Uranium Reduction by Fe(II) in the Presence of Montmorillonite and Nontronite

Sergey Tsarev, T. David Waite, Richard N. Collins

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39 Citations (Scopus)


Uranium(VI) interactions with three smectites (one montmorillonite and two nontronites - NAu1 and NAu2) were examined with 0, 1, and 2 mM aqueous concentrations of Fe(II) over the pH range of 3-9.5 in a background electrolyte of 100 mM NaCl and 1 mM CaCl2 in equilibration with 400 ppmv CO2(g) ([U(VI)] = 4 μM and 0.5 g smectite/L). In the absence of Fe(II), no differences were observed in the U(VI) sorption curves for the three clay minerals. In the presence of 1 or 2 mM Fe(II), under anoxic conditions, U(VI) uptake by the smectites changed slightly between ∼pH 3 and 6; however, uranium uptake increased significantly above ∼pH 6 and was proportional to the concentration of Fe(II) added to the system, particularly at pH values >8. The uptake of Fe(II) showed a sharp edge starting from ∼pH 6.5 with 95%-100% uptake occurring at pH values >7.5, with no difference observed between the iron-rich nontronites and montmorillonite. After 3 days of reaction at pH 7.6 (i.e., above the Fe(II) "sorption" edge), U(VI) was transformed to a mixture of U(IV) and U(VI) sorption complexes, and after 14 days of reaction, 100% of the U was found to be reduced to U(IV) in the form of nanocrystalline uraninite. In contrast, U remained as sorbed species until 14 days of reaction at pH 6.5. Ferrihydrite (NAu1), lepidocrocite, and magnetite (NAu2) were detected as secondary mineralization products upon reaction of the nontronites with Fe(II) but appeared to have no effect on the partitioning or speciation of uranium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8223-8230
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


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