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Annual Report

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The AAA program is developing technology for the transmutation of nuclear waste to address many of the long-term disposal issues. An integral part of this program is the proposed chemical separations scheme. This process, as envisioned by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) researchers, will be outlined later in this report.

Nearly all issues related to risks to future generations arising from long-term disposal of such spent nuclear fuel is attributable to ~1% of its content. This 1% is made up primarily of plutonium, neptunium, americium, and curium (the transuranic elements) and long-lived isotopes of iodine and technetium created as products from the fission process in power reactors. When transuranics are removed from discharged fuel destined for disposal, the toxic nature of the spent fuel drops below that of natural uranium ore (that was originally mined for nuclear fuel) within a period of several hundred years.

Removal of plutonium and other transuranics from material destined for geologic disposal also eliminates issues related to long-term (centuries) heat management within geologic environments. The removal of neptunium, technetium, and iodine render negligible the possibility of radioactive material penetration into the biosphere far in the future. Finally, removal of plutonium negates any incentive for future intrusion into repositories driven by overt or covert recovery of material for nuclear proliferation.

Developing a systems engineering model of the overall process would be beneficial to analyzing complex interactions between proposed process changes. The model will evolve to incorporate all process steps and to improve process modules as more knowledge is gained. The improvements will be based on empirical data or from numerical models as appropriate.

The main research objectives for this project are:

• Develop a framework and environment for a systems engineering analysis of the chemical separations system for the AAA program.

• Establish a baseline systems engineering model from which modifications and improvements can be made.

• Refine the existing AMUSE program that gives a detailed examination of the UREX process, a critical component of the overall separation scheme.


Alpha-bearing wastes; Argonne Model for Universal Solvent Extraction (AMUSE); Computer programming; Separation (Technology); Software engineering; System analysis; Systems engineering; Transuranium elements – Separation; Uranium Recovery by Extraction (UREX)

Controlled Subject

Separation (Technology); Software engineering; Transuranium elements


Chemistry | Nuclear Engineering | Oil, Gas, and Energy | Software Engineering | Systems Engineering

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279 KB




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