Can uranium extraction from seawater make nuclear power completely renewable?

February 20, 2024, 11:52AMNuclear NewsJames Conca
Researchers have been working frantically to develop an array of materials and fibers to economically extract uranium from seawater—and they have succeeded. PNNL scientists exposed this special uranium-sorbing fiber developed at ORNL to Pseudomonas fluorescens and used the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory to create a 3-D X-ray microtomograph to determine microstructure and the effects of interactions with organisms and seawater. (Image: PNNL)

America, Japan, and China are racing to be the first nation to make nuclear energy completely renewable. The hurdle is making it economical to extract uranium from seawater, because the amount of uranium in seawater is truly inexhaustible.

While America had been in the lead with technological breakthroughs from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest and Oak Ridge National Laboratories, researchers at Northeast Normal University in China have sprung ahead. But these breakthroughs from both countries have brought the removal of uranium from seawater within economic reach. The only question is when will the source of uranium for our nuclear power plants change from mined ore to sea­water extraction?

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