Microanalytical X-ray imaging of depleted uranium speciation in environmentally aged munitions residues

Daniel E. Crean, Francis R. Livens, Martin C. Stennett, Daniel Grolimund, Camelia N. Borca, Neil C. Hyatt

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions has resulted in contamination of the near-surface environment with penetrator residues. Uncertainty in the long-term environmental fate of particles produced by impact of DU penetrators with hard targets is a specific concern. In this study DU particles produced in this way and exposed to the surface terrestrial environment for longer than 30 years at a U.K. firing range were characterized using synchrotron X-ray chemical imaging. Two sites were sampled: a surface soil and a disposal area for DU-contaminated wood, and the U speciation was different between the two areas. Surface soil particles showed little extent of alteration, with U speciated as oxides U 3O7 and U3O8. Uranium oxidation state and crystalline phase mapping revealed these oxides occur as separate particles, reflecting heterogeneous formation conditions. Particles recovered from the disposal area were substantially weathered, and U(VI) phosphate phases such as meta-ankoleite (K(UO2)(PO4)3H2O) were dominant. Chemical imaging revealed domains of contrasting U oxidation state linked to the presence of both U3O7 and meta-ankoleite, indicating growth of a particle alteration layer. This study demonstrates that substantial alteration of DU residues can occur, which directly influences the health and environmental hazards posed by this contamination. © 2014 American Chemical Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1467-1474
    Number of pages7
    JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2014


    Dive into the research topics of 'Microanalytical X-ray imaging of depleted uranium speciation in environmentally aged munitions residues'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this