Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 11

Uranium Related Abstracts

11 Study of Radiological and Chemical Effects of Uranium in Ground Water of SW and NE Punjab, India

Authors: S. K. Sahoo, B. S. Bajwa, Komal Saini


The Laser Fluorimetery Technique has been used for the microanalysis of uranium content in water samples collected from different sources like the hand pumps, tube wells in the drinking water samples of SW & NE Punjab, India. The geographic location of the study region in NE Punjab is between latitude 31.21º- 32.05º N and longitude 75.60º-76.14º E and for SW Punjab is between latitude 29.66º-30.48º N and longitude 74.69º-75.54º E. The purpose of this study was mainly to investigate the uranium concentration levels of ground water being used for drinking purposes and to determine its health effects, if any, to the local population of these regions. In the present study 131 samples of drinking water collected from different villages of SW and 95 samples from NE, Punjab state, India have been analyzed for chemical and radiological toxicity. In the present investigation, uranium content in water samples of SW Punjab ranges from 0.13 to 908 μgL−1 with an average of 82.1 μgL−1 whereas in samples collected from NE- Punjab, it ranges from 0 to 28.2 μgL−1 with an average of 4.84 μgL−1. Thus, revealing that in the SW- Punjab 54 % of drinking water samples have uranium concentration higher than international recommended limit of 30 µgl-1 (WHO, 2011) while 35 % of samples exceeds the threshold of 60 µgl-1 recommended by our national regulatory authority of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), Department of Atomic Energy, India, 2004. On the other hand in the NE-Punjab region, none of the observed water sample has uranium content above the national/international recommendations. The observed radiological risk in terms of excess cancer risk ranges from 3.64x10-7 to 2.54x10-3 for SW-Punjab, whereas for NE region it ranges from 0 to 7.89x10-5. The chemical toxic effect in terms of Life-time average Daily Dose (LDD) and Hazard Quotient (HQ) have also been calculated. The LDD for SW-Punjab varies from 0.0098 to 68.46 with an average of 6.18 µg/ kg/day whereas for NE region it varies from 0 to 2.13 with average 0.365 µg/ kg/day, thus indicating presence of chemical toxicity in SW Punjab as 35% of the observed samples in the SW Punjab are above the recommendation limit of 4.53 µg/ kg/day given by AERB for 60 µgl-1 of uranium. Maximum & Minimum values for hazard quotient for SW Punjab is 0.002 & 15.11 with average 1.36 which is considerably high as compared to safe limit i.e. 1. But for NE Punjab HQ varies from 0 to 0.47. The possible sources of high uranium observed in the SW- Punjab will also be discussed.

Keywords: Groundwater, India, Uranium, radiological and chemical toxicity, Punjab

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10 FTIR Characterization of EPS Ligands from Mercury Resistant Bacterial Isolate, Paenibacillus jamilae PKR1

Authors: Debajit Kalita, Macmillan Nongkhlaw, S. R. Joshi


Mercury (Hg) is a highly toxic heavy metal released both from naturally occurring volcanoes and anthropogenic activities like alkali and mining industries as well as biomedical wastes. Exposure to mercury is known to affect the nervous, gastrointestinal and renal systems. In the present study, a bacterial isolate identified using 16S rRNA marker as Paenibacillus jamilae PKR1 isolated from India’s largest sandstone-type uranium deposits, containing an average of 0.1% U3O8, was found to be resistance to Hg contamination under culture conditions. It showed strong hydrophobicity as revealed by SAT, MATH, PAT, SAA adherence assays. The Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectra showed the presence of hydroxyl, amino and carboxylic functional groups on the cell surface EPS which are known to contribute in the binding of metals. It is proposed that the characterized isolate tolerating up to 4.0mM of mercury provides scope for its application in bioremediation of mercury from contaminated sites.

