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Plutonium sorption to nanocast mesoporous carbon


Tüysüz,  Harun
Nuclear Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley;
Research Group Tüysüz, Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Max Planck Society;

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Parsons-Moss, T., Tüysüz, H., Wang, D., Jones, S., Olive, D., & Nitsche, H. (2014). Plutonium sorption to nanocast mesoporous carbon. Radiochimica Acta, 102(6), 489-504. doi:10.1515/ract-2014-2138.

Nanocast ordered mesoporous carbons are attractive as sorbents because of their extremely high surface areas and large pore volumes. This paper compares Pu uptake, added as Pu(VI), to both untreated and chemically oxidized CMK-(carbon molecular sieves from KAIST) type mesoporous carbon with that to a commercial amorphous activated carbon. The CMK was synthesized via nanocasting by using cubic ordered mesoporous silica KIT-6 as a hard template, and characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and nitrogen adsorption. A portion of the CMK was oxidized by treatment with nitric acid, and will be called OX CMK. The three carbon powders have similar particle morphology, and high BET surface areas. The activated carbon is disordered, while the CMK materials show large domains of ordered cubic mesostructure. The CMK material seems to have more oxygen-containing functional groups than the activated carbon, and the oxidation of the CMK increased the density of these groups, especially –COOH, thus lowering the point of zero charge (PZC) of the material. Batch studies of all 3 materials with plutonium solutions, in a 0.1 M NaClO4 matrix were performed to investigate pH dependence, sorption kinetics, Pu uptake capacities, competition with ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) in solution, and Pu desorption. Both CMK materials demonstrated high Pu sorption from solutions of pH 3 or greater, and the oxidized CMK also showed high sorption from pH 2 solutions. The activated carbon bound less Pu, and at a much slower rate than CMK. All other batch experiments were carried out in pH 4 solutions. The Pu uptake from low-concentration solutions was faster for the oxidized CMK than for untreated CMK, but in more concentrated samples (∼250 μM Pu), the Pu uptake kinetics and apparent capacity were the same for oxidized and untreated CMK. The 23-h Pu uptake capacity of the CMK materials was measured to be at least 58 ± 5 mg 239Pu per g CMK carbon, compared to 12 ± 5 mg 239Pu per g activated carbon. The presence of EDTA in solution decreased the Pu sorption to CMK. Desorption from all samples occurred in 1 M HClO4, usually within 24 h. The Pu interaction with the carbon surface was also probed via X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) on the Pu LIII absorption edge. Spectral fits of the X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) data collected on both types of CMK samples showed that Pu(VI) was reduced to Pu(IV) at the carbon surface. The high affinity of mesoporous carbon for Pu, and the spontaneous reduction of Pu(VI) or Pu(V) to Pu(IV) at these carbon surfaces could be valuable for a variety of applications.