Removal of pertechnetate from simulated nuclear waste streams using supported zerovalent iron

John G. Darab, Alexandra B. Amonette, Deborah S.D. Burke, Robert D. Orr, Sherman M. Ponder, Bettina Schrick, Thomas E. Mallouk, Wayne W. Lukens, Dana L. Caulder, David K. Shuh

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110 Scopus citations


The application of nanoparticles of predominantly zerovalent iron (nanoiron), either unsupported or supported, to the separation and reduction of pertechnetate anions (TcO 4 -) from complex waste mixtures was investigated as an alternative approach to current waste-processing schemes. Although applicable to pertechnetate-containing waste streams in general, the research discussed here was directed at two specific potential applications at the U.S. Department of Energy's Hanford Site: (1) the direct removal of pertechnetate from highly alkaline solutions, typical of those found in Hanford tank waste, and (2) the removal of dilute pertechnetate from near-neutral solutions, typical of the eluate streams from commercial organic ion-exchange resins that may be used to remediate Hanford tank wastes. It was envisioned that both applications would involve the subsequent encapsulation of the loaded sorbent material into a separate waste form. A high surface area (>200 m 2/g) base-stable, nanocrystalline zirconia was used as a support for nanoiron for tests with highly alkaline solutions, while a silica gel support was used for tests with near-neutral solutions. It was shown that after 24 h of contact time, the high surface area zirconia supported nanoiron sorbent removed about 50% (K d = 370 L/kg) of the pertechnetate from a pH 14 tank waste simulant containing 0.51 mM TcO 4 - and large concentrations of Na +, OH -, NO 3 -, and CO 3 2- for a phase ratio of 360 L simulant per kg of sorbent. It was also shown that after 18 h of contact time, the silica-supported nanoiron removed >95% pertechnetate from a neutral pH eluate simulant containing 0.076 mM TcO 4 - for a phase ratio of 290 L/kg. It was determined that in all cases, nanoiron reduced the Tc(VII) to Tc(IV), or possibly to Tc(V), through a redox reaction. Finally, it was demonstrated that a mixture of 20 mass % of the solid reaction products obtained from contacting zirconia-supported nanoiron with an alkaline waste solution containing Re(VII), a surrogate for Tc(VII), with 80 mass % alkali borosilicate based frit heat-treated at 700°C for 4 h sintered into an easily handled glass composite waste form.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5703-5713
Number of pages11
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number23
StatePublished - Nov 13 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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