Keywords: Mercury, Uranium, FTIR, hydrophobicity, Domiasiat, paenibacillus jamilae

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9 The Solvent Extraction of Uranium, Plutonium and Thorium from Aqueous Solution by 1-Hydroxyhexadecylidene-1,1-Diphosphonic Acid

Authors: A. Elias, M. A. Didi, M. Bouhoun Ali, A. Y. Badjah Hadj Ahmed, M. Attou


In this paper, the solvent extraction of uranium(VI), plutonium(IV) and thorium(IV) from aqueous solutions using 1-hydroxyhexadecylidene-1,1-diphosphonic acid (HHDPA) in treated kerosene has been investigated. The HHDPA was previously synthesized and characterized by FT-IR, 1H NMR, 31P NMR spectroscopy and elemental analysis. The effects contact time, initial pH, initial metal concentration, aqueous/organic phase ratio, extractant concentration and temperature on the extraction process have been studied. An empirical modelling was performed by using a 25 full factorial design, and regression equation for extraction metals was determined from the data. The conventional log-log analysis of the extraction data reveals that ratios of extractant to extracted U(VI), Pu(IV) and Th(IV) are 1:1, 1:2 and 1:2, respectively. Thermodynamic parameters showed that the extraction process was exothermic heat and spontaneous. The obtained optimal parameters were applied to real effluents containing uranium(VI), plutonium(IV) and thorium(IV) ions.

Keywords: Uranium, aqueous solution, solvent extraction, thorium, plutonium

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8 Uranium and Thorium Measurements in the Water along Oum Er-Rabia River (Morocco)

Authors: L. Oufni, M. Amrane


In this work, different river water samples have been collected and analyzed from different locations along Oum Er-Rabia River in Morocco. The uranium (238U) and thorium (232Th) concentrations were investigated in the studied river and dam water samples using Solid State Nuclear Track Detector (SSNTD). Mean activity concentrations of uranium and thorium in water were found to be between 12 – 37 Bq m^-3 and 2-10 Bq m^-3, respectively. The pH measured at all river water samples was slightly alkaline and ranged from 7.5 to 8.75. The electrical conductivity ranged from 2790 to 794 µS cm^-1. It was found that uranium and thorium concentrations were correlated with some chemical parameters in Oum Er-Rabia River water. The uranium concentrations found in river water are insignificant from the radiological point of view. The recommended value for uranium in drinking water based on its toxicity given by the Federal Environment Agency. This corresponds to an activity concentration of 238U of 123.5 mBq L^-1. In none of the samples, the uranium activity exceeds this value.

Keywords: Water, Uranium, Conductivity, thorium, SSNTD

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7 Electrokinetic Remediation of Uranium Contaminated Soil by Ion Exchange Membranes

Authors: Z. H. Shi, T. J. Dou, H. Zhang, H. X. Huang, N. Zeng


The contamination of significant quantities of soils and sediments with uranium and other actinide elements as a result of nuclear activity poses many environmental risks. The electrokinetic process is one of the most promising remediation techniques for sludge, sediment, and saturated or unsaturated soils contaminated with heavy metals and radionuclides. However, secondary waste is a major concern for soil contaminated with nuclides. To minimize the generation of secondary wastes, this study used the anion and cation exchange membranes to improve the performance of the experimental apparatus. Remediation experiments of uranium-contaminated soil were performed with different agents. The results show that using acetic acid and EDTA as chelating agents clearly enhances the migration ability of the uranium. The ion exchange membranes (IEMs) used in the experiments not only reduce secondary wastes, but also, keep the soil pH stable.

