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Author Topic: Is there anyway to re-coat a semi melted nuclear fuel rod?  (Read 15123 times)

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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Could it be possible to re-coat with a metal, melted or semi melted fuel rods for nuclear reactors?


 

Offline JMLCarter

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Is there anyway to re-coat a semi melted nuclear fuel rod?
« Reply #1 on: 28/03/2011 21:51:11 »
That's a pretty practical question. How do we move it out of "new theories"?
 

Offline Phractality

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Is there anyway to re-coat a semi melted nuclear fuel rod?
« Reply #2 on: 29/03/2011 02:10:08 »
I'm not a nuclear engineer, so this is just a guess. Depending on how much it is depleted, I think all you can do is either recycle the material or ship it to a radioactive waste dump. If it still has a high concentration of fissionable isotopes, cut it into smaller pieces, refine it again, recast it and machine new rods. In other words, put it back in the factory somewhere after the first stage of refinement.

The hard part is extracting the rods from the reactor core. They weren't meant to be partly melted before extraction, so it's a bit like removing removing bent bolts from an engine block, except this engine block is so radioactive that you can't put humans anywhere near it. You might have to design and build robots to do the work. Capping that wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico, last year might seem easy by comparison; or it might turn out to be relatively easy, depending on how badly the rods are misshapen.
 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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Is there anyway to re-coat a semi melted nuclear fuel rod?
« Reply #3 on: 29/03/2011 17:08:34 »
I'm not a nuclear engineer, so this is just a guess. Depending on how much it is depleted,

that really only effects the temp of the rod I think, if it hasnt depleted it will just be hotter, they are still hot even after they are depleted, and still hot enought to melt the outer casing.




I think all you can do is either recycle the material or ship it to a radioactive waste dump.

You can't recycle, the process for manufacturing the rod is actually a cold process, from what I have seen, the rods and uranium petels are put together in a cold situation. once in the reactor something is then done to the rods to start the reaction of the nuclear fuel.

And onces that reaction processes is started it it not a possiblity, to reverse it apparently, all they can do is keep them cool.


 If it still has a high concentration of fissionable isotopes, cut it into smaller pieces, refine it again, recast it and machine new rods. In other words, put it back in the factory somewhere after the first stage of refinement.

Again I do not believe that to be possible adding activated fuel to unactivated would probably activate it.

 

The hard part is extracting the rods from the reactor core. They weren't meant to be partly melted before extraction, so it's a bit like removing removing bent bolts from an engine block, except this engine block is so radioactive that you can't put humans anywhere near it. You might have to design and build robots to do the work. Capping that wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico, last year might seem easy by comparison; or it might turn out to be relatively easy, depending on how badly the rods are misshapen.

Here is the thing, the nuclear fuel is inside a metal casing, if the rods over heat the metal casing melts and the radioactive material get released.

That is what has been happening when they say "some of the reactors or fuel pools in Japan have parcially melted down". The rods metal has melted.

My question was to seek a way to recoat them with a metal to prevent any more nuclear material escaping.

The problems are the tempertures, and acessability. It might be easy to recoat them but if they are too hot that new coating wont hold. I was hoping that it might be possible to find a quick way to recoat them, so that they could be placed back into the water pools as soon as possible, with a new outer casing.

Question is how could you in a quick manner, cover an extremely hot area with a metal that will hold long enought for the pool to keep it cool and in place, once returned?(to the pool)   
 

Offline SeanB

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Is there anyway to re-coat a semi melted nuclear fuel rod?
« Reply #4 on: 29/03/2011 21:32:48 »
The fuel itself is an oxide, and is about as chemically inert as you can get as far as a chemical reaction goes. The issue is the breakdown products from the nuclear reaction, which may or may not be soluble in water ( depends on what they are as to whether they dissolve in water or are a gas) and which decay into other elements over various periods of time. The recoating is not going to help, as the melting, or partial melting, will only allow the soluble particles into the cooling water, which is going to be cooled off and recycled in what they will try to keep as a closed system, as it has been for the last 40 years or so. Eventually they will be able to take the fuel out of the water when it has decayed to a low enough level and reprocess it, as they have been doing in Japan for decades. Reprocessing it will allow it to be cycled though another reactor and give up more energy. The only reason the USA does not reprocess is political, they basically are only using a small portion of the energy in the fuel, letting the rest warm water in a pond or keep a cask warm.
 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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Is there anyway to re-coat a semi melted nuclear fuel rod?
« Reply #5 on: 29/03/2011 22:24:24 »
The fuel itself is an oxide, and is about as chemically inert as you can get as far as a chemical reaction goes. The issue is the breakdown products from the nuclear reaction, which may or may not be soluble in water ( depends on what they are as to whether they dissolve in water or are a gas) and which decay into other elements over various periods of time.

