Exlterra, a Swiss company focused on sustainable development with its North American headquarters in Hazel Park, and SSE EcoCentre, a Ukrainian state agency and research institute in charge of managing the Chernobyl exclusion zone, today announced a reduction in air and ground radioactivity at Chernobyl due to Exlterra’s technology.
Chernobyl is the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in history, which took place 35 years ago today (April 26, 1986).
The decrease comes seven months after SSE EcoCentre completed the installation of an underground technology on an 1Ha ground site (1 hectare, or 2.5 acres) located within the Chernobyl exclusion ground. The air quality on the ground measurements indicated a double-digit number reduction on average in radioactivity.
The Nucleus Separation Passive System (NSPS) developed by Andrew Niemczyk, Exlterra’s president and chief technology officer, was installed at Chernobyl and safely accelerates radioactive decay by harnessing existing energy within the ground. Full results will be announced in September, one year after completion of the installation of the NSPS technology.
The announcement was made on the occasion of the 35th commemoration of the Chernobyl accident, which released radioactive contamination into the atmosphere and required the evacuation of more than 100,000 people.
“It’s the first time in 35 years that we have authorized such a large-scale installation in the exclusion zone of Chernobyl,” says Sergiy Kirieiev, director general of the SSE EcoCentre in Chernobyl, which oversees research in the exclusion zone. “The scientific process is totally unprecedented and original, and the early data collected seven months after completion of the installation are already very promising, showing a positive trend of decontamination.”
To secure a controlled experimental environment, all variables were kept the same and the radiation levels were measured prior to the first installation in October 2019. The results were analyzed and validated by SSE EcoCentre.
Radiation measurements were performed by SSE EcoCentre in April across the 1HA surface located in the Chernobyl 10-kilometer exclusion zone. The air and ground results demonstrated a consistent pattern of double-digit reduction of all data points compared to their baseline. Air levels were measured at a distance of 5 centimeters and 1 meter from the ground, while soil sampling was done 30 centimeters below the surface.
“Our technology is already achieving what was considered, up to now, impossible to achieve. If you would leave it up to nature, it would probably have taken decades to achieve a similar reduction in radioactivity,” says Niemczyk. “We expect further reductions in radioactivity in September 2021, when we will provide the detailed one-year results following the installation of the NSPS technology.”
The NSPS technology uses high velocity particles called positrons that are directed toward radioactive isotopes in the soil. When the positrons hit the isotopes, they break up the bonds. This is done safely under the surface of the soil, and no radioactivity is released into the ground or in the air. Once the positron comes into contact with the radioactive isotope, it rejoins an electron and annihilates the isotope, turning it back into its original matter.
“This invention is unique because it is the first of its kind to provide a pathway for positrons to naturally accelerate in a passive system to remove contaminated areas,” says Niemczyk. “It harnesses renewable energy sources present in nature to considerably accelerate the natural decomposition process of contaminants in the soil.”
Exlterra plans to develop a series of decontamination technologies addressing other types of contaminants using the same technique. Soil degradation affects human health, compromises food security and drinking water quality, alters biodiversity, and contributes to the forced displacement of populations. It is estimated that economic losses caused by soil degradation are estimated at around 10 percent of the world’s GDP.
“Soil pollution is the result of nature’s inability to absorb the amount of contaminants that accumulates,” Niemczyk says. “Exlterra is taking action, with the sole objective of developing the technologies of the future that use resources and natural properties whose potential is not yet harnessed, but which are already showing very promising results.”
Exlterra’s products are energy-passive, do not require maintenance, and are safe for humans, animals, and the environment. Its innovations address soil impoverishment, stormwater issues, and contaminated soils. The company has also developed HAZl and MAZL, two light and compact drill rigs, which are designed to install Exlterra’s technologies. The company was founded in 2013 by Polish-born U.S. inventor Niemczyk and Swiss entrepreneur Muller. It has been awarded eight patents and has installed its technologies on three continents.
“While these results are intermediary results, their magnitude and consistency already demonstrate the power and relevance of our technology,” says Frank Muller, CEO of Exlterra. “What the NSPS technology achieved within this short time frame is exactly what we had anticipated and announced in 2018: reach a significant reduction of radioactivity 6 months after installation of the NSPS system in Chernobyl. We are on track to reach our longer-term objective of returning the installed zone to its original/natural levels five years after completion of the installation.”
Exlterra also offers a nutrient enrichment system for soil for tree and vineyard growth.
The company was featured in DBusiness in the Nov./Dec. issue, which can be found here.
Niemczyk’s life story is the focus of a new book by DBusiness Editor R.J. King, called “Grounds for Freedom: Saving Chernobyl,” available at www.SavingChernobyl.com.