Engineers develop a material similar to ‘highly radioactive molten nuclear fuel’ in Chernobyl
A substance has been manufactured in a laboratory that mimics an extremely dangerous material created during the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear reactor disasters.
The material is intentionally similar to Materials that contain lava-like fuel (LFCM) created by the extreme and unique conditions that are only found during a nuclear fusion.
Researchers at Sheffield University say it is so radioactive that it cannot be studied safely and that its properties remain a mystery to scientists.
This means that it cannot be removed from the sites and, therefore, is obstructing decommissioning efforts and represents a continuous radiological risk to the environment.
The artificial version is similar in its structure and properties to the enigmatic original material, which means that it behaves similarly but is safe to use.
Scientists hope that this material can help in the creation of tools and processes to help eliminate LFCM sites and help dismantle them.
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A substance has been manufactured in a laboratory (pictured) that mimics an extremely dangerous material created during the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear reactor disasters. The material is intentionally similar to Materials that contain lava-like fuel (LFCM)
The mass of 100 tons of the glass lava in Chernobyl spread to the sub-reactor rooms, solidifying into large masses and creating, among other things, the infamous ‘elephant foot’ (pictured)
Researchers at the University of Chernobyl created a material designed to replicate highly radioactive rocks created under unique conditions to form materials that contain lava-like fuel (LFCM). In the picture, a Chernobyl rock
The catastrophic catastrophe of Chernobyl on April 26, 1986 “caused 31 direct deaths and a massive evacuation of a 30 km exclusion zone surrounding the reactor, which remains in place today,” the authors write in their study, published today. in the magazine. Degradation of natural materials.
The formation of LFCM in Chernobyl is well known and the problems they pose are well documented.
LFCMs are a mixture of highly radioactive molten nuclear fuel and fused building materials.
For example, during the melting of the Chernobyl reactor core, temperatures exceeded 1600 ° C and uranium fuel melted with the zirconium coating.
TRUE VERSUS SIMULATING CHERNOBYL LAVA
FUSION TEMPERATURE (° C)
1.8 – 3.5 g / cm3
3,054 g / cm3
This formed a radioactive melt that remained at an extremely high temperature. Propelled by its own weight, it is mixed with steel, concrete, serpentine and sand.
The mass of 100 tons of lava similar to glass was then extended to the sub-reactor rooms, solidifying into large masses and creating, among other things, the infamous ‘elephant foot’.
The researchers say there are relatively few samples of fusion materials available to study and creating an artificial version is the best option.
Dr. Claire Corkhill of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Sheffield University said: ‘Understanding the mechanical, thermal and chemical properties of materials created in a nuclear fusion is essential to help recover them, for example, if We don’t know how difficult they are, how can we create the radiation-resistant robots needed to cut them?
The team of researchers developed the material in the laboratory to try to mimic the “truly unique nuclear materials” in the center of Chernobyl and Fukushima. They have an internal structure, composition and behavior similar to the real ones.
The team of researchers developed the material in the laboratory to try to mimic the “truly unique nuclear materials” in the center of Chernobyl and Fukushima.
They have a similar internal structure (as confirmed by scanning electron images), composition and behavior with respect to the real.
Investigators suspect that LFCMs were also formed at the site of the Fukushima condemned nuclear power plant, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 2011.
It killed more than 21,000 people and the reactor is still submerged in the water used to cool the melted core.
Dr. Corkhill is collaborating with researchers from the University of Tokyo and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency to see what happens to the highly radioactive dust that leaves the surface of the LFCM when water is removed.
Dr. Corkhill added: “ Thanks to this research, we now have a much lower radioactivity simulator fusion material to investigate, which is safe for our collaborators in Ukraine and Japan to investigate without the need for radiation shielding. .
“Ultimately, this will help advance dismantling operations in Chernobyl and also in Fukushima.”
WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE CHERNOBYL NUCLEAR DISASTER OF 1986?
On April 26, 1986, a power plant on the outskirts of Pripyat suffered a massive accident in which one of the reactors caught fire and exploded, spreading radioactive material in the vicinity.
More than 160,000 residents of the city and its surroundings had to be evacuated and could not return, leaving the former Soviet site as a radioactive ghost town.
A map of the Chernobyl exclusion zone is shown above. The “ghost town” of Pripyat is near the site of the disaster.
The exclusion zone, which covers a substantial area in Ukraine and part of the border with Belarus, will remain in force for generations to come, until radiation levels fall to sufficiently safe levels.
The region is called the ‘dead zone’ due to the extensive radiation that persists.
However, the proliferation of wildlife in the area contradicts this and many argue that the region must be handed over to animals that have been established in the area, creating a radioactive protected wildlife reserve.