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In the pyrochemical separation of used nuclear fuel (UNF), fission product, rare earth, and actinide chlorides accumulate in the molten salt electrolyte over time. Measuring this salt composition in near real-time is advantageous for operational efficiency, material accountability, and nuclear safeguards. Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) has been proposed and demonstrated as a potential analytical approach for molten LiCl–KCl salts. However, all the studies conducted to date have used a static surface approach which can lead to issues with splashing, low repeatability, and poor sample homogeneity. In this initial study, a novel molten salt aerosol approach has been developed and explored to measure the composition of the salt via LIBS. The functionality of the system has been demonstrated as well as a basic optimization of the laser energy and nebulizer gas pressure used. Initial results have shown that this molten salt aerosol–LIBS system has a great potential as an analytical technique for measuring the molten salt electrolyte used in this UNF reprocessing technology.
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VCU Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Publications