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Hydrogen Isotope Separation Using Molecular Sieve of Synthetic Zeolite 3A

K. Kotoh, K. Kimura, Y. Nakamura, K. Kudo

Fusion Science and Technology / Volume 54 / Number 2 / August 2008 / Pages 419-422

Technical Paper / Isotope Separation /

It is known that hydrogen isotope molecules can be adsorbed easily onto synthetic zeolite 4A, 5A, and 13X at the liquid-nitrogen temperature of 77.4 K. We show here that hydrogen and deuterium are not adsorptive onto zeolite 3A at the same temperature. This phenomenon is explained by assuming the molecular sieve function in zeolite-3A-crystalline lattice structure. From a series of pseudo-isobaric experiments, it is also shown that the sieving phenomenon appears in a range above 77.4 K. This behavior is interpreted as resulting on the dependence of sieve's mesh size on temperature, where the sieving effect is considered to appear at a certain temperature. In this interpretation, an isotopic difference between hydrogen and deuterium is suggested to exist in the sieving effect appearance temperatures. This is endorsed in the result of pseudo-isobaric experiments. This temperature deference is very significant because that indicates the possibility of an effective method of hydrogen isotope separation. This possibility is verified through an experimental series of adsorption-desorption with a mixture of H2 and D2, where the gas samples adsorbed through the sieve operated at intentionally selected temperatures are isolated and then analyzed. The result demonstrates remarkable values of isotope separation factor.

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