Comparative life cycle assessment of uranium recovery from brine

Altay, Melike Benan
With the increase in world population and the associated increase in raw material, clean water, and energy demands, seeking for innovative and sustainable methods to decrease the human-made environmental footprint becomes a task of utmost importance. Uranium-based atomic energy the generation has an enormous potential to efficiently supply energy demand at the cost of high environmental impact on water bodies. Therefore, estimating the environmental impacts of the uranium recovery systems from desalination waste is a necessity. This study assessed the environmental impact of the uranium recovery methods from brine with amidoximated adsorbents and compared them with the conventional uranium mining methods. This study also aims to analyze the environmental load of desalination plants integrated with uranium recovery methods from brine. The results showed that recovery of uranium from brine in the long run is more effective than the conventional procedures. The other results claim that the combination of uranium recovery from brine systems with desalination plants causes to impact reduction in marine ecotoxicity. The sensitivity analysis results reveal that hydroxylamine and hazardous waste disposal are the most influential parameters during uranium recovery with adsorbent methods. The results of sensitivity analyses about desalination plants reveal that electricity production and chemical consumption are the most sensitive parameters. Comparative analysis between energy sources used in adsorbent recovery processes and desalination methods indicated that solar energy has the lowest environmental impacts among all kinds of energy scenarios. This study concluded that an alternative sustainable industrial process to obtain uranium is actually applicable and it can be integrated with the desalination plants.
Citation Formats
M. B. Altay, “Comparative life cycle assessment of uranium recovery from brine,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2022.