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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter (O) November 25, 2014

Supercritical fluid extraction of uranium and thorium from nitric acid medium using organophosphorous compounds

  • K. C. Pitchaiah , K. Sujatha , C. V. S. Brahmmananda Rao , S. Subramaniam , N. Sivaraman EMAIL logo and P. R. Vasudeva Rao
From the journal Radiochimica Acta


In recent years, Supercritical Fluid Extraction (SFE) technique has been widely used for the extraction of metal ions. In the present study, extraction of uranium from nitric acid medium was investigated using supercritical carbon dioxide (Sc-CO2) containing various organophosphorous compounds such as trialkyl phosphates e.g. tri-iso-amyl phosphate (TiAP), tri-sec-butyl phosphate (TsBP) and tri-n-butyl phosphate (TBP), dialkylalkyl phosphonates, e.g. diamylamyl phosphonate (DAAP) and dibutyl butyl phosphonate (DBBP), dialkyl hydrogen phosphonates, e.g. dioctyl hydrogen phosphonate (DOHP), dioctylphosphineoxide (DOPO), trioctyl phosphine oxide (TOPO), n-octylphenyl N,N-diisobutyl carbamoylmethylphosphine oxide (CMPO) and di-2-ethyl-hexyl phosphoric acid (HDEHP). Some of these ligands have been investigated for the first time in the supercritical phase for the extraction of uranium. The extraction efficiency of uranium was studied with TiAP, DAAP and DBBP as a function of nitric acid concentration; the kinetics of the equilibration period (static extraction) and transportation of the metal complex (dynamic extraction) was investigated. The influence of pressure and temperature on the extraction behaviour of uranium with DAAP was studied from 4 N HNO3. The extraction efficiency of uranium from 4 N nitric acid medium was found to increase in the order of phosphates < phosphonates < HDEHP < TOPO < CMPO. In the case of phosphates and phosphonates, the maximum extraction of uranium was found to be from 4 N HNO3 medium. The acidic extractants, HDEHP and DOHP showed relatively higher extraction at lower acidities. The relative extraction of uranium and thorium from their mixture was also examined using Sc-CO2 containing phosphates, phosphonates and TOPO. The ligand, TsBP provided better fractionation between uranium and thorium compared to trialkyl phosphates, dialkyl alkyl phosphonates and TOPO.

Received: 2014-6-13
Accepted: 2014-9-22
Published Online: 2014-11-25
Published in Print: 2015-4-28

©2014 Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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