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Title: Time-resolved infrared reflectance studies of the dehydration-induced transformation of uranyl nitrate hexahydrate to the trihydrate form

Uranyl nitrate is a key species in the nuclear fuel cycle. However, this species is known to exist in different states of hydration, including the hexahydrate ([UO2(NO3)2(H2O)6] often called UNH), the trihydrate [UO2(NO3)2(H2O)3 or UNT], and in very dry environments the dihydrate form [UO2(NO3)2(H2O)2]. Their relative stabilities depend on both water vapor pressure and temperature. In the 1950s and 1960s, the different phases were studied by infrared transmission spectroscopy but were limited both by instrumental resolution and by the ability to prepare the samples for transmission. We have revisited this problem using time-resolved reflectance spectroscopy, which requires no sample preparation and allows dynamic analysis while the sample is exposed to a flow of N2 gas. Samples of known hydration state were prepared and confirmed via X-ray diffraction patterns of known species. In reflectance mode the hexahydrate UO2(NO3)2(H2O)6 has a distinct uranyl asymmetric stretch band at 949.0 cm–1 that shifts to shorter wavelengths and broadens as the sample desiccates and recrystallizes to the trihydrate, first as a shoulder growing in on the blue edge but ultimately results in a doublet band with reflectance peaks at 966 and 957 cm–1. The data are consistent with transformation from UNH to UNT as UNTmore » has two inequivalent UO22+ sites. The dehydration of UO2(NO3)2(H2O)6 to UO2(NO3)2(H2O)3 is both a structural and morphological change that has the lustrous lime green UO2(NO3)2(H2O)6 crystals changing to the matte greenish yellow of the trihydrate solid. As a result, the phase transformation and crystal structures were confirmed by density functional theory calculations and optical microscopy methods, both of which showed a transformation with two distinct sites for the uranyl cation in the trihydrate, with only one in the hexahydrate.« less
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  1. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
  2. Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV (United States)
  3. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1089-5639; 594533
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Physical Chemistry. A, Molecules, Spectroscopy, Kinetics, Environment, and General Theory
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 119; Journal Issue: 39; Journal ID: ISSN 1089-5639
American Chemical Society
Research Org:
Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States