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Efficient Functionalization of Polyethylene Fibers for the Uranium Extraction from Seawater through Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization

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Chemical Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, United States
Department of Chemistry, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, United States
§ Materials Science and Technology Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, United States
Marine Sciences Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sequim, Washington, United States
Cite this: Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2017, 56, 38, 10826–10832
Publication Date (Web):August 29, 2017
https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.iecr.7b00482
Copyright © 2017 American Chemical Society

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    Abstract

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    Brush-on-brush structures are proposed as one method to overcome support effects in grafted polymers. Utilizing glycidyl methacrylate (GMA) grafted on polyethylene (PE) fibers using radiation-induced graft polymerization (RIGP) provides a hydrophilic surface on the hydrophobic PE. When integrated with atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP), the grafting of acrylonitrile (AN) and hydroxyethyl acrylate (HEA) can be controlled and manipulated more easily than with RIGP. Poly(acrylonitrile)-co-poly(hydroxyethyl acrylate) chains were grown via ATRP on PE-GMA fibers to generate an adsorbent for the extraction of uranium from seawater. The prepared adsorbents in this study demonstrated promise (159.9 g-U/kg of adsorbent) in laboratory screening tests using a high uranium concentration brine and 1.24 g-U/kg of adsorbent in the filtered natural seawater in 21 days. The modest capacity in 21 days exceeds previous efforts to generate brush-on-brush adsorbents by ATRP while manipulating the apparent surface hydrophilicity of the trunk material (PE).

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