Removal of Uranium using Rhamnolipid Biosurfactants and Ion Flotation

Case ID:

This technology is a solution to the problem of increasing amounts of naturally occurring uranium in groundwater. This ion flotation technique is a simple, cost-effective, green method to extract rare earth elements from aqueous solutions in an effort to keep the public and environment safe and compliant with EPA standards.

In the western half of the United States especially, there are approximately 4,200 legacy mining sites that have been used in the past to mine for uranium. However, between 1980 and 2000 the price for uranium dropped and many of these mining sites were left abandoned. Many of these abandoned mines were left with unlined leach pads and much of the uranium seeped back into the groundwater. The issue now is not only compliance with EPA standards and regulations, but the health of the public who interact daily with groundwater in those areas.

Currently, there are many techniques for removing uranium from aqueous solutions including, but not limited to, membrane filtration methods, anion exchange, or the application of coagulation processes. The important questions asked when addressing the many different techniques are questions of scalability, efficiency, and effectiveness. This ion flotation technology checks all three boxes in a way that would potentially allow communities and industrial waste sites to use a simple, inexpensive technique for uranium removal from aqueous solutions.


  • Wastewater treatment
  • Groundwater remediation


  • Use of green compounds
  • Simple
  • Allow compliance with EPA regulations
  • Low-energy requirements
  • Small space requirements
Patent Information:
Contact For More Information:
Tod McCauley
Assistant Director of Licensing, CALS
The University of Arizona
Lead Inventor(s):
David Hogan
Raina Maier
Jeanne Pemberton