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Journal of Nanotechnology
Volume 2013, Article ID 173625, 11 pages
Research Article

The Effect of Vacuum Annealing of Magnetite and Zero-Valent Iron Nanoparticles on the Removal of Aqueous Uranium

Interface Analysis Centre, University of Bristol, 121 St. Michael’s Hill, Bristol BS2 8BS, UK

Received 24 July 2013; Revised 22 August 2013; Accepted 4 September 2013

Academic Editor: Andrei Kolmakov

Copyright © 2013 R. A. Crane and T. B. Scott. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


As-formed and vacuum annealed zero-valent iron nanoparticles (nano-Fe0) and magnetite nanoparticles (nano-Fe3O4) were tested for the removal of uranium from carbonate-rich mine water. Nanoparticles were introduced to batch systems containing the mine water under oxygen conditions representative of near-surface waters, with a uranyl solution studied as a simple comparator system. Despite the vacuum annealed nano-Fe0 having a 64.6% lower surface area than the standard nano-Fe0, similar U removal (>98%) was recorded during the initial stages of reaction with the mine water. In contrast, ≤15% U removal was recorded for the mine water treated with both as-formed and vacuum annealed nano-Fe3O4. Over extended reaction periods (>1 week), appreciable U rerelease was recorded for the mine water solutions treated using nano-Fe0, whilst the vacuum annealed material maintained U at <50 μg L−1 until 4 weeks reaction. XPS analysis of reacted nanoparticulate solids confirmed the partial chemical reduction of to in both nano-Fe0 water treatment systems, but with a greater amount of detected on the vacuum annealed particles. Results suggest that vacuum annealing can enhance the aqueous reactivity of nano-Fe0 and, for waters of complex chemistry, can improve the longevity of aqueous U removal.