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Issue 12, 2018
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Retention of selenium by calcium aluminate hydrate (AFm) phases under strongly-reducing radioactive waste repository conditions

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Abstract

Safety assessment studies of future nuclear waste repositories carried out in many countries predict selenium-79 to be a critical radionuclide due to its presence as anion in three relevant oxidation states (VI, IV, -II) resulting in weak retardation by most common rock minerals. This assumption, however, ignores its potential uptake by AFm phases, positively charged anion exchangers, which are present in significant quantities in the cementitious materials used in artificial barriers. Here we report for the first time wet chemistry and spectroscopic data on the interaction of the most relevant selenium anion species under the expected strongly reducing conditions, i.e. HSe, with two AFm phases commonly found in cement, monocarbonate (AFm-MC) and hemicarbonate (AFm-HC). Batch sorption experiments showed that HSe is retained much more strongly by AFm-HC (solid–liquid distribution ratio, Rd, of 100 ± 50 L kg−1) than by AFm-MC (Rd = 4 ± 2 L kg−1) at the equilibrium pH (∼12). X-ray absorption fine-structure (XAFS) spectroscopy revealed that the larger d-spacing in AFm-HC (d-spacing = 8.2 Å) provides easy access for HSe to the AFm interlayer space for sorption, whereas the smaller d-spacing of AFm-MC (d-spacing = 7.55 Å) hinders interlayer access and limits HSe sorption mostly to the outer planar surfaces and edges of the latter AFm phase. XAFS spectra further demonstrated that Se(-II) prevalently sorbed in the interlayers of AFm-HC, is better protected from oxidation than Se(-II) prevalently sorbed onto the outer surfaces of AFm-MC. The quantitative sorption data along with the molecular-scale process understanding obtained from this study provide crucial insight into the Se retention by the cementitious near-field of a radioactive waste repository under reducing conditions.

Graphical abstract: Retention of selenium by calcium aluminate hydrate (AFm) phases under strongly-reducing radioactive waste repository conditions

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Publication details

The article was received on 21 Dec 2017, accepted on 19 Feb 2018 and first published on 19 Feb 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7DT04824F
Citation: Dalton Trans., 2018,47, 4209-4218
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    Retention of selenium by calcium aluminate hydrate (AFm) phases under strongly-reducing radioactive waste repository conditions

    H. Rojo, A. C. Scheinost, B. Lothenbach, A. Laube, E. Wieland and J. Tits, Dalton Trans., 2018, 47, 4209
    DOI: 10.1039/C7DT04824F

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