Experimental and theoretical studies on physico-chemical parameters affecting the solubility of phosphogypsum
SourceJournal of environmental radioactivity
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Phosphogypsum is a waste by-product of the phosphate fertilizer industry, which is usually disposed in the environment because of its restricted use in industrial applications. Physico-chemical conditions existing in stack fluids and leachates are of major importance and determine solubility and redox stability of phosphogypsum, as well as radionuclide release from stacks to terrestrial environments. The aim of this study is to assess the effect of key parameters (e.g. ionic strength, temperature, pH) on the solubility of phosphogypsum. Phosphogypsum sampling and in-situ measurements were carried out at a coastal stack in Cyprus, solubility experiments were performed in simulated laboratory systems and thermodynamic calculations by means of MINTEQA2, an equilibrium speciation model. Generally, increasing ionic strength and temperature leads to increased phosphogypsum solubility, with the former being much more effective. The increased solubility of phosphogypsum in saline solutions is attributed solely to ionic strength effects on the activity of ionic species in solution and no solid phase transformations could be observed. The effect of pH on phosphogypsum solubility seems to be insignificant at least in a pH range between 4 and 8. Regarding uranium levels, there is a strong correlation between salinity and uranium concentration and linear correlation between phosphogypsum solubility and uranium levels in stack solutions, indicating the incorporation of uranium into the gypsum lattice and the formation of a solid solution. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.