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Title: Competing retention pathways of uranium upon reaction with Fe(II)

Biogeochemical retention processes, including adsorption, reductive precipitation, and incorporation into host minerals, are important in contaminant transport, remediation, and geologic deposition of uranium. Recent work has shown that U can become incorporated into iron (hydr)oxide minerals, with a key pathway arising from Fe(II)-induced transformation of ferrihydrite, (Fe(OH)3•nH2O) to goethite (α-FeO(OH)); this is a possible U retention mechanism in soils and sediments. Several key questions, however, remain unanswered regarding U incorporation into iron (hydr)oxides and this pathway’s contribution to U retention, including: (i) the competitiveness of U incorporation versus reduction to U(IV) and subsequent precipitation of UO2; (ii) the oxidation state of incorporated U; (iii) the effects of uranyl aqueous speciation on U incorporation; and, (iv) the mechanism of U incorporation. Here we use a series of batch reactions conducted at pH ~7, [U(VI)] from 1 to 170 μM, [Fe(II)] from 0 to 3 mM, and [Ca] at 0 or 4 mM) coupled with spectroscopic examination of reaction products of Fe(II)-induced ferrihydrite transformation to address these outstanding questions. Uranium retention pathways were identified and quantified using extended x-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) spectroscopy, x-ray powder diffraction, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and transmission electron microscopy. Analysis of EXAFS spectra showed that 14 tomore » 89% of total U was incorporated into goethite, upon reaction with Fe(II) and ferrihydrite. Uranium incorporation was a particularly dominant retention pathway at U concentrations ≤ 50 μM when either uranyl-carbonato or calcium-uranyl-carbonato complexes were dominant, accounting for 64 to 89% of total U. With increasing U(VI) and Fe(II) concentrations, U(VI) reduction to U(IV) became more prevalent, but U incorporation remained a functioning retention pathway. These findings highlight the potential importance of U(V) incorporation within iron oxides as a retention process of U across a wide range of biogeochemical environments and the sensitivity of uranium retention processes to operative (bio)geochemical conditions.« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
39953; KC0302060
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 142:166-185
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US), Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
uranium, reduction, goethite, Fe(II); Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory