Scientists have developed a method of extraction of uranium from sea water

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2018-06-17 15:30:07

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Scientists have developed a method of extraction of uranium from sea water

The Scientists made a scientific breakthrough that could open the door to a new method of production and source of nuclear fuel – the World ocean, which contains accumulated over a long time chemical. Check a special fiber that allows you to extract from sea water natural traces of uranium allowed scientists to produce the first 5 grams of a radioactive substance – poroshkoobraznogo uranium concentrate used as fuel in the production of nuclear energy.

"This is a very important achievement, which indicates that this approach is able to provide a commercially attractive method for the production of nuclear fuel from the oceans is the largest source of uranium on the Earth," — says biochemist Gary Gill Pacific Northwest national laboratory (PNNL, USA).

produced the First grams of powdered uranium

For the extraction of substances, the team from PNNL (owned by the U.S. Department of energy) has teamed up with scientists from the company LCW Supercritical Technologies. The latter has developed a special acrylic fiber, which is extracted dissolved in water natural uranium.

"We chemically modified a cheap fiber and turned it into an efficient and reusable absorbent, attractive and exciting Uranus" — explains the President of LCW Supercritical Technologies Chien Wai.

"Opportunities for PNNL in the improvement and testing of this material has provided invaluable support in the development of this technology."

In the early studies, the Wai has helped to develop an extraction process in which uranium is absorbed by the ligand (molecule that interacts with a complementary site of a certain structure), chemically bound with acrylic fibers. To collect molecules of uranium fiber is placed directly in ocean water (or the water is pumped to the laboratory), where it is through a certain amount of time starts to extract floating in it uranium.

Scientists have long worked on the optimization of this method is the production of radioactive substances, and believe that one day it will be of great benefit. Not just because to extract uranium from the ocean will be easier – no need to dig ground uranium mines, — but also because in the oceans can contain virtually an endless supply of this substance.

"Concentrate on first glance very small, equivalent to one crystal salt diluted in one liter of water. But the oceans are so huge that if we could economically extract uranium, you get a virtually endless supply of this nuclear fuel," — comment on third-party researchers from Stanford University, did not participate in the research.

Test absorbent in the laboratory

According to Chien Wai absorbent material is inexpensive to manufacture, and the scale of this production cost is below the cost of mining uranium on land. In the future, significantly below scientists estimate that on the bottom of the ocean may be at least 4 billion tons of uranium, which is approximately 500 times greater than all known reserves available in the ground ore.

The researchers plan to continue work and want to see what types of other chemical substances able to absorb the developed fiber.

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