Volume 92 Issue 5 | p. 26 | Concentrates
Issue Date: February 3, 2014

Protein Binds Uranyl Ion Selectively

Customized protein extracts dilute uranium ion from seawater in preference to concentrated species
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Environmental SCENE, Biological SCENE, Materials SCENE
Keywords: uranium, uranyl, ocean, seawater, nuclear fuel

The ocean may seem like an unlikely place to mine uranium, but the valuable metal is actually plentiful there. Scientists estimate that the total quantity of uranium in seawater is roughly 4 billion tons, 1,000 times as great as all terrestrial sources combined. But the metal, present in water as uranyl ion (UO22+), cannot be collected and used to fuel nuclear reactors unless selective extraction methods can be designed to nab the highly dilute element. . . .

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