Methods for Controlled Recovery of Useful Materials from Nuclear Fuels



Invention Summary

The methods would allow nuclear materials—lanthanides and actinides—to be dissolved directly into ionic liquid for electrochemical recovery, reducing the number of steps and the negative influence of water in the process. The same ionic liquid serves as an electrochemical bath for the plating of actinides and lanthanides as metals or oxides. The existing separation and recovery technology requires dissolution of fission materials in aqueous solution, the extraction of lanthanides into non-aqueous organic solution, and then recovery of actinides from the aqueous solution. In addition, molten salt technology has been developed for the recovery. However, it produces toxic byproducts and requires large amounts of energy due to the elevated temperatures required to keep the salt molten.


Market Opportunity

The methods significantly advance the ability to separate and reclaim useful fission materials. Reclaiming unspent nuclear materials, while separating and sequestering fission products is extremely important in the management of the growing stockpile of nuclear waste.


Features & Benefits

•The methods provide rapid dissolution relative to other methods and generate minimal impurities when oxide species are utilized. Halide or nitrate complexes can also be utilized in the dissolution producing additional anionic species in the ionic liquid.


•The ionic liquid allows for the direct electrochemical deposition and recovery of actinide and lanthanide species which is precluded in aqueous solution.


•Actinide and lanthanide thin films can be obtained from the electrochemical deposition for use as targets for other experiments.


•The ionic liquid, is chemically stable, chemically inert, and does not require high operation temperatures minimizing the cost of recovery versus molten salt methods.


•This method allows the ultimate solubility of actinide metal species to be increased without increasing the solution temperature.


Intellectual Property        Published Patent: US-2013-0087464-A1, US-2013-0233716-A1 and WO 2014/124428



Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Zachary Miles
Associate Vice President for Economic Development
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Kenneth Czerwinski
Janelle Droessler
David Hatchett
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