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Title: Development of a Kelp-type Structure Module in a Coastal Ocean Model to Assess the Hydrodynamic Impact of Seawater Uranium Extraction Technology

In recent years, with the rapid growth of global energy demand, the interest in extracting uranium from seawater for nuclear energy has been renewed. While extracting seawater uranium is not yet commercially viable, it serves as a “backstop” to the conventional uranium resources and provides an essentially unlimited supply of uranium resource. With recent advances in seawater uranium extraction technology, extracting uranium from seawater could be economically feasible when the extraction devices are deployed at a large scale (e.g., several hundred km2). There is concern however that the large scale deployment of adsorbent farms could result in potential impacts to the hydrodynamic flow field in an oceanic setting. In this study, a kelp-type structure module was incorporated into a coastal ocean model to simulate the blockage effect of uranium extraction devices on the flow field. The module was quantitatively validated against laboratory flume experiments for both velocity and turbulence profiles. The model-data comparison showed an overall good agreement and validated the approach of applying the model to assess the potential hydrodynamic impact of uranium extraction devices or other underwater structures in coastal oceans.
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Resource Type:
Journal Article
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Journal Name: Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 2(1):81-92
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States
seawater uranium extraction; structure module; coastal ocean model; hydrodynamic impact