By reviewing how microorganisms interact with actinides in subsurface environments, we assess how bioremediation controls the fate of actinides. Actinides often are co-contaminants with strong organic chelators, chlorinated solvents, and fuel hydrocarbons. Bioremediation can immobilize the actinides, biodegrade the co-contaminants, or both. Actinides at the IV oxidation state are the least soluble, and microorganisms accelerate precipitation by altering the actinide's oxidation state or its speciation. We describe how microorganisms directly oxidize or reduce actinides and how microbiological reactions that biodegrade strong organic chelators, alter the pH, and consume or produce precipitating anions strongly affect actinide speciation and, therefore, mobility. We explain why inhibition caused by chemical or radiolytic toxicities uniquely affects microbial reactions. Due to the complex interactions of the microbiological and chemical phenomena, mathematical modeling is an essential tool for research on and application of bioremedation involving co-contamination with actinides. We describe the development of mathematical models that link microbiological and geochemical reactions. Throughout, we identify the key research needs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis