Extraction phase
The uranium and plutonium (shown in green) are initially mixed with other radioactive elements (shown in dark blue) in strongly acidic water. A kerosene-based oily mixture (light yellow) is added. This mixture contains a special molecule, TriButylPhosphate or TBP (bright yellow), which is only effective in the presence of strongly acidic water. The mixture is agitated (C) and the TBP traps the uranium and plutonium in the kerosene. The acidic water naturally separates from the kerosene when the mixture is allowed to rest. The uranium and plutonium remain trapped in the kerosene. The kerosene containing the uranium and plutonium are then drawn off, leaving behind the acid bath containing the remaining elements.
IN2P3 (I. Billard)