The overall aim of this project, the Extraction of Uranium from Seawater (ExUS), is the development of an environmentally friendly process for the absorption of uranium from seawater using low cost absorbants.
As such, the project will focus on identifying efficient but low cost absorbents such as waste biomass (e.g. fruit peels, coffee grounds, tea bag residues, potato peels, brewer’s spent grains, etc.), that can be used once over with effective adsorption of uranium from seawater. To minimise the environmental impact of the process, we will focus on those absorbants and absorption processes that require no modification to seawater chemistry.
Thermodynamic modelling will be employed to predict the mechanism of uranium adsorption onto specific active groups within candidate absorbents and how uranium redox state may change during the process. This will serve as a base to choose the absorbent and to guide the optimisation of the uranium adsorption in natural seawater conditions.
Based on these findings, uranium absorption experiments will be conducted on both synthetic and natural seawater using both static batch and continuous feed absorption vessels. Absorption from solution will be monitored by a combination of electrochemical and spectroscopic techniques such as fluorimetry and ICP-MS. The solid biomass substrate will be similarly characterized – so allowing for the best absorbent to be readily identified and comprehensively characterised.
This project will form part of a larger research programme that aims to utilise uranium more effectively, so supporting the development of a sustainable nuclear fuel cycle.
Contact: Prof Claude Degueldre