A Review of Opportunities and Methods for Recovery of Rhodium from Spent Nuclear Fuel during Reprocessing

Alistair Holdsworth, Ben Hodgson, Joshua Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Rhodium is one of the scarcest, most valuable, and useful platinum group metals, a strategically important material relied on heavily by automotive and electronics industries. The limited finite natural sources of Rh and exponentially increasing demands on these supplies mean that new sources are being sought to stabilise supplies and prices. Spent nuclear fuel (SNF) contains a significant quantity of Rh, though methods to recover this are purely conceptual at this point, due to the differing chemistry between SNF reprocessing and the methods used to recycle natural Rh. During SNF reprocessing, Rh partitions between aqueous nitric acid streams, where its speciation is complex, and insoluble fission product waste streams. Various techniques have been investigated for Rh recovery during SNF reprocessing for over 50 years, including solvent extraction, ion exchange, precipitation, and electrochemical methods, with tuneable approaches such as impregnated composites and ionic liquids receiving the most attention recently, assisted by more the comprehensive understanding of Rh speciation in nitric acid developed recently. The quantitative recovery of Rh within the SNF reprocessing ecosystem has remained elusive thus far, and as such, this review discusses the recent developments within the field, and strategies that could be applied to maximise the recovery of Rh from SNF.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-534
Number of pages51
JournalJournal of Nuclear Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2023

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Energy
  • Dalton Nuclear Institute


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