(Invited) An Overview of the REFINE Project --- The Sustainable Reduction of Spent Fuel Vital in a Closed Loop Nuclear Energy Cycle

Thursday, 9 October 2014: 14:00
Expo Center, 1st Floor, Universal 3 (Moon Palace Resort)
D. Hu, A. Stevenson, and G. Z. Chen (University of Nottingham)
Widely known as the FFC Cambridge Process, direct electrochemical reduction of solid metal compounds, particularly oxides, in molten salts has been studied by many research groups around the world for purposes of metal extraction and refining, and alloy synthesis. Significant research and commercial processes have been achieved in the past 15 years, although understanding of the underline science and technological improvement of the process have continued. Particularly, as shown in Figure 1, it has been recognised and incorporated as a key technique in the recently launched REFINE consortium research programme that is supported by the Research Councils in the UK (RCUK). Because the technological objectives of REFINE are well beyond metal extraction, new opportunities and challenges can be anticipated. This presentation reviews relevant recent progresses in the field, and reports on preliminary findings on several fronts of the research challenges, including a new way of separation of mixed metal oxides via  partial reduction, possible mitigation of the impact of the electronic conductivity of molten salts, and improvements in experimental techniques. All these are discussed in the context of efficiency improvement of the process in relation to the REFINE programme.