Surface Complexation Modeling of Eu(III) and U(VI) Interactions with Graphene Oxide

Environ Sci Technol. 2016 Feb 16;50(4):1821-7. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b05307. Epub 2016 Jan 29.


Graphene oxide (GO) has great potential for actinide removal due to its extremely high sorption capacity, but the mechanism of sorption remains unclear. In this study, the carboxylic functional group and an unexpected sulfonate functional group on GO were characterized as the reactive surface sites and quantified via diffuse layer modeling of the GO acid/base titrations. The presence of sulfonate functional group on GO was confirmed using elemental analysis and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Batch experiments of Eu(III) and U(VI) sorption to GO as the function of pH (1-8) and as the function of analyte concentration (10-100, 000 ppb) at a constant pH ≈ 5 were conducted; the batch sorption results were modeled simultaneously using surface complexation modeling (SCM). The SCM indicated that Eu(III) and U(VI) complexation to carboxylate functional group is the main mechanism for their sorption to GO; their complexation to the sulfonate site occurred at the lower pH range and the complexation of Eu(III) to sulfonate site are more significant than that of U(VI). Eu(III) and U(VI) facilitated GO aggregation was observed with high Eu(III) and U(VI) concentration and may be caused by surface charge neutralization of GO after sorption.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Europium / chemistry*
  • Graphite / chemistry*
  • Oxides / chemistry
  • Photoelectron Spectroscopy
  • Uranium / chemistry*
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid
  • Water Pollutants, Radioactive / chemistry*


  • Oxides
  • Water Pollutants, Radioactive
  • Europium
  • Uranium
  • Graphite