No the issue is the potencial release of radiation



The recoating is not going to help, as the melting, or partial melting, will only allow the soluble particles into the cooling water,

They will fall to the bottom of the tanks or reactors, other particles might escape through steams, and gas vapours. The water is to keep the metal rods intact, to keep the metal casing from melting. If the uranium or plutoium get released they'll just keep on burning, water or not, the cooling effect of the pools is for the metal on the rods not the nuclear material inside the rods.
There will be some effect in keeping the material cooler, but the water is for the metal on the rods before it's for the nuclear fuel.




which is going to be cooled off and recycled in what they will try to keep as a closed system, as it has been for the last 40 years or so. Eventually they will be able to take the fuel out of the water when it has decayed to a low enough level and reprocess it, as they have been doing in Japan for decades. Reprocessing it will allow it to be cycled though another reactor and give up more energy. The only reason the USA does not reprocess is political, they basically are only using a small portion of the energy in the fuel, letting the rest warm water in a pond or keep a cask warm.

That's fine but it's going to be harder to reprocess the material if the casing have gone, and the rods have started melting. Which surely should be another reason to find a way to close and recoat the rods, if possible. But first and foremost the issue is one of stopping the radiation.
 

Offline imatfaal

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Is there anyway to re-coat a semi melted nuclear fuel rod?
« Reply #6 on: 30/03/2011 12:41:42 »
The issue as Sean said is contamination (especially of water supplies and ground water) by radioactive particles not the "release of radiation".  Have you not read the replies (in other threads that you have contributed to) by experts such as Rosy and BC describing the fall off rates of radiation? 

Secondly are you sure the coatings are melting?  Zirconium alloys melt around 1500-2000 degrees, I thought the problem was that the alloys are reacting with the high temperature steam to create Zirconium oxide and Hydrogen gas.  It is Hydrogen from this source that exploded.
 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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Is there anyway to re-coat a semi melted nuclear fuel rod?
« Reply #7 on: 31/03/2011 13:32:26 »
The issue as Sean said is contamination (especially of water supplies and ground water) by radioactive particles not the "release of radiation".  Have you not read the replies (in other threads that you have contributed to) by experts such as Rosy and BC describing the fall off rates of radiation? 

Other thread were overall threads relating to many areas, this is a thread just for rod recoating, and repair.


 

Secondly are you sure the coatings are melting? 

Yes, they are, some have partically melted. And two reactors have cracked. In buldings 3 and 2 at fukushima.



 Zirconium alloys melt around 1500-2000 degrees, I thought the problem was that the alloys are reacting with the high temperature steam to create Zirconium oxide and Hydrogen gas.  It is Hydrogen from this source that exploded.

The hydrogen explosions came from gas vented from the reactors, to stop the reactors exploding, yes they were not hydrogen explosions per say but pressure explosions, of hydrogen, the fires in four were related also to the rods melting down.

There were four building that exploded in different ways so it is possible that some were hydrogen explosions and other pressure explosions.   

Either way that so much Hydrogen was present, is a direct sign of the rods melting down, as you stated ziconium when it melts produces hydrogen gas.
 

Offline imatfaal

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Is there anyway to re-coat a semi melted nuclear fuel rod?
« Reply #8 on: 01/04/2011 12:45:29 »

The hydrogen explosions came from gas vented from the reactors, to stop the reactors exploding, yes they were not hydrogen explosions per say but pressure explosions, of hydrogen, the fires in four were related also to the rods melting down.
...
Either way that so much Hydrogen was present, is a direct sign of the rods melting down, as you stated ziconium when it melts produces hydrogen gas.

The explosions were combustion of hydrogen, not a mere build up of pressure.  And zirconium reacts with steam to removed the oxygen from water to leave zirconium oxide and hydrogen gas - this is a chemical reaction, melting is a change of state (it is not the same thing).  I mention this because any plans or ideas that are based on false premises are likely to be invalid.  You are clearly concerned about the problems at the Nuclear plants in Japan - but discussions should be grounded in fact, not supposition or misinformation.
 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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Is there anyway to re-coat a semi melted nuclear fuel rod?
« Reply #9 on: 01/04/2011 12:56:39 »

The hydrogen explosions came from gas vented from the reactors, to stop the reactors exploding, yes they were not hydrogen explosions per say but pressure explosions, of hydrogen, the fires in four were related also to the rods melting down.
...
Either way that so much Hydrogen was present, is a direct sign of the rods melting down, as you stated ziconium when it melts produces hydrogen gas.

