Description of the solution
One of the most important problems of nuclear power is the shielding of radiation generated by the nuclear transformation of nuclear fuel.
All types of nuclear radiation exhibit strong penetrating and destructive properties for living organisms, including humans, posing a threat to health and life. It is necessary to protect against their effects.
The universal method of compensating (reversing) the penetrating radiation is not known.
The only method of protection is separation – shielding from the phenomena of areas, areas, objects in which people, animals, plants are located, by weakening radiation beams on barriers or enclosures of appropriately selected thicknesses and materials.
A separate problem is the radiation protection in installations damaged or destroyed by catastrophes, such as the Chernobyl power plants in Ukraine and Fukushima in Japan. In such situations, it is necessary to use temporary, easy-to-build, flexible shields – dams for radiation, objects or areas with damaged structures or difficult access. At the same time, it is difficult to have a lightweight, yet effective, material for protective suits for personnel forced to work under penetrating radiation.
One of the most comprehensive
materials that is commonly used to shield penetrating radiation is water. As water is known to be a good moderator of neutrons and these are the most dangerous in the spectrum of nuclear radiation.
The use of liquid water in normal form is impossible or unreasonable because the freely spilling water after the destroyed object instead of protecting it from radiation would distribute it over uncontrolled area through all the gaps, including possibly penetrating the groundwater, leading to contamination in a large uncontrolled area. There can also be no liquid water to fill the overalls, as any leaks cause it to escape and consequently to lack protection.
The solution to this problem may be the use of SAP superabsorbents.
These are polymeric materials insoluble in water but showing strong sorption properties relative to water. The volume of absorbed water may even exceed several hundred times the volume of dry polymer, and the swollen polymer forms what is called a hydrogel – gelatinous, elastomeric, practically illiquid substance.
It is much easier to build the appropriate (diverse) size and shape of the walls, with lightweight hollow tanks equipped with valves and the right amount of SAP inside than the construction of concrete, steel or other heavy components, particularly in a catastrophic situation.
Just plug in the water supply hose and pump it in. After 5 minutes, the water will turn into a dense gel, which will reduce the possibility of uncontrolled leakage later in the water. In hydrated SAP water is 99% water. This is a very good material for radiation shielding. Instead of containers, you can even use rubber bags, filled with water and SAP. Placed in appropriate stacks along the walls, on a contaminated floor, or blocking dangerous holes in structures will provide rapid and effective radiation protection.