Uranium adsorption on ferrihydrite was studied as a function of pH in systems equilibrated with air, in the presence and absence of added phosphate and humic acid (HA). The objective was to determine the influence of PO43- and HA on uranium uptake. Below pH 7, the sorption of UO22+ typically increases with increasing pH (the 'low pH sorption edge'), with a sharp decrease in sorption above this pH value (the 'high pH edge'). The presence of ??PO43- of 10-4 mol/L moved the low pH edge to the left by approximately 0.8 pH units. The PO43- was strongly bound by the ferrihydrite surface, and the increased uptake of U was attributed to the formation of ternary surface complexes involving both UO22+ and PO43-. The addition of HA (9 mg/L) increased U uptake at pH values below 7, with little effect at higher pH values. The positions of the pH edges were also affected by the ionic strength and total U content. These experiments show that sorption interactions involving PO43 and HA must be considered in order to model the behavior of U in natural systems, in which these components are often present.
Additional publication details
Uranium Adsorption on Ferrihydrite - Effects of Phosphate and Humic Acid