China commits to uranium extraction from seawater

China commits to uranium extraction from seawater

Recently, CNNC, as an engineering main body and user, established China Innovation Alliance for Uranium Extraction from Seawater, in Beijing. According to reports, the alliance relies on China National Nuclear Corporation and other scientific research institutes and also joins nearly 20 research institutions and universities with good research foundations in the field and hires Chinese Academy of Engineering as senior consultants.

The Alliance will focus on the following aspects: formulating seawater uranium technology and product standard systems, and conducting technical and economic evaluations; All members will accelerate the development of core technologies and new products, and focus on promoting the construction of seawater uranium research platforms and test bases; actively strive for national policies, jointly apply for nation-level research projects, and nation-level laboratories; provides advice and technical support.

Uranium resources are strategic resources and energy minerals for both military and civilian use. Compared to those in land, uranium resources in seawater can even be described as “inexhaustible”. Its content in seawater is about 4.5 billion tons, which is 1000 times the proven reserves of uranium on land. However, the concentration of uranium in seawater is extremely low. It is a huge challenge to study cost-effective seawater uranium extraction technology.

Data shows that the average amount of uranium contained in the crustal material is about 2.5 grams per ton, but the concentration of uranium in seawater is extremely low, only 0.0033 grams per ton. How to extract low concentrated uranium in seawater is the primary technical problem; secondly, how to selectively extract uranium from seawater in the presence of other large interfering ions is a big challenge too; thirdly, it is an issue of cost. At present, it is internationally recognized that only when the extraction cost of per kilogram of uranium is less than 1,700 US dollars, it may have a prospect of worldwide application.

Nowadays, China’s seawater uranium extraction has made great progress in the development of adsorption materials and equipment technology, but it still has a long way to go from real commercial development.

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Elaine Li

Elaine Li (李益楠) is Marketing Manager for the Chinese Market. With ten years of experience in the nuclear power market, Elaine is experts for the certification of safety equipment (HAF 604 and 601) and marketing intelligence.