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Coal fly ash as a potential fixation reagent for radioactive wastes
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Israel produces ∼1.3 Mt/year of fly ash (FA), a byproduct of its coal-fired power plants. Due to increasing environmental regulations, these imported coals are processed to reduce the sulfur concentration (∼0.6%). These processing methods result in a material that has an enriched alkali/alkali earth component with pozzolanic and basic properties (pH > 10.5). FAs are utilized worldwide, mainly as a cement additive for the construction industry. Recently, it was demonstrated that Class F FA can act as an excellent fixation reagent for acidic wastes from the phosphate or the oil regeneration industries. In the current work the potential utilization of Class F FAs as fixation reagents for low-activity radioactive waste from the nuclear industry was examined. Aqueous solutions containing radionuclide simulants: cesium (Cs+), strontium, (Sr2+), and cerium (Ce3+, Ce4+) were used as case studies with promising results. It is suggested that the primary fixation mechanism involves the aluminate/silicate anions at the FA surface. A novel experimental fixation approach utilizing the formation of carbonates is demonstrated and a new interaction mechanism is suggested based on the electrostatic interactions of the positively charged fine precipitates with the negatively charged FA surface. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.