May 12, 2005
Journal Article

Kinetic Desorption and Sorption of U(VI) During Reactive Transport in a Contaminated Hanford Sediment


Column experiments were conducted to investigate U(VI) desorption and sorption kinetics in a sand-textured, contaminated (22.7 µmol kg-1) capillary fringe sediment that had experienced long-term exposure to U(VI). The clay fraction mineralogy of the sediment was dominated by montmorillonite, muscovite, vermiculite, and chlorite. Saturated column experiments were performed under mildly alkaline/calcareous conditions representative of the Hanford site where uranyl–carbonate and calcium–uranyl–carbonate complexes dominate aqueous speciation. A U(VI) free solution was used to study U(VI) desorption in columns where different flow rates were applied. Uranium(VI) sorption was studied after the desorption of labile contaminant U(VI) using different U(VI) concentrations in the leaching solution. Strong kinetic behavior was observed for both U(VI) desorption and sorption. Although U(VI) is semi–mobile in mildly alkaline, calcareous subsurface environments, our results showed substantial U(VI) sorption, significant retardation during transport, and atypical breakthrough curves with extended tailing. A distributed rate model was applied to describe the effluent data and to allow comparisons between the desorption rate of contaminant U(VI) with the rate of short-term U(VI) sorption. Desorption was the slower process. Our results suggest that U(VI) release and transport in the vadose zone and aquifer system from which the sediment was obtained are kinetically controlled.

Revised: May 18, 2011 | Published: May 12, 2005


Qafoku N., J.M. Zachara, C. Liu, P.L. Gassman, O. Qafoku, and S.C. Smith. 2005. Kinetic Desorption and Sorption of U(VI) During Reactive Transport in a Contaminated Hanford Sediment. Environmental Science & Technology 39, no. 9:3157-3165. PNNL-SA-42960. doi:10.1021/es048462q