The explosions were combustion of hydrogen, not a mere build up of pressure. 

As I said the explosion were possibly both, from presure and combustion, ultimately we do not know, They vented steam to prevent a pressure explosions. Even so two reactors have ruptured.




 And zirconium reacts with steam to removed the oxygen from water to leave zirconium oxide and hydrogen gas - this is a chemical reaction, melting is a change of state (it is not the same thing). 

For Ziconium rods to react to steam they would have to be out of water, and out of water they will over heat, would you like to explain the difference better?



 I mention this because any plans or ideas that are based on false premises are likely to be invalid.  You are clearly concerned about the problems at the Nuclear plants in Japan - but discussions should be grounded in fact, not supposition or misinformation.

Agree completely.
 

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« Reply #10 on: 01/04/2011 18:38:37 »
"As I said the explosion were possibly both, from presure and combustion, ultimately we do not know,"
Actually, because the building won't have been airtight, we know it wasn't just overpressure. Also, we know that it was a hydrogen explosion.

"For Ziconium rods to react to steam they would have to be out of water, and out of water they will over heat, would you like to explain the difference better?"
One needs the material to exceed the melting point of the zirconium, and the other does not.

"Agree completely."
Agree completely.
 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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« Reply #11 on: 01/04/2011 23:32:19 »
"As I said the explosion were possibly both, from presure and combustion, ultimately we do not know,"
Actually, because the building won't have been airtight, we know it wasn't just overpressure. Also, we know that it was a hydrogen explosion.

No we dont the explosion could have come with reactor ruputres, two are ruptured.

Hydrogen building explosions are a bit better than hydrogen presure explosions from the reactors, although Chenobyl was a hydrogen explosion also.   


"For Ziconium rods to react to steam they would have to be out of water, and out of water they will over heat, would you like to explain the difference better?"
One needs the material to exceed the melting point of the zirconium, and the other does not.

Fine that means that once out of water they are attacked from the inside by the nuclear material as it over heats and again from the outside, from the steam generated as the water boils off, that process would basically be increasing the rate at which the rods melt down. A double nightmare.


"Agree completely."
Agree completely.

Well we dont work in the industry.
 

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« Reply #12 on: 02/04/2011 14:56:37 »
"No we dont the explosion could have come with reactor ruputres, two are ruptured."
If the pressure vessel round one of the reactors burst the explosion would have been a lot bigger.
"Either way that so much Hydrogen was present, is a direct sign of the rods melting down, as you stated ziconium when it melts produces hydrogen gas."
I couldn't find any evidence that anyone but you had said that.
Did I miss something, or did you make it up?

"Fine that means that once out of water they are attacked from the inside by the nuclear material as it over heats and again from the outside, from the steam generated as the water boils off, that process would basically be increasing the rate at which the rods melt down. A double nightmare."

Do you realise that, with each passing minute, the rate of heat production from the dead reactor falls. If they have not melted down yet then they probably never will.

Recovering the material for reprocessing  might seem like a good idea in principle, but it might be safer to not bother. Fewer people would be exposed to less radiation while  concreting over the reactors that trying to retrieve the damaged rods.

"Well we dont work in the industry."
From time to time I work for them.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Is there anyway to re-coat a semi melted nuclear fuel rod?
« Reply #13 on: 02/04/2011 18:54:37 »
Recovering the material for reprocessing  might seem like a good idea in principle, but it might be safer to not bother. Fewer people would be exposed to less radiation while  concreting over the reactors that trying to retrieve the damaged rods.
Japan already has much of the fuel reprocessing machinery in place.  In fact, some of the fuel involved in Japan was MOX fuel. 

I believe there are delays, however.

After fission is terminated, the rods are stored for a while to burn off the short-term isotopes.  At which point, they are then reprocessed to recover additional fissionable isotopes.

After they get out of crisis mode, and get into long-term maintenance/recovery mode, then they should be able to design robotics to enter and manipulate damaged portions of the reactor.
 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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« Reply #14 on: 02/04/2011 19:07:48 »
"No we dont the explosion could have come with reactor ruputres, two are ruptured."
If the pressure vessel round one of the reactors burst the explosion would have been a lot bigger.

No offence but the building blew apart, and sent bricks and mortar, steal and lots of other material 100s of metres into the air, if it was a pressure explosion from the reactor, I think that big enough.

How much bigger do you think it would have to have been to have been a pressure explosion from the reactor?


