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Water glass and the reactor accident

I have read that the Japanese have stopped the flow of contaminated water by using a large amount of water glass (sodium silicate). You might ask what is sodium silicate and why is it being used.

http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1302087780P.pdf

I suspect that this chemical has been chosen as it reacts with many metal salts to form water insoluble silicates. For example the magnesium in the seawater will react with the sodium silicate to form insoluble solid magnesium silicate. While I do love crystallography I will say that a whole series of magnesium silicates exist, so working out which magnesium silicate may be quite hard.

This chemistry is related to the chemistry which occurs when a crystal garden is made by adding metal salts to a jam jar containing sodium silicate.

http://www.practicalchemistry.org/experiments/making-a-crystal-garden,193,EX.html

http://chemistry.about.com/od/growingcrystals/a/aa060704a.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A4044845

Here is film showing how sodium silicate can be used to make crystal gardens, just never use a thermometer to stir anything !

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a45jZOc7PRY

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