Keywords: Soil, Uranium, electrokinetic remediation, ion exchange membranes

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6 Effect of Organics on Radionuclide Partitioning in Nuclear Fuel Storage Ponds

Authors: Hollie Ashworth, Sarah Heath, Nick Bryan, Liam Abrahamsen, Simon Kellet


Sellafield has a number of fuel storage ponds, some of which have been open to the air for a number of decades. This has caused corrosion of the fuel resulting in a release of some activity into solution, reduced water clarity, and accumulation of sludge at the bottom of the pond consisting of brucite (Mg(OH)2) and other uranium corrosion products. Both of these phases are also present as colloidal material. 90Sr and 137Cs are known to constitute a small volume of the radionuclides present in the pond, but a large fraction of the activity, thus they are most at risk of challenging effluent discharge limits. Organic molecules are known to be present also, due to the ponds being open to the air, with occasional algal blooms restricting visibility further. The contents of the pond need to be retrieved and safely stored, but dealing with such a complex, undefined inventory poses a unique challenge. This work aims to determine and understand the sorption-desorption interactions of 90Sr and 137Cs to brucite and uranium phases, with and without the presence of organic molecules from chemical degradation and bio-organisms. The influence of organics on these interactions has not been widely studied. Partitioning of these radionuclides and organic molecules has been determined through LSC, ICP-AES/MS, and UV-vis spectrophotometry coupled with ultrafiltration in both binary and ternary systems. Further detailed analysis into the surface and bonding environment of these components is being investigated through XAS techniques and PHREEQC modelling. Experiments were conducted in CO2-free or N2 atmosphere across a high pH range in order to best simulate conditions in the pond. Humic acid used in brucite systems demonstrated strong competition against 90Sr for the brucite surface regardless of the order of addition of components. Variance of pH did have a small effect, however this range (10.5-11.5) is close to the pHpzc of brucite, causing the surface to buffer the solution pH towards that value over the course of the experiment. Sorption of 90Sr to UO2 obeyed Ho’s rate equation and demonstrated a slow second-order reaction with respect to the sharing of valence electrons from the strontium atom, with the initial rate clearly dependent on pH, with the equilibrium concentration calculated at close to 100% sorption. There was no influence of humic acid seen when introduced to these systems. Sorption of 137Cs to UO3 was significant, with more than 95% sorbed in just over 24 hours. Again, humic acid showed no influence when introduced into this system. Both brucite and uranium based systems will be studied with the incorporation of cyanobacterial cultures harvested at different stages of growth. Investigation of these systems provides insight into, and understanding of, the effect of organics on radionuclide partitioning to brucite and uranium phases at high pH. The majority of sorption-desorption work for radionuclides has been conducted at neutral to acidic pH values, and mostly without organics. These studies are particularly important for the characterisation of legacy wastes at Sellafield, with a view to their safe retrieval and storage.

Keywords: Organics, Uranium, strontium, caesium, legacy wastes, sorption-desorption

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5 Natural Radioactivity in Tunisian Bottled Mineral Waters

Authors: Salam Labidi, Sonia Machraoui, Souha Gharbi


Radium isotopes (226Ra, 228Ra) and uranium isotopes (234U, 238U) activity concentrations were determined in most popular Tunisian bottled mineral waters samples. Activity concentrations of uranium were studied by radiochemical separation procedures followed by alpha spectrometry and that of radium isotopes by gamma-ray spectrometry. The activity concentrations of 238U, 234U, 226Ra and 228Ra in water samples varied in range 3.3 - 22.5 mBq.L−1, 4.0 - 34.2 mBq L−1, 2.0 - 67.0 mBq L−1 and 2.0 - 30.2 mBq L−1, respectively. These values are comparable with those reported for many other countries in the world for different types of water. Based on the activity concentration results obtained in this study, the estimated annual ingestion dose rates for three different age groups (babies, children and adults) due to the ingestion of radium and uranium isotopes through drinking water are lower than the limit of intake prescribed by WHO. The annual doses exceed the recommended value of 0.1 mSv y-1 in one case for babies.

