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Eh, building a treatment system shouldn't have to take any time.

A year would be an incredibly short time from decision to build to operation. For starters there would be design time, even if price were no object. Even IF contractors were selected/appointed with alacrity there would first have to be site prep then concrete laid. Meanwhile perhaps all of the components for the system could be procured and delivered to the site, but most of this stuff would have to be custom built, much of it on site. It would have to be scaled such that it could handle three to four times the existing flow just so that it could catch up with stored backlog in a reasonable time, but also because the problem could easily get three to four times worse by the time the plant comes on line.

If the plant were to chemically react the cesium in the water it would be vital to insure an adequate feed stock supply chain for all chemicals going in and adequate storage for all outputs. Perhaps someone has some real expertise in chemical plant construction. Can't we just pretend that dumping it in the ocean isn't a problem?

The real question is who or what organization has the clout/moral authority to tell the Japanese that massively polluting the ocean system we all share is unacceptable? Who would even try?  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 02:29:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A year would be an incredibly short time from decision to build to operation

See my comment above. More here. I was myself surprised at finding this had been done already... "the most successful greentech startup you haven't heard of" indeed.

by mustakissa on Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 03:20:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent! But the statement "Kurion's cesium removal system was responsible for 70% of the radioactivity removed from the wastewater" is confusing in that it addresses the amount removed while remaining silent on the total amount. The equipment is capable of removing 99%+ of the contaminants. So the problem must be that of scale of application. What effective portion of the water is getting treatment?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 11:54:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This link to Kurion provides the most detailed information on them I have seen. It describes three Antonov shipments from Irvine to Japan. Searching the Kurion site shows that they have grown and are now working at Hanford, Washington, having 'solved' the problem at Fukushima by removing 99%+ of the contaminants from the water they treated. It also appears  that the other 30% removed was with equipment provided by AREVA, but only Kurion equipment remains in use. The vitrification capability was acquired a year later. The circumspect language from Kurion and absence of announcements or news about subsequent  purchases leads me to suspect that the initial purchase might have been the only purchase of this equipment.  


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 12:37:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking about that too, and I am pretty sure the explanation is simply that the system only removes one ion species from the water, in this case cesium. Which was responsible for 70% of the radiation (gamma radiation; penetrates pipes and thus complicates handling). But it did so with 99%-plus performance.

Removing all radioactivity then simply requires cascading the equipment, one unit for every ion species to be removed (of course also the price tag cascades then). And tritium is unremovable by chemistry anyway.

by mustakissa on Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 12:41:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the system only removes one ion species from the water, in this case cesium.

Kurion does state that the system specifically targets cesium, greatly reduced the volume required to be stored and made the treated water available for reuse as cooling water. My question as to scale remains unanswered as yet.
From the Kurion site:

An article in the  Orange County Register notes that Kurion would be happy to sell vitrification equipment to Japan to deal with concentrated residues.
Hundreds of spent canisters, packed with deadly cesium, are arrayed like monuments to the catastrophe, says Kurion CEO Ralph DiSibio.

FIELDS OF WASTE

"There are literally football fields full of those used containers," says DiSibio, who hopes Japanese officials eventually will employ another of the firm's cutting-edge technologies, a method for processing the special media under intense heat to turn it into glass.

In glass form, the radioactive waste cannot leach out or migrate into the water table. Kurion has already built a demonstration plant in Richland, Wash., where the company is trying to gain a stake in the troubled, multibillion-dollar effort to clean up radioactive sludge created during the Manhattan Project. Glass is considered a possible solution to the millions of gallons of waste now stored in corroding underground tanks.


Somewhere in my reading today I saw a comment on dealing with Strontium and other actinides and other problematic elements such as iron and nickle, but I can't find it now and won't further characterize what I recall.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 01:23:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My question as to scale remains unanswered as yet

I interpret that to mean: does the Kurion technology process only the water intended to be re-used as cooling water, and what happens with the ground water that comes in to the foundations all the time, and is added to the contaminated pool? Nothing? Or something? What?

