Uranium concentrations as high as 2.94 × 105 parts per million (1.82 mol of U/1 kg of H2O) occur in water containing nanoscale uranyl cage clusters. The anionic cage clusters, with diameters of 1.5-2.5 nm, are charge-balanced by encapsulated cations, as well as cations within their electrical double layer in solution. The concentration of uranium in these systems is impacted by the countercations (K, Li, Na), and molecular dynamics simulations have predicted their distributions in selected cases. Formation of uranyl cages prevents hydrolysis reactions that would result in formation of insoluble uranyl solids under alkaline conditions, and these spherical clusters reach concentrations that require close packing in solution.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research is funded by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences of the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the Materials Science of Actinides Energy Frontier Research Center (DESC0001089).
© 2017 American Chemical Society.