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Extracting Uranium from seawater

  1. May 12, 2012 #1
    So, I recently came upon a SA article "How long will the world's uranium supplies last?" (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-long-will-global-uranium-deposits-last), and one of the paragraphs talked about:

    "Two technologies could greatly extend the uranium supply itself. Neither is economical now, but both could be in the future if the price of uranium increases substantially. First, the extraction of uranium from seawater would make available 4.5 billion metric tons of uranium—a 60,000-year supply at present rates. Second, fuel-recycling fast-breeder reactors, which generate more fuel than they consume, would use less than 1 percent of the uranium needed for current LWRs. Breeder reactors could match today's nuclear output for 30,000 years using only the NEA-estimated supplies."

    I am not in nuclear engineering, but I was wondering about the potential of extracting uranium from seawater. I am interested, because if this could be practical, fission could become a very desirable source of energy. Thanks for reading.
    Last edited: May 12, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. May 13, 2012 #2


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    The price of uranium is so low already that it is a rounding error in determining the cost of nuclear power. The economic calculation is driven by the expected cost of the facility and the duration of the construction period.
    A turn key nuclear plant with a guaranteed cost, guaranteed operating approval and off the shelf delivery such as is hoped for from the small modular nuclear reactors would make nuclear power irresistibly attractive. Unfortunately, such a facility does not yet exist.
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