Electrochemical Reduction and Kinetics Determination of Uranium
This research focuses on a small but critical aspect of nuclear fuel cycle waste decontamination. Methods exist to remove uranium and plutonium from nuclear waste but that leaves other radioactive elements behind, called minor actinides (MAs). These can be transmuted into non-radioactive materials, rendering them stable, but not in the presence of lanthanides, which are also produced. If these two groups could be separated from each other, nuclear fuel cycles could be closed and all radioactive elements either recycled or rendered stable. In this research we explore a system to bind the MAs and pull them out of the contaminated water leaving the lanthanides behind. The hypothesis is that certain binding compounds will bind to actinides over lanthanides and escort them into a non-aqueous solvent, separating them from lanthanides. To prove that hypothesis, all elements must be in the same oxidation state so that charge on the atom is not a differentiator in the effectiveness of its removal. We focus on putting uranium into the +3 state so we can make direct comparisons of extraction efficiency with the lanthanide elements which are all naturally in +3 state. We report the electrochemical reduction of U(VI) to U(III), we suggest a mechanism and report the kinetics of the process.
Lawson, Matthew; Scaggs, Jon; and Shebley, Israel, "Electrochemical Reduction and Kinetics Determination of Uranium" (2016). 2016 Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Conference. Paper 84.