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The interaction of trivalent lanthanide and actinide cations with polyaminopolycarboxylic acid complexing agents in lactic acid buffer systems is an important feature of the chemistry of the TALSPEAK process for the separation of trivalent actinides from lanthanides. To improve understanding of metal ion coordination chemistry in this process, the results of an investigation of the kinetics of lanthanide complexation by ethylenediamine-N,N,N′,N′-tetraacetic acid (EDTA) and diethylenetriamine-N,N,N′,N′′,N′′-pentaacetic acid (DTPA) in 0.3 M lactic acid/0.3 M ionic strength solution are reported. Progress of the reaction was monitored using the distinctive visible spectral changes attendant to lanthanide complexation by the colorimetric indicator ligand Arsenazo III, which enables the experiment but plays no mechanistic role. Under the conditions of these experiments, the reactions occur in a time regime suitable for study by stopped-flow spectrophotometric techniques. Experiments have been conducted as a function of EDTA/DTPA ligand concentration, total lactic acid concentration, and pH. The equilibrium perturbation reaction proceeds as a first order approach to equilibrium over a wide range of conditions, allowing the simultaneous determination of complex formation and dissociation rate constants. The rate of the complexation reaction has been determined for the entire lanthanide series (except Pm3+). The predominant pathway for lanthanide–EDTA and lanthanide–DTPA dissociation is inversely dependent on the total lactate concentration; the complex formation reaction demonstrates a direct dependence on [H+]. Unexpectedly, the rate of the complex formation reaction is seen in both ligand systems to be fastest for Gd3+. Correlation of these results indicates that in 0.3 M lactate solutions the exchange of lanthanide ions between lactate complexes and the polyaminopolycarboxylate govern the process.
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