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Problem 12 Hard Difficulty

Seawater contains 3 mg of uranium per cubic meter. (a) Given that the average ocean depth is about 4 km and water covers two - thirds of Earth’s surface, estimate the amount of uranium dissolved in the ocean. (b) Estimate how long this uranium could supply the world’s energy needs at the current usage of $1.5 \times 10^{13} \mathrm{J} / \mathrm{s}$ . (c) Where does the dissolved uranium come from? Is it a renewable energy source? Can uranium from the ocean satisfy our energy requirements? Discuss. Note: Breeder reactors increase the efficiency of nuclear fuel use by approximately two orders of magnitude.

Answer

a) $4 \times 10^{15} \text{g} $
b) $5 \times 10^{3} \mathrm{yr}$
c) The dissolved solutes of river water take minerals and rocks into the seawater and hence the rocks and minerals are the sources of uranium in the seawater. These are not renewable energy sources that means once they used cannot be created naturally.

Discussion

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Top Physics 103 Educators
Elyse G.

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Video Transcript

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National University of Singapore
Top Physics 103 Educators
Elyse G.

Cornell University

Christina K.

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Andy C.

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

LB
Liev B.

Numerade Educator