Nuclear power is presently a sustainable energy source, but could become completely renewable if the source of uranium changed from mined ore to seawater. Since U extracted is continuously replenished through geologic processes, nuclear would become as endless as solar. But do renewable and sustainable mean the same thing in the energy world? Not necessarily. As Professor Jason Donev from the University of Calgary puts it, “Not everything renewable is sustainable, and in turn not everything which is sustainable is necessarily renewable.” Research and development on extracting U from seawater has been ongoing since the 1960s, especially in Japan, including inorganic adsorbents, absorbent polymer fibers and uranium-specific nonwoven fabrics. In 2012, DOE announced development of a new adsorbent material called HiCap (pictured above). According to Dr. Per Peterson at UC Berkeley, these improvements have reduced seawater extraction production costs to between $100 and $300 per pound of yellowcake (U3O8). It is expected to fall further in the next ten years.
Forbes 24th March 2016 read more »