Publications / SAND Report

Containment of uranium in the proposed Egyptian geologic repository for radioactive waste using hydroxyapatite

Hasan, Ahmed H.; Larese, Kathleen C.; Headley, Thomas J.; Zhao, Hongting Z.; Salas, Fred S.

Currently, the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority is designing a shallow-land disposal facility for low-level radioactive waste. To insure containment and prevent migration of radionuclides from the site, the use of a reactive backfill material is being considered. One material under consideration is hydroxyapatite, Ca{sub 10}(PO{sub 4}){sub 6}(OH){sub 2}, which has a high affinity for the sorption of many radionuclides. Hydroxyapatite has many properties that make it an ideal material for use as a backfill including low water solubility (K{sub sp}>10{sup -40}), high stability under reducing and oxidizing conditions over a wide temperature range, availability, and low cost. However, there is often considerable variation in the properties of apatites depending on source and method of preparation. In this work, we characterized and compared a synthetic hydroxyapatite with hydroxyapatites prepared from cattle bone calcined at 500 C, 700 C, 900 C and 1100 C. The analysis indicated the synthetic hydroxyapatite was similar in morphology to 500 C prepared cattle hydroxyapatite. With increasing calcination temperature the crystallinity and crystal size of the hydroxyapatites increased and the BET surface area and carbonate concentration decreased. Batch sorption experiments were performed to determine the effectiveness of each material to sorb uranium. Sorption of U was strong regardless of apatite type indicating all apatite materials evaluated. Sixty day desorption experiments indicated desorption of uranium for each hydroxyapatite was negligible.