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Boron Isotopes-Based Materials

#G-1110


Development of a Package of Technologies for Commercial Production of Boron Isotopes-Based Materials and Items

Tech Area / Field

  • FIR-ISO/Isotopes/Fission Reactors
  • FIR-MAT/Materials/Fission Reactors

Status
8 Project completed

Registration date
10.12.2003

Completion date
30.08.2007

Senior Project Manager
Zalouzhny A A

Leading Institute
National High Technology Center of Georgia, Georgia, Tbilisi

Collaborators

  • Spectra Gases, USA, NJ, Branchburg

Project summary

The objective of the Project is to develop a package of technologies for commercial production of materials and items, based on boron isotopes. The package of technologies will be developed for production facilities comprising 5 separate process sections, working in a single system and providing production of a wide range of boron isotope based materials and items, which are on demand at the world market (10BF3, 11BF3, H310BO3, H311BO3, 10B4C, Fe10B).

Natural boron contains two stable isotopes – boron-10 and boron-11. Their natural abundance in compounds makes approximately 19.3% at. and 80.79% at., respectively. Nuclear properties of boron-10 and boron-11 differ greatly. Their reactions with neutrons are of critical importance. Thermal neutron capture cross sections of 10B and 11B make 4010 Barn and < 0.05 Barn, respectively, and differ more than 80 thousand-fold. These features together with other physical and chemical features make materials, based on the above isotopes widely applicable in various fields of science and nuclear technology.

Application of materials, enriched in 10B: Boron Carbide Control Rods, ZrB2 and HfB2 Neutron Absorbers, Aluminum Boron Alloy Spent Fuel Casks, Superconductivity Mechanism Determination in MgB2 (Isotope Effect), Radiation Hardening (Shielding), Boric Acid Chemical Shim.

Application of 11B enriched materials: Neutron Diffraction Structural Studies, Controlled Doping by Ion implantation (bit flop), Single Event Transient, Neutron induced upsets, Radiation Hardening in Silicon Circuits.

Extension in the application fields and ranges of isotopic materials, based on boron isotopes is limited today, basically due to comparatively high production cost and insufficient scales of production of isotopic raw materials, and drawbacks of the processes of their production. In contrast to the processes of non-isotopic materials production material study of isotopic materials often requires alternative methods and processes, together with general requirements characterized by the highest product yield at all the stages, i.e. the lowest possible losses of expensive isotopic raw material. These circumstances also present specific requirements to the equipment for the isotopic materials production.

Study of the current state of the boric materials market, comparison and generalization of all the above and other important factors provide opportunity to predict substantial growth of demand in isotopic boron containing materials, provided their prices are decreased, and necessary quality and scales of shipment are guaranteed.

These requirements can be met best by the development of a wide-scale production, comprising sections for the production of boron-10 and boron-11 isotopes, sections for reprocessing, purification, testing and certifying desired isotopic materials and items. Economic, energy and isotope saving technologies should be used at all the stages of production.

The proposed Project comprises a set of tasks, the solution of which will allow developing a single package of technologies for wide-scale production of boron isotopes, nuclear and electronic grade materials and items, made on their base.

The works on the Project implementation will be conducted at National High Technology Centre of Georgia (NHTC, Tbilisi), which has been the leading enterprise in the post-soviet area, dealing with separation of isotopes of light elements, such as boron, nitrogen, carbon, oxygen and development and production of labeled compounds and materials on their base.

NHTC has accumulated many-years-long experience in boron isotopes separation and obtaining boron-containing materials and items, their testing and certification.

Development of a package of technologies for commercial production of materials based on boron isotopes is the basic expected result of the Project implementation.

The production complex, which will be designed on the base of the offered package of technologies will consist of 5 separate production sections, working as a single system and providing production of a wide range of boron isotope-based materials and items, which are on demand at the world market: section of isotopes separation; section of the separation process wastes neutralization and utilization; section of boric acid production; section of boron carbide production; section of ferroboron master alloy production. The Department of Analytical Control and Certification will provide services for the above 5 sections.

The proposed Project contains all the stages of research and development works and will be completed by drawing up a whole package of technical documentation, related to the package of technologies; production, testing and certification of experimental lots of materials and items.

Highly efficient technologies for wide-scale and competitive production of Boron-10, Boron-11 isotopes, boron-containing materials and items with preset chemical and isotopic properties will be developed in the result of the Project implementation. In their physical and chemical properties all the obtained materials must meet the requirements of world standards, their specifications will be comparable with those of the leading industrial countries, and besides, in future these materials will find application in atomic energy and engineering, microelectronics and other fields of industry. Technical and economic calculations will be conducted, and a Business-plan on the project results practical application will be drawn-up by the end of the Project implementation.

After the Project completion the results may be used at the interested enterprises with the support of potential investors. NHTC seems to be a probable place of such introduction, as its available production facilities can be extended and improved. A joint-venture with a foreign company may be a possible form of introducing the Project results into practice.

The Project provides opportunity to realize the NHTC objectives, as it provides an opportunity for the former weapon specialists (there are more than 60% of them among the planned Project participants) to reorient their skills and abilities towards peaceful activities; promotes integration of researchers and specialists into international scientific community, promotes researches and developments in the field of environment protection to substantially improve ecological situation and nuclear safety.

Works within the scopes of the Project foresee solution of six basic tasks, each of them being a separate development work.

Task 1. Development of technology for obtaining of Boron-10 and Boron-11 isotopes by the method of chemical isotopic exchange in ВF3 anisole*BF3 system.

Task 2. Development of the processes and technologies providing ecological security of boron isotope production.

Task 3. Development of technologies for the production of boric acid, enriched in Boron-10 and Boron-11 isotopes.

Task 4. Development of technologies for the production of special powders and items from boron carbide, enriched in Boron-10 isotope.

Task 5. Development of technology for the production of ferroboron master-alloy, enriched in Boron-10 isotope.

Task 6. Development of the system of production control, test and certification of boron-containing materials and items, enriched in Boron-10 and Boron-11 isotopes.

By the Project completion (quarters 8 - 9) works, related to technical and economic calculations of the parameters of the package of technologies will be conducted; a Business Plan on the practical application of the Project results will be drawn up (Task 7).


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