This paper reports an automated analytical method for rapid determination of plutonium isotopes (239Pu and 240Pu) in environmental solid extracts. Anion exchange chromatographic columns were incorporated in a sequential injection (SI) system to undertake the automated separation of plutonium from matrix and interfering elements. The analytical results most distinctly demonstrated that the crosslinkage of the anion exchanger is a key parameter controlling the separation efficiency. AG 1-×4 type resin was selected as the most suitable sorbent material for analyte separation. Investigation of column size effect upon the separation efficiency revealed that small-sized (2 mL) columns sufficed to handle up to 50 g of environmental soil samples. Under the optimum conditions, chemical yields of plutonium exceeded 90% and the decontamination factors for uranium, thorium and lead ranged from 103 to 104. The determination of plutonium isotopes in three standard/certified reference materials (IAEA-375 soil, IAEA-135 sediment and NIST-4359 seaweed) and two reference samples (Irish Sea sediment and Danish soil) revealed a good agreement with reference/certified values. The SI column-separation method is straightforward and less labor intensive as compared with batch-wise anion exchange chromatographic procedures. Besides, the automated method features low consumption of ion-exchanger and reagents for column washing and elution, with the consequent decrease in the generation of acidic waste, thus bearing green chemical credentials.
- Radiation research and nuclear technologies
- Radio ecology and tracers