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Chemical Processing cont'd - hdbk1132990069


DOE-HDBK-1132-99
Two different types of chemistry are generally employed for plutonium
processing: the aqueous chemical process and pyrochemistry. Aqueous
processes that are common to the plutonium production and chemical analysis
are: dissolution, precipitation, liquid-liquid extraction, and oxidation-reduction
reactions.
The purex process, which has been the typical aqueous process used in
plutonium production, involves the extraction and purification of plutonium with
tributyl phosphate. Other processes are the production of plutonium
tetrafluoride (PuF4) and the reduction of PuF  4 using calcium and iodine. The
purex process should include design features to deal with the use of flam mable
liquids, the potential for radiolysis, the iron catalysis of hydrogen peroxide
decomposition, and the potential generation of a large volume of plutonium-
contaminated wastes.
The design of facilities that employ an aqueous chemical process should
consider the following features:
Systems, structures, and components for aqueous processing should be
resistant to highly corrosive liquid and entrained vapors. Depending on
the process to be used, stainless steel components are acceptable for
nitrate-based systems. Because stainless steel is incompatible with
chlorides, special coatings for gloveboxes (e.g., KynarTM ) should be
considered, along with TeflonTM or derivative polymer piping, valves,
pump bodies, and vessels in systems that employ chloride chemistry.
Selection of in-line process controls should consider materials
compatibility. Automated ion-exchange systems have been used at Los
Alamos with great success.
The sizing of process equipment is necessarily small to accommodate
nuclear criticality requirements. In-process storage of feed solutions is
efficiently handled in slab tanks or hollow cylindrical tanks. Pencil tanks
have also been used; however, the array of such tanks is more
complicated and subject to leaks. Selection of gasket, pump, and valve
I-52


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