CosmicRaysvia Channel News Asia / January 23, 2014 / Japanese researchers said on Thursday they had succeeded in using cosmic rays to find nuclear fuel inside a reactor, a technology that might be helpful in the complicated decommissioning at Fukushima.

By observing the way the particles behaved near reactors, container vessels and spent fuel pools, they were able to obtain a clear visual picture of the fuel, they said.

“We are conducting this study carefully as this enables you to find where nuclear fuel is anywhere in the world,” said Fumihiko Takasaki, a researcher at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organisation, or KEK, one of the laboratories involved in the research.

The technology could help Tokyo Electric Power Co in the clean-up at its Fukushima Daiichi power plant, he told AFP by telephone.

A massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami knocked out cooling systems at the power station, sparking reactor meltdowns that contaminated land, air and the sea.

Engineers working on the decades-long decommissioning are faced with a series of difficulties, as they do not know exactly where the molten fuel is inside the battered reactors.

Present technology is not robust enough to allow them to get a look inside the units, where some fear that fuel has melted through containment vessels and possibly into the ground underneath.

KEK, working jointly with University of Tokyo, University of Tsukuba and Tokyo Metropolitan University, observed particles called muons in experiments.

Muons are constantly falling on the earth and move without hindrance through water, human bodies and many other objects.

But substances with high density such as nuclear fuel reduce their penetration.

A team of researchers monitored muons at three locations outside an off-line nuclear plant in Ibaraki prefecture, east of Tokyo, from February 2012 to December 2013.

They tracked where muon penetration was blocked to produce the image of nuclear fuel at the plant.

Takasaki said the team would propose use of the system to Tokyo Electric Power, adding observations at some five locations for less than two months would enable them to produce visual images of nuclear fuel at Fukushima.

SOURCE: Channel News Asia

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By Broc West| 9 Comments | Featured, News

9 comments

  1. Well, I guess that’s something to be going on with….. it’s just that I really can’t work out why these technological geniuses are buggering about with muons instead of coming up with a genuinely clean and safe power source….. like solar perhaps? Also, so they find the nuclear fuel…. then what? Give everyone a poster?! Yay! This is what the end of the world looks like…. Can’t wait for that one.

    • Solar and wind energy costs are are far too expensive if we think about energy consumption nowadays. Also this is safe and clean energy until you think about maintenance and production. Currently we do not posses technology (or technology has been bought and saved by oil/nuclear companies) that will be efficient enough and (what the most important) cheap.

      • Solar & Wind are far too expensive? Gee Whizz…. you had better let the Germans know asap – they’ll be horrified.

        • Nuclear Power accounts for about 17% of Germany’s power production. Their electricity is also some of the most expensive in the world.

    • I will show some patience, instead of laughing at your ignorance, and explain few things:
      I may be skeptic as to the use of nuclear power, but thi does not mean i shun nuclear energy in whole. Why?
      Well, let’s take solar power: in theory, we could turn deserts into giant power plants. One square metre of photovoltaic cell should be soon able to produce some 1000 watts of electricity (and I do not know if such a technology could do without the use of rare earth minerals!). If 2010 EU-27 consumption was about 3200 TWh, so simple calculation gives us some 900000 square kilometres of photovoltaic cells – one tenth of the whole desert, roughly the size of egypt. Apart from such technicalities as what-to-do-when-night-falls, no one ever tried a construction programme on such a scale. And then You would face the task of transmitting that electricity to places as far as 5000 km away.
      Then we have wind power. It also does need a lot of space, but you could build offshore wind farms, right? Okay, but what if the wind does not blow? Ah! Then we have to switch to coal/gas/oil/nuclear power. In fact, every installed wind turbine needs from 3% to 15% of its power produced as a reserve. Thus: if Germany produces 30MW of wind power, then it must produce from 0,9 to 4,5 MW of “conventional” electricity just-in-case.

      Furthermore, a single modern gas turbine can produce as much as 500 megawatts of energy with a price tag bit under 140 million euros, single wind turbine is able to produce 7,5 megawatts with a 12 million euro per unit price tag. Do the math.

      All in all if we are to be “green” in europe, we still would need at least few conventional/nuclear power plants to provide for grid redundancy and power consumption peaks.

      So, there You have it. Instead of around 160 reactors in EU you could use about 15. But otherwise, it is not possible to have 100% emmission free energy grid.

  2. if there is a meltdown when do the Jappanese conferm this, what do you think????

  3. Very important for all now — Radiation Protective Foods, a book by Sara Shannon, available through internet and the website nuclearrreader.info for all we need to know about nuclear power.

  4. Nothing wrong with nuclear power generation as long as you follow the rules of protocol and safety on a very robust and inherently safe design of reactor; AND you don’t build it on such an activly siesmic region. A culture of complatency (corporate and worker) and poor training and understanding of the intracate machine that they were operating went a long in way in making this all happen. You can’t predict exactly when an earthquake will happen, but, operating a nuke on” the ring of fire”, you sure as hell better have every engineer and operator up to date in terms of emergency preparedness and remediation to protect the core at all costs. They didn’t recognize that emergency pumps were not turned on – only by faith, and then discovered that they had no batteries to turn them on when they realiszed they weren’t on, and the batteries were 60 kilometres away at a Tepco stock warehouse. What kind of best practice is that?

  5. I got all my electricity for roughly 20 percent more in Portland Oregon. All wind power. They have more wind maybe. The cost difference isn’t enough to warrant the dangers of nuke

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