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Title: Development of the Actinide-Lanthanide Separation (ALSEP) Process

Separating the minor actinide elements (Am and Cm) from acidic high-level raffinates arising from the reprocessing of irradiated nuclear fuel is an important step in closing the nuclear fuel cycle. Most proposed approaches to this problem involve two solvent extraction steps: 1) co-extraction of the trivalent lanthanides and actinides, followed by 2) separation of the actinides from the lanthanides. The objective of our work is to develop a single solvent-extraction process for isolating the minor actinide elements. We report here a solvent containing N,N,N',N'-tetra(2 ethylhexyl)diglycolamide (T2EHDGA) combined with 2-ethylhexylphosphonic acid mono-2-ethylhexyl ester (HEH[EHP]) that can be used to separate the minor actinides in a single solvent-extraction process. T2EHDGA serves to co-extract the trivalent actinide and lanthanide ions from nitric acid solution. Switching the aqueous phase chemistry to a citrate buffered solution of N-(2-hydroxyethyl)ethylenediamine-N,N',N'-triacetic acid at pH 2.5 to 4 results in selective transfer of the actinides to the aqueous phase, thus affecting separation of the actinides from the lanthanides. Separation factors between the lanthanides and actinides are approximately 20 in the pH range of 3 to 4, and the distribution ratios are not highly dependent on the pH in this system.
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Conference: Proceedings of the 20th International Solvent Extraction Conference (ISEC 2014), September 7-11, 2014, Wurzburg, Germany
DECHEMA, Frankfurt, Germany.
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
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Country of Publication:
United States
ALSEP; lanthanide separation; actinide separation; HEHEHP; HEH[EHP]; DGA; T2EHDGA