Keywords: Radiation Dose, Uranium, natural radioactivity, radium, mineral water

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4 Determination of Rare Earth Element Patterns in Uranium Matrix for Nuclear Forensics Application: Method Development for Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) Measurements

Authors: Bernadett Henn, Katalin Tálos, Éva Kováss Széles


During the last 50 years, the worldwide permeation of the nuclear techniques induces several new problems in the environmental and in the human life. Nowadays, due to the increasing of the risk of terrorism worldwide, the potential occurrence of terrorist attacks using also weapon of mass destruction containing radioactive or nuclear materials as e.g. dirty bombs, is a real threat. For instance, the uranium pellets are one of the potential nuclear materials which are suitable for making special weapons. The nuclear forensics mainly focuses on the determination of the origin of the confiscated or found nuclear and other radioactive materials, which could be used for making any radioactive dispersive device. One of the most important signatures in nuclear forensics to find the origin of the material is the determination of the rare earth element patterns (REE) in the seized or found radioactive or nuclear samples. The concentration and the normalized pattern of the REE can be used as an evidence of uranium origin. The REE are the fourteen Lanthanides in addition scandium and yttrium what are mostly found together and really low concentration in uranium pellets. The problems of the REE determination using ICP-MS technique are the uranium matrix (high concentration of uranium) and the interferences among Lanthanides. In this work, our aim was to develop an effective chemical sample preparation process using extraction chromatography for separation the uranium matrix and the rare earth elements from each other following some publications can be found in the literature and modified them. Secondly, our purpose was the optimization of the ICP-MS measuring process for REE concentration. During method development, in the first step, a REE model solution was used in two different types of extraction chromatographic resins (LN® and TRU®) and different acidic media for environmental testing the Lanthanides separation. Uranium matrix was added to the model solution and was proved in the same conditions. Methods were tested and validated using REE UOC (uranium ore concentrate) reference materials. Samples were analyzed by sector field mass spectrometer (ICP-SFMS).

Keywords: Nuclear Forensics, Uranium, extraction chromatography, rare earth elements

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3 On the Qarat Kibrit Salt Dome Faulting System South of Adam, Oman: In Search of Uranium Anomalies

Authors: Alaeddin Ebrahimi, Narasimman Sundararajan, Bernhard Pracejus


Development of salt domes, often a rising from depths of some 10 km or more, causes an intense faulting of the surrounding host rocks (salt tectonics). The fractured rocks then present ideal space for oil that can migrate and get trapped. If such moving of hydrocarbons passes uranium-carrying rock units (e.g., shales), uranium is collected and enriched by organic carbon compounds. Brines from the salt body are also ideal carriers for oxidized uranium species and will further dislocate uranium when in contact with uranium-enriched oils. Uranium then has the potential to mineralize in the vicinity of the dome (blue halite is evidence for radiation having affected salt deposits elsewhere in the world). Based on this knowledge, the Qarat Kibrit salt dome was investigated by a well-established geophysical method like very low frequency electromagnetic (VLF-EM) along five traverses approximately 250 m in length (10 m intervals) in order to identify subsurface fault systems. In-phase and quadrature components of the VLF-EM signal were recorded at two different transmitter frequencies (24.0 and 24.9 kHz). The images of Fraser filtered response of the in-phase components indicate a conductive zone (fault) in the southeast and southwest of the study area. The Karous-Hjelt current density pseudo section delineates subsurface faults at depths between 10 and 40 m. The stacked profiles of the Fraser filtered responses brought out two plausible trends/directions of faults. However, there seems to be no evidence for uranium enrichment has been recorded in this area.

Keywords: Uranium, fault, salt dome, in-phase component, quadrature component, Fraser filter, Karous-Hjelt current density

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2 Uranium Migration Process: A Multi-Technique Investigation Strategy for a Better Understanding of the Role of Colloids

