Traveling Molten Zone Refining Process Development for Innovative Fuel Cycle Solutions

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Idaho Falls, Idaho
Project Term:
04/04/2022 - 04/03/2025

Technology Description:

Idaho National Laboratory (INL) will develop a thermal treatment process for extracting metallic actinides as a group and separating active fission products from used metal fuels. The INL team will leverage the anticipated formation of immiscible (unmixable) liquid layers and subsequent precipitation of solid phases upon cooling to improve the purity of resulting products at a potentially lower cost. A traveling molten zone system will rapidly extract actinides from used metallic fuels. One rapid pass of the molten zone from the bottom to the top of the metallic rod incorporating species of used metallic fuels is expected to realize the expected immiscible layer formation and provide species partitioning data effectively and cleanly. The process’s innovation lies in its simplicity, resistance to proliferation, and potential to produce an ultra-high purity group actinide metal product stream and actinide-free waste streams.

Potential Impact:

By identifying and addressing challenges at the back end of the fuel cycle before the deployment of future AR technologies, ONWARDS will:


Support the growth of advanced nuclear energy with safe and sustainable domestic fuel stocks.


Play a vital role in significantly reducing GHG emissions, proactively mitigate the disposal impact of AR UNF with integrated non-proliferation safeguards, and provide transformative solutions to improve the management and disposal of radioactive waste and UNF.


Complement ARPA-E’s existing nuclear energy research portfolio, such as the MEITNER and GEMINA programs in AR R&D, further ensuring the commercial viability of innovative new ARs.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Robert Ledoux
Project Contact:
Dr. Tae-Sic Yoo
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


University of Utah

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