Heavy Metal Extraction Using Advanced Liquid - Liquid Style Partitioning Systems

  • Kate Tucker

    Student thesis: Phd


    Understanding the behaviour of heavy metals involved in the nuclear fuel cycle is of paramount importance to the reprocessing and storage of spent nuclear fuel. These studies have attempted to obtain a greater understanding of the fundamental chemistry of these systems, by investigating extraction performance and speciation in current (PUREX) and proposed (GANEX) extraction processes. Various complexes have been shown to exist in the post-extracted organic fraction of the systems analysed. For Zr(IV), U(VI) and Np(VI) separated from aqueous nitric and hydrochloric using TBP, the complexes [Zr(NO3/Cl)4(TBP)4], [UO2(NO3/Cl)2(TBP)2] and [NpO2(NO3/Cl)2(TBP)2] formed, respectively. For Zr(IV) separated from aqueous mixtures of HNO3 and HCl at equal concentration, a preference was shown to [Zr(Cl)4(TBP)4] over the analogous nitrate complex. For U(VI) separated from aqueous mixtures of HNO3 and HCl, a preference was shown to [UO2(Cl)2(TBP)2], even at high aqueous nitrate concentrations. NMR data for Pu(IV) separated from aqueous HNO3, HCl and mixtures of both, using TBP were presented, where possible complexation was observed. It is thought that [Pu(NO3)4(TBP)4] or [PuCl4(TBP)4] species existed within the organic fraction for Pu(IV) separated from aqueous HNO3 and HCl, respectively. These systems showed high distribution ratios where an increase was observed with increasing aqueous acid concentration overall. Distribution ratio data were presented for the lanthanide series separated from aqueous nitric acid, using the proposed GANEX solvent system(s). The lanthanides analysed showed an increase in distribution ratio with increasing aqueous nitric acid concentration and with increasing TODGA concentration in the organic fraction. Heavier lanthanides were observed to give higher distribution ratios overall. The best distribution ratios were observed for lanthanides separated using 0.2 M TODGA with 1-octanol (5 % by volume) over the nitric acid concentration range analysed. For lanthanides separated using 0.5 M DMDOHEMA, an optimum distribution ratio was observed at around 6 M aqueous nitric acid concentration. The distribution ratio data for lanthanides separated from a range of DMDOHEMA concentrations, were observed to increase with increasing organic DMDOHEMA concentration. The distribution ratios observed for isotopes of Np, Am, Eu and Pu separated using 0.2 M TODGA, increased with increasing aqueous nitric acid concentration. The same trend was observed for the aforementioned isotopes separated using 0.5 M DMDOHEMA. However, pertechnetate separated using 0.2 M TODGA from aqueous nitric acid, showed a decrease in the distribution ratios observed over the acid concentration range analysed. This was contrary to pertechnetate separated from aqueous nitric acid using 0.5 M DMDOHEMA, where a small increase in distribution ratio was observed over the concentration range analysed. For Np(VI) separated from some proposed GANEX solvents, the 0.2 M TODGA/0.5 DMDOHEMA combination gave the best distribution of neptunium into the organic fraction. For Np(VI) separated using 0.5 M DMDOHEMA, the complex [Np(DMDOHEMA)2(NO3)4] was observed. Additional attempts to analyse Np(VI) behaviour under GANEX style conditions via EXAFS, were not successful due to immediate reduction of the Np(VI) on the beam line.
    Date of Award31 Dec 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorScott Heath (Supervisor) & Clint Sharrad (Supervisor)


    • Nuclear fuel reprocessing

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