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Japan To Create a Nuclear Meltdown

Unknown Lamer posted about 9 months ago | from the suddenly-godzilla dept.

Power 222

Taco Cowboy writes "Japanese researchers are planning an experiment to better understand what transpires during a nuclear meltdown by attempting to create a controlled nuclear meltdown. Using a scaled down version of a nuclear reactor — essentially a meter long stainless steel container — the experiment will involve the insertion of a foot long (30 cm) nuclear fuel rod, starting the fission process, and then draining the coolant. The experiment is scheduled to take place later this year."

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Great (5, Insightful)

StripedCow (776465) | about 9 months ago | (#45906453)

What could possibly go wrong?

By the way, didn't they have to hand in their license to do nuclear stuff already?

Re:Great (5, Insightful)

Stargoat (658863) | about 9 months ago | (#45906471)

What could possibly go wrong?

I believe that's what they want to find out.

Re:Great (5, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 9 months ago | (#45906513)

And, it should be noted, they want to find out in controlled conditions with sufficient protective equipment in a facility explicitly configured for this kind of situation. This is science.

Re:Great (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about 9 months ago | (#45906619)

Yeah, the OPs attitude was my first impression, and yours is where I settled, quite quickly after reading the summary.

Re:Great (5, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 9 months ago | (#45906635)

This is science.

The problem is that it should have been done decades ago. You're supposed to test failure modes before you declare something safe. That's doubly true of something as potentially dangerous as nuclear meltdowns.

Re:Great (0)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 9 months ago | (#45906799)

A couple of things came to mind. Wouldn't it more constructive to learn how to nullify radio activity? The other is this reasearch can go with their whale science, or IgNobel nomination.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45906845)

Wouldn't it more constructive to learn how to nullify radio activity?

Research in that field is also going on. What if the conclusion of that research is that you can't? Do you think it still would have been more constructive to ignore this research instead of pursuing multiple subjects at once?

Re:Great (0)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 9 months ago | (#45906841)

Testing failure modes doesn't necessarily imply that the failure modes must be well-understood.

We know that, in a worst-case scenario, reactors can melt down into an ugly puddle of radioactive detritus. We don't understand the mechanics involved, and we didn't really need to in order to build safe containment vessel floors that can hold an ugly puddle of radioactive sludge.

Re:Great (3)

multi io (640409) | about 9 months ago | (#45907053)

We don't understand the mechanics involved, and we didn't really need to in order to build safe containment vessel floors that can hold an ugly puddle of radioactive sludge.

So we did build such containment vessels? Then why did the Fukushima accident happen at all? The tsunami didn't breach the containment. It only shut down all the generators. Your language implies that nuclear powerplants are "run-away safe", i.e. if anything really bad happens, there's always the "safe" containment to contain it all, because "we" built it so it can contain the molten reactor core. But no existing plants really have that capability.

Re:Great (4, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 9 months ago | (#45907297)

Fukushima's containment vessel could (and did) contain the molten core... but not the hydrogen explosions that also occurred inside the reactor chamber because of the total coolant loss.

My language should imply that nuclear reactors are safe against the foreseen failure modes. At Fukushima Daiichi, it was not expected that all of the coolant systems would fail at once and that repairs would be hampered by the tsunami damage.

Re:Great (2, Insightful)

jalopezp (2622345) | about 9 months ago | (#45906875)

The problem is that it should have been done decades ago.

Well at least we're getting round to it now. Nuclear energy was deployed well before it was ready to produce electricity in such scale, and the insecurities we built into the plants because our engineering wasn't up to the task yet produced many violent and unfortunate accidents. But we're going to have to embrace nuclear energy in one form or another if we plan to have a cheap source of clean and reliable energy in the coming centuries. It's best research into preventing nuclear core accidents and preventing any radiation leaks be done as thoroughly and frequently as possible.

