Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS)


Brian A. Powell

Document Type



Environmental Health Physics

Publication Date

Spring 2013


Designing safe remediation and disposal strategies for plutonium (Pu) requires understanding the sorption affinity of Pu for soil minerals. Sorption of Pu(IV) was examined with respect to aging for a goethite system using batch sorption experiments. Sorption of Pu(IV) to iron oxides has been observed to be strong, rapid, and possibly irreversible or hysteretic. These observations may be explained by aging, a surface chemical process happening after initial sorption which causes a change in contaminant surface speciation over time. Measurements of Pu(IV) sorption are often complicated by oxidative leaching of Pu(IV) as Pu(V). Desferrioxamine B (DFOB) is a complexant capable of competing with the proposed strong surface complexes. Additionally, DFOB minimizes oxidative leaching by forming strong Pu(IV)-DFOB complexes, thereby stabilizing Pu(IV) as the dominant aqueous oxidation state. Pu(IV) was reacted in suspensions of 0.1g/L goethite and 10mM NaCl spanning pH 4–7 for various lengths of time (1,6,15,34 and 116 days). Supernatant was replaced with a 1.7µM DFOB solution and, after 34 more days, analyzed for aqueous Pu by liquid scintillation counting. Modeling sorption curves in FITEQL yielded logK values which increased from 0.078 to 0.953 over 116 days, indicating Pu(IV) sorption onto goethite becomes less reversible with aging.