Mechanisms of uranium interactions with hydroxyapatite: Implications for groundwater remediation

Environmental Science & Technology
By: , and 



The speciation of U(VI) sorbed to synthetic hydroxyapatite was investigated using a combination of U LIII-edge XAS, synchrotron XRD, batch uptake measurements, and SEM-EDS. The mechanisms of U(VI) removal by apatite were determined in order to evaluate the feasibility of apatite-based in-situ permeable reactive barriers (PRBs). In batch U(VI) uptake experiments with synthetic hydroxyapatite (HA), near complete removal of dissolved uranium (>99.5%) to <0.05 μM was observed over a range of total U(VI) concentrations up to equimolar of the total P in the suspension. XRD and XAS analyses of U(VI)-reacted HA at sorbed concentrations ≤4700 ppm U(VI) suggested that uranium(VI) phosphate, hydroxide, and carbonate solids were not present at these concentrations. Fits to EXAFS spectra indicate the presence of Ca neighbors at 3.81 Å. U-Ca separation, suggesting that U(VI) adsorbs to the HA surfaces as an inner-sphere complex. Uranium(VI) phosphate solid phases were not detected in HA with 4700 ppm sorbed U(VI) by backscatter SEM or EDS, in agreement with the surface complexation process. In contrast, U(VI) speciation in samples that exceeded 7000 ppm sorbed U(VI) included a crystalline uranium(VI) phosphate solid phase, identified as chernikovite by XRD. At these higher concentrations, a secondary, uranium(VI) phosphate solid was detected by SEM-EDS, consistent with chernikovite precipitation. Autunite formation occurred at total U:P molar ratios ≥0.2. Our findings provide a basis for evaluating U(VI) sorption mechanisms by commercially available natural apatites for use in development of PRBs for groundwater U(VI) remediation.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Mechanisms of uranium interactions with hydroxyapatite: Implications for groundwater remediation
Series title Environmental Science & Technology
DOI 10.1021/es0108483
Volume 36
Issue 2
Year Published 2002
Language English
Publisher ACS
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 8 p.
First page 158
Last page 165
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