Rapid separation and purification of uranium and plutonium from dilute-matrix samples

  • Christopher R. Armstrong
  • Brian W. Ticknor
  • Gregory Hall
  • James R. Cadieux


This work describes a streamlined approach to the separation and purification of trace uranium and plutonium in environmental swipe samples that contain a small amount of collected bulk material. We describe key modifications to conventional techniques that result in a relatively rapid, safe, cost-effective, and efficient U and Pu separation process. Simulated samples were produced by loading appropriate 235U, 238U, and 240Pu onto high purity cotton swipes. Uranium concentration and isotopic composition were measured by multi-collector inductively coupled mass spectrometry. Corresponding plutonium measurements were conducted with a three stage thermal ionization mass spectrometer. Quantitative U and Pu recoveries were observed with this method.


Trace uranium Trace plutonium Environmental samples Radiochemical separations Safeguards 



This work is supported by the Next Generation Safeguards Initiative, Office of Nonproliferation and International Security, at the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. The authors thank Myra Pettis for her assistance with the column work.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher R. Armstrong
    • 1
  • Brian W. Ticknor
    • 1
  • Gregory Hall
    • 1
  • James R. Cadieux
    • 1
  1. 1.Nonproliferation Technology SectionSavannah River National LaboratoryAikenUSA

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