Due to their potential retention capacity, clay minerals have been proposed for use in the engineered barriers for the storage of high-level radioactive actinides in deep geological waste repositories. However, there is still a lack of data on the sorption of actinides in clays in conditions simulating those of the repositories. The present article examines the sorption of two lanthanides (actinide analogues) in a set of smectitic clays (FEBEX bentonite, MX80 bentonite, hectorite, saponite, Otay montmorillonite, and Texas montmorillonite). Distribution coefficients (Kd) were determined in two media: water and 0.02 mol L-1 Ca, the latter representing the cement leachates that may modify the chemical composition of the water in contact with the clay. The Kd values of the lanthanides used in the experiments (La and Lu) varied greatly (25-50 000 L kg-1) depending on the ionic medium (higher values in water than in the Ca medium), the initial lanthanide concentration (up to three orders of magnitude decrease inversely with lanthanide concentration), and the examined clay (up to one order of magnitude for the same lanthanide and sorption medium). Freundlich and Langmuir isotherms were used to fit sorption data to allow comparison of the sorption parameters among smectites. The model based on the two-site Langmuir isotherms provided the best fit of the sorption data, confirming the existence of sorption sites with different binding energies. The sites with higher sorption affinity were about 6% of the total sorption capacity in the water medium, and up to 17% in the Ca medium, although in this latter site sorption selectivity was lower. The wide range of Kd values obtained regarding the factors examined indicated that the retention properties of the clays should also be considered when selecting a suitable clay for engineered barriers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology