August 23, 2022
Plans by Japan to release wastewater from the devastated Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean are fueling renewed interest in efforts to effectively eliminate radioactive elements.
Well researchers here appear to be have made some remarkable advances to that end.
Shin Ye-eun has details.
“In a few months, we may see coasts like where I’m at right now contaminated with nuclear waste.
That’s because Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has given the green light to release radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant starting next spring.
Though the Japanese government said it would dilute the water so tritium levels fall below what’s considered dangerous, neighboring countries like South Korea and China have expressed concerns.
That’s why a group of researchers here in the country has decided to take action.
They’ve found a way to get rid of harmful, radioactive elements like iodine from the sea.
Let’s go find out how.”
The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute took the initiative in 2019.
In just three years, they have accomplished what other researchers around the world couldn’t.
They found a way to selectively remove radioactive iodine from water.
What did the trick was coating magnetic iron nanoparticles with platinum.
Because platinum sticks well to iodine, it can suck the radioactive particles out.
Being able to selectively remove radioactive elements is set to be a game changer.
“We’ve now found a way to easily and efficiently save the earth. Unlike other adsorbents out there, ours can be used up to 1-hundred times. Because we’re able to selectively get rid of radioactive iodine, the cleaned-up water can still be of use.”
The latest development can also be used at hospitals, to clean up radioactive waste from anticancer drugs.
It can also selectively extract natural iodine, which is used to make medicine.
The team leader said more developments are on the way.
“Right now, we’re only able to decontaminate 20 liters of water at once. We hope we can expand the maximum capacity before this development gets commercialized. We’re also working on extracting other radioactive elements like caesium.”
“Once this technology is commercialized, South Korea will be one of the first countries in the world to suck out millions of tons worth of iodine from the sea.