Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Solution to the Radiation Leakage and Fallout threat in Japan

The SDAI teams have been busy coming up with solutions to cool down the reactor cores in the damaged Fukushima reactors. They have come up with a last ditch effort that if seawater can continue being pumped into the fuel rod area, can also be disposed of more intelligently. Presently, sea water is being pumped in and boiled off at a rapid rate to cool the reactors fuel rods.

Skip to bold type below for the quick fix-solution to save millions from inhalation of radioactive plumes.

The fuel rods contain atoms which are in a state of extreme imbalance caused by the fission process which fractures the atomic equilibrium and releases atomic energy from the nucleus in the form of intense radiation - high energy particles. The sea water quickly boils and is turned into steam as it is hit by this radiation. You can imagine it somewhat as a supersize hyperactive microwave oven and the fuel rods are like a microwave's magnetron tube which generates microwaves. Unfortunately, the steam becomes radioactive and is dangerous to life.

While the reactor was switched off, these fuel rods can never be turned off. They are trying to seek balance. That is the issue most scientists don't quite understand and seldom address. The fuel rod is a group of bonded atoms that have basically been ripped open and they channel energy from their supporting spectra. Whether it is Uranium-235 or Plutonium-239 these atoms nuclei have been imbalanced by the addition of a neutron - which can really be seen as a quantity of energy.

To shut off the flow of radiation one needs to bring balance to these atoms. That is the tricky part, because these atoms have been bombarded by an endless neutron dance which has disrupted their natural orbiting proton/electron balance. This is the "nuclear chain reaction" that occurs in a fission reactor, as more and more atoms are disrupted by particles and release more energy from an imbalanced nucleus in the form of neutron "energy bullets" which hit adjoining atoms.

You see...the protons and electrons are merely the positive/negative charges in a field of energy. The nucleus is held in place and forms its relationships with other atoms based upon these orbiting charges. When the charges are no longer balanced with the nuclei - energy from the nucleus escapes as the atom tries to attain equilibrium. The half-life of an element is the time it takes to achieve some measure of equilibrium and this can vary from fractions of a second to millions of years.

Certain elements such as uranium and plutonium have a high atomic number, and represent a greater quantity of energy once disrupted. Putting the genie back in the bottle and balancing these atoms has been for 60 years out of the scientific repertoire of the atomic physicist and industry.

It's time to change that.

Treatment of spent fuel rods can be achieved. Not by cooling them down with water or reactor coolant - but by addressing the radiation itself and the helping the fuel rods atoms' nuclei re-achieve balance or equilibrium - shortening their half-lives.

How is this done? Well that's the trillion dollar question isn't it? If scientists knew how, the reactors we have would be almost 100 percent safe and there would be almost no nuclear waste to dispose of. Reactors would not be drowning in spent fuel rods.


That secret is safely tucked away here in the sub-levels and can't be managed in existing reactors, so for the short-term solution to this crisis other intelligent techniques must be applied to the radioactive fuel elements and control rods:

1) Channel the gases into the sea.

The radioactive steam can be channeled into the ocean. Airborne it is a hazard to human health - if immediately redirected and put into surrounding seawater the threat to people is minimized. How to do this? Huge flexible funnel could be placed over the reactor and channel the steam to coast over the ocean. The waves could be agitated to merge with the steam and the radiation would merge with the seawater. The tube can be held in place and airlifted over the reactor. It can be held aloft by helium balloons weighted to stay in place. The tube can be partial submerged along a length of the ocean so that the sea scrubs the steam and it is released further away from the Japanese coastline. The tube material should be durable enough to last and resist tearing.

Not an ideal solution, but infinitely more desirable than steam being released into the atmosphere and breathed in by residents.

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