Abstract: Major quantities of uranium find use as nuclear fuel in nuclear power reactors. In view of the extreme toxicity of uranium and consequent stringent limits fixed by WHO and various national governments, it is essential to remove uranium from nuclear power reactor effluents before discharge into environment. Ion imprinted polymer (IIP) materials have traditionally been used for the recovery of uranium from dilute aqueous solutions prior to detection or from seawater. We now describe the use of IIP materials for selective removal of uranium from a typical synthetic nuclear power reactor effluent. The IIP materials were prepared for uranyl ion (imprint ion) by forming binary salicylaldoxime (SALO) or 4-vinylpyridine (VP) or ternary SALO-VP complexes in 2-methoxyethanol (porogen) and copolymerizing in the presence of styrene (monomer), divinylbenzene (cross-linking monomer), and 2,2'-azobisisobutyronitrile (initiator). The resulting materials were then ground and sieved to obtain unleached polymer particles. Leached IIP particles were obtained by leaching the imprint ions with 6.0 M HCl. Control polymer particles were also prepared analogously without the imprint ion. The IIP particles obtained with ternary complex alone gave quantitative removal of uranyl ion in the pH range 3.5-5.0 with as low as 0.08 g. The retention capacity of uranyl IIP particles was found to be 98.50 mg/g of polymer. The present study successfully demonstrates the feasibility of removing uranyl ions selectively in the range 5 g - 300 mg present in 500 mL of synthetic nuclear power reactor effluent containing a host of other inorganic species.
Template and target information: uranyl ion