It is estimated that the oceans hold 4 billion tons of uranium. This amount of uranium would be enough to power the world’s major cities for thousands of years, the trouble is getting it out of the water. Scientists have shown progress on using a material that binds to uranium dioxide in seawater and can later be treated to remove the uranium. This process would entail dragging braided polyethylene fibers coated with amidoxime through the oceans.
The process is still inefficient and expensive, but finding alternatives to uranium ore mining is a necessary step in planning for the future of nuclear energy.
Uranium is only found in seawater at a concentration of 3.3 micrograms per liter, that converts to 1 particle of Uranium to every 3,000,000,000,000,000 particles of the remainder of seawater. The material is inefficient in that only 6 grams of Uranium is adsorbed for every kilogram of the material, or an efficiency of .6% after 8 weeks of collection.
If constant extraction via this method were to be enacted a fleet would need roughly 693,000 kilograms of the material being dragged at all times, just to fuel a single Gigawatt nuclear power plant for the same duration.
Click here for the full article by Jennifer Hackett.