Bottles become radiation detectors in Japan

To meet growing demand for radiation detectors after Japan’s March earthquake and tsunami, which set off the world’s worst nuclear accident in 25 years, a Japanese researcher has come up with devices made from recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles — inexpensively.

The detectors devised by Hidehito Nakamura, an assistant professor at Kyoto University in western Japan, in cooperation with Teijin, cut costs by 90% from existing devices, many of which come from foreign firms.

“We’re aiming to have a final product by the end of September, given the ever-increasing demand following the March earthquake,” said Toru Ishii, a sales executive at Teijin.

Nakamura came up with “Scintirex,” a plastic resin that emits a fluorescent glow when exposed to radiation. The resin acts as a sensor within the radiation detectors, allowing measurements of radiation.

The new material is expected to drastically cut costs for high-demand personal radiation detectors and larger survey meters to be used for commercial or official purposes.


Teijin’s PR department estimates that sensors for detection devices will become available to high priority government organisations and companies as early as next month at approximately ¥10 000 ($130) — one-tenth of the cost of currently available materials.

Derived mainly from PET bottle resin, “Scintirex” combines the strength, flexibility and low cost of the readily available PET resin with the radiation sensitivity of “Plastic Scintillators,” currently the dominant radiation sensing material exported to Japan by French firm Saint-Gobain.

Until now, the French company has dominated the radiation sensor market in Japan. However, Ishii said Nakamura’s invention is expected to compete.

Though Nakamura’s findings were published in the Europhysics Letter journal at the end of June, development has been picking up pace, given the strong demand.

A massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled the coastal Fukushima Daiichi power plant in north-eastern Japan, sparking a fuel-rod meltdown and the biggest nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986.

The plant is still leaking radiation, sparking widespread worries about radiation and demand for radiation detectors as worried Japanese decide to check radiation levels for themselves.

Once available, the product will initially be used by government organisations and companies for testing throughout September and October, after which it should gradually become available to the general public, Ishii said. – Reuters

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Where do Africans study abroad?

China is becoming the preferred destination for countries such as Ghana and Nigeria

The first undeniable climate change deaths

In Japan, in 2018, more than 1 000 people died during an unprecedented heat wave. In 2019, scientists proved it would have been impossible without global warming

Covid-19: A case for why we all should wear homemade face masks

Countries that have mandated mask-wearing for people going out in public have shown a decrease in the rate of Covid-19 infections

Hindsight is 2020 for Japan

Tokyo has a history of cancelled Olympics – but a different type of war caused it to cancel in 1940

Develop the Advanced Manufacturing Institute to increase SA’s competitiveness

The institute should develop products that are applicable to different industries, such as 3D-imaging and self-driving cars

What would an Olympics cancellation cost Japan?

Japan has a diversified economy not heavily reliant on tourism. But with domestic spending already weak, the hit from a cancellation could ripple through and further depress local purchasing.
Advertising

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Air pollution link in 15% of global Covid-19 deaths

Researchers have found that, because ambient fine particulate air pollution aggravates comorbidities, it could play a factor in coronavirus fatalities

Mboweni plans to freeze public sector wage increases for the...

The mid-term budget policy statement delivered by the finance minister proposes cutting all non-interest spending by R300-billion.

SAA to receive R10.5-billion government bailout after all

Several struggling state-owned entities received extra funds after the medium term budget policy speech

BMW X3 thrives in the M stable

The compact SUV is so at home with its new badge that’s it’s surprising it didn’t happen sooner
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday