Influence of iron sulfides on abiotic oxidation of UO2 by nitrite and dissolved oxygen in natural sediments

Julian Carpenter, Yuqiang Bi, Kim F. Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Iron sulfide precipitates formed under sulfate reducing conditions may buffer U(IV) insoluble solid phases from reoxidation after oxidants re-enter the reducing zone. In this study, sediment column experiments were performed to quantify the effect of biogenic mackinawite on U(IV) stability in the presence of nitrite or dissolved oxygen (DO). Two columns, packed with sediment from an abandoned U contaminated mill tailings site near Rifle, CO, were biostimulated for 62 days with an electron donor (3 mM acetate) in the presence (BRS+) and absence (BRS-) of 7 mM sulfate. The bioreduced sediment was supplemented with synthetic uraninite (UO2(s)), sterilized by gamma-irradiation, and then subjected to a sequential oxidation by nitrite and DO. Biogenic iron sulfides produced in the BRS+ column, mostly as mackinawite, inhibited U(IV) reoxidation and mobilization by both nitrite and oxygen. Most of the influent nitrite (0.53 mM) exited the columns without oxidizing UO2, while a small amount of nitrite was consumed by iron sulfides precipitates. An additional 10-day supply of 0.25 mM DO influent resulted in the release of about 10% and 49% of total U in BRS+ and BRS- columns, respectively. Influent DO was effectively consumed by biogenic iron sulfides in the BRS+ column, while DO and a large U spike were detected after only a brief period in the effluent in the BRS- column. (Figure Presented).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1078-1085
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 20 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Influence of iron sulfides on abiotic oxidation of UO2 by nitrite and dissolved oxygen in natural sediments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this