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Uranium Extraction from Raw Materials

#K-1743


Prediction of Minerals (Solid Substances) Reactivity Difference and Competing Reactions Velocity (by the Example of Uranium Minerals)

Tech Area / Field

  • CHE-IND/Industrial Chemistry and Chemical Process Engineering/Chemistry

Status
3 Approved without Funding

Registration date
17.04.2009

Leading Institute
The Republic State Enterprise “Center of the Sciences of the Earth, Metallurgy and Ores Benefication” Committee for Sciences, Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kazakstan, Almaty

Supporting institutes

  • Joint Stock Company "Ulba Metallurgical Plant", Kazakstan, Ust Kamenogorsk

Collaborators

  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA, CA, Livermore\nAwareness Center, Denmark, Roskilde

Project summary

Aim of this project is to propose theoretical basis of uranium-bearing raw material reprocessing aimed at improvement of present technologies when amount of time is the least and increase of uranium extraction ratio at 10 % and interpretation of reasons of its loss using unconventional thermodynamic and kinetic methods.

Such statement of problem connects with the general situation in the field of hydrochemical process at the phase interface (hydrometallurgy, ore concentration, and chemical concentration, methods of selective dissolving, geotechnology, and geochemical processes). There is no any quantitative theory, able to predict velocity even of elementary chemical reaction, as well as general principle of choice of solvents in hydrometallurgy and choice of reagents for flotation up to present time. In addition, it is impossible to answer the question, if not to carry out the experiment, why one substance dissolves better than the other in one and the same solvent.

This theoretical conception (prediction of complex minerals dilution and unstudied competing reactions velocity) was used earlier when reprocessing of bismuth-, copper-, and gold-bearing raw material.

Thus, carrying out of research on using of unconventional thermodynamic method for prediction of reactivity difference and unstudied competing reactions velocity of uranium minerals dilution is provided for this project. It will allow complex physical and chemical processes to be scientifically soundly operated. It is important and particularly actual when new technologies perfecting and consumption of labor and time is the least.

This project completely meets principles of ISTC goals and tasks implementation as more than 60% of the personnel engaged in carrying out of research works are scientists and specialists who were involved in the development and manufacturing of mass destruction weapons before; project implementation will promote improvement of existing technologies of uranium extraction or development of new technology and thus contribute to transfer of the economics of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the market relations.

Works on the project will be carried out at JSC “UMP” and JSC “EM&CSC”. JSC “UMP” is located in Ust-Kamenogorsk city at the East of the Republic of Kazakhstan. JSC “UMP” has become one of the main companies in the region for its long period of manufacture of uranium production and some specific metals such as beryllium, tantalum, and niobium. JSC “UMP” is the company with high scientific potential accumulated during solution of the wide range of both military and peaceful tasks of the ex-Soviet Union. Different kinds of uranium production have being manufactured more than 30 years at Uranium Production of JSC “Ulba Metallurgical Plant” (UP JSC “UMP”). Uranium dioxide powders of ceramic grade, U3O8 of natural uranium, pellets of ceramic nuclear fuel for WWER and RBMK reactors are among the nomenclature of the UP. Along with the other researches, scientists and specialists of UP JSC “UMP” are carrying out researches aimed at intensification and optimization of technology for underground leaching of uranium. It is possible to carry out large scale laboratory and industrial testing of technologies on underground and heap leaching of uranium at UP JSC “UMP”. It confirms by the following: high quality of production manufactured at JSC “UMP” which is based on certified quality management system; presence of general-purpose fluid extraction technology for reprocessing of different kinds of raw materials and technological wastes with obtaining of uranium-bearing product of nuclear grade with the given properties; flexibility of technologies allowing converting to new production output quickly; scientific potential allowing prediscoveries, development and new technologies introduction to be carried out.

Two scientific discoveries are lied in the given project implementation.

The following is assumed: to carry out thermodynamic calculations (∆fG0) for known complex uranium minerals with using of corresponding methods; to calculate Gibbs’ mean atomic energy of formation of uranium minerals (kJ/(mole∙g-atom)); to realize qualitative forecast of uranium minerals consistent dilution; to calculate Gibbs’ energy ∆rG0 of chemical reactions of uranium minerals dilution in various solutions of acids and ligands; to define the most important kinetic parameters (rate coefficient, specific rate, activation energy) in underground, heap leaching and percolating dynamic agitation; to study and interpret influence of different factors on chemism and reasons of uranium loss under condition of uranium minerals opening in various solvents (acids, ligands) on the base of thermodynamic, kinetic data and using theory of absolute rates; to study different forms of uranium compounds in solutions to adsorption at resins and after desorption of uranium from resins (refining) by different physical and chemical methods; to suggest theoretical basis of uranium-bearing raw material reprocessing allowing scientific soundly realizing qualitative and quantitative forecast of minerals dilution consistency aimed at choice of optimal conditions for their selective dilution having important meaning for improvement of technology for uranium extraction when amount of time is the least.

This project completely meets principles of ISTC goals and tasks implementation. During the project implementation scientists and specialists of JSC “UMP” (who were involved in the development of technology of mass destruction weapons manufacture before) will be involved in solving peaceful tasks of world energy industry. Taking into account that the project will end up in development of theoretical footing for uranium-containing raw material processing to improve existing technologies of uranium extraction, these scientists and specialists will serve for realization such technologies in uranium area in Kazakhstan later on. During project implementation scientists and specialists of JSC “UMP” and JSC “EM&CSC” will discuss the results of their work during the meetings with the specialists from the other countries who are interested in the problem solving, at international conferences and workshops. It will promote expansion of integration of scientists into the international scientific community.

Detailed analysis of reference data carried out by the other investigators at the assessment of difference between uranium minerals. Selection and basing of methodology and methods of thermodynamic functions (∆rG0, ∆rG0/n). Certainty value of the found thermodynamic functions by the method of correlation analysis. Selection and basing of methodology and methods of calculation of kinetic performances (К, W, Еа) of the processes of uranium minerals dissolution. The following is assumed: to carry out thermodynamic calculations (∆fG0) for known complex uranium minerals with using of corresponding methods; to calculate Gibbs’ mean atomic energy of formation of uranium minerals (kJ/(mole∙g-atom)); to realize qualitative forecast of uranium minerals consistent dilution; to calculate Gibbs’ energy ∆rG0 of chemical reactions of uranium minerals dilution in various solutions of acids and ligands; to define the most important kinetic parameters (rate coefficient, specific rate, activation energy) in underground, heap leaching and percolating dynamic agitation; to study and interpret influence of different factors on chemism and reasons of uranium loss under condition of uranium minerals opening in various solvents (acids, ligands) on the base of thermodynamic, kinetic data and using theory of absolute rates; to study different forms of uranium compounds in solutions to adsorption at resins and after desorption of uranium from resins (refining) by different physical and chemical methods; to suggest theoretical basis of uranium-bearing raw material reprocessing allowing scientific soundly realizing qualitative and quantitative forecast of minerals dilution consistency aimed at choice of optimal conditions for their selective dilution having important meaning for improvement of technology for uranium extraction when amount of time is the least.

Within the framework of the given project wide cooperation with Collaborator – Livermore National Laboratory is intended. Since this project consists of few stages, technical personnel of JSC “UMP”, JSC “EM&CSC” and Livermore National Laboratory will closely interact during the whole project. As a consultant, Livermore National Laboratory will help to implement integrated approach to ascertain a cause of uranium loss in processing cycle, to determine kinetics parameters (rate constant, specific rate, activation energy) in the terms of uranium extraction by heap and underground leaching as well as to study various forms of uranium compounds in solutions to resin adsorption and after desorption by different physical and chemical methods. Training is a very important part of the project. Thus, scientists of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory will collaborate with the JSC UMP and JSC “EM&CSC” specialists to assure that the quality of work on the technology development will meet the ISTC goals and objectives, as well as the stated objectives of the proposed project. It will be supported by periodic workshops where the project participants will be getting together.


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