Removing Acetic Acid from the UREX+ Process
Date of Award
Master of Science
Robert M. Counce
Jack S. Watson, Paul Bienkowski
Acetic acid needs to be removed from a waste stream in the UREX+ process so that nitric acid can be recycled and possible interference with downstream steps can be avoided. Acetic acid arises from acetohydroxamic acid (AHA) used to suppress plutonium in the first step of the UREX+ process. Later, it is hydrolyzed into hydroxyl amine nitrate and acetic acid. Many common separation technologies were examined, and solvent extraction was determined to be the best choice under process conditions. Solvents already used in the UREX+ process were then tested to determine if they would be sufficient for the removal of acetic acid. The tributyl phosphate (TBP)-dodecane diluent, used in both UREX and NPEX, was determined to be a solvent system that gave sufficient distribution coefficients for acetic acid in addition to a high separation factor from nitric acid. This solvent system was tested under various TBP concentrations in the dodecane to create a concentration plot that can be used for further flow sheet development. Each step in the UREX+ process was examined to determine if there was any acetic acid interference in the performance of any step of the UREX+ flow sheet that would make it necessary to remove the acetic acid prior to that step. It was found that no interference with acetic acid was present. Therefore, the acetic acid removal step can be placed essentially anywhere in the process. For simplicity, it has been proposed to place the removal step at the end of the process after TALSPEAK where all desirable metals have already been extracted and the nitric acid waste stream is prepared to be recycled.
Mitchell, Jessica Anne, "Removing Acetic Acid from the UREX+ Process. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2008.