Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Using Waste To Recover Waste Uranium

Date:
September 19, 2009
Source:
Society for General Microbiology
Summary:
Using bacteria and inositol phosphate, a chemical analogue of a cheap waste material from plants, researchers have recovered uranium from the polluted waters from uranium mines. The same technology can also be used to clean up nuclear waste.

Using bacteria and inositol phosphate, a chemical analogue of a cheap waste material from plants, researchers at Birmingham University have recovered uranium from the polluted waters from uranium mines. The same technology can also be used to clean up nuclear waste. Professor Lynne Macaskie, this week (7-10 September), presented the group's work to the Society for General Microbiology's meeting at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

Related Articles


Bacteria, in this case, E. coli, break down a source of inositol phosphate (also called phytic acid), a phosphate storage material in seeds, to free the phosphate molecules. The phosphate then binds to the uranium forming a uranium phosphate precipitate on the bacterial cells that can be harvested to recover the uranium.

This process was first described in 1995, but then a more expensive additive was used and that, combined with the then low price of uranium, made the process uneconomic. The discovery that inositol phosphate was potentially six times more effective as well as being a cheap waste material means that the process becomes economically viable, especially as the world price of uranium is likely to increase as countries move to expand their nuclear technologies in a bid to produce low-carbon energy.

As an example, if pure inositol phosphate, bought from a commercial supplier is used, the cost of this process is 1.72 per gram of uranium recovered. If a cheaper source of inositol phosphate is used (eg calcium phytate) the cost reduces to 0.09 for each gram of recovered uranium. At 2007 prices, uranium cost 0.211/g; it is currently 0.09/g. These prices make the process economic overall because there is also an environmental protection benefit. Use of low-grade inositol phosphate from agricultural wastes would bring the cost down still further and the economic benefit will also increase as the price of uranium is forecast to rise again.

"The UK has no natural uranium reserves, although a significant amount of uranium is produced in nuclear wastes. There is no global shortage of uranium but from the point of view of energy security the EU needs to be able to recover as much uranium as possible from mine run-offs (which in any case pollute the environment) as well as recycling as much uranium as possible from nuclear wastes," commented Professor Macaskie, "By using a cheap feedstock easily obtained from plant wastes we have shown that an economic, scalable process for uranium recovery is possible".


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for General Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for General Microbiology. "Using Waste To Recover Waste Uranium." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090907013804.htm>.
Society for General Microbiology. (2009, September 19). Using Waste To Recover Waste Uranium. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090907013804.htm
Society for General Microbiology. "Using Waste To Recover Waste Uranium." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090907013804.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) A British solar power start-up says that by covering millions of existing car park spaces around the UK with flexible solar panels, the country's power problems could be solved. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microsoft Adds Robot Guards, Ushers In Sci-Fi Apocalypse

Microsoft Adds Robot Guards, Ushers In Sci-Fi Apocalypse

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Microsoft has robotic security guards working at its Silicon Valley Campus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
US Army Completes Ebola Treatment Unit

US Army Completes Ebola Treatment Unit

Reuters - US Online Video (Nov. 22, 2014) The US Army of engineers completes Ebola treatment center in Liberia. Julie Noce reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Toyota presented its hydrogen fuel-cell compact car called "Mirai" to US consumers at the Los Angeles auto show. The car should go on sale in 2015 for around $60.000. It combines stored hydrogen with oxygen to generate its own power. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins