American engineers design plan to help Fukushima clean-up

CINCINNATI, Ohio —

A team of American engineers experienced in nuclear decontamination projects have joined forces to design a system to decontaminate the tsunami waste and soil in Fukushima Prefecture.

The engineering team has broad experience in decommissioning and clean-up at the Fernald, Ohio uranium processing facility and the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident. The team has proposed a best practices approach developed from their experience in the U.S. clean-up operations. Their process will include cesium capture during the waste cleaning and cesium capture in the system gas stream.

According to Steve Jones of Green Energy Enterprises, “Incinerators have historically been used in some operations. Their operating history and efficiency has been problematic. The team has chosen a pyrolysis/gasification system to both concentrate the cesium for easier disposal and to efficiently provide much needed electric power from the waste.”

According to reports, small areas in the prefecture may have as much as 250 million tons of contaminated tsunami waste. Some initial estimates have noted the area will need the equivalent of 80 Super Domes to store the contaminated soil. Other estimates are higher.

Glenn Showers of Energy 21, LLC notes, “The pyrolysis design selected has three internal reactors which give us greater control of the gasification process to capture the maximum amount of cesium. The unit is also very clean and efficient in its operation.”

Initially Pyrolyzer, LLC was presenting their waste-to-energy system as an option to aid the area in electric production. During initial meetings, officials in the Fukushima area asked if the system could be adapted to help with decontaminating the area. At that time, a team from Varo Engineers Inc and Energy 21 were assembled to determine options and design a decontamination system.

Feedback from the local governments has been excellent. This system provides a unique capability of effectively consolidating the cesium while producing much needed electric power. By capturing and consolidating the cesium, it can dramatically reduce the country’s landfill requirements. 

  • 0

    sillygirl

    of course feedback from the local governments has been excellent, they want their towns and cities cleaned up. my hat is off to them. it is the suits in tokyo that hem and haw at other people seeing japan`s dirty laundry so to speak.

  • -1

    suzukakid

    I can't imagine Tokyo allowing this.

  • 3

    zichi

    It sounds like something much needed.

  • -1

    SquidBert

    Much needed indeed, and a very good initiative.

    I do think however that the article is mixing up the terms of burnable debris and soil.I don't think this technology will be able to help with the contaminated soil (other than in small amounts mixed with the burnable debris).

  • 1

    Maitake

    It's about time they brought some people with brains and common sense in to help.

  • -1

    Utrack

    Yes, waste to energy power plant with a cesium capture installed. This is fabulous, okay there are 7 waste to energy plants in Japan so far and they could be upgraded to capture cesium too if they need to be. Heck I hope they build like 15 of the waste to energy power plants cause they will generate Lots and Lots of electricty.

  • -1

    gyouza

    @squidbert - You can use pyrolysis to remove stuff like creosote and other chemicals from soils, so it is possible. I don't know of anywhere that has done it for Caesium, etc, but then again, (hopefully) that wouldn't be a common practice anyway. It is an encouraging sign that things are moving forward.

  • -1

    SquidBert

    @gyouza,

    You can use pyrolysis to remove stuff like creosote and other chemicals from soils, so it is possible. Yes I understand that, but they are stating the the pyrolysis is going to yield a net energy surplus. Although the laws of thermo dynamics would allow for it. I have some difficulty seeing a net surplus, if the burnable debris is not a majority of what you feed into this machine.

    Either way what they are trying to do, is a "Good Thing(tm)" and I wish them all the best.

  • -1

    SquidBert

    (The magic internet monster seems to be eating all my line feeds today, trying once more)

    @gyouza

    You can use pyrolysis to remove stuff like creosote and other chemicals from soils, so it is possible.

    Yes I understand that, but they are stating the the pyrolysis is going to yield a net energy surplus. Although the laws of thermo dynamics would allow for it. I have some difficulty seeing a net surplus, if the burnable debris is not a majority of what you feed into this machine.

    Either way what they are trying to do, is a "Good Thing(tm)" and I wish them all the best.

  • -7

    tmarie

    About a year too late but better late than never?

  • 3

    zichi

    Much of the technology needed for dealing with this nuclear disaster has not been discovered, and some of it could decades.

    There'so known way how to extract the melted fuel. Even current robots would fry in the very high levels of radiation.

  • 0

    Charles M Burns

    Japan has their own incinerators, of course they don't capture cesium but who's counting..,

  • 3

    nandakandamanda

    The article mentions Caesium, but not other radioactive isotopes released at Fukushima such as Tellurium, Iodine, Strontium, Plutonium, Xenon etc.

    Is Cesium/Caesium the No.1 priority?

  • -2

    Miyagidad

    Nandakandmanda, good point, there are all kinds of isotopes lying around everywhere, cesium is the most prelevant as far as we are aware - I recieved a letter from TEPGOvts lawyers that there is no proximate cause for us to have removed our family from an area 5-10km from one of the compulsory evacuation zones. Actually I am quite shocked that TEPGOvt is allowing the US anywhere near this - a few months ago their lawyers were arguing that the ownership of radioactive particles was transferred once released from the reactors - if it lands in your lungs or land, you own it - breathtaking!!

    I have been out of southern Miyagi for a couple of months now and it sounds like things have not improved - they are trying to shrink the evacuation zone, while there are reports of new leaks, mysterious black powder on the streets in some of the towns just outside. Tokyo has had at least 2 waves of high radiation flow over it - where are TEPGOvt talking about that?.

    Random samples of earth taken back to the US by Arnie Gunderson were tested recently and would be classed as nuclear waste in the US - where are TEPGOvt talking about that?

    This makes this type of initiative vital. however the real question should be - WHY are we decontaminating at all when the likelihood of RE-CONTAMINATION is huge.

    The spent fuel pools on top of reactors, 3 and 4 contain enough irradiated fuel to make a good part of the country uninhabitable if the water drains from the damaged containers - very real problem that even prompted a senior Japanese diplomat, ex ambassador to Switzerland to send a letter to Ban Ki Moon about his fears for a global catastrophe http://akiomatsumura.com/2012/04/682.html - where are TEPGOvt talking about that?

    The disgraceful situation has been brought in front of the people of the US, Senator Ron Wyden after his tour of the plant decried the incredibly weak defences against another tsunami, a few backs of rocks and raised the spent fuel pools issue, these pools have no back up pumping systems, they are listing, will crack in a M7 earthquake, would potentially release 85 times the amount of Chernobyls cesium - where are TEPGOvt talking about that?

    I hope, pray that this change will be a real one, but we have been shafted so many times that I doubt that - all the while TEPGOvt keep telling us it is safe and we will be able to return to decontaminated areas soon.

  • 2

    nandakandamanda

    Ah well, we must be thankful for whatever help we get. This has to be a good initiative, for which many thanks!

    Good post Miyagidad. We need to keep all of this clear, and we need to keep pressing for movement on these issues before it is too late.

    It is not too late yet...

  • 0

    Sid Niknezhad

    With an American firm, I have offered assistance with the 福島第一発電所 but unfortunately was turned down, I think one has to be an elite

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