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Title: Uraniferous Phosphates: Resource, Security Risk, or Contaminant

Abstract

The escalation of the price of uranium (U) yellow cake (summer high = $130/0.454 kg (lb) has called into question the continuing availability of sufficient stockpiles and ores to process. As was developed during the years following World War II, the establishment and maintenance of a strategic inventory is a reasonable consideration for today. Therefore, it becomes critical to look at potential secondary resources beyond the classical ore suites now being utilized. The most economically viable future secondary source seems to be the byproducts of the beneficiation of phosphoric acids derived from phosphate ores. Phosphorous (P) is an essential nutrient for plants; its deficiency can result in highly restrictive limitations in crop productivity. Acidic soils in tropical and subtropical regions of the world are often P deficient with high P-sorption (fixation) capacities. To correct this deficiency, efficient water-soluble P fertilizers are required. The use of raw phosphate rocks not only adds phosphate but also its contained contaminants, including uranium to the treated land. Another immediate difficulty is phosphogypsum, the standard byproduct of simple extraction. It, for practical purposes, has been selectively classified as TENORM by regulators. The imposition of these standards presents major current and future disposal and re-utilization problems.more » Therefore, establishing an economically viable system that allows for uranium byproduct extraction from phosphoric acids is desirable. Such a system would be dependent on yellow cake base price stability, reserve estimates, political conditions, nation-state commitment, and dependence on nuclear energy. The accumulation of yellow cake from the additional extraction process provides a valuable commodity and allows the end acid to be a more environmentally acceptable product. The phosphogypsum already accumulated, as well as that which is in process, will not make a viable component for a radiation disposal devise (RDD). Concern for weapon proliferation by rogue nation states from the byproduct production of yellowcake is an unlikely scenario. To extract the fissile U-235 (0.07%) isotope from the yellowcake (99.3%) requires the erection of a costly major gaseous diffusion or a cascading centrifuge facility. Such a facility would be extremely difficult to mask. Therefore, from a diminished security risk and positive economic and environmental viewpoints, the utilization of a phosphoric acid beneficiation process extracting uranium is desirable. (authors)« less

Authors:
;  [1];  [2];  [3]
  1. Department of Geological Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso, Texas (United States)
  2. U. T. Houston School of Public Health, El Paso, Texas (United States)
  3. Medical Physicist, Radiological Physics, Inc., El Paso, Texas (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
WM Symposia, 1628 E. Southern Avenue, Suite 9 - 332, Tempe, AZ 85282 (United States)
OSTI Identifier:
21326175
Report Number(s):
INIS-US-10-WM-08476
TRN: US10V0640067540
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: WM'08: Waste Management Symposium 2008 - HLW, TRU, LLW/ILW, Mixed, Hazardous Wastes and Environmental Management - Phoenix Rising: Moving Forward in Waste Management, Phoenix, AZ (United States), 24-28 Feb 2008; Other Information: Country of input: France; 34 refs
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; EXTRACTION; HAZARDS; PHOSPHATE ROCKS; PHOSPHATES; PHOSPHORIC ACID; URANIUM; URANIUM OXIDES U3O8

Citation Formats

LeMone, D.V., Goodell, Ph.C., Gibbs, S.G., and Winston, J.W. Uraniferous Phosphates: Resource, Security Risk, or Contaminant. United States: N. p., 2008. Web.
LeMone, D.V., Goodell, Ph.C., Gibbs, S.G., & Winston, J.W. Uraniferous Phosphates: Resource, Security Risk, or Contaminant. United States.
LeMone, D.V., Goodell, Ph.C., Gibbs, S.G., and Winston, J.W. Tue . "Uraniferous Phosphates: Resource, Security Risk, or Contaminant". United States.
@article{osti_21326175,
title = {Uraniferous Phosphates: Resource, Security Risk, or Contaminant},
author = {LeMone, D.V. and Goodell, Ph.C. and Gibbs, S.G. and Winston, J.W.},
abstractNote = {The escalation of the price of uranium (U) yellow cake (summer high = $130/0.454 kg (lb) has called into question the continuing availability of sufficient stockpiles and ores to process. As was developed during the years following World War II, the establishment and maintenance of a strategic inventory is a reasonable consideration for today. Therefore, it becomes critical to look at potential secondary resources beyond the classical ore suites now being utilized. The most economically viable future secondary source seems to be the byproducts of the beneficiation of phosphoric acids derived from phosphate ores. Phosphorous (P) is an essential nutrient for plants; its deficiency can result in highly restrictive limitations in crop productivity. Acidic soils in tropical and subtropical regions of the world are often P deficient with high P-sorption (fixation) capacities. To correct this deficiency, efficient water-soluble P fertilizers are required. The use of raw phosphate rocks not only adds phosphate but also its contained contaminants, including uranium to the treated land. Another immediate difficulty is phosphogypsum, the standard byproduct of simple extraction. It, for practical purposes, has been selectively classified as TENORM by regulators. The imposition of these standards presents major current and future disposal and re-utilization problems. Therefore, establishing an economically viable system that allows for uranium byproduct extraction from phosphoric acids is desirable. Such a system would be dependent on yellow cake base price stability, reserve estimates, political conditions, nation-state commitment, and dependence on nuclear energy. The accumulation of yellow cake from the additional extraction process provides a valuable commodity and allows the end acid to be a more environmentally acceptable product. The phosphogypsum already accumulated, as well as that which is in process, will not make a viable component for a radiation disposal devise (RDD). Concern for weapon proliferation by rogue nation states from the byproduct production of yellowcake is an unlikely scenario. To extract the fissile U-235 (0.07%) isotope from the yellowcake (99.3%) requires the erection of a costly major gaseous diffusion or a cascading centrifuge facility. Such a facility would be extremely difficult to mask. Therefore, from a diminished security risk and positive economic and environmental viewpoints, the utilization of a phosphoric acid beneficiation process extracting uranium is desirable. (authors)},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Tue Jul 01 00:00:00 EDT 2008},
month = {Tue Jul 01 00:00:00 EDT 2008}
}

Conference:
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