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Appendix F to Part 110—Illustrative List of Laser-Based Enrichment Plant Equipment and Components Under NRC Export Licensing Authority

Note: Present systems for enrichment processes using lasers fall into two categories: The process medium is atomic uranium vapor and the process medium is the vapor of a uranium compound, sometimes mixed with another gas or gases. Common nomenclature for these processes include: First category-atomic vapor laser isotope separation; and second category-molecular laser isotope separation including chemical reaction by isotope selective laser activation. The systems, equipment, and components for laser enrichment plants include: (a) Devices to feed uranium-metal vapor for selective photo-ionization or devices to feed the vapor of a uranium compound (for selective photo-dissociation or selective excitation/activation); (b) devices to collect enriched and depleted uranium metal as "product" and "tails" in the first category, and devices to collect enriched and depleted uranium compounds as "product" and "tails" in the second category; (c) process laser systems to selectively excite the uranium-235 species; and (d) feed preparation and product conversion equipment. The complexity of the spectroscopy of uranium atoms and compounds may require incorporation of a number of available laser and laser optics technologies.

All surfaces that come into direct contact with the uranium or UF6 are wholly made of, or protected by, corrosion-resistant materials. For laser-based enrichment items, the materials resistant to corrosion by the vapor or liquid of uranium metal or uranium alloys include yttria-coated graphite and tantalum; and the materials resistant to corrosion by UF6 include copper, copper alloys, stainless steel, aluminum, aluminum oxide, aluminum alloys, nickel or alloys containing 60 percent or more nickel by weight, and fluorinated hydrocarbon polymers. Many of the following items come into direct contact with uranium metal vapor or liquid or with process gas consisting of UF6 or a mixture of UF6 and other gases:

(1) Uranium vaporization systems (atomic vapor based methods).

Especially designed or prepared uranium metal vaporization systems for use in laser enrichment.

These systems may contain electron beam guns and are designed to achieve a delivered power (1 kW or greater) on the target sufficient to generate uranium metal vapour at a rate required for the laser enrichment function.

(2) Liquid or vapor uranium metal handling systems and components (atomic vapor based methods).

Especially designed or prepared systems for handling molten uranium, molten uranium alloys, or uranium metal vapor.

The liquid uranium metal handling systems may consist of crucibles and cooling equipment for the crucibles. The crucibles and other system parts that come into contact with molten uranium, molten uranium alloys, or uranium metal vapor are made of, or protected by, materials of suitable corrosion and heat resistance, such as tantalum, yttria-coated graphite, graphite coated with other rare earth oxides, or mixtures thereof.

(3) Uranium metal "product" and "tails" collector assemblies (atomic vapor based methods).

Especially designed or prepared "product" and "tails" collector assemblies for uranium metal in liquid or solid form.

Components for these assemblies are made of or protected by materials resistant to the heat and corrosion of uranium metal vapor or liquid, such as yttria-coated graphite or tantalum, and may include pipes, valves, fittings, "gutters," feed-throughs, heat exchangers and collector plates for magnetic, electrostatic, or other separation methods.

(4) Separator module housings (atomic vapor based methods).

Especially designed or prepared cylindrical or rectangular vessels for containing the uranium metal vapor source, the electron beam gun, and the "product" and "tails" collectors. These housings have multiplicity of ports for electrical and water feedthroughs, laser beam windows, vacuum pump connections, and instrumentation diagnostics and monitoring with opening and closure provisions to allow refurbishment of internal components.

(5) Supersonic expansion nozzles (molecular based methods).

Especially designed or prepared supersonic expansion nozzles for cooling mixtures of UF6 and carrier gas to 150 K (–123 °C) or less which are corrosion resistant to UF6.

(6) "Product" or "tails" collectors (molecular based methods).

Especially designed or prepared components or devices for collecting uranium product material or uranium tails material following illumination with laser light.

