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Sodium meta-autunite colloids: Synthesis, characterization, stability

  • Author(s): Zheng, Zuoping
  • Wan, Jiamin
  • Tokunaga, Tetsu K.
  • et al.
Abstract

Waste forms of U such as those in the United States Department of Energy's Hanford Site often contain high concentrations of Na and P. Low solubility sodium uranyl phosphates such as sodium meta-autunite have the potential to form mobile colloids that can facilitate transport of this radionuclide. In order to understand the geochemical behavior of uranyl phosphate colloids, we synthesized sodium meta-autunite colloids, and characterized their morphology, chemical composition, structure, dehydration, and surface charge. The stability of these synthetic plate-shaped colloids was tested with respect to time and pH. The highest aggregation rate was observed at pH 3, and the rate decreases as pH increases, indicating that higher stability of colloid dispersion under neutral and alkaline pH conditions. The synthetic colloids are all negatively charged and no isoelectric points were found over a pH range of 3 to 9. The zeta-potentials of the colloids in the phosphate solution show a strong pH-dependence in the more acidic range over time, but are relatively constant in the neutral and alkaline pH range. The geochemical behavior of the synthetic colloids can be interpreted using DLVO theory. The results suggest that formation of mobile sodium meta-autunite colloids can enhance the transport of U in some contaminated sediments.

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