Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Radiochemistry

First Committee Member

Ken Czerwinski, Chair

Second Committee Member

Sam Bryan

Third Committee Member

Patricia Paviet-Hartman

Fourth Committee Member

Tatiana Leviskaia

Graduate Faculty Representative

Ralf Sudowe

Number of Pages



This dissertation explores lanthanide speciation in liquid solution systems related to separation schemes involving the acidic ligands: bis(2-ethylhexyl) phosphoric acid (HDEHP), lactate, and 8-hydroxyquinoline. Equilibrium speciation of neodymium (Nd3+ ), sodium (Na+ ), HDEHP, water, and lactate in the TALSPEAK liquid-liquid extraction system was explored under varied Nd3+ loading of HDEHP in the organic phase and through extraction from aqueous HCl and lactate media. System speciation was probed through vapor pressure osmometry, visible and Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, 22 Na and 13 C labeled lactate radiotracer distribution measurements, Karl Fischer titrations, and equilibrium pH measurements. Distribution of Nd3+ , Na+ , lactate, and equilibrium pH were modeled using the SXLSQI software to obtain logK Nd and logKNa extraction constants under selected conditions. Results showed that high Nd3+ loading of the HDEHP led to Nd3+ speciation that departs from the ion exchange mechanism and includes formation of highly aggregated, polynuclear [NdLactate(DEHP)2 ]x ; (with x > 1). By substituting lanthanum (La3+ ) for Nd3+ in this system, NMR scoping experiments using 23 Na, 31 P nuclei and 13 C labeled lactate were performed. Results indicated that this technique is sensitive to changes in system speciation, and that further experiments are warranted. In a homogeneous system representing the TALSPEAK aqueous phase, Lactate protonation behavior at various temperatures was characterized using a combination of potentiometric titration and modeling with the Hyperquad computer program. The temperature dependent deprotonation behavior of lactate showed little change with temperature at 2.0 M NaCl ionic strength.

Cloud point extraction is a non-traditional separation technique that starts with a homogeneous phase that becomes heterogeneous by the micellization of surfactants through the increase of temperature. To better understand the behavior of europium (Eu3+ ) and 8-hydroxyquinoline under cloud point extraction conditions, potentiometric and spectrophotometric titrations coupled with modeling with Hyperquad and SQUAD computer programs were performed to assess europium (Eu3+ ) and 8-hydroxyquinoline speciation. Experiments in both water and a 1wt% Triton X-114/water mixed solvent were compared to understand the effect of Triton X-114 on the system speciation. Results indicated that increased solvation of 8-hydroxyquinoline by the mixed solvent lead to more stable complexes involving 8-hydroxyquinoline than in water, whereas competition between hydroxide and Triton X-114 for Eu 3+ led to lower stability hydrolysis complexes in the mixed solvent than in water.

Lanthanide speciation is challenging due to the trivalent oxidation state that leads to multiple ligand complexes, including some mixed complexes. The complexity of the system demands well-designed and precise experiments that capture the nuances of the chemistry. This work increased the understanding of lanthanide speciation in the explored systems, but more work is required to produce a comprehensive understanding of the speciation involved.


Carbon; Europium; Lanthanum; Neodymium; Rare earth metals; Sodium; Speciation (Chemistry)


Analytical Chemistry | Chemistry | Physical Chemistry | Radiochemistry

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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