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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Extraction of niobium and tantalum isotopes using organophosphorus compounds - Part I - Extraction of 'carrier-free' metal concentrations from HCl solutions


The extraction of niobium (Nb) and tantalum (Ta) from hydrochloric acid media by bis(2-ethylhexyl) hydrogen phosphate (HDEHP) and bis(2-ethylhexyl) hydrogen phosphite (BEHP) was studied. The goal of the experiments is to find a system that demonstrates selectivity between the members of group five of the Periodic Table and is also suitable for the study of dubnium (Db, Z = 105). Experiments were performed at the trace level (10-16 M Nb or Ta) using hydrochloric acid with concentrations ranging from 1 - 11 M and short-lived isotopes of Nb and Ta produced in nuclear reactions. When HDEHP was used as the extractant, the Nb extraction yield decreased with increasing acid concentrations above 6 M, while the amount of Ta extracted remained over 75percent for all acid concentrations studied. Tantalum was found to be extracted by BEHP at acid concentrations above 6 M, while niobium was not significantly extracted. The data obtained are used as the basis to discuss the speciation of Nb and Ta under the conditions studied and to evaluate possible extraction mechanisms.

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