Re:Great (5, Informative)

KDN (3283) | about 9 months ago | (#45907063)

Actually the US did conduct such tests back in the 70's and 80's. Look up the LOCA (Loss Of Coolent Accident) test program done by the NRC. If memory serves, they scaled it up to 10% reactor capacity. Note: I believe these were what was assumed to be worse case accidents: reactor going full power and suffering a double gullotine cooling pipe failure. I don't know if they ever tested a reactor that has been SCRAM'ed, but still generating heat from short lived isotopes. That is what happened in Japan.

Re:Great (2)

hairykrishna (740240) | about 9 months ago | (#45907075)

Similar has been done decades ago. The BORAX experiments for a start.

It's pretty hard to argue against this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45906657)

As long as it's in controlled environment and they know what they're doing, with the present state of today's nuclear powerplants, only good can come out of this.

How can it be any worse than blasting nuclear bombs nearby population and wildlife?
This sounds much better, so much be great!!

Captcha: nonempty

Re:It's pretty hard to argue against this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45907029)

ONLY good?

You sound like a Japanese scientist.

Re:It's pretty hard to argue against this... (1)

necro81 (917438) | about 9 months ago | (#45907231)

As long as it's in controlled environment and they know what they're doing

The same might have been said before Chernobyl 1986. A power plant is supposedly a controlled environment, and the people there certainly thought they knew what they were doing...

I'm not knockin' the Japanese for wanting to conduct this test. I agree that it is a test that should be conducted (well, should have been conducted, decades ago), and they'll probably do it properly. Doing it with a single fuel rod, rather than an entire reactor, seems a prudent move. The "what could possibly go wrong" alarm immediately flashed into my head nevertheless.

Re:Great (0, Troll)

gstoddart (321705) | about 9 months ago | (#45906679)

And, it should be noted, they want to find out in controlled conditions with sufficient protective equipment in a facility explicitly configured for this kind of situation.

Of course, if you have no idea of what will happen, how the hell can you know you're got "sufficient" protection and a facility which has been "configured for this kind of situation"?

Because, it seems to me, they don't actually know what constitutes "good enough" in this case, at which point saying you have done enough to mitigate is mostly just guess work, isn't it?

And, no, I don't know a damned thing about nuclear reactions in any meaningful sense of the word, so maybe the answer is fairly obvious to someone who does.

Re:Great (4, Informative)

putaro (235078) | about 9 months ago | (#45906741)

You calculate the maximum amount of energy you could get out of the reaction and make sure that whatever you're using to contain it can contain that much. It's not as though there's infinite energy in uranium.

Re:Great (1)

Aaden42 (198257) | about 9 months ago | (#45906795)

And, no, I don’t know a damned thing about nuclear reactions in any meaningful sense of the word, so maybe the answer is fairly obvious to someone who does.

You kind of answered your own rant there. The physics behind nuclear fission reactions are well understood in terms of the worst case scenario for a run away reaction and the greatest possible magnitude of heat and other high-energy products for a given input of fissionable material.

There is no question that a controlled environment can be created where this type of experiment can be conducted safely. I personally know nothing in any meaningful sense about the internal functioning of my car’s engine. Were I to attempt to dismantle it or otherwise experiment on it, it’s nearly certain that I’d be taking a taxi for the foreseeable future. My lack of useful knowledge on the subject in no way precludes the existence of subject matter experts who can safely modify and repair the technology with acceptably minimal risk of adverse outcomes.

Re:Great (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 9 months ago | (#45906803)

Reaction rates are fairly well understood, as are the characteristics of the radiation itself, so it's fairly straightforward to build a containment vessel that can hold the whole experiment. As I understand it, what's not really well known is how the fuel itself behaves in a meltdown, because they are (fortunately) so rare. Apart from "everything melts and settles in a puddle at the bottom", we don't know how quickly it melts, how that affects reaction rates (though we know it doesn't explode like a nuclear bomb), or if there's any quirks (like hot or cool spots).

The baseline is the starting configuration, which they're building. The worst-reasonable-case scenario is easy enough to figure out, and protection can be built against that. It's the middle area that we don't understand.

