Around the radioactive waste repository, the pH of the groundwater greatly changes from 8 to 13 and the groundwater contains a relatively large quantity of calcium (Ca) and sodium (Na) ions due to cementitious materials used for the construction of the geological disposal system. Under such conditions, the deposition behavior of silicic acid is one of the key factors for the migration assessment of radionuclides. The deposition and precipitation of silicic acid with the change of pH and coexisting ions may contribute to the clogging in flow paths, which is expected as the retardation effect of radionuclides. Thus, this study focused on the deposition behavior of silicic acid under the condition of relatively high Ca or Na concentration.
In the experiments, Na2SiO3 solution (250 ml, 14 mM, pH>10, 298 K) was prepared in a polyethylene vessel containing amorphous silica powder (0.5 g) as the solid phase. Then, a buffer solution (to adjust to 8 in pH), HNO3, and Ca(NO3)2 as Ca ions or NaCl as Na ions were sequentially added. Such a silicic acid solution becomes supersaturated, gradually forming colloidal silicic-acid and/or the deposit on the solid surface. In this study, the both concentrations of soluble and colloidal silicic-acid were monitored over a 40-day period. As a result, the deposition rate of silicic acid decreased with up to 5 mM in Ca ions. Besides, Na ions with up to 0.1 M slightly increased the deposition rate. Under the conditions of [Na+]>0.1 M or [Ca2+]>5 mM, the supersaturated silicic acid immediately deposited. These suggest that Na or Ca ions strongly affect the deposition behavior of supersaturated silicic-acid, depending on the surface alteration of solid phase, the change of zeta potential and the decrease of water-activity due to the addition of electrolytes (coexisting ions).