Nuclear scientists at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) are to create a “mini nuclear reactor meltdown” to try to better understand what causes them, the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (Jaif) has said.
Jaif told NucNet that the team wants to use the controlled meltdown to learn how to improve the way such severe nuclear accidents are tackled in the future, or prevent them altogether.
The JAEA said it is working on a project using a scaled-down version of a reactor, which they would deliberately cause to malfunction at a nuclear research facility in Ibaraki, north of Tokyo.
The meltdown project, which will begin during the fiscal year that starts in April 2014, will use a small fuel rod that that will undergo a very rapid fission process, the spokesman said. Cameras will be used to film the entire process.
The scientists will try to recreate the conditions at Fukushima-Daiichi, where power was lost and the reactors could not be adequately cool themselves. The JAEA spokesman said, however, that the team will not attempt to analyse how the Fukushima-Daiichi incident occurred.
The JAEA said it will be the first such experiment to be carried out by the Japanese agency, although similar projects have been undertaken in countries with a major nuclear energy programme such as the US (the RSTA programme at the Argonne National Laboratory) and France (the Phébus FP experiments at Cadarache).