Monday, July 16, 2012

TEPCO's Space-Age Decon Tool Can Visualize Nuclide, Direction and Intensity of Radiation

Finally there's something sort of "high-tech" about the whole "decontamination" business which has boasted screw drivers, brooms and blue tarp as effective decon tools outside Fukushima I Nuke Plant, and vacuuming and strip-painting inside the plant compound. One of the "high-tech" items is GPS used to map the contaminated areas (see my previous post), and the other is a Compton camera developed by Japan's space agency.

TEPCO has been doing the GPS survey assisting the government research institutions OUTSIDE the plant to identify the radiation contamination. Examples of the survey were announced at the press conference on June 15, 2012.

Browsing through the press handout on June 15 titled "Developing Technology on Monitoring Radioactive Materials and Decontamination", I found a very interesting picture taken by a "super-wide angle Compton Camera" developed by JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency).

According to TEPCO's explanation (page 5 of the handout),

The utilization of the Compton camera experimentally produced by JAXA for decontamination is currently under consideration (JAEA and TEPCO). A “super-wide angle Compton camera” allows to visualize radioactive materials such as cesium-134 and cesium-137 by identifying the nuclide, direction and intensity of radioactive materials excluding the air dose rate of the environment (See below).

It is a bit unnerving to "see" the radiation.

From JAXA's English website, the press release on March 29, 2012:

Visualization of Radioactive Substances
with JAXA's 'Ultra-wide-angle Compton Camera'

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has constructed a prototype of a new device called the "Ultra-wide-angle Compton Camera," which can visualize radioactive substances that emit gamma rays. The camera was developed by applying technology for a gamma-ray observation sensor that will be installed in the next generation X-ray astronomy satellite "ASTRO-H."

This device combines the power of a wide-angle vision covering almost 180 degrees, and a nuclide whose unique feature is identification of gamma-rays, in order to visualize the distribution of Cesium 137 (Cs-137) and 134 (Cs-134) in any plot of ground or a house lot. Hence it can be utilized to obtain images of radioactive substances accumulated on rooftops and other raised locations that are difficult to survey using conventional investigation methods by human beings with a survey meter.

On February 11, JAXA, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) conducted a demonstration of dosimetry and imaging using the Ultra-wide-angle Compton Camera in Kusano district, Iidate Village, Fukushima Prefecture, an area which is designated as a planned evacuation zone. We were able to successfully capture high precision images of radioactive Cesium distribution with a much wider view as compared to that of a conventional gamma-ray camera.

JAXA and JAEA, in cooperation with TEPCO, will carry out further studies of possible practical uses of the Ultra-wide-angle Compton Camera for decontamination of radioactive substances and other related operations. 


Reference link:


Maju said...

"It is a bit unnerving to "see" the radiation".

I can understand that but I'd rather see it than be blind. Fear is there for am evolutionary (fitness, survival) reason.

Anonymous said...

This is cool too bad it can't detect beta and alpha particles especially alpha if ingested alpha particles are 20 times more damaging than gamma rays.

Richard said...

I think it's incorrect, misleading and providing false hope to call this a decontamination system. It's clearly not. At best, it's a discovery system.

We should not use the word decontamination until there is actually decontamination.

It plays into the hands of the nukers otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Richard, thanks for nitpicking.

Anonymous said...

Can this technology be adapted somehow to perform visual checks on food? Imagine ALL the fruit and vegetables shipping to green grocers, ALL the fish coming into the Tsukiji fish market, or ALL the raw ingredients coming into a processing facility first traveling on a conveyor belt through a shielded chamber (just like your airport xray machines) where a computer visually scans the whole lot for radiation signatures.

Don't know if this technology would make you a millionaire in the next couple of years, as the Japanese haven't been so careful about food monitoring, but when the US mainland has a similar disaster at one of the California nuclear plants, you can bet the American public would demand and get this kind of technology in place.

With this posting, this application concept is now in the public domain. If you've got the drive to make it happen, and nobody else has patented it before now, go for it. You'll be doing the world a big service.

Richard said...