Re:Great (5, Funny)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 9 months ago | (#45906779)

The lizard pen of that facility is apparently really cool. A bit big for the lizards, though, and I'm not sure why it's so close to the reactor...

Re:Great (1)

ak3ldama (554026) | about 9 months ago | (#45906877)

Kind of like the research they do with whales?

Re:Great (1)

bitt3n (941736) | about 9 months ago | (#45906969)

And, it should be noted, they want to find out in controlled conditions with sufficient protective equipment in a facility explicitly configured for this kind of situation. This is science.

Hopefully the researchers have purchased a sufficient quantity of GI Joe figurines and toy tanks to deal with the inevitable tiny Godzilla they will create.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45907035)

and let's figure this out over 30 years after wide spread use of nuclear reactors? It may be science but it doesn't sound like engineering and it's rather frightening. Not the current test but the lack of understanding and how long they have lacked this understanding yet still built these things.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45907227)

Bitches.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45906585)

What could possibly go wrong?

By the way, didn't they have to hand in their license to do nuclear stuff already?

All sort of nasty things could go wrong, and mankind will gain from it.

Re:Great (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about 9 months ago | (#45906901)

You realize Japan is a sovereign nation, right?

What could possibly go wrong? (1, Insightful)

Zoolander (590897) | about 9 months ago | (#45906455)

Carry on, Japan.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

v1 (525388) | about 9 months ago | (#45906853)

BEST use of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" tag I've seen in at least a year.

sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45906477)

what could go wrong?

Re:sure (5, Funny)

jalopezp (2622345) | about 9 months ago | (#45906677)

It's possible that because of some failure, their test reactor does not melt down.

Re:sure (2)

Aaden42 (198257) | about 9 months ago | (#45906817)

That sounds like a worst case scenario to me, at least in the scope of a single experiment. Rinse, repeat, SCIENCE!!!!

Didn't we do this years ago? (1)

Grog6 (85859) | about 9 months ago | (#45907023)

I know we had unplanned criticality accidents that melted fuel; The US and USSR should have tons of this kind of data.

Shit, ORNL had liquid metal reactors.
Seems like one had to be shut down before it exploded... U233 is a strange beast, apparently; it separates from the liquid metal coolant in globs, lol.

Alvin Weinberg talked about some of the stuff in his books; like burning a whole rail car of uranium to see what happens...

Re:sure (1)

hotdiggity (987032) | about 9 months ago | (#45906973)

You Bastards! *punches sand futilely*

What have you not done?

Damn you! Damn you to hell!

WTF? (2, Funny)

TWX (665546) | about 9 months ago | (#45906481)

I mean, didn't they see all those Godzilla movies?

Re: WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45906601)

Godzilla vs. Nuclear Meltdown !!!

Re:WTF? (1)

jacksdl (552055) | about 9 months ago | (#45906611)

Not Godzilla, it's the "China Syndrome".

Re:WTF? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45906763)

They call it "Brazil Syndrome" over there.

Re:WTF? (1)

Aaden42 (198257) | about 9 months ago | (#45906835)

Fortunately the odds of a reactor in Japan “melting down to China” are even lower than they are in the general ameri-centric case. Or at least they would be if odds could go negative.

At least (0)

scorp1us (235526) | about 9 months ago | (#45906483)

They have a proven track record

Indeed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45906485)

He picks up a bus and he throws it back down as he wades through the buildings toward the center of town. Helpless people on subway trains scream "My god!" as he looks in on them.

Suddenly.

I like this department.

We all know what's going to happen... (2)

MiniMike (234881) | about 9 months ago | (#45906487)

Can't wait for this mini meltdown to lead to its inevitable ultimate conclusion: MiniGodzilla!

Re:We all know what's going to happen... (3, Funny)

Zoolander (590897) | about 9 months ago | (#45906503)

Cute. Cuddly. Deadly.

Re:We all know what's going to happen... (1)

Noryungi (70322) | about 9 months ago | (#45906623)

AND... Fire-beathing, of course!

