Researchers awarded £516,285 in grants to support clean-up of Fukushima nuclear accident

Researchers from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering have been awarded two EPSRC grants to support research into the decommissioning and clean-up of the waste arising from the Fukushima nuclear accident. 

Professor Neil Hyatt, Head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, is collaborating with Professor Bill Lee and Dr Luc Vandeperre, Imperial College London, and research teams at Kyushu and Tohoku Universities in Japan, to develop viable and efficient processes to immobilise and dispose of radioactive ion exchange materials used for decontamination of reactor cooling water. Whilst Dr Hajime Kinoshita, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, is working with the Japan Atomic Energy Agency to develop novel cements to encapsulate radioactive sludges.

The Great East Japan Earthquake, on 11 March 2011, triggered a tsunami, which lead to the partial melt down of three boiling water reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ici nuclear power plant. Since the accident, water has been used to cool the damaged cores and reactor buildings, resulting in the collection of 3,760 tons of radioactively contaminated water per day. Several water decontamination facilities exist that use ion exchange materials to remove radionuclides from the water, however there is, as yet, no agreed solution for the immobilisation and safe disposal of this material. 

Professor Neil Hyatt, Director of the Immobilisation Science Laboratory and Royal Academy of Engineering and Nuclear Decommissioning Professor of Radioactive waste management and disposal said “We are delighted to be leading these important projects which will take innovation in radioactive waste treatment developed here in the UK and apply it to the challenge of decommissioning the Fukushima site."

Working as a team, we will be able to take a significant step to addressing the problems of water decontamination and radioactive waste management on the Fukushima site, over the next few years.

PROFESSOR NEIL HYATT

The research will lead to the development of safe decommissioning and disposal strategies at the Fukushima site. Using existing collaborations in the UK and the US, the research will also support the long-term decommissioning strategies of Sellafield, Hanford and other legacy nuclear sites.

Further information

The Immobilisation Science Laboratory (ISL) is one of four BNFL University Research Alliances (URAs). A world leading centre in the science and application of waste immobilisation technology, ISL has a secure skill and knowledge base in the field of waste immobilisation that is of value to the UK nuclear industry.

www.sheffield.ac.uk/materials/research/wastedevelopment