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Title: Enhancement of Extraction of Uranium from Seawater – Final Report

Even at a concentration of 3 μg/L, the world’s oceans contain a thousand times more uranium than currently know terrestrial sources. In order to take advantage of this stockpile, methods and materials must be developed to extract it efficiently, a difficult task considering the very low concentration of the element and the competition for extraction by other atoms in seawater such as sodium, calcium, and vanadium. The majority of current research on methods to extract uranium from seawater are vertical explorations of the grafting of amidoxime ligand which was originally discovered and promoted by Japanese studies in the late 1980s. Our study expands on this research horizontally by exploring the effectiveness of novel uranium extraction ligands grafted to the surface of polymer substrates using radiation. Through this expansion, a greater understanding of uranium binding chemistry and radiation grafting effects on polymers has been obtained. While amidoxime-functionalized fabrics have been shown to have the greatest extraction efficiency so far, they suffer from an extensive chemical processing step which involves treatment with powerful basic solutions. Not only does this add to the chemical waste produced in the extraction process and add to the method’s complexity, but it also significantly impacts the regenerabilitymore » of the amidoxime fabric. The approach of this project has been to utilize alternative, commercially available monomers capable of extracting uranium and containing a carbon-carbon double bond to allow it to be grafted using radiation, specifically phosphate, oxalate, and azo monomers. The use of commercially available monomers and radiation grafting with electron beam or gamma irradiation will allow for an easily scalable fabrication process once the technology has been optimized. The need to develop a cheap and reliable method for extracting uranium from seawater is extremely valuable to energy independence and will extend the quantity of uranium available to the nuclear power industry far into the future. The development of this technology will also promote science in relation to the extraction of other elements from seawater which could expand the known stockpiles of other highly desirable materials.« less
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  1. Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD (United States)
  2. University of Palermo, Palermo (Italy)
  3. The Catholic Univ. of America, Washington, DC (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; 37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL, AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY uranium, seawater, oxalate, phosphate, azo, extraction, electron paramagnetic resonance, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, radiation, grafting