Author(s): Lippold H, LippmannPipke J
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Abstract Migration of contaminants with low affinity for the aqueous phase is essentially governed by interaction with mobile carriers such as humic colloids. Their impact is, however, not sufficiently described by interaction constants alone since the humic carriers themselves are subject to a solid-liquid distribution that depends on geochemical parameters. In our study, co-adsorption of the REE terbium (as an analogue of trivalent actinides) and humic acid onto three clay materials (illite, montmorillonite, Opalinus clay) was investigated as a function of pH. (160)Tb(III) and (131)I-labelled humic acid were employed as radiotracers, allowing experiments at very low concentrations to mimic probable conditions in the far-field of a nuclear waste repository. Humate complexation of Tb was examined by anion and cation exchange techniques, also considering competitive effects of metals leached from the clay materials. The results revealed that desorption of metals from clay barriers, occurring in consequence of acidification processes, is generally counteracted in the presence of humic matter. For all clay materials under study, adsorption of Tb was found to be enhanced in neutral and acidic systems with humic acid, which is explained by additional adsorption of humic-bound Tb. A commonly used composite approach (linear additive model) was tested for suitability in reconstructing the solid-liquid distribution of Tb in ternary systems (Tb/humic acid/clay) on the basis of data determined for binary subsystems. The model can qualitatively explain the influence of humic acid as a function of pH, but it failed to reproduce our experimental data quantitatively. It appears that the elementary processes (metal adsorption, metal-humate complexation, humic acid adsorption) cannot be considered to be independent of each other. Possible reasons are discussed.
This article was published in J Contam Hydrol
and referenced in Journal of Environmental & Analytical Toxicology