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Title: Investigations Into the Reusability of Amidoxime-Based Polymeric Uranium Adsorbents

Abstract

Significant advancements in amidoxime-based polymeric adsorbents to extract uranium from seawater are achieved in recent years. The success of uranium adsorbent development can help provide a sustainable supply of fuel for nuclear reactors. To bring down the production cost of this new technology, in addition to the development of novel adsorbents with high uranium capacity and manufacture cost, the development of adsorbent re-using technique is critical because it can further reduce the cost of the adsorbent manufacture. In our last report, the use of high concentrations of bicarbonate solution (3M KHCO3) was identified as a cost-effective, environmental friendly method to strip uranium from amidoxime-based polymeric adsorbents. This study aims to further improve the method for high recovery of uranium capacity in re-uses and to evaluate the performance of adsorbents after multiple re-use cycles. Adsorption of dissolved organic matter (DOM) on the uranium adsorbents during seawater exposure can hinder the uranium adsorption and slow down the adsorption rate. An additional NaOH rinse (0.5 M NaOH, room temperature) was applied after the 3 M KHCO3 elution to remove natural organic matter from adsorbents. The combination of 3 M KHCO3 elution and 0.5 M NaOH rinse significantly improves the recovery of uranium adsorptionmore » capacity in the re-used adsorbents. In the first re-use, most ORNL adsorbents tested achieve ~100% recovery by using 3 M KHCO3 elution + 0.5 M NaOH rinse approach, in comparison to 54% recovery when only 3 M KHCO3 elution was applied. A significant drop in capacity was observed when the adsorbents went through more than one re-use. FTIR spectra revealed that degradation of amidoxime ligands occurs during seawater exposure, and is more significant the longer the exposure time. Significantly elevated ratios of Ca/U and Mg/U in re-used adsorbents support the decrease in abundance of amidoxime ligands and increase carboxylate group from FT-IR analysis. The impact of the length of seawater exposure cycle in adsorbent re-use was evaluated by comparing the adsorption capacity for a common adsorbent formulation (ORNL AI8 formulation) under different exposure cycle (28 days and 42 days). Adsorbents with a 28 days seawater exposure cycle had higher recovery of uranium capacity than adsorbent with 42 days of seawater exposure. Under different cumulative seawater exposure time, the adsorbent with 28 days seawater exposure cycle also had less amidoxime ligands degradation than the adsorbent with 42 days seawater exposure cycle. These observations support the negative impact of prolonged seawater exposure on amidoxime ligands stability. Recovery of uranium capacity in re-uses also varies across different adsorbent formulations. Among three different ORNL adsorbents tested (AI8, AF8, AF1-DMSO), AI8 had the best recovery in each re-use, followed by AF8 and then AF1-DMSO. This demonstrates that continuing efforts on developing new adsorbents with high capacity and stability is critical. The overall performance of adsorbents in multiple re-use cycles can be evaluated by calculation total harvestable uranium, the summation of adsorbed uranium from each seawater exposure cycle. In this assessment, the ORNL AI8 braid with 28 days seawater exposure cycle can reach total harvestable uranium 10g Uranium/kg adsorbent in ~140 days; while the same type of braid but with 42 days seawater exposure cycle reach the same level in ~170 days. Notably, the performance of total harvestable uranium also varies among different adsorbent formulations (AI8 > AF1-DMSO > AF8). Short seawater exposure cycle is associated with high re-use frequency. The development of low-cost offshore adsorbent deployment/extraction is essential for high frequency reuse operation. This study also highlights the importance to examine the re-use performance of newly developed uranium adsorbents for selection of optimal adsorbents for ocean deployment.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [2];  [3]
  1. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Sequim, WA (United States). Marine Science Lab.
