AS JAPAN struggles with cleaning radiation contamination at Fukushima Prefecture following its nuclear accident two years ago, Singapore-listed life-sciences company Transcu has tied up with two leading Japanese companies to help remove radioactive waste.
Transcu subsidiary, Biomass Energy Corporation (“BME”), recently signed agreements in Japan with the following companies to provide solutions for cleaning up cesium, an extremely toxic radioactive element with a half-life of 30 years:
(1) Leading Japanese manufacturer of radiation measurement equipment, Chiyoda Technol Corporation (“Chiyoda Technol”), which has developed special filters for removing radioactive cesium. Chiyoda Technol is a pioneer and leading radioisotope applications manufacturer in Japan.
(2) Leading Japanese heat burner manufacturer Olympia Kogyo Co Ltd (“Olympia”) to build biomass gasification plants.
Transcu CEO Lawrence Komo expressed his excitement over the company’s breakthrough in providing a viable solution to the radiation problem during a telephone interview with NextInsight last week.
“The combination of BME's gasification technology with Chiyoda Technol's filtration technology has proven to remove more than 99% of radioactive cesium,” he said.
Land within 20 km of the destroyed nuclear power plant, encompassing an area of about 600 sq km, and an additional 200 sq km northwest of the plant, were declared too radioactive for human habitation as radioactive cesium has penetrated the ecosystem.
Radioactive cesium has contaminated water, soil, plants, seafood and animals in Fukushima and prolonged exposure to radiation in the air, ground and food can damage human DNA, causing leukemia and other cancers.
In October 2011, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said the government will spend at least 1 trillion yen ($13 billion) to clean up vast areas contaminated by radiation.
At the request of Japan’s government, BME and Chiyoda Technol are doing on-site tests in Fukushima that use BME's gasification technology in combination with Chiyoda Technol's filtration technology to remove more than 99% of radioactive cesium from contaminated plants.
BME has entered into an agreement with Chiyoda Technol to jointly develop biomass energy plants to remove radioactive cesium from the contaminated wood in Fukushima prefecture.
Chiyoda Technol is responsible for safe collection and transportation of contaminated wood. BME’s gasification technology converts the contaminated wood into wood chips for burning into gas that can be used for power or electricity generation.
Tests will be completed in a few weeks, and commercialization terms will then be discussed with local government bodies that are empowered to take action on contamination issues.
Tie up with leading heat burner maker
Separately, BME has entered into an agreement with Olympia to manufacture the biomass energy plant for its customers.
The gasification equipment is produced by Olympia using BME’s intellectual property in biomass gasification.
Project trial production by Olympia is slated to commence in June.
Olympia currently manufactures equipment such as gas burners and boilers for many leading Japanese industry players, and is considered the top volume manufacturer in Japan.
Investment capital will be wholly provided by Olympia to produce prototypes of gasification plants that BME has previously built using third party manufacturing facilities.
"The participation of a big name like Olympia is crucial as we commercialize the technology," said Mr Komo.