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Raman Spectroscopic Study of the Aging and Nitration of Actinide Processing Anion-Exchange Resins in Concentrated Nitric Acid

Volume 53, Number 8 (Aug. 1999) Page 943-953

Buscher, C.T.; Donohoe, R.J.; Mecklenburg, S.L.; Berg, J.M.; Tait, C.D.; Huchton, K.M.; Morris, D.E.

Degradation of two types of anion exchange resins, Dowex 11 and Reillex HPQ, from the action of concentrated nitric acid (4 to 12 M) and radiolysis [from depleted uranium as UO2 2+ nitrate species and 239Pu as Pu(IV) nitrate species] was followed as a function of time with Raman vibrational spectroscopy. Elevated temperatures (~ 50 degrees C) were used in the absence of actinide metal loading to simulate longer exposures of the resin to a HNO3 process stream and waste storage conditions. In the absence of actinide loading, only minor changes in the Dowex resin at acid concentrations < 10 M were observed, while at 12 M acid concentration, the emergence of a Raman peak at 1345 cm-1 indicates the addition of nitro functional groups to the resin. Similar studies with the Reillex resin show it to be more resistant to nitric acid attack at all acid concentrations. Incorporation of weakly radioactive depleted uranium as the UO2 2+ nitrate species to the ion-exchange sites of Dowex 11 under differing nitric acid concentrations (6 to 12 M) at room temperature showed no Raman evidence of resin degradation or nitration, even after several hundred days of contact. In contrast, Raman spectra for Dowex 11 in the presence of 239Pu as Pu(IV) nitrate species reveal numerous changes indicating resin alterations, including a new mode at 1345 cm-1 consistent with a Pu(IV)-nitrate catalyzed addition of nitro groups to the resin backbone.