Uranium Research Projects Receive Funding

January 15, 2013

Research projects aimed at helping Wyoming’s reinvigorated uranium industry have received funding from the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources (SER) through its In-Situ Recovery of Uranium (ISRU) research program.

SER awarded research funding to three projects -- two to UW faculty members and one to a Colorado State University faculty member -- for a total of $578,614. 

The ISRU research program was created to stimulate research and development of technologies for economic recovery of uranium, groundwater restoration and wastewater management. The program, created by the Wyoming State Legislature in 2009, is part of a broader legislative initiative for development of in-situ recovery of uranium in the state. SER has used the legislatively appropriated $1.6 million to fund both research proposals and outreach efforts. In addition to funding research, SER held a uranium extraction workshop in 2009 and hosted a conference on the technological, scientific and regulatory issues surrounding uranium production in Wyoming in 2011.

SER previously released a similar request for proposals in March 2011, soliciting research on exploration and ore body delineation; ore body characterization and uranium recovery; water management, treatment and disposal; aquifer restoration; and regulation. In 2011, SER awarded $826,829 to four proposals, three of which are led by UW faculty.

“The research supported by SER is helping the uranium industry in Wyoming with economic recovery of uranium, groundwater management and treatment, and aquifer restoration. This research helps to ensure safe and efficient uranium recovery that is beneficial to Wyoming,” SER Deputy Director of Research Diana Hulme says.

Uranium extraction is expected to increase in Wyoming in response to increased value of yellow cake -- the product of uranium solution mining that is used for nuclear energy production. Surface mining of uranium grew steadily in Wyoming from the 1950s to the 1980s, when it dropped precipitously. In the early 1990s in-situ mining of uranium replaced conventional mining, and it has increased in recent years.

The 2012 funded research projects will investigate issues related to water management, treatment and disposal; uranium recovery and ore body characterization; and aquifer restoration. Projects from both the 2011 and 2012 RFP will be completed by 2015.

For additional information about the ISRU research program, or research supported by the School of Energy Resources, contact Hulme at (307) 766-6811 or dhulme@uwyo.edu.

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