Authors: Emmanuelle Maria, Pierre Crançon, Gaëtane Lespes


The knowledge of uranium migration processes within underground environments is a major issue in the environmental risk assessment associated with nuclear activities. This process is identified as strongly controlled by adsorption mechanisms, thus leading to strongly delayed migration paths. Colloidal ligands are likely to significantly increase the mobility of uranium in natural environments. The ability of colloids to mobilize and transport uranium depends on their origin, their nature, their structure, their stability and their reactivity with uranium. Thus, the colloidal mobilization and transport properties are often described as site-specific. In this work, the colloidal phases of two leachates obtained from two different horizons of the same podzolic soil were characterized with a speciation approach. For this purpose, a multi-technique strategy was used, based on Field-Flow Fractionation coupled to Ultraviolet, Multi-Angle Light Scattering and Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (AF4-UV-MALS-ICPMS), Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), Electrospray Ionization Orbitrap Mass Spectrometry (ESI-Orbitrap), and Time-Resolved Laser Fluorescence Spectroscopy (TRLFS-EEM). Thus, elemental composition, size distribution, microscopic structure, colloidal stability and possible organic and/or inorganic content of colloids were determined, as well as their association with uranium. The leachates exhibit differences in their physical and chemical characteristics, mainly in the nature of organic matter constituents. The multi-technique investigation strategy used provides original data about colloidal phase structure and composition, offering a new vision of the way the uranium can be mobilized and transported in the considered soil. This information is a real significant contribution opening the way to our understanding and predicting of the colloidal transport.

Keywords: Migration, Colloids, Transport, Speciation, Uranium, multi-technique

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1 Development of Metal-Organic Frameworks-Type Hybrid Functionalized Materials for Selective Uranium Extraction

Authors: Damien Rinsant, Eugen Andreiadis, Michael Carboni, Daniel Meyer


Different types of materials have been developed for the solid/liquid uranium extraction processes, such as functionalized organic polymers, hybrid silica or inorganic adsorbents. In general, these materials exhibit a moderate affinity for uranyl ions and poor selectivity against impurities like iron, vanadium or molybdenum. Moreover, the structural organization deficiency of these materials generates ion diffusion issues inside the material. Therefore, the aim of our study is to developed efficient and organized materials, stable in the acid media encountered in uranium extraction processes. Metal organic frameworks (MOFs) are hybrid crystalline materials consisting of an inorganic part (cluster or metal ions) and tailored organic linkers connected via coordination bonds. These hierarchical materials have exceptional surface area, thermal stability and a large variety of tunable structures. However, due to the reversibility of constitutive coordination bonds, MOFs have moderate stability in strongly complexing or acidic media. Only few of them are known to be stable in aqueous media and only one example is described in strong acidic media. However, these conditions are very often encountered in the environmental pollution remediation of mine wastewaters. To tackle the challenge of developing MOFs adapted for uranium extraction from acid mine waters, we have investigated the stability of several materials. To ensure a good stability we have synthetized and characterized different materials based on highly coordinated metal clusters, such as LnOFs and Zirconium based materials. Among the latter, the UiO family shows a great stability in sulfuric acid media even in the presence of 1.4 M sodium sulfate at pH 2. However, the stability in phosphoric media is reduced due to the high affinity between zirconium and phosphate ligand. Based on these results, we have developed a tertiary amine functionalized MOF denoted UiO-68-NMe2 particularly adapted for the extraction of anionic uranyl (VI) sulfate complexes mainly present in the acid mine solutions. The adsorption capacity of the material has been determined upon varying total sulfate concentration, contact time and uranium concentration. The extraction tests put in evidence different phenomena due to the complexity of the extraction media and the interaction between the MOF and sulfate anion. Finally, the extraction mechanisms and the interaction between uranyl and the MOF structure have been investigated. The functionalized material UiO-68-NMe2 has been characterized in the presence and absence of uranium by FT-IR, UV and Raman techniques. Moreover, the stability of the protonated amino functionalized MOF has been evaluated. The synthesis, characterization and evaluation of this type of hybrid material, particularly adapted for uranium extraction in sulfuric acid media by an anionic exchange mechanism, paved the way for the development of metal organic frameworks functionalized by different other chelating motifs, such as bifunctional ligands showing an enhanced affinity and selectivity for uranium in acid and complexing media. Work in this direction is currently in progress.

Keywords: Extraction, Uranium, MOF, ligand

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