Officials Use Blue, Peelable Goo to Decontaminate Japan

By Veronique Greenwood | May 27, 2011 11:35 am

goo
Just pour and peel! Also slices and dices.

Put away that Swiffer—when you’ve got a real mess to clean up, turn to this blue goo.

Japanese officials looking to clean up radioactive contamination are applying a product called DeconGel to the problem. The usual method is distressingly Stone Age: soap and water applied by human beings. As you can imagine, there are a number of problems with this, like what to do with all that radioactive water, which has a tendency to leak all over the place, and what to do about radiation exposure of said human beings.

DeconGel, 100 buckets of which were donated to the relief effort by its manufacturer, CBI Polymers, looks to be a handy way to bypass all that. A radiation-mitigation expert working with Japanese officials put them on to it: “I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” he says, “and there’s nothing comparable to DeconGel out there that I know of today.” (via CNNMoney)

If you’ve ever used a lint roller, you’re familiar with the basic mechanics of DeconGel. The viscous blue goop is poured onto the contaminated surface, allowed to dry, and then peeled off like masking tape from a shag carpet, bringing with it microscopic particles from PCBs to mercury to chromium. (Tellingly, it was a lab accident that put the company on trail of the goo—after an experimental mixture spilled on the floor and was cleaned up, the patch was so clean that no amount of scrubbing could get surrounding floor as pearly white.) The thin leathery material can then be folded or rolled up for storage or further decontamination. It doesn’t actually neutralize radiation, but it makes it significantly easier to cart it away.

Of course, what we all really want to know is, unfortunately, proprietary. Step away from the goo with that mass spectrometer, ma’am—its exact chemical make-up is confidential.

(via CNNMoney)

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Image credit: Courtesy of DeconGel

  • question

    easier to cart it away… to where? :-/

  • answer

    Hanford WA, where else?

  • SilenceIsGolden

    To where? Easy! It’s such a clean energy source after all… We simply store it with all those countless spent fuel rods. Uh… anybody ready yet to prepare a rocket to ‘explode’ on the sun with that stuff on board? Might be the only way to truly get rid of it all.

  • Larry

    Depending on what’s picked up, that is what determines how the gel is disposed of. It can be incinerated if its low level radioactive waste (to reduce waste volume even more), or if the contaminant isn’t too bad, the gel can be super compressed and thrown away as regular trash.

  • Ptrbungal

    “Oh, in case you got covered in that Repulsion gel, here’s some advice the lab boys gave me: DO NOT GET COVERED BY REPULSION GEL. We haven’t entirely nailed down what element it is yet, but I’ll tell you this: it’s a lively one, and it does not like the human skeleton.”

  • Paul S

    Like the decon gel in Star Trek: Enterprise! Brilliant idea!

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