A Comparison of the Adsorption of Cesium on Zeolite Minerals vs Vermiculite


Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology

Document Type


Publication Date



Radiocesium was deposited on the soils of Fukushima Prefecture in Japan after the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011. The radiocesium bound to 2:1 clay minerals, such as vermiculite, common in the soil of that region and became non-exchangeable due to the strong affinity of these clay minerals for the Cs+ adsorbed. The current study generated adsorption envelopes for Cs+ on three zeolite minerals: zeolite Y, ZSM-5, and ferrierite. Two of these (ZSM-5 and ferrierite) caused monovalent cations to adsorb via a strong inner-sphere mechanism. A comparison of Cs+ adsorption on these zeolites to Na+ adsorption on the same zeolites showed that Cs+ adsorbs much more strongly than Na+, which is explained by its atomic properties. Despite the inner-sphere adsorption of Cs+ on ZSM-5 and ferrierite, the affinity of vermiculite for Cs+ is even stronger. An adsorption envelope for Cs+ on vermiculite failed to show a low-pH adsorption edge even at a pH of 1.01, with adsorption remaining at ~65% of the maximum even at this low pH. The adsorption envelopes for Cs+ on ZSM-5 and ferrierite minerals did show low-pH adsorption edges centered at pH 3.5 and 3.0, respectively, where Cs+ adsorption dropped to zero. The greater affinity of vermiculite for Cs+, even when compared with that for two zeolite minerals known to have significant affinities for monovalent ions, highlights the difficulty in removing Cs+ from contaminated Fukushima soils.

Journal Title

Clays and Clay Minerals

Journal ISSN






First Page


Last Page


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)