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Designing a mini-pilot scale unit for extraction and electrospinning of chitin as an adsorbent for uranium from seawater

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-FG02-13ER90708
Agency Tracking Number: 77098
Amount: $150,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 19g
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0000801
Solicitation Year: 2013
Award Year: 2013
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2013-06-10
Award End Date (Contract End Date): N/A
Small Business Information
720 2nd Street
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0204
United States
DUNS: 168844087
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Gabriela Gurau
 (205) 239-0892
Business Contact
 Gabriela Gurau
Title: Dr.
Phone: (205) 239-0892
Research Institution

With the 4 billion tons of uranium estimated to be dissolved in the earth & apos;s oceans, an essentially unlimited resource is available to those with easy and affordable access. With decades of research towards the extraction of uranium from seawater, focus has been directed towards the selectivity of the adsorbent material, the cost of the material, and the ability of the adsorbent to be recycled. Cost analysis indicates that 47 % of the total cost of extracting uranium from seawater is directed at the cost of manufacturing the adsorbent material.1 It has recently been proven, through the use of ionic liquid technology, that chitin can be dissolved and electrospun into nanofibers directly from a shrimp shell extract in ionic liquid. 2
The ability of being able to produce a high surface area, easily functionalized, and strong material from a waste product could have significant impact on decreasing the costs of an adsorbent. With minimal effort following, chemical surface modification can provide a natural, renewable, and highly selective adsorbent for the extraction of uranium from seawater.3 Using this recently proven technique, in collaboration with Professor Robin Rogers from The University of Alabama, we intend to design and manufacture a mini pilot-scale plant for the microwave-assisted dissolution of chitin from shrimp shell waste and the subsequent electrospinning of high surface area chitin nanofibers in a continuous fashion for the extraction of uranium from seawater. With the production of this mini pilot scale plant, we could provide cheap, affordable adsorbents for increased scale seawater testing and deployment. The success of this adsorbent could provide additional opportunities for the seafood industry with increased revenues and job creation through decreased waste disposal costs and a marketable product for sale.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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