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Uranium Redox Transformations after U(VI) Coprecipitation with Magnetite Nanoparticles.

ABSTRACT

Uranium redox states and speciation in magnetite nanoparticles co-precipitated with U(VI) for uranium loadings varying from 1000 to 10000 ppm are investigated by X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). It is demonstrated that the U M4 high energy resolution X-ray absorption near edge structure (HR-XANES) method is capable to clearly characterize U(IV), U(V) and U(VI) existing simultaneously in the same sample. The contributions of the three different uranium redox states are quantified with the iterative transformation factor analysis (ITFA) method. U L3 XAS and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) reveal that initially sorbed U(VI) species recrystallize to non-stoichiometric UO2+x nanoparticles within 147 days when stored under anoxic conditions. These U(IV) species oxidize again when exposed to air. U M4 HR-XANES data demonstrate strong contribution of U(V) at day 10 and that U(V) remains stable over 142 days under ambient conditions as shown for magnetite nanoparticles containing 1000 ppm U. U L3 XAS indicates that this U(V) species is protected from oxidation likely incorporated into octahedral magnetite sites. XAS results are supported by density functional theory (DFT) calculations. Further characterization of the samples include powder X-ray diffraction (pXRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and Fe 2p X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS).