Elution of Uranium and Transition Metals from Amidoxime-Based Polymer Adsorbents for Sequestering Uranium from Seawater

High-surface-area amidoxime and carboxylic acid grafted polymer adsorbents developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory were tested for sequestering uranium in a flowing seawater flume system at the PNNL-Marine Sciences Laboratory. FTIR spectra indicate that a KOH conditioning process is necessary to remove the proton from the carboxylic acid and make the sorbent effective for sequestering uranium from seawater. The alkaline conditioning process also converts the amidoxime groups to carboxylate groups in the adsorbent. Both Na<sub>2</sub>CO<sub>3</sub>–H<sub>2</sub>O<sub>2</sub> and hydrochloric acid elution methods can remove ∼95% of the uranium sequestered by the adsorbent after 42 days of exposure in real seawater. The Na<sub>2</sub>CO<sub>3</sub>–H<sub>2</sub>O<sub>2</sub> elution method is more selective for uranium than conventional acid elution. Iron and vanadium are the two major transition metals competing with uranium for adsorption to the amidoxime-based adsorbents in real seawater. Tiron (4,5-dihydroxy-1,3-benzenedisulfonic acid disodium salt, 1 M) can remove iron from the adsorbent very effectively at pH around 7. The coordination between vanadium­(V) and amidoxime is also discussed based on our <sup>51</sup>V NMR data.