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UK-Japan collaboration helping with Fukushima clean-up

Copyright: University of Birmingham

Research funded by BBSRC, EPSRC and NERC is being developed to help clean up water contaminated with radioactive material at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan, in collaboration with the Japan Atomic Energy Agency.

The technology – initially developed in the UK – uses bacteria to produce a mineral called hydroxyapatite, which captures radioactive elements from contaminated seawater, surface and groundwater. Early tests have shown that biological hydroxyapatite is substantially more effective than alternatives, including chemical hydroxyapatite and the mineral clinoptilolite, at removing radioactive strontium from sea water.

Data breakout

9 Magnitude of earthquake that led to the tsunami that hit the nuclear plant
8 Number of grants covering aspects of the research collaboration so far
21 Number of years since first BBSRC award to investigate Citrobacter bacteria

Professor Lynne Macaskie received a Realising Our Potential Award (ROPA) from BBSRC to work with Citrobacter bacteria that produce various metal phosphates and can be used to ‘capture’ heavy metals and radionuclides from the environment in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster.

A string of awards from the late 1990s, to BBSRC Japan Partnering Awards in the 2000s, and then grants from EPSRC and NERC has led to the research being conducted by an interdisciplinary team from the University of Birmingham and collaborators from the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Kyushu University and Shibaura Institute of Technology. They are now scaling it up for use at the stricken nuclear power station to prevent contamination of the surrounding area which was devastated by the heavily damaged by the tsunami caused by a magnitude nine earthquake off the coast of Japan in early 2011.

The interdisciplinary research has led to new collaborations with Japanese researchers and funding for UK scientists from the Japan Atomic Energy Agency.

Read the full impact evidence report:

UK-Japan collaboration helping with Fukushima clean-up (PDF 868KB)

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