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Scientists Help Safeguard Nuclear Reactors

Materials Performance, 30.10.2015.

Like much of the rest of the world, thousands of scientists and engineers watched in March 2011 as Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors exploded. The chain of events began when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Tohoku caused a tsunami that destroyed the ability to cool the fuel elements in the reactors. Challenged by this event, two research teams have made progress in developing fuel claddings that are capable of withstanding the high temperatures resulting from a Loss of Coolant Accident (LOCA), like that at Fukushima. Both teams presented their results at the AVS 62nd International Symposium and Exhibition, held Oct. 18-23 in San Jose, California.

A separate effort, also inspired by the disaster in Japan, is led by Irena Kratochvílová from the Institute of Physics Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. Kratochvílová, František Fendrych, and a team of scientists and engineers from the Institute of Physics, in collaboration with Westinghouse and Czech Technical University, have developed a new technology that protects the surface of nuclear reactor fuel claddings.

Photo: Plasma Enhanced Vapor Deposition apparatus used for PLD coatings. CREDIT: Irena Kratochvílová

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