Discipline: Chemistry and Chemical Sciences
Subcategory: Chemistry (not Biochemistry)
Moticha Yellowman - New Mexico State University
Co-Author(s): Jeremy Jones, Matthew Simpson, and Antonio S. Lara, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico
Potable water is scarce worldwide, especially on the Navajo Nation. An average family on the Navajo Nation consumes approximately seven gallons per day; and, quite often their water is contaminated with elevated levels of uranium, both from natural and anthropogenic contributions. Although preventable, consumption of contaminated water causes health problems and sometimes deaths. Clays sorb uranium via their unique cation exchange capabilities; i.e. negatively charged clays attract positively charged uranium cations to produce potable water. Preliminary sorption studies always demonstrate uranium abatement utilizing dirt ceramic pellets. Clay pellets are fabricated from reference and regional clays. More importantly, robust pellets are necessary to ensure structural integrity for safe and effective transport and disposal of contaminated pellets. Reference clays, Arizona, Texas, Wyoming, and regional clays from Gallup and Berino New Mexico are used. Each clay has unique chemical and physical characteristics. Thus, precise clay to water ratios are essential to optimize robustness. We hypothesize that increasing clay to water ratio will fabricate more robust pellet; this facet was tested by means of compression on an Instron 5800. The optimal soil to water ratio for the most robust Gallup pellets was a 65/35 ratio, and the average ultimate strength is 3,061.711 psi. This robustness, afforded by Gallup soil, will be the benchmark for the remaining reference and regional clays that will be fabricated in the lab for efficient management of pellet disposal. Robust pellets, in conjunction with proven uranium sorption capabilities, will help to alleviate the problem on the Navajo Nation.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): New Mexico State University Bridges Program and Dr. Antonio S. Lara.
Faculty Advisor: Antonio S. Lara, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: Fabricating a robust pellet using Gallup clay to sorp uranium.