Structure and thermochemistry of perrhenate sodalite and mixed guest perrhenate/pertechnetate sodalite
by Eric M Pierce, Ashfia Hu, Donovan N Leonard, Jeremy R Elkelson
Treatment and immobilization of technetium-99 (99Tc) contained in reprocessed nuclear waste and present in contaminated subsurface systems represents a major environmental challenge. One potential approach to managing this highly mobile and long-lived radionuclide is immobilization into micro- and meso-porous crystalline solids, specifically sodalite. We synthesized and characterized the structure of perrhenate sodalite, Na8[AlSiO4]6(ReO4)2, and the structure of a mixed guest perrhenate/pertechnetate sodalite, Na8[AlSiO4]6(ReO4)2-x(TcO4)x. Perrhenate was used as a chemical analogue for pertechnetate. Bulk analyses of each solid confirm a cubic sodalite-type structure (P4̅3n, No. 218 space group) with rhenium and technetium in the 7+ oxidation state. High-resolution nanometer scale characterization measurements provide first-of-a-kind evidence that the ReO4– anions are distributed in a periodic array in the sample, nanoscale clustering is not observed, and the ReO4– anion occupies the center of the sodalite β-cage in Na8[AlSiO4]6(ReO4)2. We also demonstrate, for the first time, that the TcO4– anion can be incorporated into the sodalite structure. Lastly, thermochemistry measurements for the perrhenate sodalite were used to estimate the thermochemistry of pertechnetate sodalite based on a relationship between ionic potential and the enthalpy and Gibbs free energy of formation for previously measured oxyanion-bearing feldspathoid phases. The results collected in this study suggest that micro- and mesoporous crystalline solids maybe viable candidates for the treatment and immobilization of 99Tc present in reprocessed nuclear waste streams and contaminated subsurface environments.