Environment

Tepco to Use Cosmic “Muon” Rays to Assess Fukushima Reactors

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fukushima- (PanOrient News) A new, advanced device will use cosmic rays to gain crucial information about the state of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear reactor cores at the Power Station, the Tokyo Electric Power Company announced on Tuesday.

The device, which will be first tested at the Unit 1 reactor, will help scientists to create an image of the fuel condition inside of the reactor much like an X-ray creates an image of the human skeleton. "Muons," are created when high energy cosmic rays interact with the earth’s atmosphere. While muons filter through light objects easily, they are blocked by heavy substances such as uranium.

Scientists believe they can take advantage of that difference to create an image of the fuel condition.

Muon technology has previously been used to discover the condition of space weather and magma inside a volcano.

"This is a great example of how the innovation and cooperation from external experts is helping us overcome challenges and make progress toward decommissioning." said Naohiro Masuda, Chief Decommissioning Officer. "I hope that this will give us an opportunity to contribute to technological advancement and to share such progress with the rest of the world."

A vital task in decontaminating and decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi is the removal of the fuel debris from Units 1, 2, and 3. However, it is essential to pinpoint the location of debris inside the reactor before those reactor cores can be removed. The radiation level around the reactors is too high for human beings to look inside to confirm the data so the physics community has proposed that TEPCO use advanced muon technology, The innovative proposal was developed by IRID (International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning) and other domestic and foreign institutions.

The device that will be used in the Unit 1 test was developed by Japan's High Energy Accelerator Research Organization, also known as KEK, and will be using a penetration method to measure the Muon data. The analysis of the findings is expected to be completed by the end of March.

"As scientists, we feel we have a responsibility to use our knowledge and skills to help the decommissioning process proceed as fast as possible," Fumihiko Takasaki, a professor emeritus at KEK who leads the project, said.

TEPCO is planning on testing another method of muon technology at Unit 2, The company has stated it will continue to work jointly with experts inside and outside Japan to quickly obtain accurate information on the status of the reactor cores.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc. more commonly known as TEPCO, is Japan's largest power company, supplying energy to the greater Kanto area, including Japan's two most populous cities, Tokyo and Yokohama. It has 34,000 employees and serves an area with 29.0 million customers,

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