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Title: The Actinide-Lanthanide Separation Process

Abstract

The Actinide-Lanthanide SEParation (ALSEP) process is described. The process uses an extractant phase consisting of either N,N,N',N'-tetraoctyldiglycolamide (TODGA) or N,N,N',N'-tetra(2 ethylhexyl)diglycolamide (T2EHDGA) combined with 2-ethylhexylphosphonic acid mono-2-ethylhexyl ester (HEH[EHP]). The neutral TODGA or T2EHDGA serves to co-extract the trivalent actinide and lanthanide ions from nitric acid media. Switching the aqueous phase chemistry to a citrate buffered diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA) solution at pH 2.5 to 4 results in selective transfer of the actinides to the aqueous phase, thus resulting in separation of these two groups of elements.

Authors:
; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1132670
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-97475
AF5805010
DOE Contract Number:
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Solvent Extraction and Ion Exchange, 32(4):333-347
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
ALSEP; HEH[EHP]; T2EHDGA; TODGA; actinide separation; lanthanide separation

Citation Formats

Lumetta, Gregg J., Gelis, Artem V., Carter, Jennifer C., Niver, Cynthia M., and Smoot, Margaret R. The Actinide-Lanthanide Separation Process. United States: N. p., 2014. Web. doi:10.1080/07366299.2014.895638.
Lumetta, Gregg J., Gelis, Artem V., Carter, Jennifer C., Niver, Cynthia M., & Smoot, Margaret R. The Actinide-Lanthanide Separation Process. United States. doi:10.1080/07366299.2014.895638.
Lumetta, Gregg J., Gelis, Artem V., Carter, Jennifer C., Niver, Cynthia M., and Smoot, Margaret R. 2014. "The Actinide-Lanthanide Separation Process". United States. doi:10.1080/07366299.2014.895638.
@article{osti_1132670,
title = {The Actinide-Lanthanide Separation Process},
author = {Lumetta, Gregg J. and Gelis, Artem V. and Carter, Jennifer C. and Niver, Cynthia M. and Smoot, Margaret R.},
abstractNote = {The Actinide-Lanthanide SEParation (ALSEP) process is described. The process uses an extractant phase consisting of either N,N,N',N'-tetraoctyldiglycolamide (TODGA) or N,N,N',N'-tetra(2 ethylhexyl)diglycolamide (T2EHDGA) combined with 2-ethylhexylphosphonic acid mono-2-ethylhexyl ester (HEH[EHP]). The neutral TODGA or T2EHDGA serves to co-extract the trivalent actinide and lanthanide ions from nitric acid media. Switching the aqueous phase chemistry to a citrate buffered diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA) solution at pH 2.5 to 4 results in selective transfer of the actinides to the aqueous phase, thus resulting in separation of these two groups of elements.},
doi = {10.1080/07366299.2014.895638},
journal = {Solvent Extraction and Ion Exchange, 32(4):333-347},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = 2014,
month = 2
}
  • Lanthanide elements are produced in relatively high yield by fission of {sup 235}U. Almost all the lanthanide isotopes decay to stable nonradioactive lanthanide isotopes in a relatively short time. Consequently, it is highly advantageous to separate the relatively small actinide fraction from the relatively large quantities of lanthanide isotopes. The TALSPEAK process (Trivalent Actinide Lanthanide Separations by Phosphorus-reagent Extraction from Aqueous Complexes) is one of the few means available to separate the trivalent actinides from the lanthanides. Previous work based on the use of lactic or glycolic acid has shown deleterious effects of some impurity ions such as zirconium(IV), evenmore » at concentrations on the order of 10{sup {minus}4} M. Other perceived problems were the need to maintain the pH and reagent concentrations within a narrow range and a significant solubility of the organic phase at high carboxylic acid concentrations. The authors` cold experiments showed that replacing the traditional extractants glycolic or lactic acid with citric acid eliminates or greatly reduces the deleterious effects produced by impurities such as zirconium. An extensive series of batch tests was done using a wide range of reagent concentrations at different pH values, temperatures, and contact times. The results demonstrated that the citrate-based TALSPEAK can tolerate appreciable changes in pH and reagent concentrations while maintaining an adequate lanthanide extraction. Experiments using a three-stage glass mixer-settler showed a good lanthanide extraction, appropriate phase disengagement, no appreciable deleterious effects due to the presence of impurities such as zirconium, excellent pH buffering, and no significant loss of organic phase.« less
  • Separation of the minor actinides (Am, Cm) from the lanthanides at an industrial scale remains a significant technical challenge for closing the nuclear fuel cycle. To increase the safety of used nuclear fuel (UNF) reprocessing, as well as reduce associated costs, a novel solvent extraction process has been developed. The process allows for partitioning minor actinides, lanthanides and fission products following uranium/plutonium/neptunium removal; minimizing the number of separation steps, flowsheets, chemical consumption, and waste. This new process, Actinide Lanthanide SEParation (ALSEP), uses an organic solvent consisting of a neutral diglycolamide extractant, either N,N,N',N'-tetra(2 ethylhexyl)diglycolamide (T2EHDGA) or N,N,N',N'-tetraoctyldiglycolamide (TODGA), and anmore » acidic extractant 2-ethylhexylphosphonic acid mono-2-ethylhexyl ester (HEH[EHP]), dissolved in an aliphatic diluent (e.g. n-dodecane). The An/Ln co-extraction is conducted from moderate-to-strong nitric acid, while the selective stripping of the minor actinides from the lanthanides is carried out using a polyaminocarboxylic acid/citrate buffered solution at pH anywhere between 3 and 4.5. The extraction and separation of the actinides from the fission products is very effective in a wide range of HNO3 concentrations and the minimum separation factors for lanthanide/Am exceed 30 for Nd/Am, reaching > 60 for Eu/Am under some conditions. The experimental results presented here demonstrate the great potential for a combined system, consisting of a neutral extractant such as T2EHDGA or TODGA, and an acidic extractant such as HEH[EHP], for separating the minor actinides from the lanthanides.« less
  • Trivalent lanthanide/actinide separations from used nuclear fuel occurs in the presence radiation fields that degrades the extraction ligands and solvents. Here we have investigated the stability of a new ligand for lanthanide/actinide separation; 2,6-bis[(di(2-ethylhexyl)phosphino)methyl] pyridine N,P,P-trioxide, TEH(NOPOPO). The impact of {gamma}-radiolysis on the distribution ratios for actinide (Am) and Lanthanide (Eu) extraction both in the presence and absence of an acidic aqueous phase by TEH(NOPOPO) was determined. Corresponding reaction rate constants for the two major radicals, hydroxyl and nitrate, were determined for TEH(NOPOPO) in the aqueous phase, with room temperature values of (3.49 {+-} 0.10) x 10{sup 9} and (1.95more » {+-} 0.15) x 10{sup 8} M{sup -1} s{sup -1}, respectively. The activation energy for this reaction was found to be 30.2 {+-} 4.1 kJ mol{sup -1}. Rate constants for two analogues (2-methylphosphonic acid pyridine N,P-dioxide and 2,6-bis(methylphosphonic acid) pyridine N,P,P-trioxide) were also determined to assist in determining the major reaction pathways.« less