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Recovery of Promethium-147


Development of the Technology for Recovery of Promethium-147 from Spent Reactor Fuel for Fabrication of an Artificial Neutrino Source and Elaboration of the Technique for Certification Thereof

Tech Area / Field

  • INS-OTH/Other/Instrumentation

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Kondratenkov Yu B

Leading Institute
Russian Academy of Sciences / Institute of Nuclear Research, Russia, Moscow


  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA, TN, Oak Ridge\nUniversity of Sheffield, UK, Shiffield\nUniversity of Washington / Institute of Nuclear Theory, USA, WA, Seattle\nCEA / DSM / DAPNIA/CEN Saclay, France, Saclay\nPacific Northwest National Laboratory, USA, WA, Richland

Project summary

The primary goal of the project is to develop a technique for recovery, profound decontamination, and radioactivity measurement for promethium-147 radionuclide aimed at fabrication of the artificial neutrino source of super high activity (5,000,000 Curie) for studying electromagnetic properties of neutrino. The source is supposed to be used in the experiment on determining magnetic moment of neutrino at the level of 10-11 of Bohr magneton, which may be of the major importance for the solution of one of the most pressing issues in modern astrophysics. Promethium-147 is one of a few radionuclides possessing unique characteristics, namely: rather long radionuclide half-life of 2.62 years; the absence of strong g-emission of its own; low content of other g-emitting promethium isotopes, as well as availability of technological capabilities for its recovery in bulk quantities from nuclear power waste.

Technical approach

The task in question will be performed with the maximum use of technical capabilities and equipment of the Radiochemical Plant currently operating at РАМ. The plant conducts reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel on the regular basis.

Work program assumes:

- Selection of the spent nuclear WWER fuel with minimum permissible cooling time;
- Development of the technology for recovery of rare earth element group, enrichment by extraction followed by profound decontamination by chromatography;
- Delivery of data necessary for reconstruction of existing facilities and updating technical regulations for the process in question;
- Elaboration of techniques for ampoule sealing and measurements of the total g-activity of the promethium-147 source with high accuracy;
- Development of the calorimeter design for measuring the source activity within the range of 0.2ё5 MCi with accuracy of Ј 0.5ё1%.

Expected results

Development of the technology, preparation of all the paperwork and facilities as well as elaboration of the techniques for control and certification needed for fabrication of compact 5,000,000 Curie promethium-147 source with desired characteristics with respect to g-emitting contaminants.

Project advantages

- Fabrication of the compact promethium-147 source within the framework of operating facilities will allow recovering promethium-147 with minimum expenditures;
- After all physical measurements are completed, promethium could be sold on a commercial basis for further use;
- The techniques developed for certifying promethium-147 source could be used for measurements of any high radioactive source;
- Technology developed under the project could be used as the design basis for a complex technological layout for partitioning of the fission products resulting in the production of pure Am and Cm fractions. The above said will create a possibility to resolve an important environmental issue of separate storage of elements with different toxicity and half life which represents the major problem of nuclear power industry, currently unsolved;
- Full scale experiment with artificial neutrino source will be performed within the framework of International Collaboration including Russian Federation, Italy, Chinese People's Republic, and France. Institute Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN, Italy) is the leading organization responsible for full scale experiment with the artificial neutrino source. Funds for industrial fabrication of the source said will be obtained from International European Collaboration.


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