b'C HAPTER E LE VENT H E C H E M P L A N TThe crew is versatile, processing various types of fuel at different times.Phillips Petroleum CompanyI t was 1950. Chemist The group patched the equipment The dissolver vessel was important. Ittogether and began their experiments. had to contain the powerful acids thatThe goal was to design a process for would dissolve sturdy metal alloys andDon Reid and others at Oak Ridge were dissolving MTR fuel and extracting not itself dissolve. Also it had to benearing the end of four years work to from it the substantial percentage of U- small enough that the uranium inside itinvent and design a pilot chemical pro- 235 that had not fissioned during its could not accidentally form a criticalcessing plant for MTR fuel. They had seventeen days in the reactor. The huge mass. Engineering was at least as impor-found a work place in what Reid called expense of gaseous diffusion was tant as the chemistry.a little bit of a shed on a hill over- invested in the fuel, so the effort tolooking the Oak Ridge plant and next recover and recycle unused fuel was Dealing with the waste that the dissolu-door to the shed commandeered by well justified. tion process would produce also occu-Captain Rickover for his early studies pied the group. They experimented within naval nuclear propulsion. Reid evaporators to reduce the volume ofrecalled how they got started. waste, much of which would be water.They articulated the principle of holdingAfter looking around the laboratory and the concentrate and discharging the con-other areas in Oak Ridge.and seeing densate, a philosophy consistent withwhat was available in the way of mater - the AEC facilitiesgeneral approach toial, it was decided to use old bismuth- waste managementretaining high-levelphosphate plant equipment stored in the waste and dispersing low-level waste.field west of the laborator. We foundysome old.columbium-stabilized stain - The group erected a pilot plant and afterless-steel plates out in the field and this considerable experimentation, decidedwas to be used for the dissolver. This on the chemicals, the design of vesselswas taken by R.M. Murph Jones, and pipes, and the sequence of stepslater of MTR Engineering, to Nooter that would separate the uranium fromEngineering Works in St. Louis, a fabri - the dissolved solution. They testedcator for Monsanto. Jones followed the INEEL 64-1808 valves and instrumentation in a seriesfabrication of this special piece of Dissolver vessel for zirconium-alloyed fuels is in the of cold run tests using natural urani-equipment, and it was a very successful um and warm runs using low levelsforeground in this view inside a processing cell. Theprototype of the [Chem Plant] dis - cells were entered rarely, and only after thorough of irradiated uranium. Then they askedsolvers. decontamination. the AEC for five kilograms of irradiated1U-235 from an Oak Ridge reactor.9 4'