Keywords: nuclear desalination, Moroccan uranium, economics, Morocco, phosphoric acid, nuclear energy, sewater desalination, uranium recovery, uranium extraction, high temperature reactors
Towards a desalination initiative using cogeneration with an advanced reactor type and uranium recovered from Moroccan phosphoric acid production
Morocco is known to be among the first few countries to produce phosphate and phosphoric acid. Moroccan phosphate contains substantial amounts of uranium. This uranium can be recovered from the phosphate ore as a by-product during the production of phosphoric acid. Uranium extraction processes linked with phosphoric acid fabrication have been used industrially in some countries. This is done mainly by solvent extraction. Although, the present price of uranium is low in the international market, such uranium recovery could be considered as a side product of phosphoric acid production. The price of uranium has a very small impact on the cost of nuclear energy obtained from it. This paper focuses on the extraction of uranium salt from phosphate rock. If uranium is recovered in Morocco in the proposed manner, it could serve as feed for a number of nuclear power plants. The natural uranium product would have to be either enriched or blended as mixed-oxide fuel to manufacture adequate nuclear fuel. Part of this fuel would feed a desalination initiative using a high temperature reactor of the new generation, chosen for its intrinsic safety, sturdiness, ease of maintenance, thermodynamic characteristics and long fuel life between reloads, that is, good economy. Αn international cooperation based on commercial contract schemes would concern: the general project and uranium extraction; uranium enrichment and fuel fabrication services; the nuclear power plant; and the desalination plant. This paper presents the overall feasibility of the general project with some quantitative preliminary figures and cost estimates.