U.S. Department of Energy


Date of this Version



Environ. Sci. Technol. 2009, 43, 2341–2347


The extractability of uranium (U) from synthetic uranium-hydrous ferric oxide (HFO) coprecipitates has been shown to decrease as a function of mineral ripening, consistent with the hypothesis that the ripening process will decrease uranium lability. To evaluate this process, three HFO suspensions were coprecipitated with uranyl (UO22+) and maintained at pH 7.0 ± 0.1. Uranyl was added to the HFO post-precipitation in a fourth suspension. Two suspensions also contained either coprecipitated silicate(Si-U-HFO) or phosphate (P-U-HFO).After precipitation of the HFOs, at time intervals of 1 week, 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years, aliquots of each suspension were contacted with five extractant solutions for a range of time. Uranium was preferentially extracted over Fe in varying degrees from all coprecipitates, by all extractants. The preference was dependent on the duration of mineral ripening and adjunct anion. Micro-X-ray diffraction analysis provides evidence for the transformation from amorphous material to phases containing substantial proportions of crystalline goethite and hematite, except the P-U-HFO, which remained primarily amorphous. Analysis of the U-HFO coprecipitate by the Mössbauer technique and scanning electron microscopy provides confirmation of an increase in particle size and evidence of mineral ripening to crystalline phases.