Given the unique properties of clays (i.e., low permeability and high ion sorption/exchange capacity), clays or clay formations have been proposed either as an engineered material or as a geologic medium for nuclear waste isolation and disposal. A credible evaluation of such disposal systems relies on the ability to predict the behavior of these materials under a wide range of thermal-hydrological-mechanical-chemical (THMc) conditions. Current model couplings between THM and chemical processes are simplistic and limited in scope. This review focuses on the uptake of radionuclides onto clay materials as controlled by mineral composition, structure, and texture (e.g., pore size distribution), and emphasizes the connections between sorption chemistry and mechanical compaction. Variable uptake behavior of an array of elements has been observed on various clays as a function of increasing compaction due to changes in pore size and structure, hydration energy, and overlapping electric double layers. The causes for this variability are divided between "internal" (based on the fundamental structure and composition of the clay minerals) and "external" (caused by a force external to the clay). New techniques need to be developed to exploit known variations in clay mineralogy to separate internal from external effects.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry