Influence of Surface Compositions on the Reactivity of Pyrite toward Aqueous U(VI)

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Pyrite plays a significant role in governing the mobility of toxic uranium in an anaerobic environment via an oxidation–reduction process occurring at the mineral–water interface, but the factors influencing the reaction kinetics remain poorly understood. In this study, natural pyrites with different impurities (Pb, As, and Si) and different surface pretreatments were used to react with aqueous U(VI) from pH ∼3.0 to ∼9.5. Both aqueous and solid results indicated that freshly crushed pyrites, which do have more surface Fe2+/Fe3+ and S2– sites that were generated from breakage of Fe(S)–S bonds during ball milling, exhibited a much stronger reactivity than those treated with acid washing. Besides, U(VI) reduction which involves the possible intermediate U(V) and the formation of hyperstoichiometric UO2+x(s) was found to preferentially occur at Pb- and As-rich spots on the pyrite surface, suggesting that the incorporated impurities could act as reactive sites because of the generation of lattice defects and galena- and arsenopyrite-like local configurations. These reactive surface sites can be removed by acid washing, leaving a pyrite surface nearly inert toward aqueous U(VI). Thus, reactivity of pyrite toward U(VI) is largely governed by its surface compositions, which provides an insight into the chemical behavior of both pyrite and uranium in various environments.
Transfer reactions, Redox reactions, Uranium, Pyrite, X-Ray photoelectron spectroscopy
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Ma, B., Fernandez-Martinez, A., Kang, M., Wang, K., Lewis, A. R., Maffeis, T. G. G., Findling, N., Salas-Colera, E., Tisserand, D., Bureau, S., & Charlet, L. (2020). Influence of Surface Compositions on the Reactivity of Pyrite toward Aqueous U(VI). In Environmental Science & Technology, 54(13), 8104–8114