The Cost of Recovering Uranium from Seawater by a Braided Polymer Adsorbent System

Erich Schneider, Darshan Sachde, "The Cost of Recovering Uranium from Seawater by a Braided Polymer Adsorbent System," Science & Global Security, 21, no. 2, (2013): 134-163.
This article provides an independent cost estimate for uranium production from seawater through the braid-type adsorbent recovery system proposed by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA). Production costs were developed with standard engineering cost estimation techniques using vendor data and plant design and operational data. The analysis includes life cycle discounted cash flows, economies of scale, and propagation of uncertainties. A reference case based on the Japan Atomic Energy Agency assessment, with a fresh adsorbent capacity of 2 kgU/t ads and 6 recycles, yielded a production cost of $1230/kg uranium with a 95 percent confidence interval of [$1030/kg U, $1430/kg U] when component cost uncertainties alone were considered. Sensitivity studies confirmed that adsorbent capacity, number of recycles, and capacity degradation are major cost drivers. If capacity and number of recycles increases to 6 kg U/t ads and 20, respectively, with no degradation and unchanged adsorbent production costs, the uranium production cost drops to $299/kg U. Supplemental materials are available for this article. Go to the publisher's online edition of Science & Global Security to view the free online appendix with additional tables and figures.

Online appendix

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