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Title: Rapid Computer Aided Ligand Design and Screening of Precious Metal Extractants from TRUEX Raffinate with Experimental Validation

Rhodium is the most extensively used metal in catalytic applications; it occurs in mixed ores with platinum group metals (PGMs) in the earth’s crust in low concentrations (0.4 - 10 ppb). It is resistant to aerial oxidation and insoluble in all acids, including aqua regia, making classical purification methods time-consuming and inefficient. To ensure adequate purity, several precipitation and dissolution steps are necessary during separation. Low abundance, high demand, and extensive processing make rhodium the most expensive of all PGMs. From alternative sources, rhodium is also produced in sufficient quantities (0.47 kg per ton initial heavy metal (tIHM)) during the fission of U-235 in nuclear reactors along with other PGMs (i.e., Ag, Pd, Ru). A typical power water reactor operating with UO2 fuel after cooling can generate PGMs in quantities greater than found in the earth’s crust (0.5-2 kg/tIHM). This currently untapped supply of PGMs has the potential to yield $5,000-30,000/tIHM. It is estimated that by the year 2030, the amount of rhodium generated in reactors could exceed natural reserves. Typical SNF processing removes the heavier lanthanides and actinides and can leave PGMs at ambient temperatures in aqueous acidic (Cl⁻ or NO3⁻; pH < 1) solutions at various activities. Whilemore » the retrieval of these precious metals from SNF would minimize waste generation and improve resource utilization, it has been difficult to achieve thus far. Two general strategies have been utilized to extract Rh(III) from chloride media: ion pairing and coordination complexation. Ion pairing mechanisms have been studied primarily with the tertiary and quaternary amines. Additionally, mixed mechanism extractions have been observed in which ion pairing is the initial mechanism, and longer extraction equilibrium time generated coordination complexes. Very few coordination complexation extraction ligands have been studied. This project approached this problem through the design of a software program that uses state-of-the-art computational combinatorial chemistry, and is developed and validated with experimental data acquisition; the resulting tool allows for rapid design and screening of new ligands for the extraction of precious metals from SNF. This document describes the software that has been produced, ligands that have been designed, and fundamental new understandings of the extraction process of Rh(III) as a function of solution phase conditions (pH, nature of acid, etc.).« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1]
  1. Washington State Univ., Pullman, WA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
1232661
Report Number(s):
DOE/NEUP--11-3095
11-3095; TRN: US1600184
DOE Contract Number:
AC07-05ID14517
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Washington State Univ., Pullman, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; 37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL, AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; COMPUTER-AIDED DESIGN; RHODIUM; PROGRAMMING; CHLORIDES; VALIDATION; SPENT FUELS; LIGANDS; NITRATES; PH VALUE; TRUEX PROCESS; SOLVENT EXTRACTION