Journal article Open Access

Fermium Purification Using Teva™ Resin Extraction Chromatography

Porter, C. E.; Riley, F. D.; Vandergrift, R. D.; Felker, L. K.

The Radiochemical Engineering Development Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory processes irradiated targets to recover the transplutonium actinides for research and industrial users. In a typical processing campaign, dekagram quantities of curium are recovered for recycle into targets for subsequent irradiation and processing; decigram quantities of californium are recovered for fabrication into neutron sources; and milligram quantities of einsteinium and berkelium as well as picogram quantities of fermium are recovered for distribution to the research community. The transcurium actinides are separated in a series of chromatographic elutions using a cation-exchange resin and ammonium α-hydroxyisobutyrate as the eluant. The fermium fraction from these final purification runs still contains significant amounts of rare earth fission products, such as yttrium, dysprosium, and holmium. In the most recent campaign, a process using a TEVA™ resin extraction chromatography column was developed and tested to determine its effectiveness in providing a fermium product free of rare earth fission products. Gamma spectroscopy indicated that dysprosium and holmium were reduced to levels less than minimum detectable limits and that only 0.07 pg of 91Y remained in the final fermium product, which contained 0.5 pg of 257Fm. An overall decontamination factor of ∼ 103 was achieved for fission product removal.

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