Wastewater technology to assist nuclear clean-up


Wastewater technology to assist nuclear clean-up

The Virtual Curtain technology can turn toxic wastewater into near rainwater quality. Image: The nuclear power station at Chernobyl, Ukraine. Credit: Timm Seuss

West Australian researchers have developed an advanced water decontamination process that turns toxic wastewater into near rainwater quality and which they believe could help Japan in its extensive clean-up of nuclear contaminated waters.

CSIRO scientist Grant Douglas visited the country in September and with assistance from Austrade has submitted a proposal to use CSIRO’s Virtual Curtain technology for widespread remediation work in Japan, estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

He says water tanks, flooded buildings and basements in Fukushima remain highly contaminated after the meltdown of the power plant nuclear reactors in 2011.

“They need to clean those up and that’s proving difficult because they have such a wide range of contaminants,” Dr Douglas says.

“They can’t generally employ one technique—they need multiple ones, whereas our technology has the advantage that it can clean up a lot of contaminants in one step.”

Dr Douglas says the first full scale application of the technology in Australia began in late September at a toxic mine site in Queensland.

“This is a severe environmental liability at the moment; what we’ll be doing is treating water that’s highly acidic and full of all sorts of toxic metals metalloids, arsenic and other things,” he says.

“The water we produce from that is virtually drinking-quality except for the salt level.

“That is then going through a reverse osmosis plant to remove the salt and that effluent – which will be released into a river – is actually going to be better quality than is now in the river. It’ll be like rainwater.”

The Virtual Curtain technology is patented by CSIRO and made commercial through the company Virtual Curtain Limited.

It uses hydrotalcites; layered minerals consisting of aluminium and magnesium-rich-layers, separated by interlayers of anions (negatively charged molecules like sulphate).

During the process the aluminium and magnesium can be replaced by a range of other metals like copper and lead as the hydotalcites form. The metals and anions are then trapped and easily removed from wastewater as a solid.

Dr Douglas says lime has been used traditionally to decontaminate wastewater but among its drawbacks it requires a number of complex steps and produces enormous amounts of sludge.

“The technique I have produces just 10 per cent or less of the sludge that lime does which is then far more concentrated as a result, and has potential to turn what was back into an ore; they can re-mine it.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-11-wastewater-technology-nuclear-clean-up.html#jCp

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Private investment in renewable energy eyed for reconstruction of quake-hit areas


nanomanufacturing-6Governors and business leaders in northern Japan have agreed on the need to attract private-sector investment in growth fields, such as the most advanced renewable energies, and to promote industrial development and local revitalization as part of efforts to rebuild regions hit hard by the March 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster.

They shared the view at a meeting held in the city of Fukushima on Nov. 8 by a forum of governors from eight prefectures — Hokkaido, the six prefectures of Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Yamagata, Miyagi and Fukushima in the Tohoku district, and Niigata Prefecture — as well as regional business groups.

The participants discussed what is necessary to rebuild disaster-hit regions.

Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato told the session that the Fukushima prefectural government considers development of renewable energy sources to be a pillar of its reconstruction efforts.

Fukushima Prefecture will aim at taking the lead in the field of renewable energy development,” Sato said. “To that end, how to connect (the energy) with industries for industry accumulation is a pressing task,” he said.

A New Hub for Solar Tech Blooms in Japan


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8Tilting Toward Solar in Yokohama

Photograph by Sankei via Getty Images

 

 

1-solar-techno-park-japan2_46148_600x450

What appears to be an array of metal flower petals is not an art installation but part of a cutting-edge solar-power system meant to address the critical power shortage Japan now faces in the wake of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

The disaster, which triggered a crippling nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, reignited worldwide debate about the safety of nuclear power and forced Japan to reevaluate its energy strategy.

(Related Photos: “The Nuclear Cleanup Struggle at Fukushima“)

Of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors, 52 have been shut down for maintenance; the remaining two are set to go offline this spring. The reactors are likely to remain inoperative while Japan’s central and local governments assess which (if any) of them can be restarted, leaving the country to make up for a 30-percent loss in power generation.

(Related: “Energy-Short Japan Eyes Renewable Future, Savings Now“)

Rising electricity prices and limited supply threaten to hamper the recovery for manufacturers. So it makes sense that Solar Techno Park, the first solar-power research facility focusing on multiple technologies in Japan, is operated not by the government but by a unit of the Tokyo-based JFE, the world’s fifth-largest steelmaker. Given the energy-intensive nature of steel production, reliable power will be key to the future of Japan’s steel industry. The facility, which opened in October last year, is developing advanced technology in solar light and thermal power generation that it aims to apply both in Japan and overseas.

Located along the industrial coast of the port city of Yokohama, the Solar Techno Park aims to achieve a combined output capacity of 40 to 60 kilowatts this spring. The facility’s most notable apparatus is the HyperHelios (seen here), a photovoltaic system consisting of rows of heliostats with mirrors that follow the sun and a receiving tower. Two types of solar thermal power systems are also being developed at the park.

Yvonne Chang

9 Incredible Uses for Graphene


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8Graphene is amazing. Or at least, it could be. Made from a layer of carbon one-atom thick, it’s the strongest material in the world, it’s completely flexible, and it’s more conductive than copper. Discovered just under a decade ago, the supermaterial potentially has some unbelievable applications for us in the not so distant future. All of these are just hypothetical at this point, but could be real before we know it.

And they’re all flippin incredible!

Water, water everywhere and EVERY drop drinkable. MIT minds have a plan for a graphene filter covered in tiny holes just big enough to let water through and small enough to keep salt out, making salt water safe for consumption.

Potable Water

Mega-fast uploads. We’re talking a whole terabit in just one second.

Mega Uploads

Plug your phone in for five seconds and it would be all charged up. The downside here is that you won’t be able to use a dead phone as an excuse anymore.

1200-mediabridge-portable-surge-protector

What if we actually had a clear solution for cleaning up the tainted water near Fukushima? Scientists at Rice say graphene could potentially clump together radioactive waste, making disposal is a breeze.

Fukijima

Graphene could pave the way for bionic devices in living tissues that could be connected directly to your neurons. So people with spinal injuries, for example, could re-learn how to use their limbs.

Human Body

It could improve your tennis game, thanks to special racquets from HEAD that aim to put the weight where it’s more useful: in the head and the grip.

Tennis Racket

Touchscreens that use graphene as their conductor could be slapped onto plastic rather than glass. That would mean super thin, unbreakable touchscreens and never worrying about shattering your phone ever again.

Phone Glass

High-power graphene supercapacitors would make batteries obselete.

supercapacitors

Just a single sheet of graphene could produce headphones that have a frequency response comparable to a pair of Sennheisers, as some scientists at UC Berkeley recently showed us.

Berkley Frequency