Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Berrin Tansel

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Shonali Laha

Third Advisor's Name

Yelena Katsenovich

Fourth Advisor's Name

Kris Jayachandran

Fifth Advisor's Name

Leonel Lagos


Uranium, Autunite, Dissolution, Bicarbonate, pH, Temperature, Activation Energy, Enthalpy

Date of Defense



Release of uranium from Na-autunite, an artificial mineral created as a result of polyphosphate injection in the subsurface at the DOE Hanford Site, takes place during slow dissolution of the mineral structure. Stability information of the uranyl-phosphate phases is limited to conditions involving pH, temperature, and a few aqueous organic materials. The carbonate ion, which creates very strong complexes with uranium, is the predominant ion in the groundwater composition.

The polyphosphate technology with the formation of autunite was identified as the most feasible remediation strategy to sequester uranium in contaminated groundwater and soil in situ. The objectives of the experimental work were (i) to quantify the effect of bicarbonate on the stability of synthetic sodium meta-autunite created as a result of uranium stabilization through polyphosphate injection, (ii) calculate the kinetic rate law parameters of the uranium release from Na-autunite during dissolution, and (iii) to compare the process parameters with those obtained for natural calcium meta-autunite.

Experiments were conducted using SPTF apparatus, which consists of syringe pumps for controlling flow rate, Teflon reactors and a heating/cooling system. 0.25 grams of synthetic Na-autunite was placed in the reactor and buffer solutions with varying bicarbonate concentrations (0.0005 to 0.003 M) at different pH (6 - 11) were pumped through the reactors. Experiments were conducted at four different temperatures in the range of 5 - 60oC.

It was concluded that the rate of release of uranium from synthetic Na-autunite is directly correlated to the bicarbonate concentration. The rate of release of uranium increased from 1.90 x 10-12 at pH 6 to 2.64 x 10-10 (mol m-2 s-1) at pH 11 at 23oC over the bicarbonate concentration range tested. The activation energy values were invariant with the change in the bicarbonate concentration; however, pH is shown to influence the activation energy values. Uranyl hydroxides and uranyl carbonates complexes helped accelerate the dissolution of autunite mineral.



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