Ravi Gudavalli began his academic journey at FIU as a graduate environmental engineering student in Fall 2003. Ravi was immediately hired by the Applied Research Center (ARC) in 2003 working as a graduate student research assistant. Upon completing his master’s degree in Fall 2005, Ravi worked as a Research Analyst at ARC for a year. In 2007, Ravi joined the civil engineering doctoral program with a major in environmental engineering. His research directly supported the Department of Energy-Florida International University Cooperative Agreement under Project 2 (Rapid Deployment of Engineered Solutions to Hanford Environmental Problems) in support of DOE-EM’s Office of Soil & Groundwater Remediation (EM-12).
Ravi’s doctoral dissertation, “Effect of pH and Temperature on the Carbonate Promoted Dissolution of Sodium Meta-Autunite,” is focused on the quantification of the effect of bicarbonate ions on the stability of synthetic Na-autunite created as a result of uranium stabilization through polyphosphate injection at the DOE Hanford Site. Ravi’s investigation determined the rate of Na-autunite dissolution under bicarbonate concentrations ranging from 0.0005 – 0.003 M at pH variations from 6 to 11 and temperature variations from 5 to 60oC. Experiments conducted via single-pass flow-through cells showed that the rate of uranium release from synthetic Na-autunite is directly correlated to the bicarbonate concentration. The bicarbonate ion has a tendency to form soluble complexes with uranium, thus releasing uranium from Na-autunite.
His research has been supervised by Dr. Yelena Katsenovich and Dr. Leonel Lagos, with oversight and input from Dr. Dawn Wellman at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The results of his investigation have been presented in the Applied Research Center’s Year End reports prepared for the DOE EM. Dr. Gudavalli has also presented his research at the Waste Management Symposium, and has submitted to the peer-reviewed international journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.
Ravi’s research makes an important contribution to DOE’s Hanford Site remediation efforts as part of the DOE-EM remediation program. As Dr. Wellman quoted in a recent communication regarding this ARC research effort and Ravi’s dissertation:
“The outcome of this study is an important scientific contribution to the understanding of uranium chemistry and autunite dissolution in the presence of bicarbonate ions and can be used for remediation efforts at DOE sites contaminated with uranium.”