Preparing for Harvesting Rare Isotopes at FRIB: Production and Separation of Vanadium-48

Student Author(s)

Boone Marois

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Aranh Pen, Dr. Graham Peaslee, and Dr. Suzanne Lapi

Document Type


Event Date



The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) will be a new national user facility for nuclear science. FRIB will generate many long-lived radioisotopes, by-products of heavy-ion fragmentation, not currently available or for which no reliable source exists. These isotopes could be synergistically harvested without interference to the primary user. Potential applications of these isotopes include nuclear medicine, stockpile stewardship, and environmental tracers. One radioisotope, 48V, was selected from a list of priority isotopes with potential to be harvested at FRIB. 48V (t1/2=16 days) is of interest as a positron emission tomography (PET) isotope and radiotracer. The National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) located at Michigan State University was chosen as the experimental site for its ability to best simulate conditions at FRIB for production and collection of 48V. In preparation for an experiment at the NSCL in the fall of 2016, a successful separation method was developed at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Washington University was an ideal location because they have an on-site low-energy cyclotron and the facilities to work with radioisotopes. 48V was successfully separated from all potential metal contaminants (with the exception of silicon) by Cation-Exchange Chromatography with a conditioned DOWEX 50W-X8 100-200 Mesh resin. More than 90% of the 48V could be eluted with 10 mL of 0.01 M sulfuric acid containing 1% H­2O2. Silicon also partially elutes in this 10 mL fraction while the rest of the metals can be removed from the column using a stronger acid, such as 6 M HCl. Further research is being done to optimize 48V separation and to investigate the silicon contamination.


This research was supported by the United States Department of Energy Office of Science Grant DE-SC0007352.

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