Transport of uranium(VI) in red soil in South China: influence of initial pH and carbonate concentration
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Uranium-contaminated wastewater associated with uranium (U) mining and processing inevitably releases into soil environment. In order to assess the risk of U wastewater contamination to groundwater through percolation, U adsorption and transport behavior in a typical red soil in South China was investigated through batch adsorption and column experiments, and initial pH and carbonate concentration were considered of the high-sulfate background electrolyte solution. Results demonstrated that U adsorption isotherms followed the Freundlich model. The adsorption of U to red soil significantly decreased with the decrease of the initial pH from 7 to 3 in the absence of carbonate, protonation-deprotonation reactions controlled the adsorption capacity, and lnCs had a linear relationship with the equilibrium pH (pHeq). In the presence of carbonate, the adsorption was much greater than that in the absence of carbonate owing to the pHeq values buffered by carbonate, but the adsorption decreased with the increase of the carbonate concentration from 3.5 to 6.5 mM. Additionally, the breakthrough curves (BTCs) obtained by column experiments showed that large numbers of H+ and CO32− competed with the U species for adsorption sites, which resulted in BTC overshoot (C/C0 > 1). Numerical simulation results indicated that the BTCs at initial pH 4 and 5 could be well simulated by two-site chemical non-equilibrium model (CNEM), whereas the BTCs of varying initial carbonate concentrations were suitable for one-site CNEM. The fractions of equilibrium adsorption sites (f) seemed to correlate with the fractions of positively charged complexes of U species in solution. The values of partition coefficients (kd′) were lower than those measured in batch adsorption experiments, but they had the same variation trend. The values of first-order rate coefficient (ω) for all BTCs were low, representing a relatively slow equilibrium between U in the liquid and solid phases. In conclusion, the mobility of U in the red soil increased with the decrease of the initial pH and with the increase of the initial carbonate concentrations.
KeywordsUranium migration Competitive adsorption Hydrus-1D Column experiment Overshoot
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (U1401231 and 11775106), the Scientific Research Foundation of Science and Technology Department of Hunan Province (2016SK2041), the Education Department of Hunan Province (14B150), and the Hunan Provincial Innovation Foundation for Postgraduate (CX2017B505).
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.
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