Efficient removal of uranium from aqueous solution by zero-valent iron nanoparticle and its graphene composite

Zi Jie Li, Lin Wang, Li Yong Yuan, Cheng Liang Xiao, Lei Mei, Li Rong Zheng, Jing Zhang, Ju Hua Yang, Yu Liang Zhao, Zhen Tai Zhu, Zhi Fang Chai, Wei Qun Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

218 Scopus citations


Zero-valent iron nanoparticle (ZVI-np) and its graphene composites were prepared and applied in the removal of uranium under anoxic conditions. It was found that solutions containing 24ppm U(VI) could be completely cleaned up by ZVI-nps, regardless of the presence of NaHCO3, humic acid, mimic groundwater constituents or the change of solution pH from 5 to 9, manifesting the promising potential of this reactive material in permeable reactive barrier (PRB) to remediate uranium-contaminated groundwater. In the measurement of maximum sorption capacity, removal efficiency of uranium kept at 100% until C0(U)=643ppm, and the saturation sorption of 8173mgU/g ZVI-nps was achieved at C0(U)=714ppm. In addition, reaction mechanisms were clarified based on the results of SEM, XRD, XANES, and chemical leaching in (NH4)2CO3 solution. Partially reductive precipitation of U(VI) as U3O7 was prevalent when sufficient iron was available; nevertheless, hydrolysis precipitation of U(VI) on surface would be predominant as iron got insufficient, characterized by releases of Fe2+ ions. The dissolution of Fe0 cores was assigned to be the driving force of continuous formation of U(VI) (hydr)oxide. The incorporation of graphene supporting matrix was found to facilitate faster removal rate and higher U(VI) reduction ratio, thus benefitting the long-term immobilization of uranium in geochemical environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-33
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - Jun 5 2015


  • Graphene composites
  • Hydrolysis precipitation
  • Reductive precipitation
  • Uranium removal
  • Zero-valent iron nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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