Physical Insights

An independent scientist’s observations on society, technology, energy, science and the environment. “Modern science has been a voyage into the unknown, with a lesson in humility waiting at every stop. Many passengers would rather have stayed home.” – Carl Sagan

High-sulfur diesel fuel and fission product extraction.

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I was doing some reading on Fischer-Tropsch diesel synthesis when I came across an interesting bit of technical trivia, which I thought was interesting enough to share:

It was reported by Russian scientists in the academic literature in the 90’s that bad quality, high sulfur, diesel fuel has been used as a a liquid-liquid extraction agent in the solvent extraction of palladium from the nitric acid raffinate solution in the PUREX process.

In this process the the hydrocarbons of the diesel act as the diluent while the dialkyl sulfides act as the extractant.

Usually, tributyl phosphate is employed as the extractant solvent in the PUREX process, as a 30%, or thereabouts, solution in dodecane, or kerosene. Since diesel fuel is chemically close to kerosene, and contains aliphatic hydrocarbons at around the same weight as dodecane, clearly diesel fuel is quite usable in this process, with the dialkyl sulfides fulfilling the role of the TBP in standard PUREX extraction. I wonder if this is capable of extracting other elements from the fission products, too?

While this is of little practical consequence, I found it interesting.


Written by Luke Weston

November 23, 2007 at 4:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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