U.S. Department of Energy


Date of this Version



Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Vol. 69, No. 20, pp. 4787–4800, 2005; doi:10.1016/j.gca.2005.06.007


The effect of caustic NaNO3 solutions on the sorption of 137Cs to a Hanford site micaceous subsurface sediment was investigated as a function of base exposure time (up to 168 d), temperature (10°C or 50°C), and NaOH concentration (0.1 mol/L to 3 mol/L). At 10°C and 0.1 M NaOH, the slow evolution of [Al]aq was in stark contrast to the rapid increase and subsequent loss of [Al]aq observed at 50°C (regardless of base concentration). Exposure to 0.1 M NaOH at 10°C for up to 168 d exhibited little if any measurable effect on sediment mineralogy, Cs+ sorption, or Cs+ selectivity; sorption was well described with a two-site ion exchange model modified to include enthalpy effects. At 50°C, dissolution of phyllosilicate minerals increased with [OH]. A zeolite (tetranatrolite; Na2Al2Si3O10·2H2O) precipitated in 0.1 M NaOH after about 7 days, while an unnamed mineral phase (Na14Al12Si13O51·6H2O) precipitated after 4 and 2 days of exposure to 1 M and 3 M NaOH solutions, respectively. Short-term (16 h) Cs+ sorption isotherms (10−9–10−2 mol/L) were measured on sediment after exposure to 0.1 M NaOH for 56, 112, and 168 days at 50°C. There was a trend toward slightly lower conditional equilibrium exchange constants (∆log NaCsKc ~ 0.25) over the entire range of surface coverage, and a slight loss of high affinity sites (15%) after 168 days of pretreatment with 0.1 M base solution. Cs+ sorption to sediment over longer times was also measured at 50°C in the presence of NaOH (0.1 M, 1 M, and 3MNaOH) at Cs+ concentrations selected to probe a range of adsorption densities. Model simulations of Cs+ sorption to the sediment in the presence of 0.1 M NaOH for 112 days slightly under-predicted sorption at the lower Cs+ adsorption densities. At the higher adsorption densities, model simulations under-predicted sorption by 57%. This under-prediction was surmised to be the result of tetranatrolite precipitation, and subsequent slow Na → Cs exchange. At higher OH concentrations, Cs+ sorption in the presence of base for 112 days was unexpectedly equal to, or greater than that expected for pristine sediment. The precipitation of secondary phases, coupled with the fairly unique mica distribution and quantity across all size-fractions in the Hanford sediment, appears to mitigate the impact of base dissolution on Cs+ sorption.