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Title: Inherently safe in situ uranium recovery

Abstract

An in situ recovery of uranium operation involves circulating reactive fluids through an underground uranium deposit. These fluids contain chemicals that dissolve the uranium ore. Uranium is recovered from the fluids after they are pumped back to the surface. Chemicals used to accomplish this include complexing agents that are organic, readily degradable, and/or have a predictable lifetime in an aquifer. Efficiency is increased through development of organic agents targeted to complexing tetravalent uranium rather than hexavalent uranium. The operation provides for in situ immobilization of some oxy-anion pollutants under oxidizing conditions as well as reducing conditions. The operation also artificially reestablishes reducing conditions on the aquifer after uranium recovery is completed. With the ability to have the impacted aquifer reliably remediated, the uranium recovery operation can be considered inherently safe.

Inventors:
;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1130304
Patent Number(s):
8,708,422
Application Number:
13/084,391
Assignee:
Sandia Corporation (Albuquerque, NM) SNL
DOE Contract Number:
AC04-94AL85000
Resource Type:
Patent
Resource Relation:
Patent File Date: 2011 Apr 11
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
38 RADIATION CHEMISTRY, RADIOCHEMISTRY, AND NUCLEAR CHEMISTRY

Citation Formats

Krumhansl, James L, and Brady, Patrick V. Inherently safe in situ uranium recovery. United States: N. p., 2014. Web.
Krumhansl, James L, & Brady, Patrick V. Inherently safe in situ uranium recovery. United States.
Krumhansl, James L, and Brady, Patrick V. 2014. "Inherently safe in situ uranium recovery". United States. doi:. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1130304.
@article{osti_1130304,
title = {Inherently safe in situ uranium recovery},
author = {Krumhansl, James L and Brady, Patrick V},
abstractNote = {An in situ recovery of uranium operation involves circulating reactive fluids through an underground uranium deposit. These fluids contain chemicals that dissolve the uranium ore. Uranium is recovered from the fluids after they are pumped back to the surface. Chemicals used to accomplish this include complexing agents that are organic, readily degradable, and/or have a predictable lifetime in an aquifer. Efficiency is increased through development of organic agents targeted to complexing tetravalent uranium rather than hexavalent uranium. The operation provides for in situ immobilization of some oxy-anion pollutants under oxidizing conditions as well as reducing conditions. The operation also artificially reestablishes reducing conditions on the aquifer after uranium recovery is completed. With the ability to have the impacted aquifer reliably remediated, the uranium recovery operation can be considered inherently safe.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = 2014,
month = 4
}

Patent:

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  • Expansion of uranium mining in the United States is a concern to some environmental groups and sovereign Native American Nations. An approach which may alleviate some problems is to develop inherently safe in situ uranium recovery ('ISR') technologies. Current ISR technology relies on chemical extraction of trace levels of uranium from aquifers that, once mined, can still contain dissolved uranium and other trace metals that are a health concern. Existing ISR operations are few in number; however, high uranium prices are driving the industry to consider expanding operations nation-wide. Environmental concerns and enforcement of the new 30 ppb uranium drinkingmore » water standard may make opening new mining operations more difficult and costly. Here we propose a technological fix: the development of inherently safe in situ recovery (ISISR) methods. The four central features of an ISISR approach are: (1) New 'green' leachants that break down predictably in the subsurface, leaving uranium, and associated trace metals, in an immobile form; (2) Post-leachant uranium/metals-immobilizing washes that provide a backup decontamination process; (3) An optimized well-field design that increases uranium recovery efficiency and minimizes excursions of contaminated water; and (4) A combined hydrologic/geochemical protocol for designing low-cost post-extraction long-term monitoring. ISISR would bring larger amounts of uranium to the surface, leave fewer toxic metals in the aquifer, and cost less to monitor safely - thus providing a 'win-win-win' solution to all stakeholders.« less
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  • Uranium is leached from redox roll ore deposits by selective in-situ leaching with a solution of pH 7.4 to 9 (preferably 7.5 to 8.5) containing from about 0.5 to 5g/l of NH/sub 4/HCO/sub 3/ and from about 0.1 to 3g/l of peroxide (preferably aqueous H/sub 2/O/sub 2/), and sufficient NH/sub 3/ to maintain the desired pH. The leach solution is then withdrawn from the ore deposit and contacted with a strong base anion exchange material to strip the uranium from the leach solution. The uranium is eluted from the anion exchange material by an aqueous eluant, and the uranium ismore » recovered from the eluate by first acidifying it and then treating it with ammonia to produce a precipitate of relatively pure ammonium diuranate. The content of the three components in the stripped leach solution is adjusted, and then the leach solution is recirculated through the ore deposit. After the uranium ore is removed to the extent economically practicable, the leach solution is replaced with an aqueous reducing solution which when passed into the ore deposit precipitates and renders insoluble any uranium and elements such as vanadium, molybdenum, and selenium. This process produces above ground a very low volume of impurities and waste solutions requiring disposal and does not cause material contamination of the underground deposit or any aquifer associated with the deposit.« less