REDUCTIVE IMMOBILIZATION OF 99Tc(VII) BY DIFFERENT CRYSTALLINE PHASES OF IRON SULFIDE (FeS2)
D. M. Rodríguez1), N. Mayordomo1), V. Brendler1), K. Müller1), D. Schild2) T. Stumpf1)
1) Institute of Resource Ecology, Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden - Rossendorf, Bautzner Landstraße 400, 01328 Dresden, Germany
2) Institute for Nuclear Waste Disposal, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Platz 1, 76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany
99Tc is a fission product with a long half-life of 2.14 × 105 years. Its migration behaviour and bioavailability strongly depends on its speciation in aqueous solution and on its oxidation state. Under aerobic conditions, Tc mainly exists as pertechnetate, TcO4-, which is a highly water-soluble anion that does not significantly sorb on minerals or sediments, i.e. is considered inert and its groundwater migration is favoured. Under reducing conditions, Tc(VII) becomes Tc(IV), whose main species, TcO2, is a solid with a low solubility product and, thus, its mobility decreases.
As the presence of reductants like Fe2+ in the near-field of a nuclear waste repository is expected due to canister corrosion, several studies consider 99Tc reductive immobilization by mineral containing reductant moieties, such as magnetite (FeIIFe2IIIO4) or mackinawite (FeS) [1, 2], confirming the 99Tc(VII) reduction and subsequent 99Tc(IV) retention on the mineral surfaces.
Pyrite (cubic FeS2) is a redox sensitive sulfur mineral that has been identified as a good sorbent for Tc(VII) from soil and groundwater in both the absence  and presence  of humic substances. Under repository conditions, iron sulfide will be formed as both pyrite and marcasite (orthorhombic FeS2) as a result of corrosion processes and microbial action . Moreover, iron sulfides are also accessory minerals in granitic and argillaceous rocks. Therefore, reliable data on 99Tc(VII) retention by both minerals and their mixtures is relevant for the safe disposal of nuclear waste.
We have studied the reductive immobilization of 99Tc(VII) by a synthetic mixture 60:40 marcasite – pyrite, finding that it removes almost 100% of 99Tc(VII) from solution within 7 days at pH = 6.5. This ability decreases linearly with increasing Tc concentration due to the saturation of the mineral, while an increase in the ionic strength has no significant effects. The isotherm plot has a slope of 0.5 suggesting a single reaction mechanism: sorption on one site, which would mean that the affinity of the mineral for the technetium is low , or precipitation of 99Tc(IV) most probably as TcO2 . Figure 1 shows the SEM images of the mixture marcasite-pyrite before and after being in contact with 99Tc(VII) for 7 days at pH 6.5.
Figure 1. SEM images of the synthetic mixture marcasite-pyrite before (up) and after (below) 99Tc(VII) uptake for 7 days at pH = 6.5
In comparison to the plain mineral, the micrographs of Tc reacted FeS2 at 2.00 μm clearly show erosion on the surface. Furthermore, the micrograph at 1.00 μm suggests deeper effects, not only the first layers of the mineral, as the morphology has obviously changed. The high surface dynamics may be
induced by the incorporation of the radionuclei into the mineral. However, the flat surface of the FeS2 after the 99Tc(VII) uptake reminds to a coating that could be made of technetium polysulphides.
Although it is clear that this Tc retention is due to the reduction from 99Tc(VII) to 99Tc(IV), it has not been possible to determine so far if the 99Tc(IV) is sorbed on the mineral surface, incorporated in its structure or precipitated. As the FeS2 crystal phase as well as Tc oxidation state affect those retention mechanisms, we have also studied the immobilization of 99Tc(VII) by both pure pyrite and pure marcasite with the aim of analysing the crystal rearrangement effect and performing X-ray absorption spectroscopy for structural characterization.
This work has been developed in the frame of VESPA II project (02E11607B), supported by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).
1 T. Kobayashi, A. C. Scheinost, D. Fellhauer, X. Gaona, M. Altmaier, Radiochim. Acta 101, 323 (2013).
2 F. R. Livens, M. J. Jones, A. J. Hynes, J. M. Charnock, J. F. W. Mosselmans, C. Hennig, H. Steele, D. Collison, D. J. Vaughan, R. A. D. Pattrick, W. A. Reed, L. N. Moyes, J. Environ. Radioact. 74, 211 (2004).
3 L. Huo, W. Xie, T. Qian, X. Guan, D. Zhao, Chemosphere 174, 456 (2017).
4 C. Bruggeman, A. Maes, J. Vancluysen, Phys. Chem. Earth 32, 573 (2007).
5 W. M. B. Roberts, A. L. Walker, A. S. Buchanan, Miner. Depos. 4, 18 (1969).
6 G. Limousin, J.-P. Gaudet, L. Charlet, S. Szenknect, V. Barthès, M. Krimissa, Appl. Geochemistry 22, 249 (2007).
7 R. Guillaumont, T. Fanghänel, V. Neck, J. Fuger, D. A. Palmer, I. Grenthe, M. A. Rand, UPDATE ON THE CHEMICAL THERMODYNAMICS OF URANIUM, NEPTUNIUM, PLUTONIUM,AMERICIUM AND TECHNETIUM, Elsevier, 2003.