CyAspis® Radio-nucleotide Capture and Containment Technology
The Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011 caused significant damage to the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power generation site. The damage inflicted to the plant's cooling system, caused a ‘Loss of Coolant Accident’ resulting in nuclear meltdowns and releases of radioactive materials from 4 of 6 nuclear reactors on the site. It was the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 and only the second disaster (along with Chernobyl) to measure Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.
Following the incident, with the cooling system out of action, an emergency system was set up utilizing site waters to cool the damaged reactors, with 400 tons of water being continuously poured into the damaged reactor buildings every day to cool them. Understandably, this cooling water became contaminated by the exposed molten fuel. Added to that, approximately 400 tons per day of groundwater flowing into the basements of the damaged buildings also became contaminated due to cracks in the reactor containment vessels. Approximately 800 tons of contaminated water is required to be pumped up every day from the damaged buildings and treated to minimise its harmful contaminant content. Even after treatment, these stored waters contained significant amounts of caesium-134, caesium-137, strontium-90 and tritium. The water that is not reused for cooling is stored in holding tanks. Stored waters are presently accumulating on the site at a rate of 400 tons per day and the site managers are under operational pressure to dispose of this water by discharge to the sea.
In response to Japan's International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning Authority's (IRID) call for technologies to treat such radio-chemical contaminated water, Cylenchar devised its innovative CyAspis® technology.
Cylenchar's patent pending CyAspis® system can isolate and act to concentrate hydrogen isotopes such as tritium, whilst at the same time precipitating caesium and strontium radio-nucleotides, binding them into a stable matrix.
The inherent radio-chemically stable structure of the CyAspis® complex acts to shield the external environment from harmful ionising radiation emitted from the contained radiochemical agents, thereby significantly reducing their inherent risk to people and the wider environment. The system may be used for long term disposal or be recycled and reused post decay of the encapsulated tritium.
Cylenchar believes that 'the solution to pollution is NOT dilution', because, as evidenced by the CyAspis process, nature can have a nasty way of re-concentrating environmental pollutants. As such, if a waste can be treated to minimise its risk, it should be treated.
Judiciously used, the CyAspis® system can negate the need to dispose of tritium contaminated waters by dilution and discharge to the environment, and thereby it can greatly reduce the radio-chemical discharge burden on the world's oceans.