Great with the ladies: "Come Yumiko, let me light your cigarette with... (dramatic pause) my Mini-Godzilla!"

Re:We all know what's going to happen... (1)

runeghost (2509522) | about 9 months ago | (#45906643)

I believe you mean Minilla:

http://godzilla.wikia.com/wiki/Minya [wikia.com]

your favorite monster sucks (4, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | about 9 months ago | (#45906771)

holy crap, next you're gonna be blathering about non-existent sequels to "The Matrix", "Highlander" or Star Wars prequels.

I classify the non-existent sequel to Highlander (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45907213)

Two steps below the holocaust.

Good Idea (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45906505)

It seems so obvious to me now, having seen the idea in print. This is not the sort of thing that is easy to analyze. A test is really a good way to understand the phenomenon. The paradigm where engineers attempt to make sure it never happens has its limits. Looking at what happens during the failure will allow engineers to develop meaningful "defense in depth" measures.

Regards,
Jason C. Wells

Re:Good Idea (4, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 9 months ago | (#45906659)

The paradigm where engineers attempt to make sure it never happens has its limits. Looking at what happens during the failure will allow engineers to develop meaningful "defense in depth" measures.

That was understood decades ago, and has been SOP for that long in other safety critical applications like aircraft. The fact that it wasn't done before this is extreme negligence.

Re:Good Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45906765)

has been SOP for that long in other safety critical applications like aircraft.

And yet airplanes still crash...

Re:Good Idea (2)

Princeofcups (150855) | about 9 months ago | (#45906915)

The paradigm where engineers attempt to make sure it never happens has its limits. Looking at what happens during the failure will allow engineers to develop meaningful "defense in depth" measures.

That was understood decades ago, and has been SOP for that long in other safety critical applications like aircraft. The fact that it wasn't done before this is extreme negligence.

To test a meltdown scenario is to admit that it is possible. This is not something that big power ever wanted to do, until it happened of course.

Re:Good Idea (5, Interesting)

DeathToBill (601486) | about 9 months ago | (#45906687)

I'm curious how much they'll be able to infer, though. Nuclear reactors (and reactions) are viciously non-linear. If you make it too small, you'll get no (self-sustaining) reaction at all. From that point up, the nuclear reaction scales with volume, thermal transfer probably scales with surface area, and other material properties and deformations will scale anything from linear to fourth power (at least).

So trying to infer anything about full-scale reactors from this is going to rely on a lot of modelling to tell you how the results will be transformed into real-world performance. Since it's that model that you're trying to investigate, there are lots of potential pitfalls.

Re:Good Idea (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 9 months ago | (#45906721)

Given the potential consequences of a nuclear meltdown, perhaps the plan is to start with small-scale experiments and use the findings to inform larger-scale and eventually full-scale trials.

Re:Good Idea (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45906793)

If they're doing what I think they're doing and modelling the early stages of a meltdown when individual rods are overheating, then the nonlinearity shouldn't be an issue. The fuel rods in a reactor are, at that stage, reasonably independent of one another. It won't tell you much about what happens when the fuel all melts and starts pooling at the bottom of the reactor of course.

Re:Good Idea (5, Funny)

BigT (70780) | about 9 months ago | (#45906907)

It won't tell you much about what happens when the fuel all melts and starts pooling at the bottom of the reactor of course

They already did that experiment, but it was poorly instrumented.

Re:Good Idea (1)

DeathToBill (601486) | about 9 months ago | (#45907089)

The fuel rods in a reactor are, at that stage, reasonably independent of one another.

Independent in what sense? As in, individually there is no self-sustaining reaction and no meltdown, but put them together and they produce enough heat and radiation to melt?

I know that's asked sarcastically, but I'm genuinely interested in what way the fuel rods behave independently of each other that would be interesting.

Re:Good Idea (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 9 months ago | (#45907273)

until the rods reach the "puddle at the bottom of the reactor"stage they can be modeled seperately (sort of maybe)

Re:Good Idea (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45907291)

I was thinking more like "the rod's basically just a unit experiencing a certain neutron flux from the rest of the reactor and is at a certain temperature" but you're right, it's not a reasonably independent state.

