Friday, 12 October 2012

Sea U, Jimmy.

Every quarter, I get sent a copy of Nuclear Connect, a kind of trade journal for the nuclear industry.  There was one particular news story that interested me that I thought I'd pass on.  It concerns a recent announcement at an American Chemical Society, reported by them in a news story here.

The short story is that there is supposed to be at least 4 billion tons of uranium dissolved in seawater.  That's a staggering amount, but of course there is a lot of seawater out there, and even a low concentration of uranium could still amount to an overall huge weight.  Wikipedia seems to think there is about 109 billion tons of water on the Earth.

Apparently a technique, developed in Japan, has cut the cost of extracting uranium from the sea to around $300 per pound of uranium.  That would be at the natural isotopic abundance, presumably, so would need to be enriched for fuel. But still, to know that there is a huge reserve of uranium that can be extracted is useful.  It can always form a backup in case we don't come up with something better.