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Nuclear Engineering Division

Nuclear Chemical Engineering

Closing the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Improved Safeguards for Spent Fuel Treatment Systems


Fuel reprocessing must be done in a way that is economical, minimizes impact to the environment, and reduces the risk of weapons proliferation. The monitoring and safeguarding of used fuel recycling facilities is of high importance to the U.S., even though we do not currently practice reprocessing domestically. We are using the process chemistries, designs, and codes developed by our group to develop advanced monitoring and instrumentation systems.

Real-time process data is collected using laboratory equipment to generate data for both model and instrument validation.

The image at right shows the change in uranium concentration in the product during start-up of the UREX process. This data was collected using a UV-visible light spectrometer linked with a centrifugal contactor bank. The data was used to test the response of the detector and signal-response software to changes in process conditions.


As shown in the diagram below, chemical, process, and plant, models are used to define sensor requirements based on stream flows and compositions, and optimize sensor distribution to increase confidence in the deployment of safeguards systems.

Instrumentation is tested and refined on prototypic equipment using plant-relevant chemical processes flowsheets.

Tests are run on prototypic equipment platforms to validate results predicted by models. Test results are used to refine models and define instrumentation needs.

Diagram of chemical, process, and plant, models

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Last updated: 08/12/16