.001%)
Dr M Jobson , Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, University of Manchester (0.001%)
Professor AJ Masters , Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, University of Manchester (0.001%)
Professor SM Pimblott , Chemistry, University of Manchester (0.001%)
Dr S P K Koehler , Chemistry, University of Manchester (0.001%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , Serco Group plc (0.000%)
Project Contact , National Nuclear Laboratory (0.000%)
Project Contact , Idaho National Laboratory, USA (0.000%)
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 onthisunderstanding, 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