Isotope and Target Chemistry (ITC)
Investigation and exploitation of activated material
The knowledge of the radionuclide inventory in accelerator waste is of increasing importance not only for the evaluation of existing waste and the corresponding waste management, but also for the development of new techniques for handling, decommissioning and storage of such materials. The analytical focus of our research group is concentrated on the radiochemical characterization of activated components from the accelerator facilities at PSI – information which is required by the Swiss authorities (BAG, ENSI). These nuclear data serve as well as benchmarks for calculation codes and theoretical predictions and help to improve the nuclear data base for the development of new facilities, for instance the European Spallation Source (ESS) in Lund (Sweden), the ADS prototype MYRRHA in Mol (Belgium), or for the development of Accelerator Driven Systems (ADS) and Radioactive beam facilities (RIB) in general.
However, not only the content, but also the radiochemical and physico-chemical behavior of the produced radionuclides play an essential role for the assessment of potential hazards and their elimination. Our investigations in the field of metal target technology address basic processes like release behaviour of radionuclides, migration in liquid and solid matrices and the search for possibilities of trapping and/or separation of isotopes.
Some of the identified radionuclides are very rare, exotic, and in many cases difficult to produce by common methods. These isotopes can be extracted from suitable sources and made accessible for a broad variety of scientific and technological applications. We developed separation systems for the isolation of such radionuclides from several accelerator components like targets, beam dumps or cooling water. We are experienced in target preparation and actively participate in key experiments like half-life and cross section measurements, partly under own leadership (e.g. 53Mn) or in collaborations (e.g. 60Fe, 7Be, 171Tm).
As a relatively new topic, we work on waste treatment and isotope reclamation from spent nuclear fuel solutions (project WIR), which are presently available at PSI and urgently need to be disposed. Besides the development and swift realization of a tailored conditioning system, we want to utilize this valuable source for isotope extraction, mainly aiming on minor actinides and fission products.