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In-column immobilization of Cs-saturated crystalline silicotitanates using phenolic resins

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The in situ immobilization of granulated Cs-saturated crystalline silicotitanates (Cs-CST) in fixed-bed columns has been investigated using commercially available phenol formaldehyde (PF) resin as a binding agent. Two types of PF resin were investigated as part of this study both being prepared from resol polymer having a formaldehyde:phenol ratio of 3:1. However, one of the resol polymers had water as the primary solvent and the other ethanol. Both resol polymers were observed to completely infiltrate the space between the Cs-CST beads and also the pores within the beads themselves. PF resin monoliths prepared after curing the water-based resol at 180 °C were considerably less porous than the ethanol-based counterparts cured under the same conditions. The enhanced macroporosity of the resin prepared from the ethanol-based resol was presumably the result from enhanced gas bubble generation. Little or no micro- or mesoporosity was measured using nitrogen porosimetry. For both resins cured at 180 °C, intimate contacts with the Cs-CST beads were observed that were not modified even after complete immersion in water over long time frames. Little or no migration of Cs from Cs-CST to the resin binder was observed. The compressive strength of the Cs-CST-PF resin monoliths was measured and benchmarked against cement monoliths and was found to be two to three times higher than cement in the case of the water-based resin. Leaching of the monoliths was conducted in demineralized water at 90 °C. Normalized Cs mass losses of the order of 1.0 g/m2 were measured after 30 days for the ethanol-based resin monoliths. For the less porous water-based monoliths, the normalized mass loss was one order of magnitude lower. The leaching of monoliths irradiated with a 2-MGy dose of γ radiation showed no difference in Cs mass loss suggesting that the ability to retain Cs of either the CST or PF resin was not affected. PF resins are capable of acting as a mechanically robust, radiation-resistant, and impermeable active secondary barrier reducing the likelihood of Cs entry into the biosphere.

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The authors express their gratitude to Graciela Custo y Luciana Cerchietti for assistance with XRF measurements and Anibal Rodriguez y Enrique Chomik for compressive strength measurements. We are also grateful to Francisco A. Guglielmo of Foundry Resins S.A. for providing the phenol formaldehyde resins.

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Correspondence to Vittorio Luca.

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Responsible editor: Georg Steinhauser

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Curi, R.F., Luca, V. In-column immobilization of Cs-saturated crystalline silicotitanates using phenolic resins. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 6850–6858 (2018).

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  • Silicotitanate
  • Titanosilicate
  • Cesium
  • Radioactive waste
  • Immobilization