Good questions...

by mustakissa on Sun Aug 11th, 2013 at 05:44:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect that they process that portion of the cooling water and other water that accumulated in sumps that can be processed by the equipment that would fit into the available space shown in one of the pictures. That the site is cluttered with leaking storage canisters of contaminated water indicates that they have not provided capability nearly adequate to deal with an ongoing backlog. Why they haven't built a new treatment facility with substantial excess capability is probably the result of institutional and political limitations. It seems that the first essential step is that denial has to fail massively. Unfortunately that alone is not sufficient.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Aug 11th, 2013 at 10:48:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The implications of this is that >99% of all radioactive water sprayed onto reactors in the last year and a half could have been treated or stored for later treatment had sufficient storage been acquired and had Japan expanded the proven, successful treatment capability of Kurion to an adequate scale.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 12:47:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Technically, yes. I understand that the problem is partly political: even if all this water had been treated, it is custom that the consent of the local fishermen is required before the clean water can be dumped into the ocean. If the water is not 100% clean (and of course it isn't; e.g., tritium) the consent will be not forthcoming, and the cleaned-up water will continue to have to be stored.

But, that would anyway still be a much better situation than the present one: almost-clean water is easier to handle, and if some of the containers were to start leaking, that's less of an issue.

by mustakissa on Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 01:09:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obviously the tritium could be extracted in a separate process. If nothing else, it has a 12 year half life.

Perhaps The Market can help:

The emitted electrons from the radioactive decay of small amounts of tritium cause phosphors to glow so as to make self-powered lighting devices called betalights, which are now used in firearm night sights, watches (see Luminox for example), exit signs, map lights, and a variety of other devices. This takes the place of radium, which can cause bone cancer and has been banned in most countries for decades. Commercial demand for tritium is 400 grams per year and the cost is approximately US $30,000 per gram.

<hides>

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 03:35:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Japan would be self sufficient in tritium for centuries.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 03:36:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not with a half-life of 12 years, unless you're suggesting deliberately irradiating water by making in go through Fukushima in order to manufacture Tritium...

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 13th, 2013 at 10:27:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Certainly they would be self-sufficient for as long as they continue to have to spray water on the reactors, etc.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 13th, 2013 at 11:03:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Could you use it instead of radium in radioactive toothpaste?

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 03:40:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For teeth that are not just white, but positively glowing!

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 04:58:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obviously the tritium could be extracted in a separate process

Not a chemical one. It's not dissolved in the water, it is part of the water. You would need ultracentrifuges at least. And it's not worth the effort as living organisms cannot concentrate it either, like they do with iodine or strontium.

by mustakissa on Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 05:29:28 PM EST
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Most likely it could be separated by breaking down the water into hydrogen and oxygen, ionizing the hydrogen and then accelerating the ions in a small cyclotron. The tritium would be taken off easily as it has more mass and is harder to bend in the magnetic field. It shouldn't have to be a big machine. Were the breakdown of the water to be accomplished by an efficient, low energy process most of the energy could be recaptured by recombination of the hydrogen and deturium with oxygen.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 11:57:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem isn't separating the oxygen and hydrogen (it also wouldn't be necessary - a good mass spectrometer will let you find a 1/20th mass difference with no sweat at all). The problem is that the energy cost of ionizing a cubic meter of water and accelerating it to the sort of velocities you usually associate with charged particles is, how do you say, oh yes "prohibitive."

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Aug 11th, 2013 at 03:28:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My guess would be that currently ultracentrifuges would be the energetically cheapest way. They are for uranium, beating gas diffusion, thermophoresis and the calutron (mass spectrometer).

But, why even bother?

by mustakissa on Sun Aug 11th, 2013 at 05:36:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
almost-clean water is easier to handle

But for a few tens of millions $US more the cesium can be vitrified.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 05:02:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rereading your earlier post I found the missing link. Kurion has Ion Specific Media for each radioactive contaminant. So a complete treatment plant would need to have a series of steps, one for each element involved. It might not be cheap, but complete treatment seems possible - except, perhaps, for the tritium. But 4,000 metric tons per day of partially decontaminated water could be re-used for cooling - with an adequately sized treatment plant.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 12th, 2013 at 08:47:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer:
Who would even try?  

our pollution is less awful than yours, neener neener.

lotsa glass houses here.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 07:31:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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