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Efficient Isotope Recovery and Seamless Recycle of Target Material in a Salt Matrix...

by David F Williams, Susan L Hogle, Guillermo D Del Cul
Publication Type
ORNL Report
Publication Date

A first step in developing molten salt nuclear reactors (MSRs) is a capability to irradiate capsules containing molten salts and a natural development path for this capability is through applications to produce radioisotopes using a molten salt matrix within existing water-cooled reactors. At present there is almost no capability to prepare, irradiate, and process salts for isotope production in the United States. This report documents an initial plan to discover designs for capsules to produce various radioisotopes (99Mo, 238Pu, 232U, and heavy elements) in a way that minimizes waste, simplifies (or really eliminates the need for) recycle/refabrication operations by utilizing a salt matrix for irradiation and nonaqueous, aqueous, or hybrid processes for recovery of the isotopes from the salt matrix. The FY19 goals of this internal study are to:
(1) Review past and current salt irradiation vehicle designs and evaluate modern materials, fabrication methods, and design methods to see how new vehicles could function for isotope production in the context of optimized nonaqueous or hybrid recovery methods.
(2) engage potential end-users with this approach and gather feedback and provide recommendations for a phased implementation for different application/isotope domains.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) staff have developed a unique understanding and capability with regard to molten salts and related pyroprocessing methods. This capability can be sustained by passing it on to a new generation by tackling a challenging problem and putting the solution into practice. This study defines opportunities to start down that path.