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Partitioning: New Solvent Extraction Processes for Minor Actinides (PARTNEW), Final Report

Project ID: FIKW-CT-2000-00087
Funded under: FP5-EAECTP C


The final disposal of vitrified high-active wastes issuing the reprocessing of nuclear spent fuels in an underground repository is a complex problem mainly related to the fact that these wastes contain long-lived radionuclides with high radiotoxicity and this for a very long period of time, i.e. thousands to millions of years. A possible solution to this problem is not to incorporate these long-lived radionuclides into the vitrified wastes. After separation (partitioning), before the vitrification step, the long-lived radionuclides can be destroyed (transmutated) into short- or medium-lived or stable nuclides by nuclear means. This is the socalled partitioning-transmutation strategy (P&T) under study in several countries. Among the long-lived radionuclides to remove from the HAW (i.e. the aqueous raffinate or concentrate issuing the PUREX process), those belonging to the so-called minor actinides (MAs), Np, Am and Cm, are the most important to eliminate. The partitioning of neptunium (Np) can certainly be done by the PUREX process. This is not the case for Am and Cm, which exist at the oxidation state +III in the spent-fuel aqueous dissolution liquor and which possess very low affinity for tri-n-butylphosphate (TBP), the extractant of the PUREX process.
The aim of the research carried out within PARTNEW was to study and define efficient extraction processes for the partitioning of the trivalent Am and Cm ions from the HAW and for mutual Am(III)/Cm(III) separation.
The work programme was organised into eight work packages (WP) corresponding to five domains:
DIAMEX basic and process development studies (WP1 & WP2)
SANEX basic and process development studies with N-polydentate ligands (WP3 & WP4)
SANEX basic and process development studies with bis-(substituted-phenyl)-di-thiophosphinic acid + neutral ligand synergistic mixtures (WP5 & WP6)
SANEX basic studies with new S-bearing ligands (WP7)
Am(III)/Cm(III) separation: basic and process development studies (WP

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