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Reactor Production of Promethium-147

Publication Type
Journal Name
Applied Radiation and Isotopes
Publication Date
Page Numbers
54 to 63

In this paper, we describe the 147Pm production yields and level of impurities from several targets that consisted of milligram quantities of highly enriched 146Nd oxide irradiated at the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for durations ranging from 24 to 180 h. A comparison between theoretical and experimental data are also presented, and attempts were made to empirically evaluate the neutron capture cross-sections of 41.3-d 148mPm and 5.4-d 148gPm. For a one-cycle irradiation (~24 days), 147Pm yield reaches a maximum value of 101.8 MBq/mg (2.75 mCi/mg) at 60 days after the end of bombardment. Because of large neutron capture cross-sections of 147Pm, the yield of 147Pm does not significantly increase with longer irradiation. Our estimates of the thermal neutron capture cross-section and resonance integral for 146Nd at 1.48 ± 0.05 b and 2.56 ± 0.25 b, respectively, were consistent with the reported values. The effective neutron capture cross-section of 147Pm to 148mPm was 53.3 ± 2.7 b–a factor of 2 lower than the 98.7 ± 6.5 b calculated from reported cross-sections. The measured σeff to the ground state (5.37-d 148gPm) was 82.0 ± 4.1 b; ~34% lower than the value of 139 ± 10 b calculated from reported cross-sections. In this work, we also describe the development of a chemical process based on extraction and ion-exchange chromatography for separation of 147Pm from milligram quantities of 146Nd and other impurities. Sequential separation of Pm from the Nd target and from other radioisotopic impurities (153Gd and 154&155Eu, 192Ir, and 60Co) was achieved using a LN extraction resin in HCl media followed by further purification of Pm from 60Co and 192Ir using a low cross-linking cation exchange resin. Based on these data, we estimated that two rounds of purification under our experimental conditions can provide a mass separation factor of >104 between Pm and Nd. Our data indicate that curie quantities of 147Pm with suitable chemical and radioisotopic purity for applications in beta voltaic batteries can be produced by irradiating gram quantities of highly enriched 146Nd in the flux trap of HFIR for one cycle.