If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



Clarifying Radioactive Cesium Binding To Soil

Understanding may improve remediation methods

by Jyllian Kemsley
June 24, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 25

When radioactive cesium is deposited in soil, such as during the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, remediation is difficult. 137Cs has a half-life of 30 years and cannot be easily removed from soil by standard washing with water or acid solutions. A group led by Kiminori Sato of Japan’s Tokyo Gakugei University examined clay minerals treated with a CsCl solution to determine how cesium binds to the materials, reasoning that a better understanding of the process may lead to improved soil remediation methods (J. Phys. Chem. C 2013, DOI: 10.1021/jp403899w). They found that cesium binds tightly in locations where mineral layers insert (intercalate) between two others, creating wedge-shaped open spaces. Where one mineral layer intercalates, the team found Cs+. Where two layers intercalate, the team found Cs2O and CsOH as well as Cs+. The researchers propose that at double-intercalation sites, Cs+ binds to the layer surfaces and also adsorbs strongly to the edges of the inserted layers by reacting with oxygen along the edges, forming Cs2O. Cs2O may further react with water to form CsOH.


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.