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Author: Subject: Radium extraction from watch hands
Radium212
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[*] posted on 16-9-2017 at 05:21
Radium extraction from watch hands


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?
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unionised
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[*] posted on 16-9-2017 at 05:22


Why bother?
All it does is make the risks bigger.
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Sulaiman
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[*] posted on 16-9-2017 at 07:11


I suspect that the recoverable quantities of radium would be microscopic (c1 microgramme per watch)
- or intensely radioactive (37 x 109 Bq/g)




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Radium212
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[*] posted on 16-9-2017 at 10:42


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.
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metalresearcher
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[*] posted on 16-9-2017 at 11:09


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.




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[*] posted on 16-9-2017 at 11:36


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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Radium212
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[*] posted on 17-9-2017 at 01:47


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.
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[*] posted on 17-9-2017 at 01:57


Removing the zinc sulphide is the easy bit.
If you can't work that out, stop before you do any damage.
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[*] posted on 17-9-2017 at 02:46


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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Radium212
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[*] posted on 17-9-2017 at 05:47


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.
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[*] posted on 17-9-2017 at 05:52


How big can a watch hand be?
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[*] posted on 17-9-2017 at 05:59


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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[*] posted on 19-9-2017 at 09:36


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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[*] posted on 19-9-2017 at 09:40


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.
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[*] posted on 19-9-2017 at 11:52


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
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[*] posted on 19-9-2017 at 12:38


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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[*] posted on 19-9-2017 at 16:56


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. :)


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[*] posted on 22-1-2018 at 07:46


Quote: Originally posted by unionised  
Removing the zinc sulphide is the easy bit.
If you can't work that out, stop before you do any damage.


Hi

I am very much an amateur but I am fascinated nonetheless about how you would go about removing Zinc sulphide if the item you were after was perhaps only a millionth of the total mass you were playing with - in this case radium.

IIRC most radium salts are fairly insoluble BUT as there is perhaps only a microgram - THAT amount may well dissolve.

On the basis that removing the remains of any paint, binder, glue, ZnS etc would be stage 1 - I am struggling to work out a way this could be done - even speculatively - without risking loosing the teeny amount of radium salt.

Sure a sensitive geiger counter could presumably confirm where the radium was if some separation had occurred - just puzzled as to how it could be attempted.

I am guessing the OP has long since "done his own thing" but if you have time, I would still appreciate a two or three sentence "gist of what would be done" just for my own clarification.

Many thanks
Mark

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[*] posted on 22-1-2018 at 08:07


Add an acid to the mixture. ZnS reacts to produce ZnCl2 and H2S, which bubbles out. The ZnCl2 will pass through the filter once you filter the RaSO4 out.



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[*] posted on 23-1-2018 at 06:42


I would perhaps try precipitating the radium with a barium salt. This would give you a larger mass to work with and you would still be pretty much extracting the radium.
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[*] posted on 25-1-2018 at 04:00


Quote: Originally posted by ninhydric1  
Add an acid to the mixture. ZnS reacts to produce ZnCl2 and H2S, which bubbles out. The ZnCl2 will pass through the filter once you filter the RaSO4 out.


Ah ok I think I follow that, thank you.

Would the fact that the ZnS is mixed with a binder and also paint not stop that from working though? Mind you I guess if the whole lot was dessicated and then finely ground (albeit now in a very hazardous state), it would then have maximum surface area to react with the acid.

Interesting though, thank you.
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