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Issue 1, 2013
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Cross-validation of analytical procedures for the reliable determination of Nd concentrations in nuclear fuel using ICP-OES and sector field ICP-MS

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Abstract

This study focussed on the development and validation of straightforward ICP-OES and sector field ICP-MS procedures for the accurate determination of the neodymium (Nd) concentration in nuclear samples. After dissolution of a spent fuel in a chemical hot cell, Nd was analysed in the acidic solution without prior separation of any fission products. In order to improve sensitivity, a high efficiency sample introduction system was coupled to the employed high resolution ICP-OES instrument. The ten most sensitive emission wavelengths of Nd were investigated systematically, all of them yielding detection limits (LODs) of less than 1 μg kg−1. The highest sensitivity and the best LOD of 0.3 μg kg−1 were obtained at the emission lines λ = 401.225 nm and λ = 430.358 nm. Compared to previous studies this LOD is more than one order of magnitude lower while sample consumption (∼0.3 mL min−1) is less than one third of the volume normally required for such analysis. In terms of radioactive samples these improved analytical figures of merit denote a considerably lower dose to the ICP-OES operator and less radioactive waste. Considering sensitivity, potential spectral interferences and stability of the spectral background, the four emission lines at λ = 401.225 nm, λ = 406.109 nm, λ = 410.946 nm and λ = 430.358 nm proved to be most useful for the reliable determination of Nd. In the absence of matrix matched reference materials having a certified Nd concentration, the accuracy of Nd ICP-OES analysis was ascertained by quantification of Nd using both external calibration and the standard addition approach. In addition, sector field ICP-MS analysis of the Nd elemental concentration was also possible without any separation step as the Nd isotopic composition of the spent fuel was well characterised in previous analyses. This new series of ICP-MS analyses was based on the interference-free isotopes 143Nd, 144Nd (a small 144Ce correction was almost negligible), 145Nd and 146Nd, which are also the four main isotopes in fission Nd. The relative isotopic results obtained using sector field ICP-MS confirmed the previously determined Nd isotopic composition. The repeated Nd concentration analysis of the dissolved spent fuel sample applying the developed ICP-OES and ICP-MS procedures gave results that overlapped within their standard deviations, underpinning the reliability of both experimental approaches.

Graphical abstract: Cross-validation of analytical procedures for the reliable determination of Nd concentrations in nuclear fuel using ICP-OES and sector field ICP-MS

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Publication details

The article was received on 02 Oct 2012, accepted on 01 Nov 2012 and first published on 02 Nov 2012


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C2JA30276D
Citation: J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2013,28, 114-120
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    Cross-validation of analytical procedures for the reliable determination of Nd concentrations in nuclear fuel using ICP-OES and sector field ICP-MS

    M. Krachler, R. Alvarez-Sarandes and S. Van Winckel, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2013, 28, 114
    DOI: 10.1039/C2JA30276D

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