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Pure Appl. Chem., 2010, Vol. 82, No. 8, pp. 1701-1717

Published online 2010-06-04

On the formation of uranium(V) species in alkali chloride melts

Vladimir A. Volkovich1*, Denis E. Aleksandrov1, Trevor R. Griffiths2, Boris D. Vasin1, Timur K. Khabibullin1 and Dmitri S. Maltsev1

1 Department of Rare Metals and Nanomaterials, Ural State Technical University—UPI, Ekaterinburg, 620002, Russia
2 Redston Trevor Consulting Ltd., Leeds, LS17 8RF, UK

Abstract: Uranyl(V) species are normally unstable in solutions but are here shown to be stable in high-temperature chloride melts. Reactions leading to the formation of UO2Cl43– ions were studied, including thermal decomposition and chemical reduction of uranyl(VI) chloro-species in various alkali chloride melts (LiCl, 3LiCl–2KCl, NaCl–KCl, and NaCl–2CsCl) at 550–850 °C. Decomposition of UO2Cl42– species under reduced pressure, with inert gas bubbling through the melt or using zirconium getter in the atmosphere results in the formation of UO2Cl43– and UO2. Elemental tellurium, palladium, silver, molybdenum, niobium, zirconium, and hydrogen, as well as niobium and zirconium ions were tested as the reducing agents. The outcome of the reaction depends on the reductant used and its electrochemical properties: uranyl(VI) species can be reduced to uranyl(V) and uranium(IV) ions, and to uranium dioxide.