Electrochemical Separation of Alkaline-Earth Elements from Molten Salts Using Liquid Metal Electrodes

Thomas P. Nigl, Timothy Lichtenstein, Yuran Kong, Hojong Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Closing the nuclear fuel cycle requires recycling used nuclear fuel. Additional waste is generated during recycling due to fission products accumulating in processing salts (LiCl-KCl). Reducing the waste generated during recycling entails recovering alkaline-earth fission products (Ba2+/Sr2+) from molten chlorides with a minimal loss of bulk electrolyte constituents (Li+/K+). Electrochemical codeposition of Ba2+/Li+ and Sr2+/Li+ into liquid metal (Bi, Sb, Sn, and Pb) and alloy (Bi-Sb) electrodes was investigated in LiCl-KCl-(BaCl2, SrCl2) electrolytes at 500 and 650 °C. For the pure Bi (500 °C) and Sb (650 °C) electrodes, the greatest percentage of charge was used to deposit Ba and Sr. Effective recovery of Ba/Sr by liquid Bi and Sb electrodes is supported via experimentally determined activity values of Ba/Sr in Bi and Sb. Alloying Sb with Bi increased Ba recovery but decreased Sr recovery, compared to the recovery using a liquid Bi electrode. The results suggest that alkaline-earth fission products can be recovered from molten chlorides using liquid metal electrodes via electrochemical separation, thereby providing a method to reduce the generation of nuclear waste from nuclear fuel recycling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14818-14824
Number of pages7
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number39
StatePublished - Oct 5 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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