Determination of Adsorption Capacity and Kinetics of Amidoxime-Based Uranium Adsorbent Braided Material in Unfiltered Seawater Using a Flume Exposure System Report uri icon



  • PNNL has developed a recirculating flume system for exposing braided adsorbent material to natural seawater under realistic temperature and flow-rate exposure conditions. The flumes are constructed of transparent acrylic material; they allow external light to pass into the flumes and permit photosynthetic growth of naturally present marine organisms (biofouling). Because the system consists of two flumes, replicate experiments can be conducted in which one of the flumes can be manipulated relative to the other. For example, one flume can be darkened to eliminate light exposure by placing a black tarp over the flume such that dark/light experiments can be conducted. Alternatively, two different braided adsorbents can be exposed simultaneously with no potential cross contamination issues. This report describes the first use of the PNNL flume system to study the impact of biofouling on adsorbent capacity. Experiments were conducted with the ORNL AI8 braided adsorbent material in light-exposed and darkened flumes for a 42-day exposure experiment. The major objective of this effort is to develop a system for the exposure of braided adsorbent material to unfiltered seawater, and to demonstrate the system by evaluating the performance of adsorption material when it is exposed to natural marine biofouling as it would be when the technology is used in the marine environment. Exposures of amidoxime-based polymeric braid adsorbents prepared by Oak Ridge Natural Laboratory (ORNL) were exposed to ambient seawater at 20°C in a flume system. Adsorption kinetics and adsorption capacity were assessed using time series determinations of uranium adsorption and one-site ligand saturation modeling. Biofouling in sunlight surface seawater has the potential to significantly add substantial biogenic mass to adsorption material when it is exposed for periods greater than 21 days. The observed biomass increase in the light flume was approximately 80% of the adsorbent mass after 42 days. The amount of biomass increase retained by the adsorbent in the dark flume was only a quarter of that observed in the light-exposed flume. Biofouling in sunlit surface seawater has the potential to reduce uranium adsorption capacity by ~30% after 42 days of exposure. Minimal or no adsorption loss due to biofouling occurred in the dark flume exposure. Attempts to assess time series measurements of uranium adsorption capacity using “snips” off a master braid are fraught with problems due to the inability to easily determine the mass of the adsorbent material when the biofouling is present. The ability to determine the adsorption of biogenically important trace elements (e.g. Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu, and Sr) on biofouled adsorbents is also problematic.

publication date

  • 2015


report identifier

  • PNNL-24543