Dechlorination of molten chloride waste salt from electrorefining via ion-exchange using pelletized ultra-stable H-Y zeolite in a fluidized particle reactor

  • M. S. WasnikEmail author
  • A. K. Grant
  • K. Carlson
  • M. F. Simpson


Dechlorination of eutectic LiCl–KCl based electrorefiner (ER) salt is reported via ion-exchange reaction with protonated ultrastable Y-type (USHY) zeolite bound into mechanically fluidized 45–250 μm diameter particles. Evidence of exchange of cations from the salt (Li+, K+, and fission product cations) into the zeolite lattice replacing H+ ions was found based on a change in unit cell size, ICP-MS, XRD and TEM–EDS in addition to detection of HCl off gas. Ion exchange reaction was carried out at 625 and 650 °C, temperatures above the melting point of eutectic LiCl–KCl. Experiments were carried out to optimize zeolite drying temperature, estimate maximum ion-exchange capacity, and determine the thermal stability of USHY zeolite. The results indicate over 90% dechlorination can be achieved without zeolite structure collapse at 625 °C. This provides a promising route to stabilizing waste from radioactive chloride salts into dechlorinated waste forms for permanent geologic disposal.


Electrorefiner Chloride salt Zeolite Nuclear waste Pyroprocessing 



This research has been funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through the Nuclear Energy University Program (Project 16-10190).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this paper.

Data availability

The datasets generated during and analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


  1. 1.
    Cochran TB, Feiveson HA, Patterson W, Pshakin G, Ramana MV, Schneider M, von Hippel F (2010) Fast breeder reactor programs: history and status. International Panel on Fissile Mater (IPFM)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Seo CS, Park BH, Park SB, Jung KJ, Park SW, Kim SH (2006) Study on the characteristics of the ion exchange of zeolite 4A in a molten LiCl system. J Chem Eng Jpn 39(1):27–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Lewis MA, Fischer DF, Smith LJ (1993) Salt-occluded zeolites as an immobilization matrix for chloride waste salt. J Am Ceram Soc 76(11):2826–2832CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Simpson MF, Goff KM, Johnson SG, Bateman KJ, Battisti TJ, Toews KL, Sinkler W (2001) A description of the ceramic waste form production process from the demonstration phase of the electrometallurgical treatment of EBR-II spent fuel. Nucl Technol 134(3):263–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Priebe S, Bateman K (2008) The ceramic waste form process at Idaho National Laboratory. Nucl Technol 162(2):199–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Simpson MF, Barber DB, Benedict RW, Teske GM (2006) EBR-II and FFTF Spent Fuel Processing Options Report, Idaho National LaboratoryGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    U.S. Department of Energy (2000) Record of decision for the treatment and management of sodium bonded spent nuclear fuel. Federal Register 65(182):56565–56570Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Riley BJ, Rieck BT, McCloy JS, Crum JV, Sundaram SK, Vienna JD (2012) Tellurite glass as a waste form for mixed alkali–chloride waste streams: candidate materials selection and initial testing. J Nucl Mater 424(1–3):29–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kalogeras IM, Vassilikou-Dova AB (1998) Electrical properties of zeolitic catalysts. In: Defect and diffusion forum, vol 164. Trans Tech Publications, pp 1–36Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Katz JJ, Rabinowitch E (1951) The chemistry of uranium, vol 1. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Lexa D, Johnson I (2001) Occlusion and ion exchange in the molten (lithium chloride–potassium chloride–alkali metal chloride) salt + zeolite 4A system with alkali metal chlorides of sodium, rubidium, and cesium. Metall Mater Trans B 32(3):429–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ahluwalia RK, Geyer HK, Pereira C, Ackerman JP (1998) Modeling of a zeolite column for the removal of fission products from molten salt. Ind Eng Chem Res 37(1):145–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Jia C et al (1993) Solid-state exchange of lanthanum in beta zeolite. Appl Catal. A Gener 106(2):L185–L191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Nassar Eduardo J, Serra Osvaldo A (2002) Solid state reaction between europium III chloride and Y-zeolites. Mater Chem Phys 74(1):19–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Bagri P, Simpson MF (2015) Occlusion and ion exchange of eutectic LiCl–KCl in HY zeolite. J Nucl Fuel Cycle Waste Technol 13(1):45–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kerr GT (1968) Chemistry of crystalline aluminosilicates. V. Preparation of aluminum-deficient faujasites. J Phys Chem 72(7):2594–2596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kerr GT (1969) Chemistry of crystalline aluminosilicates. VI. Preparation and properties of ultrastable hydrogen zeolite Y. J Phys Chem 73(8):2780–2782CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Maher PK, Hunter FD, Scherzer J (1971) Crystal structures of ultrastable faujasites. Adv Chem Ser 101:266–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Simpson MF, Battisti TJ (1999) Adsorption of eutectic LiCl–KCl into zeolite 4A using a mechanically fluidized vacuum system. Ind Eng Chem Res 38(6):2469–2473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Breck Donald W (1984) Zeolite molecular sieves: structure, chemistry and use. Krieger, MalabarGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Price L, Leung KM, Sartbaeva A (2017) Local and average structural changes in zeolite a upon ion exchange. Magnetochemistry 3(4):42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Leszczyński M, Litwin-Staszewska E, Suski T, Bąk-Misiuk J, Domagała J (1995) Lattice constant of doped semiconductor. Acta Phys Pol A 88(5):837–840CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Metallurgical EngineeringUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

Personalised recommendations