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Energies 2015, 8(9), 10354-10369; doi:10.3390/en80910354

Design of an Extractive Distillation Column for the Environmentally Benign Separation of Zirconium and Hafnium Tetrachloride for Nuclear Power Reactor Applications

1
School of Chemical Engineering, Yeungnam University, Gyeongsan 712-749, Korea
2
School of Environment, Science and Engineering, Southern Cross University, Lismore 2480, New South Wales, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Hiroshi Sekimoto
Received: 24 July 2015 / Revised: 8 September 2015 / Accepted: 12 September 2015 / Published: 21 September 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Future of Nuclear Power)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1288 KB, uploaded 21 September 2015]   |  

Abstract

Nuclear power with strengthened safety regulations continues to be used as an important resource in the world for managing atmospheric greenhouse gases and associated climate change. This study examined the environmentally benign separation of zirconium tetrachloride (ZrCl4) and hafnium tetrachloride (HfCl4) for nuclear power reactor applications through extractive distillation using a NaCl-KCl molten salt mixture. The vapor–liquid equilibrium behavior of ZrCl4 and HfCl4 over the molten salt system was correlated with Raoult’s law. The molten salt-based extractive distillation column was designed optimally using a rigorous commercial simulator for the feasible separation of ZrCl4 and HfCl4. The molten salt-based extractive distillation approach has many potential advantages for the commercial separation of ZrCl4 and HfCl4 compared to the conventional distillation because of its milder temperatures and pressure conditions, smaller number of required separation trays in the column, and lower energy requirement for separation, while still taking the advantage of environmentally benign feature by distillation. A heat-pump-assisted configuration was also explored to improve the energy efficiency of the extractive distillation process. The proposed enhanced configuration reduced the energy requirement drastically. Extractive distillation can be a promising option competing with the existing extraction-based separation process for zirconium purification for nuclear power reactor applications. View Full-Text
Keywords: zirconium tetrachloride; hafnium tetrachloride; nuclear power reactor; extractive distillation; molten salt; heat pump; environmentally benign separation zirconium tetrachloride; hafnium tetrachloride; nuclear power reactor; extractive distillation; molten salt; heat pump; environmentally benign separation
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Minh, L.Q.; Long, N.V.D.; Duong, P.L.T.; Jung, Y.; Bahadori, A.; Lee, M. Design of an Extractive Distillation Column for the Environmentally Benign Separation of Zirconium and Hafnium Tetrachloride for Nuclear Power Reactor Applications. Energies 2015, 8, 10354-10369.

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