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Mineral Surface Processes Responsible for the Decreased Retardation (or Enhanced Mobilization) of 137 Cs from HWL Tank Discharges

Description: Experimental research will determine how the sorption chemistry of Cs on Hanford vadose zone sediments changes after contact with solutions characteristic of high-level tank wastes (HLW). Our central hypothesis is that the high ionic-strength of tank wastes (i.e., > 5 mol/L NaNO3) will suppress all surface-exchange reactions of Cs, except those to the highly selective frayed edge sites (FES) of the micaceous fraction. We further speculate that the concentrations, ion selectivity, and structural aspects of the FES will change after contact with the harsh chemical conditions of HLW and these changes will be manifest in the macroscopic sorption behavior of Cs. We believe that migration predictions of Cs can be improved substantially if such changes are understood and quantified. The research will integrate studies of ion-exchange thermodynamics on the FES, with high resolution surface microscopies and spectroscopy to probe the structure of FES in Hanford sediments and to describe how the chemical environment of sorbed Cs changes when HLW supernatants promote silica dissolution and aluminum precipitation. Newly available atomic-force microscopies and high-resolution electron-beam microscopies afford previously unavailable opportunities to visualize and characterize FES. Our overall goal is to provide knowledge that will improve transport calculations of Cs in the tank-farm environment. Specifically, the research will: Identify how the macroscopic sorption behavior of Cs on the micaceous fraction of the Hanford sediments changes after contact with simulants of HLW tank supernatants over a range of relevant chemical ([OH], [Na], [Al], [K, NH4]) and temperature conditions (23-80 C). Reconcile observed changes in sorption chemistry with microscopic and molecular changes in adsorption-site distribution, chemistry, mineralogy, and morphology/structure of the micaceous sorbent fraction. Integrate mass-action-solution-exchange measurements with changes in the structure/site distribution of the micaceous-sorbent fraction to yield a multi-component/site-exchange model relevant to high ionic strength and hydroxide concentrations for prediction of environmental Cs ...
Date: June 1, 1999
Creator: Zachara, John M.; Bertsch, Paul M. & Serne, Jeffrey R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department