Japan’s growing mountain of cathode-ray tubes from obsolete televisions could be recycled to help safely store soil contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Researchers at Miyagi University have developed a container capable of effectively blocking radiation made from concrete blended with lead-laced glass from the TV tubes.
More than 100,000 tons of lead glass has accumulated in Japan, according to data compiled by the Association for Electric Home Appliances, as Japan’s transition to digital terrestrial broadcasting forced households to chuck out old TVs.
The glass is about 25-percent lead because the metal helps prevent x-ray emissions.
A prototype container that is 10 centimeters thick and capable of holding 1 cubic meter of soil was made at a concrete factory in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture, in late May.
The container is almost the same strength as a similarly sized one made of normal concrete but has a higher shielding capability due to lead’s radiation blocking properties.
Workers poured concrete containing the lead glass into a mold, and the result looked the same as ordinary concrete.
“We are blending lead glass pieces of various sizes (into concrete) to increase the amount of lead in it,” explained Masafumi Kitatsuji, a professor of concrete technology at Miyagi University.
A 44-cm-thick slab of the lead-glass concrete has the same radiation shielding properties as 50-cm-thick ordinary concrete, Kitatsuji said.
“It cannot be called groundbreaking, but it will help reduce the amount of concrete used,” Kitatsuji said.
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