Determination of uranium and thorium in complex samples using chromatographic separation, ICP-MS and spectrophotometric detection.

PMID 19782236


The paper describes a research of possible application of UTEVA and TRU resins and anion exchanger AMBERLITE CG-400 in nitrate form for the isolation of uranium and thorium from natural samples. The results of determination of distribution coefficient have shown that uranium and thorium bind on TRU and UTEVA resins from the solutions of nitric and hydrochloric acids, and binding strength increases proportionally to increase the concentration of acids. Uranium and thorium bind rather strongly to TRU resin from the nitric acid in concentration ranging from 0.5 to 5 mol L(-1), while large quantities of other ions present in the sample do not influence on the binding strength. Due to the difference in binding strength in HCl and HNO(3) respectively, uranium and thorium can be easily separated from each other on the columns filled with TRU resin. Furthermore, thorium binds to anion exchanger in nitrate form from alcohol solutions of nitric acid very strongly, while uranium does not, so they can be easily separated. Based on these results, we have created the procedures of preconcentration and separation of uranium and thorium from the soil, drinking water and seawater samples by using TRU and UTEVA resins and strong base anion exchangers in nitrate form. In one of the procedures, uranium and thorium bind directly from the samples of drinking water and seawater on the column filled with TRU resin from 0.5 mol L(-1) HNO(3) in a water sample. After binding, thorium is separated from uranium with 0.5 mol L(-1) HCl, and uranium is eluted with deionised water. By applying the described procedure, it is possible to achieve the concentration factor of over 1000 for the column filled with 1g of resin and splashed with 2L of the sample. Spectrophotometric determination with Arsenazo III, with this concentration factor results in detection limits below 1 microg L(-1) for uranium and thorium. In the second procedure, uranium and thorium are isolated from the soil samples with TRU resin, while they are separated from each other on the column filled with anion exchanger in alcohol solutions. Anion exchanger combined with alcohol solutions enables isolation of thorium from soil samples and its separation from a wide range of elements, as well as spectrophotometric determination, ICP-MS determination, and other determination techniques.