Re:Good Idea (1)

Princeofcups (150855) | about 9 months ago | (#45906929)

I'm curious how much they'll be able to infer, though. Nuclear reactors (and reactions) are viciously non-linear. If you make it too small, you'll get no (self-sustaining) reaction at all.

This is not "let's melt down a core and we'll learn all about meltdowns." They are probably looking for a few specific data points to help their modeling.

Re:Good Idea (0)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 9 months ago | (#45906707)

I already understand nuclear meltdown. Metal gets hot, it melts. Hot metal does exactly what you'd think; and this metal stays hot because it's its own heat source.

So what (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45906519)

Old news

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavior_of_nuclear_fuel_during_a_reactor_accident#PHEBUS
>In France a facility exists in which a fuel melting incident can be made to happen under strictly controlled conditions.

I set off scaled explosions and controlled fires all the time. So do you. We usually call them "fireworks".

Sensationalism.

GODZILLA!!! (1)

LaTechTech (752269) | about 9 months ago | (#45906521)

Oh...no...there goes Tokyo!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJoy_0dJEjY [youtube.com]

Re:GODZILLA!!! (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 9 months ago | (#45906691)

Alas.. nobody remembers the Gargantua movie as well as the ToHo Frankenstein movie. [cinemassacre.com] Those were much better than any of the Godzilla flicks. We have monsters eating humans, when did Godzilla or any of his other frenemies do that?!?

I thought that experiment was already underway (1, Funny)

Marrow (195242) | about 9 months ago | (#45906525)

Just give it a little time folks. You will have your answer just like the rest of the world, only sooner.

Ugh (1)

koan (80826) | about 9 months ago | (#45906535)

My cynical mind conjures up images of concerned scientist speculating on the future of Fukushima.

Personally, I speculate what would happen to Japan if they lost control of the situation at Fukushima.

"Given that nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen says that an earthquake of 7.0 or larger could cause the entire fuel pool structure collapse, it is urgent that everything humanly possible is done to stabilize the structure housing the fuel pools at reactor number 4."

And this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_Gundersen#Fukushima [wikipedia.org]

Environmental impact? (2)

qwijibo (101731) | about 9 months ago | (#45906543)

Are they going to do this in already contaminated areas, or are they going to potentially screw up some new place?

It's not unreasonable to want to know more from a scientific standpoint, but hopefully someone is asking "what if this goes worse than expected?"

Re:Environmental impact? (4, Funny)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45906697)

Being a major industrialised nation with a nuclear power program, Japan has no nuclear research facilities so they're going to do it in downtown Tokyo.

Re:Environmental impact? (1)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | about 9 months ago | (#45907055)

Being a major industrialised nation with a nuclear power program, Japan has no nuclear research facilities so they're going to do it in downtown Tokyo.

Wait, there's more to Japan than Tokyo?

You'd never guess it by watching half of their movies and TV shows.

Re:Environmental impact? (1)

ionix5891 (1228718) | about 9 months ago | (#45907229)

It's ok, its not a long way to China from there

really?! (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 9 months ago | (#45906545)

Hmm, contractors lie about it and do a crap job and the government lies about it and does a crap job. That's what my simulation of a Japanese nuclear meltdown resulted in.

another nuclear disaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45906565)

Don't they already have a nuclear disaster to clean up?

Re:another nuclear disaster (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 9 months ago | (#45906723)

Yes, but they didn't create that disaster on purpose. The scientists want a disaster that they created. Probably to gain entrence to the evil league of evil.

Redundant? (4, Insightful)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | about 9 months ago | (#45906577)

Don't they have an open-air experiment going on already? Just take a day trip to Fukushima.

Test site suggestion (1)

pr0nbot (313417) | about 9 months ago | (#45906603)

They need to make sure they do this somewhere where if it all goes wrong, nothing of value is lost, like maybe Croydon.

Re: Test site suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45906755)

Do you mind!

