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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Uranium(VI) Adsorption on Goethite and Soil in Carbonate Solutions


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 60 No. 5, p. 1393-1400
    Received: Mar 6, 1995

    * Corresponding author(s): martine@lanl.gov
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  1. M. C. Duff  and
  2. C. Amrhein
  1. Los Alamos National Lab., Chemical Science and Technology Division, P.O. Box 1663, MS J534, Los Alamos, NM 87545
    Dep. of Soil and Environmental Sciences, Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521



Elevated concentrations of U are found in agricultural drainage waters from the San Joaquin Valley, CA, which are often disposed of in evaporation basins that are frequented by waterfowl. To determine the factors that affect aqueous U concentrations in the basins, sorption experiments with U(VI) were performed at various CO2 partial pressures, dissolved Ca, Mg, and P concentrations, and carbonate alkalinities. Synthetic waters, comparable in inorganic constituents to irrigation and drainage waters, were prepared, spiked with 0.1 (soil) and 2 mg U(VI) L−1 (synthetic goethite), and analyzed for U, P (when applicable), and major ions. Total chemical analyses were input into the computer program FITEQL to determine U(VI) speciation and generate U(VI) adsorption constants with the diffuse layer model (also referred to as the two-layer model). Maximum adsorption occurred in solutions with low carbonate alkalinities (≤3 mmol L−1), ionic strengths (≤0.03 M), Ca concentrations (≤4 mmol L−1), and P concentrations (<0.005 mmol L−1 for soil). Lesser and negligible adsorption was attributed to the predicted formation of highly soluble, negatively charged U(VI) carbonates [UO2(CO3)2−2 and UO2(CO3)4−3] that did not strongly adsorb to soil surfaces. Calcium and, to some degree, Mg competition with positively charged U(VI) species for surface sites was observed at low carbonate alkalinities (<3 mmol L−1 for goethite; <14 mmol L−1 for soil). At high carbonate alkalinities, carbonates competed with anionic U(VI) species for adsorption sites. Study results suggest that elevated U concentrations in the drainage waters are due to the speciation of dissolved U(VI) into negatively charged carbonate complexes.

UC Salinity/Drainage Program, Project no. 92-11.

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