Production of Uranium from Seawater Using a Novel Polymer Adsorbent Process Development and Cost Analysis

Period of Performance: 08/01/2016 - 07/31/2018

$1000K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

LCW Supercritical Technologies Corporation
1310 North Lucas Place Array
Seattle, WA 98103
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

Sea water contains about 3 parts per billion of uranium. With a total ocean volume of approximately 1.3×109 km3, there is at least 4.5 billion tons of uranium in seawater which is about 1000 times the amount of uranium known to exist in terrestrial ores. Developing efficient and reusable adsorbent for economic extraction of uranium from seawater is an active research area in the USA and other countries in the world. In the Phase I study, we discovered that acrylic fiber (yarn) can be converted to an amidoxime and carboxylic acid containing polymer adsorbent which is selective, efficient and reusable for extraction of uranium from seawater. The adsorbent shows a uranium adsorption capacity greater than other adsorbents reported in the literature in real seawater tests. The SBIR Phase II project will test the polymer adsorbent in kilogram quantities in a scaled up operation to produce 10’s gram quantities of uranium oxide from seawater. The proposed uranium from sea water experiments will be carried out using an outdoor circulating raceway flume facility available at PNNL’s Marine Sciences Laboratory in Sequim, Washington. The scale up technology demonstration is necessary for us to obtain data for developing an industrial scale process and to perform cost analysis of the process for production of uranium from seawater. Initial cost analysis based on the data obtained from small sample (50100 mg) tests is promising suggesting that this new technology could make uranium production from seawater economically competitive with the land based uranium mining methods. Key Words – Uranium Production, Seawater, Polymer Adsorbent. A novel uranium selective adsorbent derived from common yarn is capable of extracting uranium from seawater with a high efficiency. The new extraction technology could make uranium production from seawater economically competitive with the land based uranium mining.