  2. Univ. of Idaho, Moscow, ID (United States); LCW Supercritical Technologies, Seattle, WA (United States)
  3. Univ. of Idaho, Moscow, ID (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1330925
Report Number(s):
PNNL-25874
AF5855000; TRN: US1700471
DOE Contract Number:
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
38 RADIATION CHEMISTRY, RADIOCHEMISTRY, AND NUCLEAR CHEMISTRY; 11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; URANIUM; MATERIALS RECOVERY; EXTRACTION; AMIDES; OXIMES; ORGANIC POLYMERS; SEAWATER; SODIUM HYDROXIDES; ADSORBENTS; ADSORPTION; CAPACITY; COMPARATIVE EVALUATIONS; ELUTRIATION; RINSING; DECOMPOSITION; TIME DEPENDENCE; ORGANIC MATTER; LIGANDS; PERFORMANCE; TEMPERATURE RANGE 0273-0400 K; CONCENTRATION RATIO; STABILITY; POTASSIUM COMPOUNDS; ACID CARBONATES; amidoxime; Marine Sciences Laboratory

Citation Formats

Kuo, Li-Jung, Gill, Gary A., Strivens, Jonathan E., Wood, Jordana R., Schlafer, Nicholas J., Wai, Chien M., and Pan, H. B.. Investigations Into the Reusability of Amidoxime-Based Polymeric Uranium Adsorbents. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.2172/1330925.
Kuo, Li-Jung, Gill, Gary A., Strivens, Jonathan E., Wood, Jordana R., Schlafer, Nicholas J., Wai, Chien M., & Pan, H. B.. Investigations Into the Reusability of Amidoxime-Based Polymeric Uranium Adsorbents. United States. doi:10.2172/1330925.
Kuo, Li-Jung, Gill, Gary A., Strivens, Jonathan E., Wood, Jordana R., Schlafer, Nicholas J., Wai, Chien M., and Pan, H. B.. 2016. "Investigations Into the Reusability of Amidoxime-Based Polymeric Uranium Adsorbents". United States. doi:10.2172/1330925. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1330925.
@article{osti_1330925,
title = {Investigations Into the Reusability of Amidoxime-Based Polymeric Uranium Adsorbents},
author = {Kuo, Li-Jung and Gill, Gary A. and Strivens, Jonathan E. and Wood, Jordana R. and Schlafer, Nicholas J. and Wai, Chien M. and Pan, H. B.},
abstractNote = {Significant advancements in amidoxime-based polymeric adsorbents to extract uranium from seawater are achieved in recent years. The success of uranium adsorbent development can help provide a sustainable supply of fuel for nuclear reactors. To bring down the production cost of this new technology, in addition to the development of novel adsorbents with high uranium capacity and manufacture cost, the development of adsorbent re-using technique is critical because it can further reduce the cost of the adsorbent manufacture. In our last report, the use of high concentrations of bicarbonate solution (3M KHCO3) was identified as a cost-effective, environmental friendly method to strip uranium from amidoxime-based polymeric adsorbents. This study aims to further improve the method for high recovery of uranium capacity in re-uses and to evaluate the performance of adsorbents after multiple re-use cycles. Adsorption of dissolved organic matter (DOM) on the uranium adsorbents during seawater exposure can hinder the uranium adsorption and slow down the adsorption rate. An additional NaOH rinse (0.5 M NaOH, room temperature) was applied after the 3 M KHCO3 elution to remove natural organic matter from adsorbents. The combination of 3 M KHCO3 elution and 0.5 M NaOH rinse significantly improves the recovery of uranium adsorption capacity in the re-used adsorbents. In the first re-use, most ORNL adsorbents tested achieve ~100% recovery by using 3 M KHCO3 elution + 0.5 M NaOH rinse approach, in comparison to 54% recovery when only 3 M KHCO3 elution was applied. A significant drop in capacity was observed when the adsorbents went through more than one re-use. FTIR spectra revealed that degradation of amidoxime ligands occurs during seawater exposure, and is more significant the longer the exposure time. Significantly elevated ratios of Ca/U and Mg/U in re-used adsorbents support the decrease in abundance of amidoxime ligands and increase carboxylate group from FT-IR analysis. The impact of the length of seawater exposure cycle in adsorbent re-use was evaluated by comparing the adsorption capacity for a common adsorbent formulation (ORNL AI8 formulation) under different exposure cycle (28 days and 42 days). Adsorbents with a 28 days seawater exposure cycle had higher recovery of uranium capacity than adsorbent with 42 days of seawater exposure. Under different cumulative seawater exposure time, the adsorbent with 28 days seawater exposure cycle