Nuclear Technology / Volume 173 / Number 2 / February 2011 / Pages 176-182
Technical Paper / Pyrometallurgical Reprocessing
A computational model of the Mark-IV electrorefiner is currently being developed as a joint project between Idaho National Laboratory, Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, Seoul National University, and the University of Idaho. As part of this model, the two-dimensional potential and current distributions within the molten salt electrolyte are calculated for U3+ , Zr4+ , and Pu3+ along with the total distributions, using the partial differential equation solver of the commercial Matlab software. The electrical conductivity of the electrolyte solution is shown to depend primarily on the composition of the electrolyte and to average 205 mho/m with a standard deviation of 2.5 × 10-5% throughout the electrorefining process. These distributions show that the highest potential gradients (thus, the highest current) exist directly between the two anodes and cathode. The total, uranium, and plutonium potential gradients are shown to increase throughout the process, with a slight decrease in that of zirconium. The distributions also show small potential gradients and very little current flow in the region far from the operating electrodes.