, Volume 40, Issue 9, pp 733-745
Date: 04 Jul 2013

Hydrothermal synthesis of pyrochlores and their characterization

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Pyrochlores, microlites, and U-betafites of pyrochlore group minerals were obtained from mixing experiments of the corresponding oxides and fluorides by hydrothermal synthesis at T = 800 °C and P = 200 MPa in the solution of 1.0 M NaF. The presence of U4+ in pyrochlore does not affect the cell parameter, which for the phases of pyrochlore–microlite series is 10.42 ± 0.01 Å. In a system with an excess of UO2, pyrochlores and microlites, containing uranium up to 0.2–0.3 atoms per formula unit (apfu), are formed. In the uranium-free system of betafites composition, perovskites and Ti-bearing pyrochlores are formed. U-pyrochlores of betafite series, containing 2Ti = Nb + Ta in moles, have cubic cell parameters of 10.26 ± 0.02 Å and U4+ isomorphic capacity of 0.4–0.5 apfu. In the pyrochlore structure, U4+ may substitute for Ca2+ and Na+ cations in the eightfold site. In pyrochlores of pyrochlore–microlite series, Ca2+ is replaced by U4+, while in pyrochlores of betafite series, U4+ replaces Na+. Phases with pyrochlore structure, containing U5+ and U6+ in the sixfold site, usually occupied by Nb5+, Ta5+, and Ti4+, are formed under oxidizing conditions (Cu–Cu2O buffer). They are characterized by low content of Nb5+, Ta5+ (<0.1 apfu), and anomalous behavior of the crystal lattice (compression, instead of expansion). Under natural conditions, the formation of pyrochlores containing a significant amount of U5+ and U6+ is unlikely.