Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University

Advisor

Gabitov, Rinat I.

Committee Member

Kirkland, Brenda L.

Committee Member

Paul, Varun G.

Committee Member

Dash, Padmanava

Date of Degree

8-9-2022

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only

Major

Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Geosciences

Abstract

This dissertation is comprised of three independent but interconnected studies with the scope of further understanding uranium and iodine partitioning between apatite and fluid. The studies herein presented investigated: 1) brushite to apatite crystallization method; 2) the degree of uranium incorporation into apatite; 3) the degree of iodine incorporation into apatite. The importance of this work is assessing the role of apatite in immobilizing these elements, where uranium is a major component of spent nuclear fuel and iodine is a chemical analog of its radioactive isotope (129I). Once we understand the incorporation mechanisms, we will provide data that can be used in development of engineering barrier systems via add-on of phosphate minerals.

In the first chapter we evaluate a method for the crystallization of apatite (Ca10(PO4)6(OH, F, Cl)2) using brushite (CaHPO4·2H2O) as initial material. The solutions evaluated for this transformation were NaCl, NaF, and KOH. Result yielded 100% apatite transformation from brushite when pH is 3.5 or greater. At a pH lower than 3.5, transformation yields monetite-apatite mixtures. Crystal size is reduced during the transformation from ~10 micrometer to ~1 micrometer.

In the second chapter, degree of uranium uptake by apatite was evaluated. Phosphate minerals were crystallized from U-bearing NaCl solutions at 25-350°C. After experimental runs uranium concentrations in experimental solids and fluids were analyzed using Inductively Coupled Plasma – Mass Spectrometry. Additionally, characterization of the solids was performed via X-Ray Diffraction, Scanning Electron Microscopy and Electron Microprobe to confirm the brushite to apatite conversion. Results show that >90% of uranium was extracted from solution. Moreover, that the partitioning of uranium between apatite and fluid decreases with increasing temperature.

In the third chapter apatite was crystallized from iodine-bearing solutions. The crystallization was evaluated at 39 and 200°C. Iodine concentration in solids were acquired via Electron Microprobe Analysis (EMPA) whereas iodine concentration in fluids were acquired via UV-Visible Spectrophotometry. Iodine concentrations in fluids yielded minimum depletion (0.1M) from initial iodine added to the system (0.1M). Partitioning data suggest that iodate (the oxidized form of iodine) is more compatible with apatite compared to iodide (the reduced state of iodine).

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