also had less amidoxime ligands degradation than the adsorbent with 42 days seawater exposure cycle. These observations support the negative impact of prolonged seawater exposure on amidoxime ligands stability. Recovery of uranium capacity in re-uses also varies across different adsorbent formulations. Among three different ORNL adsorbents tested (AI8, AF8, AF1-DMSO), AI8 had the best recovery in each re-use, followed by AF8 and then AF1-DMSO. This demonstrates that continuing efforts on developing new adsorbents with high capacity and stability is critical. The overall performance of adsorbents in multiple re-use cycles can be evaluated by calculation total harvestable uranium, the summation of adsorbed uranium from each seawater exposure cycle. In this assessment, the ORNL AI8 braid with 28 days seawater exposure cycle can reach total harvestable uranium 10g Uranium/kg adsorbent in ~140 days; while the same type of braid but with 42 days seawater exposure cycle reach the same level in ~170 days. Notably, the performance of total harvestable uranium also varies among different adsorbent formulations (AI8 > AF1-DMSO > AF8). Short seawater exposure cycle is associated with high re-use frequency. The development of low-cost offshore adsorbent deployment/extraction is essential for high frequency reuse operation. This study also highlights the importance to examine the re-use performance of newly developed uranium adsorbents for selection of optimal adsorbents for ocean deployment.},
doi = {10.2172/1330925},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = 2016,
month = 9
}

Technical Report:

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  • The ability to re-use amidoxime-based polymeric adsorbents is a critical component in reducing the overall cost of the technology to extract uranium from seawater. This report describes an evaluation of adsorbent reusability in multiple re-use (adsorption/stripping) cycles in real seawater exposures with potassium bicarbonate (KHCO3) elution using several amidoxime-based polymeric adsorbents. The KHCO3 elution technique achieved ~100% recovery of uranium adsorption capacity in the first re-use. Subsequent re-uses showed significant drops in adsorption capacity. After the 4th re-use with the ORNL AI8 adsorbent, the 56-day adsorption capacity dropped to 28% of its original capacity. FTIR spectra revealed that there wasmore » a conversion of the amidoxime ligands to carboxylate groups during extended seawater exposure, becoming more significant with longer the exposure time. Ca and Mg adsorption capacities also increased with each re-use cycle supporting the hypothesis that long term exposure resulted in converting amidoxime to carboxylate, enhancing the adsorption of Ca and Mg. Shorter seawater exposure (adsorption/stripping) cycles (28 vs. 42 days) had higher adsorption capacities after re-use, but the shorter exposure cycle time did not produce an overall better performance in terms of cumulative exposure time. Recovery of uranium capacity in re-uses may also vary across different adsorbent formulations. Through multiple re-use the adsorbent AI8 can harvest 10 g uranium/kg adsorbent in ~140 days, using a 28-day adsorption/stripping cycle, a performance much better than would be achieved with a single use of the adsorbent through very long-term exposure (saturation capacity = 7.4 g U/kg adsorbent). A time dependent seawater exposure model to evaluate the cost associated with reusing amidoxime-based adsorbents in real seawater exposures was developed. The cost to extract uranium from seawater ranged from $610-830/kg U was predicted. Model simulation suggests that a short seawater exposure cycle (< 15 days) is the optimal deployment period for lower uranium production cost in seawater uranium mining.« less
  • Amidoxime-based polymeric braid adsorbents that can extract uranium (U) from seawater are being developed to provide a sustainable supply of fuel for nuclear reactors. A critical step in the development of the technology is to develop elution procedures to selectively remove U from the adsorbents and to do so in a manner that allows the adsorbent material to be reused. This study investigates use of high concentrations of bicarbonate along with targeted chelating agents as an alternative means to the mild acid elution procedures currently in use for selectively eluting uranium from amidoxime-based polymeric adsorbents.
