Table 2.1. Isotopic Composition of Three Grades of Plutonium: Heat Source, Weapons, and
Overviews of plutonium process chemistry at DOE's Hanford, Los Alamos, Rocky
Flats, and Savannah River sites are given by Christensen et al. (1983), Baldwin and
Navratil (1983), Coops et al. (1983), and Christensen and Mullins (1983). In each
case, solutions for recovery, purification, and waste treatment operations are
emphasized. Technology under consideration for incorporation in Weapons Complex
21 is described by Christensen (1992).
2.1.1 Future Sources of Plutonium
High-exposure plutonium, i.e., plutonium containing significant fractions of 240Pu,
240Pu, and 242Pu, is produced in power reactor fuels. Currently, this form of plutonium
is in the irradiated fuel in spent-fuel storage basins and other sources resulting from
development work performed to demonstrate plutonium fuel cycles. Because
recycling of commercial reactor fuel is not anticipated, future supplies of plutonium
will be primarily from DOE production facilities and from reprocessing of current
material. In the more distant future, liquid metal fast breeder reactors (LMFBRs) may
be a potential source of plutonium.
Special isotopes of reasonably high purity are also available, which can be useful to
in Table 2.2.
New sources of plutonium include the return of atomic weapon components and
plutonium recovered from decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) operations.
Foreign plutonium from states of the former Soviet Union may become an additional
source. Their weapons-grade plutonium is believed to contain 5% 240Pu. Americium
is not periodically removed from their stockpile material.