In a lengthy post on Thursday, I wrote about the looming transition of Y-12’s uranium production activities into the new Uranium Processing Facility, still a decade or more away, and the role that alternative technologies may play in easing the transition and getting the work out of dilapidated 9212 as soon as possible.
Those technologies are called DER (direct electrolytic reduction) and ER (electrorefining). So what exactly are DER and ER?
Here’s information provided by Y-12:
“DER . . . is an electrochemical process that separates the oxygen in uranium oxide powder so uranium metal is left in the product basket. DER does not purify the metal; it converts oxides into uranium metal, which is the required feed for the next new process — electrorefining.”
And ER: “Electrorefining . . . is a well-established commercial process used to purify aluminum, titanium, nickel, and copper. Argonne, Idaho, and Los Alamos national labs all have ER processing.”
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