A new material could potentially be used to extract uranium from seawater more efficiently, new research suggests.
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The world’s oceans contain nearly a thousand times as much uranium as conventional reserves, and researchers have spent decades trying to develop an efficient way to extract it. Experts say it is important to develop such technology because it could serve as insurance in case supplies of uranium for nuclear reactors ever become scarce.
The most advanced system today employs plastic fibers with uranium-binding chemical groups grafted onto their surface. Now, researchers led by Wenbin Lin, a professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have designed a metal-organic framework (MOF) to collect common uranium-containing ions dissolved in seawater.
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