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Reactor meltdown

Community Veteran
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Registered: 02-08-2007

Reactor meltdown

Just out of interest if a core melted down in a reactor and was able to burn it's way through any foundations exactly what would happen ?
Would it just keep burning it's self down through the earth or what ?
Please do not link this post to Japan. I am not asking about any particular incident. Just curious to know what anyone on the forum with specific knowledge has on this topic, thats knowledge not speculation.
9 REPLIES
Community Veteran
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Re: Reactor meltdown

The energy of reaction results from the radioactive material being in a critical condition, ie all the particles of material being close enough to one another so that each can interact with it's neighbour to create a continuous reaction, hence heat, hence energy. If the mass became uncritical, ie lost it's physical shape, it would stop reacting with itself, but it would of course be highly radioactive, so not necessarily good for the health! If it escaped from its container it would stop reacting.
If you're interested do a Google for "pebble bed reactor"...  new breed of reactor that can easily be rendered uncritical.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 10-08-2007

Re: Reactor meltdown

There has just been a good discussion about this subject on the Jeremy Vine show. There was a professor of physics answering listeners questions. Might be worth a listen on iPlayer.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 08-06-2007

Re: Reactor meltdown

The "China Syndrome" is pretty much a myth.
nadger
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Re: Reactor meltdown

Just watching an " expert" on radiation on BBC1 news and I was adding up the amount of radiation I've received in last few years.
He said that the average safe figure for a nuclear worker is 20 millisieverts per year and that a CT scan is 11 millisieverts. I had 5 last year so that's 55 millisieverts + x-rays during EVAR last February.
I had quite a few CT scans and x-rays in both 2009 and 2008 and have a CT scan booked in 2 weeks time with at least another couple later in the year. CT scans will continue for life.
No wonder a radiographer told me that I'll eventually glow in the dark  Smiley
Community Veteran
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Registered: 10-09-2010

Re: Reactor meltdown

Quote from: Barry
The "China Syndrome" is pretty much a myth.
Is it?  The Wikipedia article doesn't say its a myth, it basically says some think it won't happen.  Well if some think it won't happen, then I'm left to conclude some do think it will happen.
pierre_pierre
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Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Reactor meltdown

Nadger, you forgot to say that the level of the so called critical release from reactor one was less than a single Cat Scan
nadger
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Registered: 13-04-2007

Re: Reactor meltdown

I know that my exposure is essential, and lesser of the evils, but I'll ask the radiographer, on 28th March, about the figures quoted on tv.
I'm hoping that I can now get my scans combined as all my after care is at one hospital. Also,at approaching 76, the long term effects aren't really so much of a problem.
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Re: Reactor meltdown

My son manages an NDT company that X-Rays castings and they use isotopes so have a fair knowledge of radiation.
I'll see what his take is on this.
Mouse over NDT above for acronym haters Wink
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nadger
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Re: Reactor meltdown

When I was in army ( 53/55) we used radium compound paint on some instruments like compasses. The civvies we worked with carried a card that detected radiation levels.