Ion exchange separation of strontium and rubidium on Dowex 50W-X8, using the complexation properties of EDTA and DCTA

12 Nov 2020

A chromatographic method for separation of strontium from rubidium, using the unique alkaline-earth metal complexation ability of the carboxylic acids EDTA and DCTA is proposed. The method was developed in order to improve the effectiveness of 87Sr/86Sr isotope studies with ICP?QMS. Due to the isobaric overlap of 87Rb with 87Sr, strontium needs to be separated from rubidium prior to sample analysis with ICP?QMS. The method involves the retention of strontium, calcium, magnesium, and rubidium on Dowex 50W-X8 resin in its NH4 + form, followed by elution of the divalent cations as metal EDTA or DCTA complexes. Because divalent cations have different EDTA and DCTA complex formation constants, it is possible to separate them under the correct conditions. Neither EDTA nor DCTA form complexes with alkali metals, thus rubidium remains retained by the column and is later eluted using HNO3. Both EDTA and DCTA elution methods were tested with different concentrations of the elements to determine the effect of increased concentration on separation efficiency. The EDTA elution procedure was proved to be effective in separating strontium from both calcium and rubidium, while the DCTA method was found to be even more effective, because strontium is separated from all the elements involved in this study.