2017 | AFC ACCOMPLISHMENTS 124 Accomplishments: Work in cooperation with France required the production of 10g of pure americium metal in support of the americium bearing blanket (AmBB) initiative during FY2017. It is the goal of the French project to add americium to fuel which is to be placed in the blanket of a fast reactor in order to transmutate the long lived actinides such as americium.The US obligation to this agreement includes the production of americium and fabrication of the fuel. In order to support the fabrication needs approximately 10g of pure americium metal were needed by the end of FY17.This goal was met and an additional 5g of material were purified.There were a number of process improvements made in FY17 that made it possible to obtain the necessary amount of material. It was discovered that the material below the surface of the distillation mixture was not being allowed to vaporize and therefore some sort of agitation or stirring mechanism was necessary in order to break this surface tension and improve process yields.This was accomplished by agitating the furnace (Figure 1) backward and forward every fifteen minutes while it was being held at temperature.This significantly improved the yield by allowing material trapped below the surface to come to the surface and vaporize and ultimately condense higher up on the walls of the crucible. In addition to this improvement, the method for retrieving the material was also improved in FY17.Although a cold finger is placed inside the crucible to collect material it has been determined from numerous previous experiments that the material plates out on the walls of the crucible below the cold finger rather than on the cold finger itself.Thus, the material must be retrieved after cooling using a drill bit. In order to improve this process as well as to limit the dose received by the operators, who in the past have hand drilled the material out, a hobby lathe (Figure 2) was purchased and retrofitted for use in the glovebox.This has allowed for the much more efficient material retrieval (Figure 3) and has also decreased the finger dose to the operators. Also during FY17, it was discovered that the purified americium metal is highly susceptible to oxidation even in an inert atmosphere glovebox with tightly controlled oxygen levels. In order to ensure the metal does not oxidize the shavings removed from the crucible walls using the lathe are now reconsolidated into a larger volume ball to reduce the surface area exposed to oxygen. The feedstock work package has purified all of the americium metal necessary to support AmBB and also made enough to begin fabrication of AFC fuels.