Uranium sequestration in sediment at an iron-rich contaminated site at Oak Ridge, Tennessee via. bioreduction followed by reoxidation

Peng-Song Li , Wei-Min Wu , Debra H. Phillips , David B. Watson , Shelly Kelly , Bing Li , Tonia Mehlhorn , Kenneth Lowe , Jennifer Earles , Hu-Chun Tao , Tong Zhang , Craig S. Criddle


Received April 07, 2019,Revised , Accepted May 30, 2019, Available online June 12, 2019

Volume 31,2019,Pages 156-167

This study evaluated uranium sequestration performance in iron-rich (30 g/kg) sediment via bioreduction followed by reoxidation. Field tests (1383 days) at Oak Ridge, Tennessee demonstrated that uranium contents in sediments increased after bioreduced sediments were re-exposed to nitrate and oxygen in contaminated groundwater. Bioreduction of contaminated sediments (1200 mg/kg U) with ethanol in microcosm reduced aqueous U from 0.37 to 0.023 mg/L. Aliquots of the bioreduced sediment were reoxidized with O2, H2O2, and NaNO3, respectively, over 285 days, resulting in aqueous U of 0.024, 1.58 and 14.4 mg/L at pH 6.30, 6.63 and 7.62, respectively. The source- and the three reoxidized sediments showed different desorption and adsorption behaviors of U, but all fit a Freundlich model. The adsorption capacities increased sharply at pH 4.5 to 5.5, plateaued at pH 5.5 to 7.0, then decreased sharply as pH increased from 7.0 to 8.0. The O2-reoxidized sediment retained a lower desorption efficiency at pH over 6.0. The NO3-reoxidized sediment exhibited higher adsorption capacity at pH 5.5 to 6.0. The pH-dependent adsorption onto Fe(III) oxides and formation of U coated particles and precipitates resulted in U sequestration, and bioreduction followed by reoxidation can enhance the U sequestration in sediment.

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