Mineral Extraction

In the SEA Lab, we are investigating ways in which we can sustainably harvest minerals from the ocean that are crucial to clean energy technology by using passive adsorption technologies. Minerals such as cobalt and lithium are critical to battery technology and may face shortages in the coming decades due to limited terrestrial resources. Fortunately, supplies of many valuable elements, including cobalt, are greater in seawater than on land. Current efforts to extract cobalt and other minerals from the oceans focus on mining their solid forms from the seabed. This approach, however, is extremely challenging, cost prohibitive, and immensely destabilizing to ecosystems.

Instead, our work is focused on using passive adsorbent polymers to extract dissolved minerals, including cobalt, lithium, and uranium, from the ocean. Our team utilizes analysis-driven design to develop optimized systems that symbiotically pair with existing offshore structures to reduce costs and increase viability. Our work has shown:

  • symbiotic systems to harvesting uranium from seawater could produce uranium at a cost competitive with breeder reactors (~$300/kg U).
  • cobalt mineral harvesters paired with just 76 oil and gas platforms that are slated to be decommissioned in the Gulf of Mexico could provide enough cobalt for over 500,000 Tesla Model S batteries.
  • similar systems and technologies could enable sustainable extraction of lithium from seawater.

Relevant Publications:

  • M. N. Haji, and A. H. Slocum, “An offshore solution to cobalt shortages via adsorption-based harvesting from seawater,” Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, 105, 301-309, 2019. [preprint]  [published article]. Featured on NewScientist.
  • M. N. Haji, J. Drysdale, K. Buesseler, and A. H. Slocum, “Results of an Ocean Trial of the Symbiotic Machine for Ocean uRanium Extraction,” Environmental Science & Technology, 53 (4), 2229-2237, 2019. [preprint]  [published article]
  • M. N. Haji, J. Gonzalez, J. Drysdale, K. Buesseler, and A. H. Slocum, “Effects of Protective Shell Enclosures on Uranium Adsorbing Polymers” Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 57 (45), 15534–15541, 2018. [preprint] [published article]
  • M. N. Haji, J. M. Kluger, T. P. Sapsis, and A. H. Slocum, “A Symbiotic Approach to the Design of Offshore Wind Turbines with Other Energy Harvesting Systems,” Ocean Engineering, 169, 673-681, 2018. [preprint]  [published article]
  • M. E. Flicker Byers, M. N. Haji, A. H. Slocum, and E. Schneider, “Cost Optimization of a Symbiotic System to Harvest Uranium from Seawater via an Offshore Wind Turbine,” Ocean Engineering, 169, 227-241, 2018. [preprint] [published article]
  • M. N. Haji, J. M. Kluger, J. W. Carrus, T. P. Sapsis, and A. H. Slocum, “Experimental Investigation of Hydrodynamic Response of a Symbiotic Machine for Ocean Uranium Extraction combined with a Floating Wind Turbine,” International Journal of Offshore and Polar Engineering, 28(3), 225-231, 2018. [preprint]  [published article]

Mineral Extraction

In the SEA Lab, we are investigating ways in which we can sustainably harvest minerals from the ocean that are crucial to clean energy technology by using passive adsorption technologies. Minerals such as cobalt and lithium are critical to battery technology and may face shortages in the coming decades due to limited terrestrial resources. Fortunately, supplies of many valuable elements, including cobalt, are greater in seawater than on land. Current efforts to extract cobalt and other minerals from the oceans focus on mining their solid forms from the seabed. This approach, however, is extremely challenging, cost prohibitive, and immensely destabilizing to ecosystems.

Instead, our work is focused on using passive adsorbent polymers to extract dissolved minerals, including cobalt, lithium, and uranium, from the ocean. Our team utilizes analysis-driven design to develop optimized systems that symbiotically pair with existing offshore structures to reduce costs and increase viability. Our work has shown:

  • symbiotic systems to harvesting uranium from seawater could produce uranium at a cost competitive with breeder reactors (~$300/kg U).
  • cobalt mineral harvesters paired with just 76 oil and gas platforms that are slated to be decommissioned in the Gulf of Mexico could provide enough cobalt for over 500,000 Tesla Model S batteries.
  • similar systems and technologies could enable sustainable extraction of lithium from seawater.

Relevant Publications:

  • M. N. Haji, and A. H. Slocum, “An offshore solution to cobalt shortages via adsorption-based harvesting from seawater,” Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, 105, 301-309, 2019. [preprint]  [published article]. Featured on NewScientist.
  • M. N. Haji, J. Drysdale, K. Buesseler, and A. H. Slocum, “Results of an Ocean Trial of the Symbiotic Machine for Ocean uRanium Extraction,” Environmental Science & Technology, 53 (4), 2229-2237, 2019. [preprint]  [published article]
  • M. N. Haji, J. Gonzalez, J. Drysdale, K. Buesseler, and A. H. Slocum, “Effects of Protective Shell Enclosures on Uranium Adsorbing Polymers” Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 57 (45), 15534–15541, 2018. [preprint] [published article]
  • M. N. Haji, J. M. Kluger, T. P. Sapsis, and A. H. Slocum, “A Symbiotic Approach to the Design of Offshore Wind Turbines with Other Energy Harvesting Systems,” Ocean Engineering, 169, 673-681, 2018. [preprint]  [published article]
  • M. E. Flicker Byers, M. N. Haji, A. H. Slocum, and E. Schneider, “Cost Optimization of a Symbiotic System to Harvest Uranium from Seawater via an Offshore Wind Turbine,” Ocean Engineering, 169, 227-241, 2018. [preprint] [published article]
  • M. N. Haji, J. M. Kluger, J. W. Carrus, T. P. Sapsis, and A. H. Slocum, “Experimental Investigation of Hydrodynamic Response of a Symbiotic Machine for Ocean Uranium Extraction combined with a Floating Wind Turbine,” International Journal of Offshore and Polar Engineering, 28(3), 225-231, 2018. [preprint]  [published article]