Pathways for abiotic reduction in the FeS/Se(IV) and FeS2/Se(IV) systems

Pathways for abiotic reduction in the FeS/Se(IV) and FeS2/Se(IV) systems

Breynaert, E.; Wangermez, W.; Dom, D.; Scheinost, A. C.; Parac-Vogt, T. N.; Kirschhock, C. E. A.; Maes, A.

The geochemical behaviour and bio-availability of selenium have an unexpectedly intricate impact on modern society. While selenium is an essential micronutrient for many living organisms, the window between deficiency and toxicity is very narrow (0.04 ppm ; essential; 0.04 – 0.1 ppm beneficial; 3 ppm toxic). Due to its similarity to sulphur, it is commonly encountered in subsurface deposits such as coal and uranium, phosphate and sulphidic transitionmetal ores. The release of selenium to the environment is closely associated with the economic exploitation of such deposits. Because of its significant contribution to long-term radiation exposure, 79Se is considered as one of the important isotopes in the inventory of the long-lived radioactive waste produced by nuclear industry. In view of redox properties and abundant occurence in reducing soils and sediments, iron sulphides play an important role in the availability of mobile inorganic selenium in the environment.
While previous studies have demonstrated the formation of FeSe and Se0 upon reduction of Se(IV) with respectively iron monsulphides and iron disulphides, the mechanistic pathways explaining the different outcome are missing.
Combination of published results in a wide range of relevant systems [1-5] with new spectroscopic information (XAS and NMR spectroscopy) obtained for specifically synthesized key intermediates allows to rationalise all previous observations. These results allow to outline the different pathways and demonstrate how the intermediary selenium, sulphur and selenosulphur species determine the final outcome of the reactions.
[1] Scheinost et al (2008), ES&T, 42, 1984–1989
[2] Breynaert et al (2008), ES&T, 42, 3595–3601
[3] Scheinost et al (2008), J. Contam. Hydrol., 102, 228-245
[4] Breynaert et al (2010), ES&T, 44, 6649–6655
[5] Kang et al (2011), ES&T, 45, 2704–2710

Keywords: selenium; EXAFS; NMR; nuclear waste

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