New Hot Paper in Geosciences Discusses the Remediation of Radionuclides on Clay Minerals

In our recent blog post, the paper The Retention of Uranium and Europium onto Sepiolite Investigated by Macroscopic, Spectroscopic and Modeling Techniques” (Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 140: 621-43, 1 September 2014) was named a New Hot Paper in Essential Science IndicatorsSM for the period ending June 30, 2016. Currently, this paper has 91 citations in the Web of ScienceTM.

 Below, Professor Xiangke Wang, the corresponding author on this paper, discusses the work and its implications for the field of Geosciences.

Why do you think your paper is highly cited?

This manuscript initially studied the retention mechanism of uranium and europium onto clay minerals by batch, EXAFS (extended X-ray absorption fine structure) spectroscopy, and modeling techniques. In recent years, the remediation of radionuclides on clay mineral has been a hot topic for environmental chemists and geologists. Therefore, we think that this manuscript will be highly cited.

Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or synthesis of knowledge?

This study described a new methodology by a combination of macroscopic, microscopic, and modeling methods, which are very crucial for explaining the interaction mechanism of radionuclides on clay minerals.

Would you summarize the significance of your paper in layman’s terms?

The significance of this manuscript is in evaluating the fate and transport of radionuclides at the water-mineral interface.

How did you become involved in this research, and how would you describe the particular challenges, setbacks, and successes that you’ve encountered along the way?

I got my Ph. D. degree in Environmental Chemistry in 2000, and since then I have devoted my life to the study of environmental radiochemistry. Through extensive investigation of the sorption of radionuclides on clay mineral, I successfully developed my research, and I also applied spectroscopy techniques and theoretical calculations in order to understand the interaction mechanism of radionuclides and heavy metal ions on minerals at the molecular level. All these experiences have been helpful in improving my ability to carry out my research.

Where do you see your research leading in the future?

Advanced spectroscopic techniques (e.g., EXAFS spectra) provide a way to search for the fate and transport of radionuclides at water-mineral interfaces. However, it is still unclear how to demonstrate the interaction mechanism of radionuclides under complicated environmental conditions. I will certainly continue to investigate the interaction mechanism of radionuclides at multi-component conditions such as the ternary system, and apply DFT calculations in my research.

Do you foresee any social or political implications for your research?

Our research can provide the basic theory and data support for the remediation of radionuclides and heavy metal ions in environmental pollution cleanup.


Prof. Xiangke Wang

School of Environment and Chemical Engineering

North China Electric Power University

Beijing, P.R. China