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Impact of the cation distribution homogeneity on the americium oxidation state in the U0.54Pu0.45Am0.01O2−x mixed oxide

Journal of Nuclear Materials
DOI: 10.1016/j.jnucmat.2014.09.014
  • Chemistry


Abstract The impact of the cation distribution homogeneity of the U0.54Pu0.45Am0.01O2−x mixed oxide on the americium oxidation state was studied by coupling X-ray diffraction (XRD), electron probe micro analysis (EPMA) and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). Oxygen-hypostoichiometric Am-bearing uranium–plutonium mixed oxide pellets were fabricated by two different co-milling based processes in order to obtain different cation distribution homogeneities. The americium was generated from β− decay of 241Pu. The XRD analysis of the obtained compounds did not reveal any structural difference between the samples. EPMA, however, revealed a high homogeneity in the cation distribution for one sample, and substantial heterogeneity of the U–Pu (so Am) distribution for the other. The difference in cation distribution was linked to a difference in Am chemistry as investigated by XAS, with Am being present at mixed +III/+IV oxidation state in the heterogeneous compound, whereas only Am(IV) was observed in the homogeneous compound. Previously reported discrepancies on Am oxidation states can hence be explained by cation distribution homogeneity effects.

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