Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Thermodynamics of Material Containing Actinides: Garnets, Metal Uranates, and Uranyl Peroxide
by Guo, Xiaofeng, Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2014, 267; 3685218
Abstract (Summary)

As a part of actinide science, the thermodynamics of actinide compounds is important in understanding structures and properties of actinide compounds, evaluating thermal and environmental stability, predicting the alteration of actinide-containing nuclear waste, and guiding synthesis and processing of actinide materials.

Garnet may provide a promising ceramic nuclear waste host that stabilizes radionuclides into a more durable form for long-term storage and/or geologic disposal. Thus, I designed and studied garnet matrices in terms of structural and thermodynamic properties for nuclear waste immobilization. In Chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5, simple yttrium iron garnet and complex ferric garnet matrices were substituted with Ce, Th, and/or U. The structural differences introduced by the lanthanides/actinides were studied in depth through X-ray and Mössbauer spectroscopy. To understand the substitution of actinides in garnet and its thermodynamic stability, the enthalpies of formation were derived and the enthalpies of substitution were calculated. The impacts of actinide substitution on the thermodynamics of garnet systems were discussed in detail.

Metal uranates, MgUO4, CrUO4, and FeUO4, were synthesized and characterized using X-ray spectroscopy and calorimetry. U5+ was found in CrUO4 and FeUO4, and U6+ in MgUO4. The enthalpy of formation, Δ Hf,ox (kJ/mol), for the three compounds at 25 ºC were derived: MgUO4 (-33.8 ± 1.7), CrUO4 (-31.4 ± 0.9), and FeUO4 (-9.8 ± 1.1). ΔH f,ox (kJ/mol) of CrUO4 was reported for the first time and that of FeUO4 was contributed to its scant thermodynamic reference data. More importantly, the role of U5+ in stabilizing these U5+ uranates is discussed in Appendix B.

Uranium peroxides, metastudtite and studtite, can be formed when UO 2 based nuclear fuels are exposed to water during geological disposal or as a result of reactor accidents. Careful calorimetric work was done on a rare uranyl peroxide mineral, metastudtite, to study its thermal decomposition and enthalpy of formation (Chapter 6). Stepwise decomposition in O2 up to 1000 ºC was observed and enthalpies of reactions associated with each step were measured. Derived ΔHf,ox (kJ/mol) for metastudtite in different conditions are 15.8 ± 1.7 with respect to γ-UO3, H2O, and O2, -82.3 ± 1.7 with respect to γ-UO3, H2O, and H 2O2, and -16.5 ± 2.0 from U3O8, H2O, and O2. The thermodynamic data confirm the irreversible transformation from studtite to metastudtite, and show that metastudtite can be a major oxidized corrosion product at the surface of UO2 and contribute a significant pathway to dissolution.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Navrotsky, Alexandra
Commitee: Kauzlarich, Susan M., Olmstead, Marilyn M.
School: University of California, Davis
Department: Chemistry
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 76/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Analytical chemistry, Inorganic chemistry, Organic chemistry, Materials science
Keywords: Calorimetry, Garnet, Nuclear waste, Spectroscopy, Thermodynamics, Uranium
Publication Number: 3685218
ISBN: 9781321608687
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