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Subsurface Science & Technology Group


Clean Room LaboratoryClean Room Laboratory
Located in the 331 Building, Lab 305
CSM: Ben Williams (509) 372-6397
Lead Scientist: Eirik Krogstad

The new clean lab in the 331 building is used for processing samples of Earth and biological materials for isotopic and elemental analysis.

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These samples are so small (in numbers of atoms) that they would be contaminated by a slight exposure to particles in "normal" air. This would adversely affect the ability of a sample to reflect the conditions in which it was formed. Through a combination of ultrapure air filtration, ultrapure water and other reagents, use of special materials, and good handling, subtle, trace chemical signals can now be seen in samples processed in this lab. Such signals would not have been detectable in previous Geosciences Group lab facilities.

Contaminant Fate and Transport LaboratoryContaminant Fate and Transport Laboratory
Located in the 331 Building, Lab 146
CSM: Ben Williams (509) 372-6397
Lead Scientist: Wooyong Um

The Contaminant Fate and Transport Laboratory (Lab 146) enables batch sorption/desorption and flow-through saturated column studies to study the environmental fate of inorganic, organic, and radioactive contaminants.

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Testing can be performed at multiple scales, from micro-columns to bench-scale columns with diameters in excess of twelve inches. The lab is equipped with automated sample fraction collectors to facilitate long-term testing of kinetically controlled transport processes. Additionally, testing can be performed under tightly controlled temperature and redox conditions. The laboratory also houses pH meters, balances, ovens, shakers, centrifuges, fume hoods, syringe pumps and column apparatus, and a UV-VIS (Thermo Scientific Evolution 201) spectrophotometer for real time analysis of conservative and reactive tracers.

Geochemistry LaboratoryGeochemistry Laboratory
Located in the 331 Building, Lab 311
CSM: Ben Williams (509) 372-6397
Lead Scientist: Kirk Cantrell

The Geochemistry Laboratory is a high pressure/temperature lab that is used to study geochemical reactions at temperatures and pressures relevant for deep subsurface (carbon sequestration and geothermal) reservoirs.

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Specialized equipment within the laboratory includes eight Parr high pressure/pressure vessels, each with its own heater and pressure/temperature controllers, and an Isco Model 500D syringe pump for transfer of CO2 to the vessels and to pressurize the vessels.

Unique instrumentation includes an Agilent 8453 diode-array spectrophotometer with a custom-designed high-pressure vessel (Parr Instruments, Moline, IL) equipped with integral 1.27-cm-diameter quartz windows on opposite sides to allow the light beam to pass through the vessel. The spectrophotometer is controlled by a computer with Agilent ChemStation software. The temperature of the vessel is regulated with a controller (Parr Model 4848) that supplies power to an embedded cartridge heater based on the response of a thermocouple suspended inside the vessel. The vessel is also equipped with a magnetic drive and a stir shaft to allow mixing. This set-up has been used to perform first-of-their-kind in situ pH measurements at reservoir relevant temperature and pressure conditions.

IC LaboratoryIC Laboratory
Located in the 331 Building, Lab 164
CSM: Keith Geiszler (509) 372-6402
Lead Scientist: Eirik Krogstad

The IC Laboratory houses two ion chromatography (IC) instruments that are used to speciate and analyze major cations, anions, and organic acids in solid and solution samples.

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Additionally, our Dionex ICS-5000 IC instrument is equipped with a second-stage mass spectrometer (IC-MS). This allows cations and anions, and complexes of these, to be analyzed at trace levels. Samples are introduced in solution form and analytes are separated from each other in an ion exchange column. The passage of these analytes is diagnostic of their identities, as separation is based on both the size and charge of the analyte. On the IC-MS, analytes are further separated from each other on the basis of different mass-to-charge ratios

The IC Laboratory also houses a Shimadzu carbon analyzer that is used for measuring and characterizing the concentrations and forms of carbon (organic vs. inorganic) in both solid and liquid samples. The lab is also home to our x-ray fluorescence spectrometer (XRF), which is used for elemental analyses of solids, glasses, and liquids. The XRF can be used to analyze solid or liquid samples, including radioactive samples. Solid sample analysis can be in the form of powders, pressed pellets, or specially fused glass disks (prepared in our laboratory).

