6 SEPARATE PLUTONIUM
A process called solvent extraction isolates the plutonium and neptunium: solvents are added to the solution that dissolve only those elements. Then scientists induce the solution to separate, like oil and water, so that they can remove the solvent that’s bound to them. At this point, neptunium is separated and can be passed through the cycle again.
The plutonium is purified through a process called ion exchange, which Oak Ridge is still refining a key step to reaching the 1,5-kilogram per year delivery goal.