Computer simulation of uranium enrichment cascades

Giovanni Mercurio

The modeling of uranium isotopes (235U, 238U) separation process by centrifugation is a key aspect for predicting the nuclear fuel enrichment plant performances. In this work are illustrated some aspects of the modeling of fast centrifuges for UF6 gas enrichment and of a typical cascade enrichment plant with the Theoretical Centrifuge and Cascade Simulator (TCCS). The background theory for reproducing the flow field characteristics of a centrifuge is derived from the work of Cohen. where the separation parameters are calculated using the solution of a differential enrichment equation. In our case we chose to solve the hydrodynamic equations for the motion of a compressible fluid in a centrifugal field using the Berman – Olander vertical velocity radial distribution . The importance of a correct estimation of the centrifuge separation parameters at different flow regimes, lies in the possibility to estimate in a reliable way the U enrichment plant performances, once the separation external parameters are set (feed flow rate and feed, product and tails assays). Using the separation parameters of a single centrifuge allow to determine the performances of an entire cascade. The results of the calculation are the concentrations (assays) and the flow rates of the enriched (product) and depleted (tails) gas mixture. These models represent a valid additional tool, in order to verify the compliance of the U enrichment plant operator declarations with the “on site” inspectors’ measurements.