Separation of Nickel and Technetium

  • Grulke, Eric (PI)
  • Lynn, Bert (CoI)
  • Zhai, Tongguang (CoI)

Grants and Contracts Details


The decontamination and radiation decommissioning of the gaseous diffusion process at Paducah, in Kentucky, generated vast quantities of nickel volumetrically contaminated with radioactive materials. The estimated amount of contaminated nickel could reach up to 44,794 tons (1). The main contaminant is technetium (Tc), with traces of neptunium (Np), plutonium (Pu), protactinium (Pa), thorium (Th), and uranium (U). There is interest in recovering the nickel and recycling it to the industrial sector, although there are many regulatory issues associated with any use of such material outside of the nuclear industry. The main problem in decontaminating this nickel is an ultrahigh efficiency separation method between technetium and nickel. The other radioactive materials can be separated via electrolysis processes. However, the best available electrolysis process still leaves - I Bequerel of technetium activity per gram for starting materials of 320 Bequerels: this separation does not meet the required release criteria for radioactive materials. This project will explore a new alternative separation method based on the large differences between the vapor pressures of nickel and technetium.
Effective start/end date10/1/049/30/07


  • Department of Energy


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