Microbially mediated in situ reduction of soluble U(VI) to insoluble U(IV) (as UO2) has been proposed as a means of preventing the migration of that radionuclide with groundwater, but preventing the oxidative resolubilization of U has proven difficult. We hypothesized that relatively slow rates of U(VI) bioreduction would yield larger UO2 precipitates that would be more resistant to oxidation than those produced by rapid U(VI) bioreduction. We manipulated U(VI) bioreduction rates by varying the density of Shewanella putrefaciens CN32 added to U(VI) containing solutions with lactate as an electron donor. Characterization of biogenic UO2 particles by extended X-ray absorption fine-structure spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy revealed that UO2 nanoparticles formed by relatively slow rates of U(VI) reduction were larger and more highly aggregated than those formed by relatively rapid U(VI) reduction. UO2 particles formed at various rates were incubated under a variety of abiotically and biologically oxidizing conditions. In all cases, UO2 that was formed by relatively slow U(VI) reduction was oxidized at a slower rate and to a lesser extent than UO2 formed by relatively rapid U(VI) bioreduction, suggesting that the stability of UO2 in situ may be enhanced by stimulation of relatively slow rates of U(VI) reduction.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology