Unirradiated sodium bonded metal fuel and casting scrap material containing highly enriched uranium (HEU) is stored at the Materials and Fuels Complex (MFC) on the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). This material, which includes intact fuel assemblies and elements from the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF) and Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR-II) reactors, as well as scrap material from the casting of these fuels, has no current use under the terminated reactor programs for both facilities. The Department of Energy (DOE), under the Sodium-Bonded Spent Nuclear Fuel Treatment Record of Decision (ROD), has determined that this material could be prepared and transferred to an off-site facility for processing and eventual fabrication of fuel for commercial nuclear reactors. A plan is being developed to prepare, package, and transfer this material to the DOE HEU Disposition Program Office (HDPO), located at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Disposition of the sodium bonded material will require separating the elemental sodium from the metallic uranium fuel. A sodium distillation process known as MEDE (Melt-Drain-Evaporate), will be used for the separation process. The casting scrap material needs to be sorted to remove any foreign material or fines that are not acceptable to the HDPO program. Once all elements have been cut and loaded into baskets, they are then loaded into an evaporation chamber as the first step in the MEDE process. The chamber will be sealed and the pressure reduced to approximately 200 mtorr. The chamber will then be heated as high as 650 °C, causing the sodium to melt and then vaporize. The vapor phase sodium will be driven into an outlet line where it is condensed and drained into a receiver vessel. Once the evaporation operation is complete, the system is de-energized and returned to atmospheric pressure. This paper describes the MEDE process as well as a general overview of the furnace systems, as necessary, to complete the MEDE process.

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