Case 09986

Enrichment of uranium by bacteria for greater cost efficiency

Keywords:

Uranium isotope separation, light water reactors, nuclear fuel production, uranium purification, ionization mass spectrometry, bacterial biomass, metabolic reduction, isotopic composition, centrifugation

Applications:

Treatment and purification of uranium, metabolic reduction by metal-reducing bacteria of uranium oxides

Problem:

Costs associated with uranium enrichment for nuclear fuel production

Technology:

The present invention represents a new technology for purposes requiring separation of uranium isotopes. The main use of technology for separation of uranium isotopes is for enrichment of 235U, which is required for production of nuclear fuel. The process consists of a simple reaction of solubilized U(VI) with bacterial biomass in a medium conducive to bacterial activity followed by separation of precipitated U(IV) either by filtration or centrifugation. The procedure can also be used for the treatment of enriched uranium stocks and the purification of uranium from waste mixtures.

Advantages:
  • Reduces energy consumption
  • No accumulation of toxic byproducts
  • Simplifies process and equipment resulting in lower capital investment

Inventors:
  • Professor Martin Polz(Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT)
  • Associate Professor Kenneth Czerwinski (Chemistry, UNLV)

Intellectual Property:

US Patent Number 7,452,703; issued November 18, 2008

Publications:

N/A

Last revised:November 5, 2010

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