Thursday, July 9, 2009

Japan plans to mine uranium from seawater

Telegraph.co.uk

Japan plans underwater sponges to soak up uranium

Japan is drawing up innovative plans to extract uranium from seawater in an attempt to end the country's reliance on imports for nuclear power stations.


Government-funded scientists have proposed placing huge "uranium farms" on the seabed, consisting of anchored sponges which soak up the element.

Dr Masao Tanada, of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, has developed a fabric made primarily of irradiated polyethylene that is able to soak up the minute amounts of uranium – around 3.3 parts per billion – in the seawater.

The world's oceans contain an estimated 4.5 billion tons of uranium, around 1,000 times the amount that is known to exist in uranium mines.

Dr Tanada claims Japan's nuclear power industry could harvest the 8,000 tons it needs each year a year from the Kuroshio Current that flows along Japan's eastern seaboard.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/5550284/Japan-plans-underwater-sponges-to-soak-up-uranium.html

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