Ocean uranium could fuel our future
This month, private researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and LCW Supercritical Technologies were able to whip up five grams of uranium “yellowcake” extracted from the ocean using acrylic strings. Generating just those five grams of uranium required seven years of research and $25 million from the Department of Energy (DoE). This uranium has the same potential to fuel nuclear power reactors as mined uranium—but only if it’s cheaper to do so. That’s no easy task, but the DoE has given the private firms $1.15 million more in hope that scientists will find a way to do string-based uranium extraction at scale.
Although nuclear power is notoriously vulnerable to environmentally disastrous meltdowns, it is also much more carbon-efficient than coal-powered alternatives. (While in and of itself, nuclear power is not able to transform the world’s energy systems at the rate needed to prevent the worst consequences of climate change, it’s an easy step in the right direction surrounded by more fearmongering than is deserved.)
While this may look like juicy slices of butternut fudge, you cannot eat it. Please do not eat it. It is just another (extremely toxic) forbidden snack.