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New breakthrough in extracting uranium from seawater New Breakthrough in Extracting Uranium from Seawater

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Amidst the vast expanse of the ocean, a team of researchers from the Northeast Normal University, Changchun, have unlocked a potential game-changer in the extraction of uranium from seawater. Rui Zhao, Guangshan Zhu, and their colleagues have developed a revolutionary electrode material with an intricate network of microscopic nooks and crannies, tailored for the electrochemical capture of uranium ions from seawater.

The foundation of their invention lies in a supple cloth woven from carbon fibers. This cloth is then coated with two specialized monomers that undergo polymerization. Subsequently, the cloth is treated with hydroxylamine hydrochloride to integrate amidoxime groups into the polymers. Leveraging the natural porous structure of the cloth, this innovative approach creates countless minuscule pockets for the amidoxime to effectively ensnare the uranyl ions.

In their experiments, the research team positioned the coated cloth as a cathode in both naturally sourced and uranium-spiked seawater. They then introduced a graphite anode and initiated a cyclic current between the electrodes. As time elapsed, bright yellow, uranium-based precipitates progressively amassed on the cathode cloth.

Remarkably, tests utilizing seawater from the Bohai Sea showcased that the electrodes extracted an impressive 12.6 milligrams of uranium per gram of coated, active material over the course of 24 days. This capacity surpassed that of the majority of other uranium-extracting materials tested by the team. Moreover, the electrochemical approach facilitated a speed around three times faster than the conventional method of natural accumulation on the cloths.

In the eyes of the researchers, this breakthrough presents an effective methodology to capture uranium from seawater, potentially granting the vast ocean bodies the prospect of evolving into new and abundant suppliers of nuclear fuel.

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