Uranium at Y-12: Recovery

Posted: July 22, 2013 - 3:44pm | Y-12 Report | Volume 10, Issue 1 | 2013

Recovery involves reclaiming uranium from numerous sources and configurations and handling uranium in almost any form, including oxides and liquids (see A Rich Resource Requires Recovery). Y‑12 has the equipment and expertise to recover uranium that is present in filters, wipes, mop water and elsewhere. For many salvage materials, the uranium is extracted and then manipulated into a uranyl nitrate solution, purified and chemically converted through several stages. Then it is reduced to a mass of uranium metal. This mass, called a button, is used in casting operations. The chemical operators who recover and purify uranium understand and monitor complex chemical reactions, flow rates, temperatures and other process parameters. They observe color changes, listen to equipment sounds and take other sensory cues from the material and equipment. No other site can handle and protect enriched uranium like Y‑12.

Learn more about some of the complexities in reprocessing and safeguarding one of the nation’s most vital assets.