Some of the best face lifts come from croydon.

Re: Test site suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45906855)

There's plenty of raw material to practice on...

Re:Test site suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45906933)

I was thinking of some other place that no-one would miss if there was an accident, but I fear they can pierce /.'s anonymity...

Re:Test site suggestion (1)

PPH (736903) | about 9 months ago | (#45907279)

I was thinking Chernobyl. Nobody will notice a bit more.

Always such a good idea ... (0)

Rambo Tribble (1273454) | about 9 months ago | (#45906653)

... to consider the issues of failure after you've built a bunch of 'em.

LOFT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45906667)

Loss of Fluid Test at National Reactor Testing Station (now Idaho National Laboratory) tried in the late 60s early 70s, but environmentalists got it blocked.

Re:LOFT (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 9 months ago | (#45906945)

guess that means we can blame chernobyl and fukushima on the damn environmentalists

Re:LOFT (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 9 months ago | (#45907137)

Loss of Fluid Test at National Reactor Testing Station (now Idaho National Laboratory) tried in the late 60s early 70s, but environmentalists got it blocked.

Cite? Some people blame environmentalists for everything including ingrown toenails. Did they also halt research on MSR's? Also, the anti-nuke part of environmentalism didn't really get started until TMI in 1979.

Japan needs their reactors restarted.. (3, Insightful)

xtal (49134) | about 9 months ago | (#45906669)

The situation with the imports of coal and oil / gas is not sustainable.

Renewable sources are part of it, but they do not have the energy density for baseload required to run a modern society. Japan is a nation with limited resources. Their power options are limited. Import of power from neighbors isn't a great long term move for sovereignty.

This puts them between a rock and a hard place, so to speak. Mark my words though, those reactors will be fired up, because they need to be. They should build more.

The scale of the amount of energy consumed by modern civilization is head-spinning. Nuclear is our only real option. Existing technologies should be deployed, and new ones researched. No politician in the west has the balls to do that, so we're going to burn every drop of oil instead, largely because nobody ever looks at the numbers and amount of energy required. (I however, did.)

Thankfully, China may save us.

I just hope the nuclear option picked isn't the one with the warheads. That will fix the problem too. There is some quality black humor and irony there.

Re:Japan needs their reactors restarted.. (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45907003)

Unfortunately free markets roll downhill, and while nuclear isn't as far to climb as solar or wind, it's still uphill.

Re:Japan needs their reactors restarted.. (1)

mtrachtenberg (67780) | about 9 months ago | (#45907093)

I agree with xtal that one or the other of the "nuclear options" is not unlikely. But I doubt that nuclear in its existing implementation is a solution, in that the more existing-style plants there are, the more accidents there will be, the more public resistance there will be, and the more likely the plants will be permanently shut down.

What is needed, and I'm not saying it's about to happen, is to rearrange economies so that energy is priced at or higher than its real cost to the environment. I don't know how that happens in a democracy, so maybe China really will lead the way. For any jurisdiction to impose the extraordinarily high fuel taxes that this would require, it will have to become the common understanding in that jurisdiction that all of economics has been fatally wrong for at least fifty years, and that material growth is not a good thing for an economy if the economy happens to exist on a finite planet.

What is this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45906671)

A nuclear meltdown for ants!? It should be at least... 3 times as big.

Gojira (1)

goarilla (908067) | about 9 months ago | (#45906693)

Is this the birth of Godzilla ?

woo! Gilbert Home Physics Kit! (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 9 months ago | (#45906719)

first, they have three meltdowns because they can't get things right in the face of a storm. now, the Japanese seek a meltdown just... because. those Ninjas have the curiosity of a 3 year old...

Isn't "controlled meltdown" an oxymoron? (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 9 months ago | (#45906739)

If it's controlled, it's not really a meltdown, is it?

Re:Isn't "controlled meltdown" an oxymoron? (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 9 months ago | (#45906963)

what part of "meltdown" don't you understand, or where do you pull an implicit 'uncontrolled' from?

