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Modeling the Pyrochemical Reduction of Spent UO2 Fuel in a Pilot-Scale Reactor

Michael F. Simpson, Steven D. Herrmann

Nuclear Technology / Volume 162 / Number 2 / Pages 179-183

May 2008


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A kinetic model has been derived for the reduction of oxide spent nuclear fuel in a radial flow reactor. In this reaction, lithium dissolved in molten LiCl reacts with UO2 and fission product oxides to form a porous, metallic product. As the reaction proceeds, the depth of the porous layer around the exterior of each fuel particle increases. The observed rate of reaction has been found to be dependent only upon the rate of diffusion of lithium across this layer, consistent with a classic shrinking core kinetic model. This shrinking core model has been extended to predict the behavior of a hypothetical, pilot-scale reactor for oxide reduction. The design of the pilot-scale reactor includes forced flow through baskets that contain the fuel particles. The results of the modeling indicate that this is an essential feature in order to minimize the time needed to achieve full conversion of the fuel.

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