Thermodynamics and Kinetics of the Electrochemical Reduction of Uranium

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Arts and Sciences



Faculty Sponsor

Dale D. Russell


This research focuses on a small but critical aspect of nuclear fuel cycle waste decontamination. Methods exist to remove virtually all uranium and plutonium from nuclear waste but they leave other radioactive elements, called minor actinides (MAs) in the waste. In order to remove the MAs it is critical to separate them from a class of non-radioactive elements also produced in the power production process, the lanthanides. This chemical separation is considered perhaps the most difficult in history. As one part of this larger effort we reduce uranium(VI) to uranium(III) in simulated "nuclear waste", utilizing cyclic and hydrodynamic voltammetry techniques, in order to elucidate the kinetics and thermodynamics of this reduction process. We suggest a mechanism for this multistep sequence of reactions and we report the kinetics of the process. We have also determined a working value for the diffusion coefficient of the UO22+ ion, which is the most stable form of uranium in aqueous media.

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