Uranium Ore Concentrate (UOC, often called yellowcake) is a generic term that describes the initial product resulting from the mining and subsequent milling of uranium ores en route to production of the U-compounds used in the fuel cycle. Depending on the mine, the ore, the chemical process, and the treatment parameters, UOC composition can vary greatly. With the recent advent of handheld spectrometers, we have chosen to investigate whether either commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) handheld devices or laboratory-grade Raman instruments might be able to i) identify UOC materials, and ii) differentiate UOC samples based on chemical composition and thus suggest the mining or milling process. Twenty-eight UOC samples were analyzed via FT-Raman spectroscopy using both 1064 nm and 785 nm excitation wavelengths. These data were also compared with results from a newly developed handheld COTS Raman spectrometer using a technique that lowers the background fluorescence signal. Initial chemometric analysis was able to differentiate UOC samples based on mine location. Additional compositional information was obtained from the samples by performing XRD analysis on a subset of samples. The compositional information was integrated with chemometric analysis of the spectroscopic dataset allowing confirmation that class identification is possible based on compositional differences between the UOC samples, typically involving species such as U3O8, α-UO2(OH)2, UO4•2H2O (metastudtite), K(UO2)2O3, etc. While there are clearly excitation λ sensitivities, especially for dark samples, Raman analysis coupled with chemometric data treatment can nicely differentiate UOC samples based on composition and even mine origin.
Yin-Fong Su, Russell G. Tonkyn, Lucas E. Sweet, Jordan F. Corbey, Samuel A. Bryan, and Timothy J. Johnson, "Characterization of uranium ore concentrate chemical composition via Raman spectroscopy," Proc. SPIE 10629, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) Sensing XIX, 106290G (Presented at SPIE Defense + Security: April 16, 2018; Published: 16 May 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2304304.
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