International Isotopes updates uranium processing, fluorine extraction plans

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International Isotopes has made advancements in the construction of a depleted uranium de-conversion and fluorine extraction facility using its patented Fluorine Extraction Process (FEP).

The feedstock for the planned facility is depleted uranium hexafluoride (UF6), a by-product of the uranium enrichment process. Approximately 90 percent of the UF6 that goes into the enrichment process emerges as depleted UF6. There are currently four enrichment facilities in the U.S. that are being built or are planned for construction.

The company announced on June 4 that it had acquired the assets of a shutdown, depleted UF6 de-conversion facility and its intent to build a new U.S.-based de-conversion facility utilizing these assets. Simultaneously, the company announced plans to include its FEP technology within the de-conversion facility to produce high-value, specialty fluoride gas products, which are in commercial demand for use in microelectronics manufacturing and in other applications.

International Isotopes said it expects to realize revenue by charging a fee for de-conversion services and from sales of hydrofluoric acid and high purity silicon tetrafluoride.

The de-conversion facility project consists of two major elements: 1) a stand-alone FEP, large-scale demonstration plant and 2) the planned depleted uranium de-conversion plant with FEP. The purpose of constructing the FEP large-scale demonstration facility is to test the design of the larger scale FEP equipment planned for the uranium de-conversion facility. Work on a Nuclear Regulatory Commission license amendment is already underway and is expected to be in place by mid 2009.

The facility is being designed with a great deal of built in flexibility and with an expected initial capacity to process on the order of 14 million pounds of depleted UF6 per year. It is expected to produce over a million pounds of high purity fluoride gas as well as three million to five million pounds of high purity anhydrous hydrofluoric acid.