Uranium removal from contaminated groundwater by synthetic resins

Debra H. Phillips, B. Gu, D.B. Watson, C.S. Parmele

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    55 Citations (Scopus)


    Synthetic resins are shown to be effective in removing uranium from contaminated groundwater. Batch and field column tests showed that strong-base anion-exchange resins were more effective in removing uranium from both near-neutral-pH (6.5)- and high-pH (8)-low-nitrate-containing groundwaters, than metal-chelating resins, which removed more uranium from acidic-pH (5)-high-nitrate-containing groundwater from the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR) Y-12 S-3 Ponds area in Tennessee, USA. Dowex 1-X8 and Purolite A-520E anion-exchange resins removed more uranium from high-pH (8)-low-nitrate-containing synthetic groundwater in batch tests than metal-chelating resins. The Dowex™ 21K anion-exchange resin achieved a cumulative loading capacity of 49.8 mg g-1 before breakthrough in a field column test using near-neutral-pH (6.5)-low-nitrate-containing groundwater. However, in an acidic-pH (5)-high-nitrate-containing groundwater, metal-chelating resins Diphonix and Chelex-100 removed more uranium than anion-exchange resins. In 15 mL of acidic-pH (5)-high-nitrate-containing groundwater spiked with 20 mg L-1 uranium, the uranium concentrations ranged from 0.95 mg L-1 at 1-h equilibrium to 0.08 mg L-1 at 24-h equilibrium for Diphonix and 0.17 mg L-1 at 1-h equilibrium to 0.03 mg L-1 at 24-h equilibrium for Chelex-100. Chelex-100 removed more uranium in the first 10 min in the 100 mL of acidic-(pH 5)-high-nitrate-containing groundwater (~5 mg L-1 uranium); however, after 10 min, Diphonix equaled or out-performed Chelex-100. This study presents an improved understanding of the selectivity and sorption kenetics of a range of ion-exchange resins that remove uranium from both low- and high-nitrate-containing groundwaters with varying pHs..

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)260-268
    Number of pages9
    JournalWater Research
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Earth-Surface Processes


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