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Application of Visible/Near-Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy to Uranium Ore Concentrates for Nuclear Forensic Analysis and Attribution

Volume 67, Number 9 (Sept. 2013) Page 1049-1056

GREGORY L. KLUNDER,* JONATHAN W. PLAUE, PAUL E. SPACKMAN, PATRICK M. GRANT, RACHEL E. LINDVALL, and IAN D. HUTCHEON


Uranium ore concentrates (UOCs) are produced at mining facilities from the various types of uranium-bearing ores using several processes that can include different reagents, separation procedures, and drying conditions. The final UOC products can consist of different uranium species, which are important to identify to trace interdicted samples back to their origins. Color has been used as a simple indicator; however, visual determination is subjective and no chemical information is provided. In this work, we report the application of near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy as a non-contact, non-destructive method to rapidly analyze UOC materials for species and/or process information. Diffuse reflectance spectra from 350 to 2500 nm were measured from a number UOC samples that were also characterized by X-ray diffraction. Combination and overtone bands were used to identify the amine and hydroxyl-containing species, such as ammonium uranates or ammonium uranyl carbonate, while other uranium oxide species (e.g., uranium trioxide [UO3] and triuranium octoxide [U3O8]) exhibit absorption bands arising from crystal field effects and electronic transitions. Principal component analysis was used to classify the different UOC materials.



Index Headings: Near-infrared spectroscopy; Nuclear forensic analysis; Uranium ore concentrate; Yellowcake; Ammonium uranates; Uranium speciation.