Scrap and Contaminated Metals Recycling

Technical Evaluation of Depleted Uranium for Battery Applications Project

Background

Batteries have become an important aspect of energy storage in the United States.  The battery industry has become a $10 Billion a year business.  Battery construction materials include zinc, manganese, lithium, and many more.  One metal that has received sparse attention as a candidate for battery construction material is uranium.   Based on the electrochemical literature, uranium is likely to have a significantly higher power density than lead which is commonly used in secondary power batteries.  In fact, uranium may have similar electrochemical properties to lithium.

The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP) located in the western part of the Commonwealth of Kentucky contains cylinders with over 5 billion pounds of uranium hexafluoride (UF6).    UF6 will be recycled into uranium and fluoride compounds. This will provide a large supply of depleted uranium. 

Goals

  1. Characterize uranium dioxide’s electrochemical properties in various organic solvents/lithium salts commonly used in the commercial battery industry.  These experiments will be performed in a glove box where the moisture and oxygen concentration will be controlled.  These tests will mainly consist of cyclic voltammetry and impedance spectroscopy experiments. This information will be used to construct a battery with uranium dioxide as the cathode. 
  2. Manufacturing of uranium-lithium compounds in a muffle furnace to mirror the construction of manganese-lithium compounds commonly used in commercial batteries.  Once these compounds are manufactured, their electrochemical behavior in common organic solvent/lithium salts will also be characterized.   This information will also be used to construct a battery consisting of lithium-uranium dioxide. 

Objectives

The objectives are to electrochemical data suitable for properly designing two batteries:

  • Uranium dioxide as a cathode in a lithium battery and test its performance
  • Make a uranium dioxide-lithium compound similar to manganese dioxide-lithium compound and provide electrochemical data suitable for a similar battery.
Document TitleDescriptionYear
Uranium Battery Development Project Final ReportFinal Project Report2007

Investigators

Project Manager
Steve Hampson, Associate Director/Co-Principal Investigator, University of Kentucky, Kentucky Research Consortium for Energy & Environment
Principal Investigators
Paul D. Dunbar, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Kentucky, Paducah Engineering Program
Rhonda Lee DeSautels, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Kentucky, Paducah Engineering Program
Team Members
Walter Tracinski