State-run nuclear fuel manufacturing company develops ultrasonic-based radioactive material removal technique

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : December 28, 2021, 17:33 Updated : December 28, 2021, 17:46

[Courtesy of KEPCO Nuclear Fuel]

SEOUL -- Korea Electric Power Corporation Nuclear Fuel, a state-run nuclear fuel manufacturing company, developed a high-performance ultrasonic-based decontamination technique that can remove radioactive uranium from metallic radioactive waste. The technique is especially effective for removing radioactive materials from complex-shaped waste or for safely tearing down nuclear power plants. 
Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) Nuclear Fuel said in a statement on December 28 that some 24 billion won ($20.2 million) of waste management costs can be reduced by adopting the high-intensity focused ultrasonic (HIFU) technique for non-ferrous metal waste. The HIFU technique concentrates ultrasonic beams to a specific area that is highly polluted with radioactive waste materials for effective decontamination. The technology was developed through collaboration with enesG, a domestic engineering company.

"The adoption of the new technique will reduce safety risks of people working in a high-temperature decontamination environment and drastically increase the area of effect. The technique can also become an alternative to chemical decontamination methods that create secondary waste," Park Jung-seok, KEPCO Nuclear Fuel's official, was quoted as saying.

According to KEPCO Nuclear Fuel, the HIFU technique incorporates hundreds of times more energy than regular ultrasound decontamination methods. Normally, radioactive waste decontamination processes involve the melting of contaminated metal or the cleaning of pollutants by hand. However, such methods were unable to fully decontaminate non-ferrous metal or metal coated with flammable materials. The nuclear fuel manufacturer said that the newly-developed technique can be used for cleaning other kinds of industrial waste. 
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