Feeds

Don't panic! Japan to send nuke fuel rod into MELTDOWN in Fukushima probe

Experiment will be strictly controlled ... honest

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Japan’s Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) will deliberately send a nuclear fuel rod into meltdown after April this year in a bid to learn more about the events leading up to the Fukushima disaster of March 2011.

The experiment will take place at the Nuclear Safety Research Reactor in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, in order to give investigators a better idea of exactly how and when meltdown occurred at the stricken plant.

“We’d like to find out what phenomena occurred in the accident and use the data to work out responses in the event of another nuclear power plant accident,” a JAEA official told the Yomiuri Shimbun.

The citizens of Ibaraki-ken have a right to be a little nervous, although the experiment will be conducted on a much smaller scale.

A single 30-centimeter-long fuel rod will be used instead of the tens of thousands of 4.5-meter-long rods used at Fukushima, with fission predicted to cease shortly after the controlled meltdown.

The whole process will be filmed to observe exactly how the rod melts once it has reached 2,000 degrees centigrade, with other data including temperature and pressure also monitored. Once the fuel has solidified it will then be analysed by JAEA boffins.

When reactors 1, 2 and 3 went into meltdown following the catastrophic Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011, a total power blackout meant Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) officials were apparently unable to collect vital data on temperature and water levels in each reactor.

As a result it’s still unknown exactly how and when the rods went into meltdown – a calculation made more difficult apparently because the various materials used to build the rods have different melting points.

“Results of the experiment will help us better predict the effectiveness of measures to deal with a nuclear accident, such as an emergency injection of water into a reactor,” the JAEA official added.

“There are no safety problems with the experiment itself.” ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
Vote now for LOHAN's stirring mission patch motto
Does the shed actually know no bounds, or what?
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Beancounters tell NASA it's too poor to fly planned mega-rocket
Space Launch System would need another $400m and a lot of time
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.