In one example of molecular laser isotope separation, the product collectors serve to collect enriched uranium pentafluoride (UF5) solid material. The product collectors may consist of filter, impact, or cyclone-type collectors, or combinations thereof, and must be corrosion resistant to the UF5/UF6 environment.

(7) UF6/carrier gas compressors (molecular based methods).

Especially designed or prepared compressors for UF6/carrier gas mixtures, designed for long term operation in a UF6 environment. Components of these compressors that come into contact with process gas are made of, or protected by, materials resistant to UF6 corrosion.

(8) Rotary shaft seals (molecular based methods).

Especially designed or prepared rotaryshaft seals, with seal feed and seal exhaust connections, for sealing the shaft connecting the compressor rotor with the driver motor to ensure a reliable seal against out-leakage of process gas or in-leakage of air or seal gas into the inner chamber of the compressor which is filled with a UF6/carrier gas mixture.

(9) Fluorination systems (molecular based methods).

Especially designed or prepared systems for fluorinating UF5 (solid) to UF6 (gas).

These systems are designed to fluorinate the collected UF5 powder to UF6 for subsequent collection in product containers or for transfer as feed for additional enrichment. In one approach, the fluorination reaction may be accomplished within the isotope separation system to react and recover directly off the "product" collectors. In another approach, the UF5 powder may be removed/transferred from the "product" collectors into a suitable reaction vessel (e.g., fluidized-bed reactor, screw reactor or flame tower) for fluorination. In both approaches, equipment is used for storage and transfer of fluorine (or other suitable fluorinating agents) and for collection and transfer of UF6.

(10) UF6 mass spectrometers/ion sources (molecular based methods).

Especially designed or prepared mass spectrometers capable of taking on-line samples from UF6 gas streams and having all of the following characteristics:

(i) Capable of measuring ions of 320 atomic mass units or greater and having a resolution of better than 1 part in 320;

(ii) Ion sources constructed of or protected by nickel, nickel-copper alloys with a nickel content of 60 percent or more by weight, or nickel-chrome alloys;

(iii) Electron bombardment ionization sources; and

(iv) Collector system suitable for isotopic analysis.

(11) Feed systems/product and tails withdrawal systems (molecular based methods).

Especially designed or prepared process systems or equipment for enrichment plants made of or protected by materials resistant to corrosion by UF6, including:

(i) Feed autoclaves, ovens, or systems used for passing UF6 to the enrichment process;

(ii) Desublimers (or cold traps) used to remove UF6 from the enrichment process for subsequent transfer upon heating;

(iii) Solidification or liquefaction stations used to remove UF6 from the enrichment process by compressing and converting UF6 to a liquid or solid; and

(iv) "Product" or "tails" stations used to transfer UF6 into containers.

(12) UF6/carrier gas separation systems (molecular based methods).

Especially designed or prepared process systems for separating UF6 from carrier gas.

These systems may incorporate equipment such as:

(i) Cryogenic heat exchangers or cryoseparators capable of temperatures of 153 K (–120 °C) or less;

(ii) Cryogenic refrigeration units capable of temperatures of 153 K (–120 °C) or less; or

(iii) UF6 cold traps capable of freezing out UF6.

(13) Lasers or Laser systems.

Especially designed or prepared for the separation of uranium isotopes.

The laser system typically contains both optical and electronic components for the management of the laser beam (or beams) and the transmission to the isotope separation chamber. The laser system for atomic vapor based methods usually consists of tunable dye lasers pumped by another type of laser (e.g., copper vapor lasers or certain solidstate lasers). The laser system for molecular based methods may consist of CO2 lasers or excimer lasers and a multi-pass optical cell. Lasers or laser systems for both methods require spectrum frequency stabilization for operation over extended periods of time.

(14) Any other components especially designed or prepared for use in a laser-based enrichment plant or in any of the components described in this appendix.

[61 FR 35605, July 8, 1996; 79 FR 39296, Jul. 10, 2014]

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, August 18, 2014