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Uranium (VI) sorption on illite under varying carbonate concentrations; Batch experiments, modeling, and cryogenic time-resolved laser fluorescence spectroscopy study

Mei, H.  ; Aoyagi, Noboru  ; Saito, Takumi*; Kozai, Naofumi  ; Sugiura, Yuki  ; Tachi, Yukio  

Dissolved inorganic carbonate ions (DIC) present in groundwaters may affect both the aqueous and surface species of U(VI) due to its strong complexation ability with U(VI). However, it is still not clear how DIC affects U(VI) sorption on illite, which is one of the critical components in argillaceous rocks. In this study, the sorption of U(VI) on conditioned illite du Puy in presence of varying DIC concentrations (up to 250 mM DIC) as a function of pH was investigated by combining batch sorption experiments, surface complexation modeling, and the cryogenic time-resolved laser fluorescence spectroscopy (TRLFS). The distribution coefficients of U(VI) were sensitive to the DIC concentration, which decreased with an increase of DIC. There is no sorption of U(VI) under relatively high DIC concentrations (100 mM DIC). The U(VI) sorption behavior on illite was modeled by using the 2 Site Protolysis Non-Electrostatic Surface Complexation and Cation Exchange model. Two ternary surface complexation reactions with carbonate were needed to depict the experimental sorption data in addition to binary and ternary hydroxo surface complexation reactions employed for the description of U sorption to illite without carbonate. The cryogenic TRLFS revealed that U(VI) did sorb to illite in presence of high DIC concentration (up to 10 mM DIC). The spectra were unchanged with DIC at pH 8.5, suggesting the surface speciation of U(VI) remained the same. The decay curves were biexponential, which further indicated that at least two species were responsible for the sorption. Our finding will help to predict the transport and retention behaviors of U(VI) near radioactive waste repositories.

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