CB Frost and the Chernobyl New Safe Confinement Project

In the long history of CB Frost, one of the most notable projects we have been involved in has been the Chernobyl New Safe Confinement.  This is the new arch-shaped shelter intended to contain the ruins of the Number 4 unit at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant that was destroyed during the Chernobyl disaster on the 26th April 1986.

silicone sponge
Image courtesy of The BBC – “Inside Chernobyl’s Mega Tomb”

The New Safe Confinement project was originally supposed to be completed in in 2005, but following a number of lengthy delays, steel construction begun in April 2012 and the planned completion date of the 36,000 tonne structure is expected to be in November this year. Once fully erected, the huge arch will then be used to accommodate the future dismantling of the original shelter.

silicone sponge
Image courtesy of The BBC – “Inside Chernobyl’s Mega Tomb”

CB Frost were tasked to supply a sealing material to prevent the escape of radioactive dust from within the arch and stop air moisture from entering the shelter. As the materials used will take into account the safety of workers, it was essential that we provided a material with the necessary specifications. Silicone sponge (CF19) and BISCO® HT800 Silicone sponge were found to be the best suited material for this sealing application as a result of the following properties:

  • Excellent resistance to ozone and UV light
  • A high resistance to extreme temperatures, both low and high
  • Excellent fire resistance properties
  • A stable compression and defection along with good compression set
  • It does not support microbiological growth

To ensure the safety of workers and to prevent internal steelwork from rusting, the arch’s interior roof must be completely airtight. Inside the enormous structure, powerful fans will suck in air from outside, which is then channelled through massive dehumidifiers to remove moisture. The resulting dry air will then be blown through 3km of aluminium ducts into every corner of the enclosed space created by the new arch.

silicone sponge
Image courtesy of The BBC – “Inside Chernobyl’s Mega Tomb”

Under normal circumstances, the steelworks inside the shelter would require painting around every 12 years to prevent rust. Due to the radiation inside the shelter, this would not be possible, however, by preventing the ingress of moisture in the air, the steel will not be affected by weathering. To ensure the airtightness of the interior roof, CB Frost Silicone Rubber materials are used as a seal between junctions and mating panels.

silicone sponge
Image courtesy of The BBC – “Inside Chernobyl’s Mega Tomb”

Of course, a material that is suitable for use in the New Safe Confinement project is also well suited for use in a wide range of industrial applications. At CB Frost, we can provide a number of Silicone rubber and sponge materials, including MF775 solid silicone rubber, a high performance rail material. Silicone materials can be supplied in roll or sheet form, cut into gaskets or washers, moulded or extruded.

To find out more about the benefits of Silicone Rubber, or for advice in finding the ideal material for your application, you can call our experienced team on +44 (0)121 773 8494.