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View Diary: Everything You Never Wanted to Know about Nuclear Containments (214 comments)

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  •  Again, you don't need to get it in the pool (1+ / 0-)
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    directly.  Getting it onto the refuel floor is enough for it to be able to drain into the recessed pool.  Plus, in this case the "bowl" is more like a well, quite deep.  I doubt much water that makes it in splashes out.

    Reading updates about the possibility of renewed criticality is quite concerning.  Not alarming, but concerning.

    Here is what moderates my alarm here, (pun intended), the water they've added to this point has contained significant amounts of neutron absorbing elements, just apparently not enough.  At the point where criticality begins, it is just at the threshold of reacting, more neutrons are being born than are being eaten by the absorbers.  Meanwhile, as the water heats and boils, the decreasing density of the water due to the bubbles makes it a less efficient moderator therefore putting a natural damper on the amount of power being generated by the reaction.  This is still not a good situation if true.

    This is one of the problems I see with a multi-unit site such as this, too many directions to have to divide attention and resources.

    Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

    by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 02:23:18 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Lots of reasons multi-unit sites are problematic (3+ / 0-)
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      sneakers563, erush1345, kbman

      At some point you run into a scenario as was the case here where a critical failure potentially affects the whole site. In this case, density of equipment on the site appears to have compounded problems, as evidenced by the collateral damage to unit 2 containment from the unit 3 explosion you pointed out. Clearly even a small buffer was helpful in mitigating damage to units 5 & 6, and the emissions from the damaged storage pools should pose less of an issue for access to those units than those closely adjacent.

      The NIMBY syndrome forces operators to build at high density, and that needs to be addressed in the process of replacing the aging plant inventory in this country. Populations have grown up around existing sites, and have grown most dramatically near waterways and shorelines. Not being familiar with the siting requirements for the newer designs, where does access to water factor in? Are they more flexible in that regard?

      •  Very favorably (2+ / 0-)
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        technomage, yuriwho

        There are a number of new designs which do not used water for any operational purpose.  These include the fast metal breeders such as the lead-bismuth reactor I mentioned elsewhere, and the molten salt reactors.  These reactors do not use water as a moderator for the reaction, do not use water to make steam to drive the turbines, and do not use water to cool the turbine outlet for return in the power cycle.  Instead, they operate at a higher temperature which allows the use of a non-reactive gas such as nitrogen as the fluid which drives the turbines.  Because of the high temperature of operation and the low heat capacity of the gases, cooling by ambient air is sufficient.

        Also, the high temperature of operations make these reactors good candidates for dual-purpose plants as they could also be used for desalinization of seawater.  With freshwater supplies being fouled by hydrofracking and other forms of pollution, this could be an important function for these plants.

        Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

        by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 02:52:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's an interesting idea (0+ / 0-)

          But a consequence of all the events of the last week is likely to be considerable resistance to locating plants anywhere near the ocean, as there are very few unpopulated areas left along the coastlines in the US. Climate change and depletion of fossil groundwater is going to render large swaths of the Midwest unusable for agriculture in the coming years. It's already happened in western KS/eastern CO and populations of those areas has plummeted. That's where there is room for this, provided the technology isn't reliant on water.

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