Fabrication of americium containing transmutation targets

Research outputpeer-review


An innovative, dust-free method for producing (U,Am)O2-x targets without the generation of Am-contaminated liquid waste has been successfully demonstrated in the Fuel Materials Laboratories at SCK CEN. The method comprises the fabrication of porous uranium oxide microspheres through internal gelation, using starch as a pore-former, and a single-step Am(NO3)3 aqueous solution infiltration process. Various samples containing targeted Am contents of 5, 10, 20, or 30 mol% were prepared. The concentration of the Am(III) stock solution was confirmed by ICP-MS and no other Am species than Am3+ were distinguished by UV-Vis spectrophotometry. The microstructural investigations revealed that the density of the porous host microspheres was approximately 65%TD, with 30 vol% accessible porosity, suitable for an efficient infiltration. Microstructural analysis using SEM-EDS was performed on the sintered microspheres. Unexpectedly, EDS analysis was found to be incompatible due to detector interference from the 60 keV gamma-rays emitted by the sample. Therefore, examination of cross-sectioned (U,Am)O2-x microspheres was performed using wavelength dispersive spectrometry (WDS), which was unaffected by the soft gamma ray emission. A homogeneous mixing of Am and U was observed, without the formation of agglomerates with distinct doping levels. From the periphery to the center of the microspheres a radial gradient in Am content was observed, indicating a slight enrichment of Am on the surface of the microspheres. Overall, the nominal Am concentration was in very good agreement with the targeted content.
Original languageEnglish
Article number155107
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2024


FundersFunder number
Belgian Federal Government

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Inorganic Chemistry
    • Ceramics and Composites
    • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
    • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
    • General Materials Science

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