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Uranium chloride is a radioactive material that is toxic to aquatic organisms. It acts as an oxidant to incoming sodium. Therefore, it is an important substance for treating spent nuclear fuel. In addition, it can be used as a source of uranium for organic compounds.
Some embodiments of the present invention distill uranium chloride from excess metals. Other embodiments omit purification steps.
Applicants have conceived a method for producing uranium chloride that eliminates hazardous chemicals and involves only a single apparatus. The method utilizes a simple furnace and vacuum system to produce the substance.
A reaction vessel is filled with a mixture of uranium metal and a eutectic salt. The salt is preferably a mixture of LiCl–KCl.
Under vacuum conditions, a first hold temperature of 650 deg C is maintained for at least two hours. This holds the reaction vessel at a temperature above the melting point of the uranium metal. After the first hold, the temperature and pressure are maintained at a second hold temperature of at least 1200 deg C.
After the reaction is complete, a condenser region is isolated. Vacuum conditions are maintained in the condenser region to direct the migration of the chloride salts to the condenser. Condensate is analyzed using ICP-AES to confirm that the reaction has been completed.
The amount of copper in the condensate was determined by ICP-AES. An average content was 1.57 wt. %.
The first anhydrous molecular complexes of uranium(III) chloride are soluble in polar aprotic solvents. However, the asymmetric bridging (m-Cl)3 moiety may be due to different pyridine binding in U3 and U1.
During the reaction, uranium metal and the eutectic salt react to form UCl4. In a second hold condition, the reaction vessel is heated to a pressure of 0.1 to 10 Torr.