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Sorption of strontium to uraninite and uranium(IV)–silicate nanoparticles

DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.1c02927 DOI Help

Authors: Thomas S. Neill (The University of Manchester) , Katherine Morris (The University of Manchester) , Carolyn I. Pearce (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) , Nicholas K. Sherriff (National Nuclear Laboratory) , Nick Bryan (National Nuclear Laboratory) , Bruce Rigby (Sellafield Ltd) , Samuel Shaw (University of Manchester)
Co-authored by industrial partner: Yes

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: Langmuir

State: Published (Approved)
Published: February 2022
Diamond Proposal Number(s): 13559

Abstract: Spent nuclear fuel contains both uranium (U) and high yield fission products, including strontium-90 (90Sr), a key radioactive contaminant at nuclear facilities. Both U and 90Sr will be present where spent nuclear fuel has been processed, including in storage ponds and tanks. However, the interactions between Sr and U phases under ambient conditions are not well understood. Over a pH range of 4–14, we investigate Sr sorption behavior in contact with two nuclear fuel cycle relevant U(IV) phases: nano-uraninite (UO2) and U(IV)–silicate nanoparticles. Nano-UO2 is a product of the anaerobic corrosion of metallic uranium fuel, and UO2 is also the predominant form of U in ceramic fuels. U(IV)–silicates form stable colloids under the neutral to alkaline pH conditions highly relevant to nuclear fuel storage ponds and geodisposal scenarios. In sorption experiments, Sr had the highest affinity for UO2, although significant Sr sorption also occurred to U(IV)–silicate phases at pH ≥ 6. Extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) spectroscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and desorption data for the UO2 system suggested that Sr interacted with UO2 via a near surface, highly coordinated complex at pH ≥ 10. EXAFS measurements for the U(IV)–silicate samples showed outer-sphere Sr sorption dominated at acidic and near-neutral pH with intrinsic Sr-silicates forming at pH ≥ 12. These complex interactions of Sr with important U(IV) phases highlight a largely unrecognized control on 90Sr mobility in environments of relevance to spent nuclear fuel management and storage.

Journal Keywords: Sorption; Nuclear fuel; Colloids; Extended X-ray absorption fine structure; pH

Subject Areas: Materials, Chemistry, Environment

Instruments: B18-Core EXAFS

Added On: 02/03/2022 08:42

Discipline Tags:

Earth Sciences & Environment Radioactive Materials Chemistry Materials Science Nuclear Waste Inorganic Chemistry Nanoscience/Nanotechnology

Technical Tags:

Spectroscopy X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS) Extended X-ray Absorption Fine Structure (EXAFS)