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Nanopockets with a Thermoresponsive Nitrate Ionic Liquid for Highly Efficient Uranium Extraction at High Acidity

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-10-17, 15:34 authored by Hao Chen, Guo-Hao Zhang, Ling He, Fang Yong, Qiu-Hong Zhu, Lei Zhang, Song Qin, Guo-Hong Tao
The use of high-acidity nitric acid presents many challenges in designing extractants for uranium reprocessing. If nitrate is used as the anion in an ionic liquid (IL) extractant, the extraction efficiency and leakage behavior will improve due to the common-ion effect. However, nitrate ILs are usually hydrophilic, making their applications in uranium reprocessing difficult. In this study, nanopockets with a thermoresponsive nitrate IL Tyr(C10)2NO3 were designed and applied in the extraction of uranium. Tyr(C10)2NO3 is hydrophobic at room temperature but can homogenize with water when the temperature exceeds 80 °C. This upper critical solution temperature behavior facilitates sufficient contact between Tyr(C10)2NO3 and uranium, causing an extremely short equilibration time. Tyr(C10)2NO3 is stable in high-acidity nitric acid and shows good affinity toward uranyl ions. The extraction of uranyl using Tyr(C10)2NO3 exhibited remarkable extraction efficiency, excellent extraction capacity under a 4 M HNO3 condition, and good reusability. A hierarchical assembly mechanism has been proposed to rationalize the extraction system.