  • The Fuel Resources Program at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE), Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) is developing adsorbent technology to extract uranium from seawater. This technology is being developed to provide a sustainable and economically viable supply of uranium fuel for nuclear reactors (DOE, 2010). Among the key environmental variables to understand for adsorbent deployment in the coastal ocean is what effect flow-rates or linear velocity has on uranium adsorption capacity. The goal is to find a flow conditions that optimize uranium adsorption capacity in the shortest exposure time. Understanding these criteria will be critical in choosing a locationmore » for deployment of a marine adsorbent farm. The objective of this study was to identify at what linear velocity the adsorption kinetics for uranium extraction starts to drop off due to limitations in mass transport of uranium to the surface of the adsorbent fibers. Two independent laboratory-based experimental approaches using flow-through columns and recirculating flumes for adsorbent exposure were used to assess the effect of flow-rate (linear velocity) on the kinetic uptake of uranium on amidoxime-based polymeric adsorbent material. Time series observations over a 56 day period were conducted with flow-through columns over a 35-fold range in linear velocity from 0.29 to 10.2 cm/s, while the flume study was conducted over a narrower 11-fold range, from 0.48 to 5.52 cm/s. These ranges were specifically chosen to focus on the lower end of oceanic currents and expand above and below the linear velocity of ~ 2.5 cm/s adopted for marine testing of adsorbent material at PNNL.« less
  • The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has been conducting marine testing of uranium adsorbent materials for the Fuel Resources Program, Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) beginning in FY 2012. The marine testing program is being conducted at PNNL’s Marine Sciences Laboratory (MSL), located at Sequim Bay, along the coast of Washington. One of the main efforts of the marine testing program is the determination of adsorption capacity and adsorption kinetics for uranium and selected other elements (e.g. vanadium, iron, copper, nickel, and zinc) for adsorbent materials provided primarily by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), but also includesmore » other Fuel Resources Program participants. This report summarizes the major marine testing results that have been obtained to date using time series sampling for 42 to 56 days using either flow-through column or recirculating flume exposures. The major results are highlighted in this report, and the full data sets are appended as a series of Excel spreadsheet files. Over the four year period (2012-2016) that marine testing of amidoxime-based polymeric adsorbents was conducted at PNNL’s Marine Science Laboratory, there has been a steady progression of improvement in the 56-day adsorbent capacity from 3.30 g U/kg adsorbent for the ORNL 38H adsorbent to the current best performing adsorbent prepared by a collaboration between the University of Tennessee and ORNL to produce the adsorbent SB12-8, which has an adsorption capacity of 6.56 g U/kg adsorbent. This nearly doubling of the adsorption capacity in four years is a significant advancement in amidoxime-based adsorbent technology and a significant achievement for the Uranium from Seawater program. The achievements are evident when compared to the several decades of work conducted by the Japanese scientists beginning in the 1980’s (Kim et al., 2013). The best adsorbent capacity reported by the Japanese scientists was 3.2 g U/kg adsorbent for a 180 day deployment at temperatures between 15 and 25 °C (Kim et al., 2013) The majority of the capacities the Japanese scientists reported were less than 2 g U/kg adsorbent (Kim et al., 2013). Repeated time series measurements of a common formulation of amidoxime-based adsorbent, the ORNL AF series, by both flow-through column (3.91 ± 0.11 g U/kg adsorbent). and recirculating flume exposures (4.03 ± 0.12 g U/kg adsorbent) produced 56-day adsorption capacities that agreed extremely well. This excellent agreement generates confidence that the testing procedures are accurate and reliable, and, moreover, that the technology to produce the adsorbents is highly reliable and reproducible, lending additional confidence of the robustness and homogeneity of the production technology.« less
  • Amidoxime-based polymer fibers are considered one of the most promising materials for sequestering uranium from seawater. The high-surface-area polymer fibers containing amidoxime and carboxylate groups synthesized by Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL-AF1) show very high uranium adsorption capacities known in the literature. Effective elution of uranium and repeated use of the adsorbent are important factors affecting the cost of producing uranium from seawater using this material. Traditional acid leaching of uranium followed by KOH conditioning of the fiber causes chemical changes and physical damage to the ORNL-AF1 adsorbent. Two alkaline solution leaching methods were developed by this project, one usesmore » a highly concentrated (3 M) potassium bicarbonate solution at pH 8.3 and 40 °C; the other uses a mixture of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide at pH 10.4. Both elution methods do not require KOH conditioning prior to reusing the fiber adsorbent. The conditions of eluting uranium from the amidoxime-based adsorbent using these alkaline solutions are confirmed by thermodynamic calculations. The bicarbonate elution method is selective for uranium recovery compared to other elution methods and causes no chemical change to the fiber material based on FTIR spectroscopy« less