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Proceedings Paper

Dehydration of uranyl nitrate hexahydrate to the trihydrate under ambient conditions as observed via dynamic infrared reflectance spectroscopy
Author(s): Timothy J. Johnson; Lucas E. Sweet; David E. Meier; Edward J. Mausolf; Eunja Kim; Philippe F. Weck; Edgar C. Buck; Bruce K. McNamara
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Paper Abstract

Uranyl nitrate is a key species in the nuclear fuel cycle, but is known to exist in different states of hydration, including the hexahydrate [UO2(NO3)2(H2O)6] (UNH) and the trihydrate [UO2(NO3)2(H2O)3] (UNT) forms. Their stabilities depend on both relative humidity and temperature. Both phases have previously been studied by infrared transmission spectroscopy, but the data were limited by both instrumental resolution and the ability to prepare the samples as pellets without desiccating it. We report time-resolved infrared (IR) measurements using an integrating sphere that allow us to observe the transformation from the hexahydrate to the trihydrate simply by flowing dry nitrogen gas over the sample. Hexahydrate samples were prepared and confirmed via known XRD patterns, then measured in reflectance mode. The hexahydrate has a distinct uranyl asymmetric stretch band at 949.0 cm-1 that shifts to shorter wavelengths and broadens as the sample dehydrates and recrystallizes to the trihydrate, first as a blue edge shoulder but ultimately resulting in a doublet band with reflectance peaks at 966 and 957 cm-1. The data are consistent with transformation from UNH to UNT since UNT has two non-equivalent UO22+ sites. The dehydration of UO2(NO3)2(H2O)6 to UO2(NO3)2(H2O)3 is both a morphological and structural change that has the lustrous lime green crystals changing to the dull greenish yellow of the trihydrate. Crystal structures and phase transformation were confirmed theoretically using DFT calculations and experimentally via microscopy methods. Both methods showed a transformation with two distinct sites for the uranyl cation in the trihydrate, as opposed to a single crystallographic site in the hexahydrate.

Paper Details

Date Published: 22 May 2015
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 9455, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) Sensing XVI, 945504 (22 May 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2179704
Show Author Affiliations
Timothy J. Johnson, Pacific Northwest National Lab. (United States)
Lucas E. Sweet, Pacific Northwest National Lab. (United States)
David E. Meier, Pacific Northwest National Lab. (United States)
Edward J. Mausolf, Pacific Northwest National Lab. (United States)
Eunja Kim, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas (United States)
Philippe F. Weck, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
Edgar C. Buck, Pacific Northwest National Lab. (United States)
Bruce K. McNamara, Pacific Northwest National Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9455:
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) Sensing XVI
Augustus Way Fountain III, Editor(s)

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