Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Plastics to the Rescue in Japan

There are times when the details reported in the news are far too sparse, and this is one of them. It has been widely reported that "resin" is being sprayed in one or more of the Fukushima nuclear reactors in order to contain radioactive water.

So what is the resin?

I looked all over and can't find any details. My suspicions: a polyacrylic acid of some sort, possibly of the superslurping genre (crosslinked PAA, neutralized with some sodium). Or maybe it's a reactive urethane that is going to seal everything off.

But my bigger concern is this: how is the resin going to hold up with all that radiation? Regardless of whether the material is going to (initially) crosslink or have its backbone cut [*], the longer term prospects are pretty clear: the material will completely decompose and fail. Are they planning on respraying the resin? (Oh, would I love to have that supply contract!) Oh please, someone give us more details.

[*] As I've mentioned before, both reactions will occur at the same time. In most cases, one mode dominates.


Materialist said...

I've read that it was sodium silicate (aka water glass) - polymeric but not organic.

John said...

I had seen that too, but thought that that was going to be the second step.

I also can't conceive of anybody calling sodium silicate "resin".