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Title: Uranium solubility, speciation and complexation at high pH
Author: Sutton, Mark
ISNI:       0000 0001 3492 2335
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 1999
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Low level nuclear waste arising from UK nuclear sites, research establishments, hospitals and industry is currently disposed of at the Drigg Disposal Facility in Cumbria. Waste is packed into steel canisters before being compacted and grouted into larger steel storage containers. The aqueous chemistry of wastes, especially radionuclides, in the presence of grout material is of major interest. The gout used at the Drigg site is a mixture of Ordinary Portland Cement and Pulverised Fly Ash additive, from which ingressing water will leach high levels of calcium, sodium and potassium and produce waters of a high pH. Aerobic environments are expected to dominate over the early period of the vault life, after which the combined effect of canister corrosion and microbial activity will lead to anaerobic conditions. After a much longer period (100,000 years) anaerobic conditions may cease and yield once again an aerobic environment where migration of radionuclides may be sorption-controlled rather than on hydroxide precipitation at high pH. Work has been performed under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions to study uranium solubility in the presence of complexing ligands that may be present in the waters of the nearfield of a low-level waste disposal vault. Eleven ligands have been investigated: carbonate, phosphate, chloride, sulphate, acetate, citrate, EDTA, NTA and organic matter- humic acid, fulvic acid and iso-sacchannic acid. Anaerobic conditions were achieved by two different procedures; the first used ferrous ions in hydroxide solution and the second used dithionite in hydroxide solution. Both methods produce reducing electrode potentials and high pH. Computer software has been used to model experimental results, thereby predicting uranium solubilities and speciation, and to propose new formation constants to fit the experimental results more closely. Studies have also been perforined to measure uranium sorption by grout material at high pH in the presence of the above ligands. This work makes a significant contribution to the understanding of uranium solubility and speciation in waters. at high pH and under conditions relevant to low level nuclear waste disposal.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Uranium compounds ; Uranium solubility ; PH value ; Solubility ; Portland cement ; Fly ash ; Aqueous solution ; Grouting