Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry

, Volume 314, Issue 2, pp 1103–1111 | Cite as

Rapid method to determine plutonium isotopes in steel samples

  • Sherrod L. Maxwell
  • Brian Culligan
  • Jay B. Hutchison
  • Ralf Sudowe
  • Daniel R. McAlister


The rapid measurement of plutonium isotopes in steel samples is very important in the event of a radiological emergency as well as for the characterization of nuclear decommissioning samples. A new method for the determination of plutonium isotopes in steel samples has been developed at the Savannah River Environmental Laboratory. The new method employs a rugged acid digestion method that includes hydrofluoric acid, followed by a single preconcentration step to rapidly preconcentrate the plutonium isotopes and remove most of the dissolved steel sample matrix. A fusion option improves ruggedness when soil or concrete is present and can be implemented after the steel dissolution. The Pu isotopes are separated using an extraction chromatographic resin and measured by alpha spectrometry. The method can also be adapted for measurement by inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry. This approach has a sample preparation time of 6–8 h for steel samples.


Rapid method Digestion Decommissioning Steel Plutonium Emergency 



This work was performed under the auspices of the Department of Energy, DOE Contract No. DE-AC09-08SR22470. The authors wish to acknowledge Becky Chavous for her assistance with this work.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sherrod L. Maxwell
    • 1
  • Brian Culligan
    • 1
  • Jay B. Hutchison
    • 1
  • Ralf Sudowe
    • 2
  • Daniel R. McAlister
    • 3
  1. 1.Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLCAikenUSA
  2. 2.Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  3. 3.PG Research Foundation, Inc.LisleUSA

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