Better Idea (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about 9 months ago | (#45906753)

Better yet, use nuclear power designs that can't melt down to matter what. Plenty of them. Still, more knowledge on a subject is almost always a good thing. SCIENCE!

Re:Better Idea (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 9 months ago | (#45907181)

nuclear power designs that can't melt down to matter what. Plenty of them.

Such as? No sarcasm there - I'm interested. MSR's have always seemed great, but unfortunately we've lost 40 years of time in which they could have been developed. Pebble beds have proven to be troublesome for other reasons.

Study how meltdowns happen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45906781)

"We want to study exactly how meltdowns happen and apply what we will learn to help improve ways to deal with severe accidents in the future," said a spokesman for the government-backed engineering agency.

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency said it was working on a project using a scaled-down version of a reactor which they would deliberately cause to malfunction at a research facility in Ibaraki, north of Tokyo.

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So they're just going to make a huge mess out of some testing facility? This seem ridiculous to me.. they know exactly how they're going to cause the reactor to melt down.

Destructive testing.. better get it right (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 9 months ago | (#45906785)

When considering fissionable materials they better get their destructive testing planning right the first time. I don't think they'll get another chance to repeat it. Much like the NASA/FAA crashing the Boeing 707 (720) in 1984 [wikipedia.org] to anti-misting agent in the fuel.. Unfortunately the plane didn't land as they had planned but ultimately it showed that the anti-misting agent didn't work but because of smoke, they estimated that only about 23%-25% of the 113 passengers would have survived.

As a result of analysis of the crash, the FAA instituted new flammability standards for seat cushions which required the use of fire-blocking layers, resulting in seats which performed better than those in the test. It also implemented a standard requiring floor proximity lighting to be mechanically fastened, due to the apparent detachment of two types of adhesive-fastened emergency lights during the impact. Federal aviation regulations for flight data recorder sampling rates for pitch, roll and acceleration were found to be insufficient.

So out of a somewhat failed test good things were learned. So let's hope these guys learn something rather than irradiating more of Japan unnecessarily.

Didn't this already happen once before? (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | about 9 months ago | (#45906831)

I seem to recall a story about some place in Russia that just had to simulate a "worst case" scenario. Something about the machines safe guards to prevent the very scenario they were trying to cause forced them to dismantle a significant portion. I think something important happened. Maybe one of these researches could look it up, and explain why this isn't a similar stupid procedure.

Re:Didn't this already happen once before? (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45907067)

You're misremembering Chernobyl I think. They disabled various safety systems in order to perform some tests that did not strictly require that those systems be disabled. It was never their intention to allow the reactor to enter an unsafe state, though. And in this instance, they're not working on a living reactor.

maturity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45906839)

The first sign of maturity is the discovery that the volume knob also turns to the left. If by maturity you mean old age then yes.

Hasn't this experiment been done before? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 9 months ago | (#45906999)

I am not a nuclear physicist, so I really don't know the answer to this. Hasn't a controlled meltdown been done in a lab experiment before though? If so, what is different with this one in comparison to past experiments?

It certainly sounds useful - if for no other reason than because we likely have much better detection equipment (and hence should get much better data) than we likely did the last time something like this was done.

great stumble recovery (1)

Cardoor (3488091) | about 9 months ago | (#45907021)

ever walk down the street, and stumble, but mid-way turn it into a move that some part of you thinks will convince on-lookers that you did it on purpose? like you were just testing out a new dance move for the clubs? what - you mean those thousands of broken spent fuel rod assemblies? yeah - it's cool.. we're into EXPERUMENTING. oh - and if you ask questions in japan on this, off to jail you go!

Seems like this should work (1)

Andrew Osiris (2826645) | about 9 months ago | (#45907119)

The ultra dense heavy radioactive material should burn its way through the mantle and keep falling into the core of the earth. If they can control this and avoid an explosion which would litter the surrounding area in radioactive fallout as happened in Chernobyl this is the clear solution to dispense with Fukashima once and for all.
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