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Extracting uranium from sea water may be possible

A new material developed by researchers could make fuelling nuclear reactors with uranium harvested from the ocean more feasible.

world Updated: Aug 22, 2012 23:54 IST

A new material developed by researchers could make fuelling nuclear reactors with uranium harvested from the ocean more feasible.

The combination of Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) high-capacity reusable adsorbents and a Florida company's high-surface-area polyethylene fibres creates a material that can rapidly, selectively and economically extract valuable and precious dissolved metals from water.

The material, HiCap, vastly outperforms today's best adsorbents, which perform surface retention of solid or gas molecules, atoms or ions. HiCap also effectively removes toxic metals from water, according to results verified by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

"We have shown that our adsorbents can extract five to seven times more uranium at uptake rates seven times faster than the world's best adsorbents," Chris Janke, member of ORNL, said.