Neptunium(V) Sorption on Montmorillonite: An Experimental and Surface Complexation Modeling Study

David R. Turner1, Roberto T. Pabalan1 and F. Paul Bertetti2
1 Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analyses, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, Texas 78238-5166
2 Cambrian Systems, Inc., 6502 Bandera Road, San Antonio, Texas 78238

Abstract: Batch sorption experiments at fixed initial Np(V) concentration (∼1 × 10−6 M 237Np), M/V ratio (4 g L−1), and ionic strength (0.1 molal NaNO3) were conducted to determine the effects of varying pH and Pco2 on Np(V) sorption on SAz-1 montmorillonite. The results show that Np(V) sorption on montmorillonite is strongly influenced by pH and Pco2. In the absence of CO2, Np(V) sorption increases over the entire pH range examined (∼3 to ∼10), with measured sorption coefficients (KD) of about 10 mL g−1 at pH < 6 to KD ∼ 1000 mL g−1 at a pH of 10.5. However, for experiments open to atmospheric CO2 (Pco2 = 10−3.5 atm), Np(V) sorption peaks at KD ∼ 100 mL g−1 at pH of 8 to 8.5 and decreases at higher or lower pH. A comparison of the pH-dependence of Np(V) sorption with that of Np(V) aqueous speciation indicates a close correlation between Np(V) sorption and the stability field of the Np(V)-hydroxy complex NpO2OH0 (aq). In the presence of CO2 and aqueous carbonate, sorption is inhibited at pH > 8 due to formation of aqueous Np(V)-carbonate complexes. A relatively simple 2-site Diffuse-Layer Model (DLM) with a single Np(V) surface complexation reaction per site effectively simulates the complex sorption behavior observed in the Np(V)-H2O-CO2-montmorillonite system. The good agreement between measured and DLM-predicted sorption values suggests that surface complexation models based on parameters derived from a limited set of data could be useful in extrapolating radionuclide sorption over a range of geochemical conditions. Such an approach could be used to support transport modeling and could provide a better alternative to the current use of constant KD values in performance assessment transport calculations.

Key Words: Diffuse-Layer Model • Montmorillonite • Neptunium • Sorption • Surface Complexation

Clays and Clay Minerals; June 1998 v. 46; no. 3; p. 256-269; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1998.0460305
© 1998, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)