Lingering doubts over the future of US energy security are breathing new life into a technology that has lain dormant for more than a decade.
Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have more than doubled the amount of uranium that can be extracted from seawater using Japanese technology developed in the late 1990s.
The world’s oceans contain around 4.5 billion tons of uranium, enough fuel to power every nuclear plant on the planet for 6,500 years. The results were presented on 21 August at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia.
“Our original goal was to double what the Japanese have achieved with absorption capacity,” says PNNL chemical oceanographer Gary Gill. “We have surpassed that.”