Separation of terbium as a first step towards high purity terbium-161 for medical applications

Meryem Arman, Angelo Mullaliu, Bart Geboes, Karen Van Hecke, Ganghadar Das, Giuliana Aquilanti, Koen Binnemans, Thomas Cardinaels

Research outputpeer-review


Terbium-161 is a medical radiolanthanide that has a beta decay energy and half-life similar to that of lutetium-177, which makes it a promising alternative for therapeutic purposes. The production route using an enriched gadolinium-160 target necessitates the purification of terbium-161 from the untransmuted target material as well as from its stable decay product, dysprosium-161. The separation of neighbouring lanthanides is challenging due to their similar chemical properties and prominent trivalent oxidation states. In this work, the aim is to change the oxidation state of terbium, resulting in the altering of chemical properties that ease the intragroup separation. To this end, a novel separation method is investigated, involving the electrochemical oxidation of terbium (3+) to terbium (4+) followed by anion
exchange chromatography. The electrolysis conditions are set to the highest achievable conversion rate, followed by a dilution step during which the pH and electrolyte concentration are slightly lowered to obtain conditions that are compatible with the separation method. XAS analysis is done to characterize the carbonato complex of both oxidation states and to further elucidate the separation mechanism. The results show that the separation approach of combining electrochemical oxidation with anion exchange
chromatography is promising for the purification of 161Tb for medical use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19926-19934
Number of pages9
JournalRSC Advances
Issue number28
StatePublished - 20 Jun 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering

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