Japanese researchers said they have developed a fabric that can efficiently absorb radioactive cesium, a potential weapon in the battle to clean up areas contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The fabric, which can absorb more than 99 percent of cesium under certain conditions, can be mass-produced at a cost of about 1,000 yen ($12) per square meter, or about one-fifth of existing products, according to the researchers at the University of Tokyo's Institute of Industrial Science and Ozu Corp., a Tokyo-based nonwoven fabric manufacturer.
By soaking it in water, the cloth can help to decontaminate rivers and ponds containing cesium, as well as contaminated soil mixed in water, they said.
An artificial pigment called Prussian blue absorbs cesium, but it comes off easily when it is used to dye fabric. The researchers overcame that problem by developing a technology to synthesize Prussian blue directly on nonwoven fabric.
They said an experiment in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, showed that soaking the cloth overnight in rainwater containing 20 becquerels of cesium per liter reduced the cesium concentration to under 5 becquerels per liter.
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