SBIR Phase II: NIFUT Technology for recycling fluorides from Uranium Tetrafluoride
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
Pearlhill Technologies, LLC
616 S Adam Ln, Idaho Falls, ID, 83401-4629
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project proposes to significantly expand the number of marketable compounds that can be converted from depleted uranium tetrafluoride (DUF4). DUF4 is produced by the reduction of depleted hexafluoride (DUF6), the largest and one of the most toxic waste components of the entire nuclear fuel cycle. Current technology can convert DUF4 into metallic fluorides. Pearlhill Technologies has developed new, environmentally and economically sound processes for the production of nonmetallic inorganic fluorides from uranium tetrafluoride (NIFUT). In Phase I, Pearlhill proved the feasibility of three NIFUT processes to produce commercially viable fluoride products; sulfur tetrafluoride (SF4) gas, sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) gas, and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) gas. In Phase II, the company will design and develop prototype reactors and conduct field tests for three processes: (1) a scalable batch process to produce SF4; (2) a continuous process to produce SF6 gas by direct fluorination of SF4 in a stationary bed of cobalt trifluoride (CoF3); and (3) a continuous process for the direct fluorination of trimethylsilylamines at a low temperature liquid phase continuous process, in order to produce NF3 gas. The broader impacts of this research are that, for the first time, a company has created nonmetallic inorganic fluoride products from DUF6. The Department of Energy (DOE) currently has as much as 700,000 tons of DUF6 in its inventory. Meanwhile, four companies are planning to build new uranium enrichment plants. When these facilities are operational, an additional 27,000 tons of DUF6 waste will be added annually to the inventory. DOE's 1999 roadmap for decommissioning DUF6 discussed the need to create new processes for the commercial production of high-value fluorine products from DUF6/DUF4 including a variety of metallic and non-metallic inorganic fluoride compounds, which can be absorbed into current markets. A mix of high-value fluoride products is needed to minimize flooding any single fluoride market. Market research suggests that the market demand for metallic fluoride products can absorb only about ten percent of the potential metallic fluoride gas products that could be created from the annual ongoing enrichment process; hence there is a pressing need to increase the number of markets for fluoride products created from DUF6. The innovative NIFUT process will address this need. The Phase I research has proven that three fluoride products - SF4, SF6, and NF3 - can be produced at a significant cost advantage in the current marketplace.
* information listed above is at the time of submission.