Posting in Energy
For decontamination on the go, California start-up Kurion will deliver to dangerous neighborhoods.
Decades could pass before some of the areas around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are again inhabitable, the Japanese government said Saturday. As in previous nuclear disasters, there will be lot of cleaning up (and waiting) to do.
But on the grounds of the beleaguered facility, a bit of cleanup has progressed fairly quickly. So says Kurion, one of four companies charged with decontaminating some of the water used to cool down fuel rods last spring. The job is a big one. Storage tanks are holding about 90 million gallons of the water—much of it from the salty sea, which adds a desalination step to an already complicated process.
Still, the California start-up announced Friday that cesium levels within the water has fallen 40 percent in two months.
About 7 weeks after the earthquake-triggered tsunami struck the nuclear plant, Kurion began developing a water treatment process with Toshiba, Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, and Areva. It kicked into gear 8 weeks later.
The Ion Specific Media System (right) adsorbs radioactive elements such as cesium (C-137, C-134) and iodine (I-131) and separates them from the water. Kurion says it uses a radionuclide-extracting material similar to that tested at Three Mile Island three decades ago. The next step in the water's treatment is to store the waste as glass. Turning liquid nuclear waste into glass rods helps prevent leaking and makes handling and hauling the troublesome materials easier.
And Kurion is trying to make vitrification easier. The industry practice usually occurs at a centralized facility, but Kurion’s modular strategy makes house calls. This came in handy at Fukushima, where there was a shortage of time and resources in the region. Motivating the effort was a fear of more earthquakes and more water from the summer rainy season that might cause storage tanks to spill or overflow.
The company faced some hiccups getting the system running, but is overall optimistic. Their goal is to clear the water of 99.9 percent of its cesium. Should Japan's disaster area become a proving ground for their technology, there's thousands of tons of reasons to bring it on home. Kurion has reportedly had its eye on tackling the sizable—and slow-moving—nuclear waste problem in the U.S.
Related on SmartPlanet:
- U.S. nuclear waste: where to now?
- A decontamination plan for water at Japan's nuclear facility
- What France plans to do with its nuclear waste
- Tests show Japanese children exposed to radiation
- Japan plans first-ever seafloor drilling of 'fire ice'
Aug 29, 2011
Is there technology to remove the radioactive metals from the open ocean and the rivers and lakes and the beds of these bodies of water and the soil of the continents that have been contaminated by the disaster at Fukushima?
It's good news that at least a fraction of the contamination at Fukushima is being "cleaned" up and contained. Of course the bad news is much of the contamination is scattered all over SE Asia and or already out to sea. Ah, but there's even worse news. Since 1960s when the US developed the technology to build thorium based nuclear reactors rather the far more dangerous uranium reactors - nothing has happened with the technology. The US military industrial complex (MIC) and the uranium industry have suppressed the thorium technology at every turn. The military because they wanted weapons grade byproducts from the uranium based reactors and the uranium industry because they want to keep selling uranium. The only good news (but not for the US) is that India and China are moving rapidly ahead with the commercialization of the far safer, cheaper, and more down scalable thorium reactors. Thorium is 400+ times more abundant than uranium, has a much shorter half-life, thorium reactors can't have melt-downs, and can be built for much smaller applications as much lower costs. Back in the good ole US our politics and our congress are still owned and manipulated by the MIC and other big money interests and the average voter still pathetically uninformed. Probably because US media and authors like this one never publish anything about thorium - though it's common knowledge. Check Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium_fuel_cycle
Thanks for your input dduggerbiocepts, SmartPlanet and this blog have covered thorium reactors in the past, and I've directed readers to those posts when appropriate. For those curious about the reactors, see links to some of these stories below. For those really curious (and open-minded) about thorium, see today's post about thorium cars. --The new face of safe nuclear http://smrt.io/nutGxy --China to develop a greener nuclear reactor http://smrt.io/qh6ZNT --A meltdown proof nuclear reactor may alleviate fears http://smrt.io/r7TiVp Melissa