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Sorption of Eu(III) on Eibenstock granite studied by µTRLFS: A novel spatially-resolved luminescence-spectroscopic technique

Molodtsov, K.; Schymura, S.; Rothe, J.; Dardenne, K.; Schmidt, M.


Granite is one of the possible host rocks for a high-level radioactive waste repository, as such it is important to understand its interactions with relevant radionuclides like Cm(III) and Am(III). Because granite is a highly heterogeneous mixture of quartz, feldspar, and mica, as well as minor components, it is difficult to study sorption mechanisms on the molecular level with conventional techniques. Consequently, most studies use isolated constituents rather than the whole system. In this study a novel technique, micro-focus time-resolved laser-induced luminescence spectroscopy (µTRLFS) is presented to overcome the problem of spatial heterogeneity. µTRLFS is a spatially-resolved upgrade of conventional TRLFS, which separates the many-phase problem of granite into many single-phase problems by reducing the beam size of the analytic laser beam to below the size of mineral grains within the natural material. This allows a point-by-point mapping of sorption capacity as well as speciation of a luminescent probe, here Eu3+. A thin-section of granitic rock from Eibenstock, Saxony, Germany was analyzed regarding its mineralogy with microprobe X-ray fluorescence (µXRF) and electron probe microanalysis (EPMA). Afterwards, it was reacted with 5.0 × 10-5 mol/L Eu3+ at pH 8.0 and uptake was quantified by autoradiography. Finally, the speciation of adsorbed Eu3+ and its uptake were studied by µTRLFS. Despite the extremely low concentration of Eu3+ on the sample, results from µTRLFS clearly show that the materials interact differently with Eu3+, and often even on one mineral grain different speciations can be found. Alkali-feldspar shows very high uptake, with an inhomogeneous distribution, and intermediate sorption strength. On quartz uptake is almost 10-fold lower, while the complexation strength is higher than on feldspar. This may be indicative of adsorption only at surface defect sites, in accordance with long lifetimes and low hydration of the observed species.

Keywords: TRLFS; granite; µTRLFS; Europium; sorption


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