Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Sheng, Dai

Committee Members

Craig E. Barnes, Shawn R. Campagna


Nuclear energy is a promising substitute for fossil fuels due to possessing low carbon emissions and providing scalable base-load power. However, one major drawback of using nuclear fuel as an energy source is that it needs a steady source of uranium. While the most economical method of obtaining uranium is through conventional terrestrial mining of the ore uranite, mining uranium ores is both harmful to the environment and limited by the terrestrial uranium supply, which is estimated at only 100 more years. However, more than 1000× more uranium is dissolved in seawater than is reasonably inferred and assured in terrestrial ores, and the ability to economically extract uranium (and other critical metals) from this unconventional reserve would ensure an effectively limitless supply. Although there has been a plethora of research conducted on small molecules, polymers, and fibers that can selectively bind significant amounts of uranium from aqueous media, the extraction of uranium from seawater is still not economically competitive with terrestrial extraction methods. Through this research, complexometric titrations have been performed on computationally predicted and rationally designed methylated amidoxime derivatives to quantify the binding strengths of the small molecule analogues to validate and improve computationally-based design principles. The small molecules have been titrated in solution with uranium and several other metals extracted during seawater contact to determine their relative binding strengths and selectivity’s.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."