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  1. #1

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    Uranium toning: special precautions for Uranyl Nitrate and other questions

    I'm just starting my journey in to alternative processes but as with knowing I will one day want a ULF camera I know that one day I will want to try uranium toning, if not a full-on uranotype. The MSDS data I've been able to find has been rather sparse except for stating that it is highly toxic. Does anyone on this forum have experience working with uranium processes?

    How would uranyl nitrate rate in terms of safety precautions compared to the potassium dichromate or potassium cyanide used in other processes? I'd also assume that due to the nature of the material there are difficulties in obtaining the uranyl nitrate, has anyone tried to get this stuff, and if so what did you come up against? Will I find a painter's van parked down the street for several days and see the same guy reading a newspaper everywhere I go? Any ideas on the "archivability" of a uranium toned print?

    I won't try this until I had a well equipped lab space with excellent ventilation but I can't resist the allure of showing someone a print and watching their reaction when I tell them it is made with uranium! Maybe the man with the newspaper will go away if I give him a print...

    - Justin

  2. #2

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    I would start by calling your local nuclear powerplants and asking if they have any surplus spent fuel rods that you could have. They're often at a loss for what to do with them, so I'm sure you could pick a few up pretty cheap. Just phone 'em up. You might have to purify the uranium, or you could try making urano-pluto-otherbyproducts-otypes.
    The universe is a haunted house. -Coil
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  3. #3

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    Good luck getting your hands on any. If you can convince this company to sell to you, please let us know.

    http://www.2spi.com/catalog/chem/Uranyl_Nitrate.shtml

    Possession is legal in the USA but the thumbscrews on the companies that sell it are pretty tight.

    As for toxicity, yes, it is nasty. The danger is chemical toxicity, not radioactive. If you can keep your lab area clean, use gloves, work in non-living-spaces, and use a dust respirator you should be fine. A geiger counter sensitive to alpha particles can be helpful in establishing a baseline for your work environment and also identifying contamination during your processing.

    If you can't find anyone to sell it to you, you can always make it yourself. The rules in the USA have changed recently making the production of small quantities legal again. I advise you to call the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) directly before actually undergoing any materials processing. The rules and the way they are interpreted is subject to change at any time. The fines for non-compliance are steep.

    The basic formula for making Uranyl Nitrate from raw ore (which can be purchased from many sources) is here: http://www.unitednuclear.com/extract.htm

    I don't know what purities you'd need to obtain for photo processing. I imagine that most of the impurities will not effect the photograph. Alternatively, you can find some depleted uranium metal and make the necessary compounds (nitrates, chlorides, etc) from that.

  4. #4
    David William White's Avatar
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    Jeez, pushing Tri-X to 3200 is my macho thrill. Now I feel small.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by amuderick View Post
    The basic formula for making Uranyl Nitrate from raw ore (which can be purchased from many sources) is here: http://www.unitednuclear.com/extract.htm
    What a cool website. Makes me want to build a lab and play!
    The soul never thinks without an image.
    - Aristotle

  6. #6
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    You might dabble with some ricin toning also. Let us know how it goes.
    Jerold Harter MD

  7. #7
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    http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/Uranium/uranium.html

    Look here seams to be a good place to start!!! Why you would want to do it is beyond me

    http://msds.chem.ox.ac.uk/UR/uranium_nitrate.html

    MSDS for you too

  8. #8

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    In all seriousness, good luck with this project. The orange colour of uranotypes is definitely unique.

    This is a cool one:
    http://www.orau.org/PTP/collection/M...euranotype.htm
    The universe is a haunted house. -Coil
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  9. #9

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    It was Blake Ferris' website and the unblinkingeye article that got me interested in this.

    *Jerold, I'm more of a VX or sarin man myself! *

    note to man with newspaper: between the asterisks is a joke.

  10. #10

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    Uranium nitrate

    About 30 years ago I purchased a little over 100 grams of Uranium Nitrate to use as a toner. (It was easier to get such things in those days). It arrived in a wooden crate that measured 3 feet on a side. The crate was filled with a straw-like material. In the middle of all this straw-like stuff was a metal paint can, with no label. Inside the paint can there was more packing material, and in the middle of the packing material was an itty bitty bottle of the Uranium Nitrate.

    I used it only once, to tone some prints. They came out OK, a nice reddish color, but after living with the prints for a while, I realized it was more of a novelty than anything else, and I've never used it again.

    Dwane

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