Synthesis and Characterization of Hydrous Zirconia as an Ion-exchanger for Removal of Radioactive Iodine

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Title: Synthesis and Characterization of Hydrous Zirconia as an Ion-exchanger for Removal of Radioactive Iodine
Author: Otaki, Miho
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2019
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Degree program: Kemian ja molekyylitieteiden maisteriohjelma
Master's Programme in Chemistry and Molecular Sciences
Magisterprogrammet i kemi och molekylära vetenskaper
Specialisation: Epäorgaaninen materiaalikemia
Inorganic Materials Chemistry
Oorganisk materialkemi
Discipline: none
Abstract: In terms of nuclear waste management, the behavior of radionuclides with long half-lives, such as I-129, is of special concern especially for the final depository of nuclear waste. In addition, generally speaking, iodine is highly mobile and easily transferable to the natural environment. Furthermore, because iodine is an essential element for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, it accumulates in the human thyroid. Thus, radioactive iodine can also be the greatest potential danger of dose uptake for humans. Among many kinds of iodine species, it is rather challenging to separate iodate selectively from other anions and thus it is necessary to investigate new materials which can adsorb iodate efficiently for the removal of radioactive iodine. In this study, the iodate adsorption ability of hydrous zirconia has been investigated. Hydrous zirconia has been reported as an anion-exchanger, and because of its stability, this material is a promising candidate for selective iodate removal from radioactive waste solutions. White solid of hydrous zirconia was successfully synthesized with an amorphous structure. Its surface showed a character in between amphoteric and basic. The isotherm indicated that the material has a preference to adsorb iodate and the saturation value of adsorption was estimated to 1.8 mmol/g. The material showed lower uptakes as pH got higher. Among several competing anions tested, divalent sulphate ions suppressed the iodate adsorption to some extent due to higher affinity to the material surface. In a basic environment, boric acid also suppressed strongly the adsorption probably because of the formation of tetrahydroxyborate with hydroxide sites on the material surface. These suppressions of iodate adsorption became stronger as the concentration got higher. Post-heating at 400 °C resulted in the transformation of the material structure to tetragonal and a slight improvement of iodate adsorption rate. As the temperature of post-heating got higher, the structure became more monoclinic and showed the lower uptakes, which may be due to the loss of hydroxide sites. A column setup of the material with simulant of wastewater from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant has been operating and approximately 11,000 bed-volume of the solution has been gone through, but still, the column is yet to reach a 100% breakthrough. Based on the results presented in this study, it can be concluded that synthesized hydrous zirconia showed clear iodate preference and a possible high performance for the waste treatment from nuclear power plants.

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