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Title: Synthesis, Development, and Testing of High-Surface-Area Polymer-Based Adsorbents for the Selective Recovery of Uranium from Seawater

The ocean contains uranium with an approximate concentration of 3.34 ppb, which can serve as an incredible supply source to sustain nuclear energy in the United States. Unfortunately, technology currently available to recover uranium from seawater is not efficient enough and mining uranium on land is still more economical. For this study, we have developed polymer-based adsorbents with high uranium adsorption capacities by grafting amidoxime onto high-surface-area polyethylene (PE) fibers. Various process conditions have been screened, in combination with developing a rapid testing protocol (<24 h), to optimize the process. These adsorbents are synthesized through radiation-induced grafting of acrylonitrile (AN) and methacrylic acid (MAA) onto PE fibers, followed by the conversion of nitriles to amidoximes and basic conditioning. In addition, the uranium adsorption capacity, measured in units of g U/kg ads, is greatly increased by reducing the diameter of the PE fiber or changing its morphology. An increase in the surface area of the PE polymer fiber allows for more grafting sites that are positioned in more-accessible locations, thereby increasing access to grafted molecules that would normally be located in the interior of a fiber with a larger diameter. Polymer fibers with hollow morphologies are able to adsorb beyond 1more » order of magnitude more uranium from simulated seawater than current commercially available adsorbents. Finally, several high-surface-area fibers were tested in natural seawater and were able to extract 5–7 times more uranium than any adsorbent reported to date.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Chemical Sciences Division
  2. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Material Science and Technology Division
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 55; Journal Issue: 15; Journal ID: ISSN 0888-5885
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE)
Country of Publication:
United States
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; 37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL, AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; adsorbent; uranium; high surface area; seawater
OSTI Identifier: