New microwaves that can melt metal and help remove carbon impurities from uranium could be used in the proposed Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex.
Y-12 doesn’t plan to use any of its traditional ovens, known as vacuum induction melters, or VIMs, in the UPF, officials said. Those ovens use electric currents and a magnetic field to melt metal.
But it’s easier to “float out” carbon impurities in microwaves because they don’t stir molten metals the way the traditional ovens do, Y-12 officials said. Carbon contaminants in uranium castings could be reduced by 30 percent.
Y-12 melts and casts uranium to combine it into hollow cylinders for storage, make parts for the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, and supply nuclear fuel for the U.S. Navy. Microwaves could eventually be used for all three tasks. [Read more…]