Project Synopsis

Process design and proposal preparation support for uranium-233 (233U) disposition.

Project Summary


Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) was subcontracted by the client to perform a process design and to provide proposal preparation support in anticipation of a Request for Proposal (RFP) from the Department of Energy.  The DOE RFP was anticipated to request the design and operation of a process for downblending highly enriched uranium, packaging this material, and decommissioning a building at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. PROCESS design tasks on this project included:

  • Process design basis development
  • Technical and economic evaluations for selected unit operation alternatives
  • Mass and energy balance modeling and summarization
  • Process flow diagrams (PFDs) preparation
  • Process control diagrams (PCDs) and process control descriptions preparation
  • Equipment duty specifications preparation
  • Major equipment item purchase costs development and evaluation.

The process design included provisions for processing and repackaging the DOE 233U (also sometimes called U233) inventory, which exists in various chemical and physical forms, to render it suitable for safe, long term storage, including the elimination of the need for criticality and safeguards and security controls.  Another important objective of the process design was the extraction of thorium-229 (229Th) for beneficial use from as much of the 233U inventory as practicable.

These process objectives were achieved by implementing the following unit operations:

  • Uranium dissolution (using nitric acid)
  • Filtration
  • Ion exchange (for 229Th extraction and for cadmium/daughters removal)
  • Materials handling/transport/storage.

Industry Type

  • Radioactive Materials Handling

Utilized Skills

  • Best suited technology evaluation
  • Radioactive materials processing
  • Ion exchange and isotope extraction
  • Mass and energy balances
  • Cost estimating

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