An electrometallurgical process is being developed at Argonne National Laboratory to treat spent metallic nuclear fuel. In this process, the spent nuclear fuel is electrorefined in a molten salt to separate uranium from the other constituents of the fuel. The treatment process generates a contaminated chloride salt that is incorporated into a ceramic waste form. The ceramic waste form, a composite of sodalite and glass, contains the fission products (rare earths, alkalis, alkaline earth metals, and halides) and transuranic radionuclides that accumulated in the electrorefiner salt. These radionuclides are incorporated into zeolite A, which can fully accommodate the salt in its crystal structure. The radionuclides are incorporated into the zeolite by hightemperature blending or by ion exchange. In the blending process the salt and zeolite are simply tumbled together at >450°C (723 K), but in the ion exchange process, which yields a product more highly concentrated in fission products, the molten salt is passed through a bed of the zeolite. In either case, the salt-loaded zeolite A is mixed with glass frit and hot isostatically pressed to produce a monolithic leach resistant waste form.Zeolite is converted to sodalite during hot pressing. This paper presents experimental results on the experimental results on the fission product uptake of the zeolite as a function of time and salt composition.
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