Nuclear fuel from the ocean can provide energy for thousands of years

Using a new method of collection, scientists from Stanford University able to isolate three times more uranium from the ocean for the 11-hour period than was previously possible. This method can be an environmentally friendly alternative to current methods of extraction of uranium and make nuclear power a more attractive energy option.

Nuclear fuel from the ocean can provide energy for thousands of years

Developing ocean

Let's face it. Nuclear power is not going anywhere anytime soon. International agency predicts, even the Atomic Energy that total production of nuclear energy will increase by 68 percent over the next 15 years. And if we leave aside the debate on whether nuclear power is in itself a good alternative to fossil fuels, production process of its main ingredient was never friendly to the environment.

This ingredient - uranium - is a highly radioactive isotope which can be used for boiling water and steam generation. This steam is typically used in the future to generate electricity. The world's 450 nuclear power stations using uranium, through which about 60 000 tonnes of heavy metal annually. This is a fairly common element, but the main issue is that the uranium is mined by the explosion of giant holes in the crust and the subsequent metal recovery of formed lumps. To correct this process, a group of scientists from Stanford University in California, has developed a better solution. Group aggressively looking for eco-friendly alternative to uranium extraction of raw materials, so developed a method to extract the resource directly from the ocean. Their results were published in Nature.

Believe it or not, but a lot of uranium in the earth's oceans. The problem is the level of concentration: it is very low. "The concentrations are tiny, one a kernel of salt per liter of water," says Yi Cui, Stanford researcher. "But the oceans are so big that if we can extract these trace amounts of cost-effective, delivery will be endless."

When the uranium is in contact with oxygen in the ocean, it forms uranyl compound. The researchers plan to collect the huge reserves it using amidoksin, connection, pulling only uranium from water. Amidoksinom coated pair of carbon electrodes that can accumulate giant amount uranyl.

Scientists exposed his method of checking and found that we were able to remove three times more uranyl 11-hour period, if we compare them with the previous method, when used only covered amidoksinom brush.

Nuclear viability

Although this study shows how much can be feasible uranium collection, it is necessary to conduct many more studies to these methods can be applied in large quantities. Unfortunately, now much easier to extract uranium from the ground rather than from the ocean.

Furthermore, no debate continues as to whether the nuclear power good alternative to fossil fuels. While this process and non-carbon, uranium conversion into electricity creates many hazardous wastes, which are difficult to dispose. Accidents at nuclear power plants is also impossible to prevent - we all remember the recent incident at Fukushima.

If we discard the sentiments and strictly to look at alternatives to carbon-free energy production, nuclear energy does not seem a bad choice, if we can mitigate its disadvantages. Well, at least we know that research is being conducted on the topic of how to deliver us from the hazardous waste once and for all.