Uranium at Y-12: Rolling and Forming

Posted: July 22, 2013 - 3:40pm | Y-12 Report | Volume 10, Issue 1 | 2013

Rolling involves preheating a uranium or uranium alloy workpiece and passing it through a mill to reduce its thickness. This is useful in creating reactor fuel element foils and other products. Rolling mill operators possess a strong grasp of thickness-reduction limits, reheating intervals and temperatures, metallurgical phases, rolling speed and force, impurity influences and other techniques.

Forming of enriched uranium is done through a process called hydroforming, a way of shaping malleable metals. Y‑12 hydroform operators are highly skilled and trained machinists. Forming requires knowledge of friction on the workpiece, high-pressure application, tooling temperature and other factors. Y‑12 machinists effectively carry out forming operations without destroying the product or damaging the equipment.

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