Production of Uranium from Seawater Using a Novel Polymer Adsorbent - Process Development and Cost Analysis Report uri icon



  • Research in developing techniques for extracting uranium from seawater is of considerable current interest. One reason which drives scientists to develop techniques of sequestering uranium from ocean is the prediction that the land-based uranium reserves would be depleted by the end of this century based on the current production rate. Uranium exists in seawater at a very low concentration (about 3 ppb) and as highly stable uranyl tris-carbonato complexes, primarily in the form Ca2[UO2(CO3)3]. Because of the enormous volume of seawater, the total amount of uranium in ocean is estimated to be a thousand times greater than the land-based uranium resources. As early as 1964, the idea of extracting uranium from seawater was discussed by Davies et al. in a Nature paper. In the past decades, many different materials were tested to evaluate their ability for sequestering uranium from seawater. Among them, amidoxime and carboxylate containing polymer fiber adsorbents appear most promising because of their high uranium adsorption capacity and stability in seawater. The carboxylate groups are necessary to make the polymer adsorbent hydrophilic whereas the amidoxime groups provide strong coordination sites for uranyl ions. Moreover, according to theoretical analysis, the adsorbability of uranium may involve synergistic effects of both amidoxime and carboxyl groups in the fiber adsorbent.

publication date

  • 2021


report identifier

  • PNNL-31721