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Author: Subject: Radium extraction from watch hands
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I was considering extracting the radium sulphate from watch hands, by dissolving the radium sulphate in sulphuric acid (I'm modelling it on barium sulphate), then recovering it. I've built a glovebox especially for the purpose. What do people think of this?
unionised
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Why bother?
All it does is make the risks bigger.
Sulaiman
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I suspect that the recoverable quantities of radium would be microscopic (c1 microgramme per watch)
- or intensely radioactive (37 x 109 Bq/g)

SAFETY WARNING: despite the number of stars & posts I have, I am only an amateur with a poor memory nd I make mistakes and may occasionally give erroneous advice
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 Quote: Originally posted by unionised Why bother? All it does is make the risks bigger.

I've always wanted to posses radium salts, it's an ambition of mine. To have a reasonably pure quantity of one of the most important and famous radioactive elements.
metalresearcher
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You'll get 1 microgram of Ra compound when you are lucky.

Read this page of the world's largest online chemistry textbook and you'll know that you can forget about it. Unless you pay millions of \$ to get a gram of Ra compound from e.g. Dubna institute.

DJT is for the USA and the world as ClF3 is for humans.
unionised
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Separating the Ra doped Ba from the watch hands might be a reasonable prospect at home.
Departing the Ra from the Ba isn't.
It might be a "kitchen" project with a larger quantity- as long as you didn't mind radiation sickness etc

What experience do you have with trying to isolate ng/ µg samples?
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 Quote: Originally posted by unionised Separating the Ra doped Ba from the watch hands might be a reasonable prospect at home. Departing the Ra from the Ba isn't. It might be a "kitchen" project with a larger quantity- as long as you didn't mind radiation sickness etc What experience do you have with trying to isolate ng/ µg samples?

My experience is a little limited, but there. I planned on isolating it with Ba, in say, 2 gram quantities. The hands I have contain a lot of paint, maybe an eighth of a gram each, and I have eight. So with barium I could work on a 2 gram scale. I don't know how I'd remove the zinc sulphide though.
unionised
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Removing the zinc sulphide is the easy bit.
If you can't work that out, stop before you do any damage.
j_sum1
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Mood: Undergoing decantation and leaving all the crap behind.

It would be a pretty massive clock hand to have an eighth of a gram of paint. And if you have eight of them as you say, that makes 1 gram. I don't know where you get your two gram scale idea from.

I'm concerned that if you can't manage some simple estimation and basic maths then you aren't likely to do a great job with what is likely to be a fiddly little separation.
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 Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1 It would be a pretty massive clock hand to have an eighth of a gram of paint. And if you have eight of them as you say, that makes 1 gram. I don't know where you get your two gram scale idea from. I'm concerned that if you can't manage some simple estimation and basic maths then you aren't likely to do a great job with what is likely to be a fiddly little separation.

The 2 grams comes from the eight massive hands and 1 gram of barium sulphate carrier. This is all to make a neutron source.
unionised
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How big can a watch hand be?
phlogiston
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You could try the method originally used by the Curies to extract radium from the uranium ore waste left after the U had been extracted.
Briefly: boiling for a while in concentrated sodium carbonate solution converts the radium sulfate to radium carbonate. It can then be dissolved in hydrochloric acid. You can then remove undissolved impurities by filtering and precipitate relatively pure radium sulfate from the solution by adding sulfuric acid.

This thesis describes the procedure: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Artem_Matyskin/publicat...

Incidentally, there is also a photograph of a macroscopic amount of radium sulfate on page 18.

As others mentioned, working on ng/ug is difficult. You risk losing a large fraction if not all of your product. So, adding a little barium to act as a carrier will help a lot, even though it will contaminate your product.

[Edited on 17-9-2017 by phlogiston]

[Edited on 17-9-2017 by phlogiston]

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 Quote: Originally posted by unionised How big can a watch hand be?

They're clock hands, and early ones, when more paint was used.
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 Quote: Originally posted by phlogiston You could try the method originally used by the Curies to extract radium from the uranium ore waste left after the U had been extracted. Briefly: boiling for a while in concentrated sodium carbonate solution converts the radium sulfate to radium carbonate. It can then be dissolved in hydrochloric acid. You can then remove undissolved impurities by filtering and precipitate relatively pure radium sulfate from the solution by adding sulfuric acid. This thesis describes the procedure: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Artem_Matyskin/publicat... Incidentally, there is also a photograph of a macroscopic amount of radium sulfate on page 18. As others mentioned, working on ng/ug is difficult. You risk losing a large fraction if not all of your product. So, adding a little barium to act as a carrier will help a lot, even though it will contaminate your product. [Edited on 17-9-2017 by phlogiston] [Edited on 17-9-2017 by phlogiston]

Thanks for the referral! I was going to use 1 gram of barium sulphate carrier.
UkAmateur
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Well I learnt something new today!

I was under the impression true luminous watch hands utilized Tritium.

A quick google suggests that applies to higher end/older model watch's.

All sorts used today. Including the material in topic.

Thanks for the learning curve folks!

(Sorry I don't have anything intelligent to actually add lol)

Cheers
phlogiston
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You will typically find older luminous paint is radium-based.
Promethium has also been used, approximately since the 50's, but it's half is so short that any Pm will have decayed by now.
Only more recently has tritium become 'popular'.

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UkAmateur
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 Quote: Originally posted by phlogiston You will typically find older luminous paint is radium-based. Promethium has also been used, approximately since the 50's, but it's half is so short that any Pm will have decayed by now. Only more recently has tritium become 'popular'.

Yes the radium based stuff was shelved for health reasons I believe.

Tbh and as much as some will probably laugh, the only reason I first knew tritium was commonly used in that capacity is from a reference in an old Tom Clancy novel. (Sum of all fears*?*)

Tritium is also a component in nuclear reactions (both atomic warfare and energy employ it). Tritium/deuterium and tritium deutaride(sp?) .

So yeah, basically I'm a font of useless information today! Lol

Apologies to the op for the slight derail there.

As u were.

 Sciencemadness Discussion Board » Special topics » Radiochemistry » Radium extraction from watch hands Select A Forum Fundamentals   » Chemistry in General   » Organic Chemistry   » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition   » Beginnings   » Miscellaneous   » The Wiki Special topics   » Technochemistry   » Energetic Materials   » Biochemistry   » Radiochemistry   » Computational Models and Techniques   » Prepublication   » References Non-chemistry   » Forum Matters   » Legal and Societal Issues   » Whimsy   » Detritus   » The Moderators' Lounge