Japan Wants To Start A Nuclear Meltdown... For Science, Of Course

It's been almost three years since Fukushima nuclear disaster. Despite the catalyst for the incident being a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, followed by a 40m-high tsunami, we can all agree the nuclear-related nastiness afterwards could have been handled better. While the Japan Atomic Energy Agency can do little to stop Mother Nature, it can get a tighter grip on dealing with meltdowns, which is why it's going to start one on purpose.

As reported by International Business Times' Esther Tanquintic-Misa, JAEA's Nuclear Safety Research Reactor in Tokai will serve as the base of operations for the project, which will involve studying the controlled meltdown of a 30cm fuel rod.

The point of the project is to get a better idea of temperatures and melting speeds, to more accurate predict the ramifications of meltdowns and devise improved methods of dealing with such situations. While it won't be a cheap way to get such data, it will be extremely safe:

"They are, however, very expensive and preparations are extremely difficult, so there's relatively little data available from this type of experiment, and this is one of the reasons why the Japanese are doing this one now," Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist at The Union of Concerned Scientists, told VOANews.

"This type of experiment is usually under very carefully controlled conditions," he said. "The amount of material involved is very small and the facility is going to be secured and filtered. So I think there's very little risk associated with this experiment to the public."

[International Business Times]

Image: Pascal / Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

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Comments

    "...since *the Fukushima nuclear disaster." "...to more *accurately predict.."

    A meltdown is basicly where the heat of the radioactivity causes the material to reach melting point, which is a bigger issue when it mixes with things like moderator materials. The issue is more that some of these materials, when heated beyond normal, will undergo nasty chemical reactions.

    Heck, chernobyl had graphite moderators, which when heated by the uncooled radioactive fuel and exposed to air, created the explosion that scattered the radioactive debris.

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