The uranium(VI) silicate phases uranophane, Ca[(UO2)(SiO 3OH)]2·5H2O, and sodium boltwoodite, Na[(UO2)(SiO3OH)]-1.5H2O, were synthesized in the presence of small, variable quantities (0.5-2.0 mol % relative to U) of pentavalent neptunium (Np(V), as NpO2+), to investigate the nature of its association with these U(VI) solid phases. Solids were characterized by X-ray powder diffraction (XRD), gamma spectrometry (GS), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) with electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS). Neptunium concentration was determined in the bulk solid phases by GS and was found to range from 780-15800μg/g. In some cases, Np distributions between the aqueous and solid phases were monitored, and 78%-97% of the initial Np was associated with the isolated solid. Characterization of individual crystallites by TEM/EELS suggests the Np is associated with the U(VI) phase. No discrete Np phases, such as Np oxides, were observed. Because the U(VI) silicates are believed to be important solubility-controlling solids on a geologic timescale, these results suggest that the partitioning of the minor actinides to these solids must be considered when assessing the performance of a waste repository for spent nuclear fuel.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry