Cellulose is a very common organic polymer and also present in considerable amounts in low and intermediate level wastes (LILW). Since it is considered to stabilize LILW with cementitious materials and to use cement-based materials as construction and backfilling material, the alkaline degradation of cellulosic material has to be taken into account. This process will lead to the formation of water-soluble carboxylates and hydroxycarboxylates, with isosaccharinic acid (isa) being the main degradation product. It was shown that the α-form of the polyhydroxy-carboxylic acid is a stronger complexant compared to the β-form and that the interaction with radionuclides affects the solubility and the sorption behavior adversely . Only a limited number of studies focused on the interaction of isa with UO22+. Hence, there are gaps in thermodynamic databases for this system. The basis for reliable thermodynamic data is a detailed structural knowledge about the formed species in the system of interest.
This issue prompted us to characterize the formed complexes in the UO22+-isa system on a molecular level. Our approach to elucidate the mechanisms in aqueous solution combines different spectroscopic techniques (UV-vis, ATR-FTIR, EXAFS, and luminescence) with DFT-calculations. The mutual influence of UO22+ and isa on their speciation as well as the three detected complexes will be discussed. The outcomes are on the one hand the basis for thermodynamic investigations as well as for studies under neutral and alkaline conditions. They provide on the other hand also important information concerning the behavior of α-isa as ligand, including dominant binding motifs.
 Van Loon, L. R., et al., Radiochimica Acta, 1999, Vol. 86, https://doi.org/10.1524/ract.1918.104.22.168.
This project has received funding from the Euratom research and training programme 2014-2018 under Grant Agreement no. 61880.