Compared with land, the uranium resources in seawater can even be described as “inexhaustible”. The reserves of uranium in seawater are about 4.5 billion tons, which is equivalent to 1,000 times the reserves of uranium mines on land. With the continuous progress of seawater uranium extraction technology, if the uranium resources in seawater can be effectively utilized in the future, it will be enough to ensure the sustainable development of nuclear power and meet the human demand for energy. Previously, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the United States discovered a new type of seawater uranium sorbent that can be regenerated and reused in a mild carbonate solution. With the continuous improvement of the performance of uranium extraction materials, the problem of insufficient technical reserves for uranium extraction from seawater has become increasingly prominent.
Researchers at Hainan University in China have created a special sponge that can be used to help clean up nuclear waste, and more importantly, it can also be used to extract uranium resources from seawater. Modified melamine foam made of melamine foam, the material is mostly used in household cleaning sponge, building noise reduction, rail vehicle insulation, automotive sound-absorbing materials and other fields. Melamine foam has a high open cell rate of 99%, and the water/liquid absorption rate is 90 times its own weight.
The melamine foam is soaked in a solution containing a chemical that easily binds to uranium and air-dried. The internal structure of the sponge leaves behind a chemical film. When the sponge was immersed in five tons of seawater for eight weeks, it absorbed about 1.9 milligrams of uranium per gram, which is similar to the amount produced by other methods of obtaining uranium from the ocean. Compared to other methods of extracting uranium using plastic, melamine sponges are more biodegradable and therefore more environmentally friendly.
After the modified melamine foam absorbs uranium, it takes on the yellow color that this element has. By rinsing, the uranium can be extracted as fuel for nuclear power plants. The sponge can then be repositioned in the ocean. The sponge loses some of its efficacy with each recycling process because it builds up other elements that are harder to clean, and this creates a problem with the consumption of large quantities of product. This method is currently more expensive than mining uranium, but when the mineral is eventually depleted, relatively little sponge material can be used, which can be removed from the sea Obtain a large amount of nuclear fuel, which plays a very important role in the extraction of uranium from seawater.
Currently, the easiest way to obtain uranium is to start mining from ore in the Earth’s crust. It needs to go through a very complex process, including prospecting, mining, beneficiation, leaching, smelting, refining and other processes. If a further seawater uranium extraction technology can be developed, it can be controlled by selective control to realize the multi-intensity control in the ocean. At the same time, the technology research and development of uranium extraction from seawater should pay attention to the combination with mature industries such as seawater desalination and sea salt extraction, so as to realize the comprehensive utilization of marine resources.
SINOYQX will provide free melamine foam materials for major scientific research institutions for the research and development of modified melamine foam uranium materials.
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