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J Hazard Mater. 2007 Aug 25;147(3):726-31. Epub 2007 Jan 21.

Interaction of uranium with in situ anoxically generated magnetite on steel.

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Departament d'Enginyeria Química, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Av. Diagonal 647, 08028 Barcelona, Spain.


In the high level nuclear waste repository concept, spent nuclear fuel is designed to be encapsulated in steel canisters. Thus, it is necessary to study the influence of the steel and/or its corrosion products on the behaviour of the radionuclides released from the fuel. In this sense, the main objective of this work is to contribute to the knowledge of the influence of the steel and/or its corrosion products on the uranium(VI) retention. To this aim, magnetite (Fe(3)O(4)) has been generated by anaerobic steel corrosion in an autoclave reactor at an overpressure of 8atm of H(2)(g). After characterisation by X-ray diffraction (XRD), the obtained corroded steel coupons were contacted, at two different H(2)(g) pressures (1atm and 7.6atm), with a U(VI) solution. The evolution of the uranium concentration in solution is determined and a study of the composition of the coupons at the end of the experiments is carried out. The main conclusion obtained from this work is that magnetite generated on a steel coupon is able not only to retain uranium via sorption, but also to reduce hexavalent to tetravalent uranium in a higher extent than commercial magnetite, thus, providing an effective retardation path to the migration of uranium (and, potentially, other actinides) out of the repository.

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