I'm guessing you're joking about nitpicking. Why call it decon when it's not. I'm not trying to pick on Ex-skf, but I don't want nukers getting anymore false advantages, as they already have too many.

As always, I really appreciate this blog.

(in fact, this blog led me to view the historical Ooi protests via IWJ, via ustream. For that reason alone I'm eternally grateful)

Anonymous said...

Compton camera.
Must be an echo in here.
Months later we have a "new" camera to use.
Weren't there already pictures?

As this technology is already being employed for non-medical imaging, my request again would be for all parties with these in use to provide a complete list of global images so that the entire population can "see" all of the gamma.

Wishful thinking.
Best to keep the 67 years of contamination under wrap.
Let's see how many images JAEA post.

Anonymous said...

This camera was talked about months ago.."to expensive per TEPCO." Now its not? Or its relative?
And what about the satellite images which show radiation (yes, thats already been talked about here as well) -- why not put them together for a real picture of the situation. In the future, people will have glasses with radiation ID lenses to allow them to stay away from contamination. I hope no one has to wait 20 years or more..

Atomfritz said...

I really don't believe the cameras being too expensive for Tepco.
The nuclear cartel just doesn't want the sad and uncanny radiation reality become visible to everybody.

Imagine your hometown being imaged like that in Google Street View, Earth or Maps.

Parks, children playing lots and schoolyards in warm yellowish-red colors.
Drains illuminated deep-red.
Contaminated cars immediately recognizable.
Building walls and roofs varying in color, depending on how much pollution their materials absorbed.
Buildings constructed from radioactive materials glowing brightly.

m a x l i said...

Next time my wife wants me to wash the dishes, I make a picture of the towering fatty pots, pans, plates, cups... with my camera, which can detect normal dirt, an tell her: "I'm done!"

I think Richard is making a good point here. In the hands of the nuclear village, I'm afraid, this (interesting, I admit) camera will never be used to help in any decontamination, but as an excuse to say: "Now we can go on with business as usual, set the retirement age of our reactors to 150 years. It doesn't matter if on breaks apart - because now we can decontaminate."

From the short citations out of documents arevamirpal is giving here, I can see that JAXA is (correctly) talking about "visualisation", whereas TEPCO likes to (unfoundedly) bluster about "decontamination".

About that food checking idea... This camera detects only gamma rays and leaves many radioactive substances emitting alpha or beta rays undetected. So you could buy some vegetables or meat, which look "clean" according to this camera, but could contain a deadly amount of plutonium239, for instance. If I'm wrong, please someone correct me!

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

I'm using "decontamination" the way the Japanese government and TEPCO and the Japanese media and the Japanese experts have been using. IAEA called it "remediation" in its report on Fukushima last year. Many in Japan are calling it "moving the contamination to somewhere else".

The camera can be still called a "decon" tool, as the first step of "decon" is to identify the contamination.

Food with non-detectable level of radioactive cesium is pretty unlikely to contain deadly amount of Pu239.

Atomfritz said...

@ maxli

Maybe they can utilize the bremsstrahlung wavelengths/energies of alpha/beta contaminated food in later stages of compton camera development.

And, Plutonium ingestion is relatively unproblematic, at least in a short-term view. Hanford plutonium eater experiments demonstrated this.

Atomfritz said...

By the way, can anybody tell what the image shows?

Do we see a radioactive liquid tubing with the occasional leaks there?

nuke lover said...

"And what about the satellite images which show radiation"

You cannot have satellite images showing the radiation - the Earth atmosphere is blocking gamma rays. This is also the reason why we have to launch satellites to observe gamma sources in space - we cannot see them through the atmosphere from the ground.

m a x l i said...

if you consider:
>>>thyroid cancers, bone cancers, arthritis, diabetes and other auto-immune disorders, hypo-thyroidism, blood disorders, reproductive disorders, skin cancer, and other serious injuries<<<
"relatively unproblematic" then you are probably right.

When I say "deadly", I am including short term AND long term. Here I beg to differ from nuclear shills, for which it only counts when you are knocked down on the spot by a fuel rod falling heavily on your head.

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