Survey of advanced nuclear technologies for potential applications of sonoprocessing

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Abstract

Ultrasonics has been used in many industrial applications for both sensing at low power and processing at higher power. Generally, the high power applications fall within the categories of liquid stream degassing, impurity separation, and sonochemical enhancement of chemical processes. Examples of such industrial applications include metal production, food processing, chemical production, and pharmaceutical production. There are many nuclear process streams that have similar physical and chemical processes to those applications listed above. These nuclear processes could potentially benefit from the use of high-power ultrasonics. There are also potential benefits to applying these techniques in advanced nuclear fuel cycle processes, and these benefits have not been fully investigated. Currently the dominant use of ultrasonic technology in the nuclear industry has been using low power ultrasonics for non-destructive testing/evaluation (NDT/NDE), where it is primarily used for inspections and for characterizing material degradation. Because there has been very little consideration given to how sonoprocessing can potentially improve efficiency and add value to important process streams throughout the nuclear fuel cycle, there are numerous opportunities for improvement in current and future nuclear technologies. In this paper, the relevant fundamental theory underlying sonoprocessing is highlighted, and some potential applications to advanced nuclear technologies throughout the nuclear fuel cycle are discussed.

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