Study on cleaning solvents using activated alumina in PUREX process

Y. Arai 1 , H. Ogino 2 , M. Takeuchi 3 , T. Kase 4 , and Y. Nakajima 5
  • 1  Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Engineering Laboratories, Ibaraki 319-1194, Japan
  • 2  Japan
  • 3  Japan
  • 4  Japan
  • 5  Japan


The PUREX process is used to extract uranium and plutonium from dissolved solutions (spent nuclear fuel liquor). The extractant is 30% tributyl phosphate in n-dodecane, which is known to be degradable by radiation and nitric acid. Tributyl phosphate degradation products can generally be washed in alkali solutions like sodium carbonate solution; however, it is more difficult to remove n-dodecane degradation products using this method. A method of cleaning solvents using activated alumina is discussed in this study. A degradation sample of 30% TBP/n-dodecane was prepared by irradiating (1.6 MGy) with a 60Co gamma-source. The degradation products were then qualitatively analyzed using a gas chromatography-mass spectrometer (GC-MS). After being irradiated the solvents were cleaned with activated alumina, and a phase separation test with performed in evaluating the cleaned solvent. This resulted in the discovery of a procedure for the removal of n-dodecane degradation products of dodecanol and dodecanone, with about 70% of the degradation products, and the phase separation performance could be clearly improved through use of activated alumina.

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