The Effect of Gamma Irradiation on the Physiochemical Properties of Caesium-Selective Ammonium Phosphomolybdate-Polyacrylonitrile (AMP-PAN) Composites

Managing certain by-products of the nuclear fuel cycle, such as the radioactive isotopes of caesium: Cs-134, Cs-135 and Cs-137 is challenging due to their environmental mobility and radioactivity. While a great many materials can isolate Cs+ ions from neutral or basic aqueous solutions via ion exchange, few of these, with the exception of ammonium phosphomolybdate (AMP), function effectively in acidic media. The use of AMP, and its porous composite in polyacrylonitrile (PAN) for management of Cs radioisotopes in various nuclear wastes have been known for decades and are well studied, yet the effects of radiation on the physiochemical properties of such composites have only received limited attention to date. In a previous publication, we demonstrated that a 100 kGy gamma irradiation dose has negligible effect on the ion exchange performance of AMP and AMP-PAN with respect to capacity or kinetics under the Cs+ concentrations and acidity found in spent fuel recycling. As a continuation of this prior study, in this publication we explore the effects of gamma irradiation on the physiochemical properties of AMP and AMP-PAN using a range of characterisation methods. The effects of the same gamma dose on the oxidation state of Mo in AMP and AMP-PAN, the thermal degradation of both AMP and AMP-PAN, combined with a first study into the high-temperature degradation AMP, are reported. The implications of irradiation, its possible mechanism, the conditions present in SNF recycling, and for the end-of-life disposal or recycling of these materials are also discussed.