Historically, enriched zinc (Zn) metal was produced at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Isotope Enrichment Facility (IEF) by either electrodeposition, followed by melting to produce a metal ingot, or purified by hydrogen reduction and distillation at atmospheric pressure in a tube furnace as a prelude to electroplating. Electroplated material was generally poor in quality, and losses were high during subsequent melting. Adapting the distillation purifying technique as an ultimate means of recovery of Zn metal proved to be difficult and inefficient. To resolve these problems, the well-established vacuum reduction/distillation process was adapted for the conversion of Zn oxide to metal.
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