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Report No.

Structural approach to understanding the solubility of metal hydroxides

Kobayashi, Taishi*; Nakajima, Shogo*; Motokawa, Ryuhei; Matsumura, Daiju; Saito, Takumi*; Sasaki, Takayuki*

We report the hierarchical structure of zirconium hydroxide after aging at different temperatures to elucidate the factors governing zirconium solubility in aqueous solutions. Zirconium hydroxide solid phases after aging at 25, 40, 60, and 90$$^{circ}$$C under acidic to alkaline conditions were investigated using extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) and wide- and small-angle X-ray scattering (WAXS and SAXS) techniques to reveal the bulk and surface structures of the solid phases from the nanoscale to submicroscale. After aging at 25 $$^{circ}$$C, the fundamental building unit of the solid phase was a zirconium hydroxide tetramer. The tetramers formed primary particles approximately 3 nm in size, which in turn formed aggregates hundreds of nanometers in size. This hierarchical structure was found to be stable up to 60 $$^{circ}$$C under acidic and neutral conditions and up to 40 $$^{circ}$$C under alkaline conditions. After aging at 90 $$^{circ}$$C under acidic conditions and at 60 and 90 $$^{circ}$$C under alkaline conditions, the WAXS and EXAFS measurements suggested the crystallization of the solid phase. The transformation of the solid-phase structure by temperature was discussed in relation to the solubility product to understand the solubility-limiting solid phase. The solubility of zirconium hydroxide after aging at different temperatures was governed not only by the size of the primary particles, but also by their surface configuration.



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