How much uranium in sea water?
How much uranium is in sea water?
Well’ there’s a lot but it is at a concentration 66,666,666 times lower than Saskatchewan’s high grade mines so the economics of extracting it from sea water are not good.
According to the DOE press release the oceans hold more than four billion tons of uranium— “enough to meet global energy needs for the next 10,000 years if only we could capture the element from seawater to fuel nuclear power plants.” While that sounds like a lot of potential nuclear fuel, a quick check of the World Nuclear Association website shows that uranium concentrations in seawater are significantly lower than those found on land. The real challenge, therefore, would be extracting the uranium economically at such low parts per million.
For example uranium exists in the Earth’s continental crust in concentrations of 2.8 parts per million, versus 0.003 parts per million in seawater. The highest-grade uranium ore, for example in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca region, has concentrations of 200,000 parts per million. The World Nuclear Association estimates there is a total of 5.9 million tonnes of uranium available, none of it presumably calculated from seawater; the four largest producers, in descending order, are Australia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Canada.