A report from the U.S. Department of Energy claimed that the oceans contain more than four billion tonnes of uranium, enough to keep our cities glowing for:
“the next 10,000 years.”
However, the only problem is the extraction of this uranium from the oceans. The Japanese scientists neared successful uranium mining in 1990. They developed a customized adsorbent material to hold molecules on its surface.
In its attempt to find a way to extract uranium from the ocean, the DoE asked the scientists across America to collaborate and find a feasible solution.
After five years of relentless study, the researchers have now developed unique adsorbent fibers to extract uranium. They have essentially built upon the idea of the Japanese scientists. This material makes uranium extraction cost-effective by reducing the incurred costs by three to four times.
The adsorbent material uses braided polyethylene fibers coated with amidoxime. Amidoxime attracts uranium dioxide, making it stick to the fibers. Uranium is collected as uranyl ions via an acidic treatment. The uranyl ions require further processing before their use as a fuel in nuclear power plants.
The study has been published in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research journal.
Phillip Britt, Division Director of Chemical Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory believes:
“For nuclear power to remain a sustainable energy source, an economically viable and secure source of nuclear fuel must be available. This special journal issue captures the dramatic successes that have been made by researchers across the world to make the oceans live up to their vast promise for a secure energy future.”
The uranium extraction from ocean needs to be made more cost-effective and efficient for it to be used as an alternative fuel source.