Soils LaboratorySoils Laboratory
Located in the 331 Building, Lab 170
CSM: Michelle Snyder (509) 372-6388
Lead Scientist: Nik Qafoku

The Soils Laboratory isover 2,500 ft2 of radiological and non-radiological space used to characterize contaminated soils and sediments, study biogeochemical and hydrodynamic properties, and develop and/or improve site-specific conceptual and predictive models.

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Hypothesis driven research in the interface between basic and applied research has provided our clients with the scientific information needed to: 1. Understand and overcome physical and mineralogical subsurface heterogeneities; 2. Understand mineral-fluid interface complexities and dynamics by identifying and estimating the role of key geochemical and hydrological reactions and processes controlling contaminant fate and transport under a variety of relevant conditions; and 3. Develop conceptual models and apply predictive models of contaminant transport to support development, implementation and monitoring of effective and sustainable remediation approaches.

Over the last few years, researchers have also used this laboratory to conduct experiments and perform solid phase characterization and liquid phase measurements to investigate: 1) the effect of CO2 gas leaked from deep subsurface storage reservoirs on aquifer chemical properties; 2) the performance of different nuclear waste forms under various conditions; 3) soil physical, mineralogical and chemical properties; and 4) subsurface properties of different CO2 sequestration sites as well as unconventional reservoir development via hydraulic fracturing.

Waste Form Durability Testing LaboratoryWaste Form Durability Testing Laboratory
Located in the 331 Building, Lab 148
CSM: Ben Williams (509) 372-6397
Lead Scientist: Jim Neeway

The Waste Form Durability Testing Laboratory has all of the necessary equipment and infrastructure to conduct waste from corrosion studies in support of performance assessments.

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Current testing protocols include the Product Consistency Test (PCT), the Single-Pass Flow-Through Test (SPFT), and the PNNL-patented Pressurized Unsaturated Flow (PUF) test. The PCT and SPFT test methods are American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard test methods to investigate the durability of nuclear waste forms. The PUF test is a unique capability at PNNL that allows us to investigate the behavior of waste forms in an unsaturated disposal environment, such as the Integrated Disposal Facility, which will be used to store low activity nuclear waste at the Hanford site. All of the necessary equipment, including test vessels, tubing, ovens, balances, pH probes, and syringe pumps are available. All testing is performed in strict adherence to national quality assurance protocols, such as those specified with the Nuclear Quality Assurance-1 (NQA-1) program.

Waste Form Formulation and Testing LaboratoryWaste Form Formulation and Testing Laboratory
Located in the 331 Building, Lab 313
CSM: Ben Williams (509) 372-6397
Lead Scientist: Nik Qafoku

The Waste Form Formulation and Testing Laboratory is equipped to conduct small- and large-scale research projects on radioactive and non-radioactive simulated waste form materials.

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This space can accommodate the needs of American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), American Nuclear Society, and EPA test protocols. Activities ranging from analytical scale measurements to bulk material handling can all be performed in compliance with Nuclear Quality Assurance-1 (NQA-1) program requirements. This lab contains the necessary fume hoods, bench space, and material handling equipment to mass produce a high volume of cementitious simulated waste form samples and carry out the long-term leaching tests that require precise measurement of weights, volumes, pH, electrical conductivity, and dissolved oxygen. In addition, this lab contains the Pressurized Unsaturated Flow (PUF) apparatus, which is a PNNL-patented instrument uniquely designed to study glass and waste form competency under accelerated weathering conditions that mimic the partial saturation expected in any future waste repository.

Subsurface Science & Technology