Framatome recently announced the opening of a $20-million scrap uranium recovery facility at its fuel manufacturing site in Richland, Wash., one of the French firm’s 14 North American locations. Construction on the approximately 11,000-square-foot building, which replaces a 35-year-old solvent extraction facility, began in July 2017, and it was declared fully operational on September 21, 2020.
According to Framatome’s October 6 announcement, the facility houses new and upgraded equipment for utilizing the solvent extraction process to separate uranium from feed streams containing non-uranium contaminants such as gadolinium. (Non-uranium contaminants, the company noted, include powders, pellets, and liquids that contain non-uranium impurities, making them unsuitable for other forms of recovery.) The recovered uranium is fed through the ammonium diuranate process to extract uranium dioxide. The extracted UO2 is then processed to make nuclear fuel pellets for fuel rods.