Hydrophilic sulfonated bis-1,2,4-triazine ligands are highly effective reagents for separating actinides(iii) from lanthanides(iii) via selective formation of aqueous actinide complexes†
We report the first examples of hydrophilic 6,6′-bis(1,2,4-triazin-3-yl)-2,2′-bipyridine (BTBP) and 2,9-bis(1,2,4-triazin-3-yl)-1,10-phenanthroline (BTPhen) ligands, and their applications as actinide(III) selective aqueous complexing agents. The combination of a hydrophobic diamide ligand in the organic phase and a hydrophilic tetrasulfonated bis-triazine ligand in the aqueous phase is able to separate Am(III) from Eu(III) by selective Am(III) complex formation across a range of nitric acid concentrations with very high selectivities, and without the use of buffers. In contrast, disulfonated bis-triazine ligands are unable to separate Am(III) from Eu(III) in this system. The greater ability of the tetrasulfonated ligands to retain Am(III) selectively in the aqueous phase than the corresponding disulfonated ligands appears to be due to the higher aqueous solubilities of the complexes of the tetrasulfonated ligands with Am(III). The selectivities for Am(III) complexation observed with hydrophilic tetrasulfonated bis-triazine ligands are in many cases far higher than those found with the polyaminocarboxylate ligands previously used as actinide-selective complexing agents, and are comparable to those found with the parent hydrophobic bis-triazine ligands. Thus we demonstrate a feasible alternative method to separate actinides from lanthanides than the widely studied approach of selective actinide extraction with hydrophobic bis-1,2,4-triazine ligands such as CyMe4-BTBP and CyMe4-BTPhen.