"Either way that so much Hydrogen was present, is a direct sign of the rods melting down, as you stated ziconium when it melts produces hydrogen gas."
I couldn't find any evidence that anyone but you had said that.
Did I miss something, or did you make it up?

No one said it on here, I was referencing scientists discussions on Russia Today and other news reports.

If you want I'll post them, I have about 250 different reports on this situation logged.



"Fine that means that once out of water they are attacked from the inside by the nuclear material as it over heats and again from the outside, from the steam generated as the water boils off, that process would basically be increasing the rate at which the rods melt down. A double nightmare."

Do you realise that, with each passing minute, the rate of heat production from the dead reactor falls. If they have not melted down yet then they probably never will.

Based upon what do you make that claim? Even used spent rods still have to be kept cool. By the way radiation levels inside the reactors are recorded at at least 10 to 100,000 times normal, there was a lot of hue-har as a Tepco employee mistakenly said a million times instead of a 100,000.


Recovering the material for reprocessing might seem like a good idea in principle, but it might be safer to not bother. Fewer people would be exposed to less radiation while concreting over the reactors that trying to retrieve the damaged rods.

I wasn't really interested in the idea of reprocessing others have suggested it, I was looking ways of stopping anymore material being released by sealing the rods and not burying the site and allowing more radiation to spread through the ground ect.


"Well we dont work in the industry."
From time to time I work for them.


Great, but aleast you honest about it.
« Last Edit: 02/04/2011 19:12:22 by Wiybit »
 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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« Reply #15 on: 02/04/2011 19:10:48 »
Japan already has much of the fuel reprocessing machinery in place.  In fact, some of the fuel involved in Japan was MOX fuel. 

Yes Mox plutonium apparently according one report I saw all the reactor buildings actaully have some spent mox rods in them.


I believe there are delays, however.

After fission is terminated, the rods are stored for a while to burn off the short-term isotopes.  At which point, they are then reprocessed to recover additional fissionable isotopes.

After they get out of crisis mode, and get into long-term maintenance/recovery mode, then they should be able to design robotics to enter and manipulate damaged portions of the reactor.

We can hope, hopefully they'll be no more radiation releases.
« Last Edit: 02/04/2011 19:14:11 by Wiybit »
 

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« Reply #16 on: 03/04/2011 17:11:15 »
"How much bigger do you think it would have to have been to have been a pressure explosion from the reactor?"
The outer building that blew up was made from ordinary construction grade reinforced concrete. It would fail at some overpressure value.
The inner pressure vessel is exactly that- it's a pressure vessel.
I don't have the spec to hand, but here
http://wenku.baidu.com/view/14ee593e5727a5e9856a61a6.html
is some information that includes the design criteria for a blast resistant building (which we know the reactor building wasn't.
It says  that roofs have to stand 69KPa which is about 10 PSI

The reactor vessel is designed to run at high pressure. Again, I don't have the data to hand, but BWR generally run at about 1000 PSI.

Now the stored energy in a system is proportional to the product of the volume and the pressure.

If the reactor building had been designed to stand a blast ( it doesn't look tat way) and the reactor pressure vessel had no leeway between the operating pressure and the failure pressure ( which would have been suicidally dumb) then for the explosion of the reactor not to be a bigger blast than the explosion of the building the building would have needed to be at least a hundred times the volume of the rector pressure vessel.
 
There's no reason why they would have made it so big, and the pictures on the web etc. don't indicate that disparity.


So I have a real reason for saying that, if the pressure vessel had burst it would have been a much bigger bang.
What evidence do you have?
Would  "sod all" cover it?

"Based upon what do you make that claim? "
I base the claim on the fact that, as the fission products decay, there are less of them left generating heat so as time goes on the need for cooling becomes less grave.

On what basis do you question it?

" By the way radiation levels inside the reactors are recorded at at least 10 to 100,000 times normal"
When the reactor was running it would have had a neutron flux of something like 10^12 n/cm2/s.
The background is about 0.01 so the radiation levels in a reactor (while it's running) are about a hundred million million times background.
data from here
http://www.wise-uranium.org/rnach.html
Isn't it nice to see how much they have fallen in the last few weeks? ( Actually almost all that drop will have happened between the 'quake and the tsunami when they scrammed the reactor.)

 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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« Reply #17 on: 03/04/2011 21:38:14 »
"How much bigger do you think it would have to have been to have been a pressure explosion from the reactor?"
The outer building that blew up was made from ordinary construction grade reinforced concrete. It would fail at some overpressure value.
The inner pressure vessel is exactly that- it's a pressure vessel.
I don't have the spec to hand, but here
http://wenku.baidu.com/view/14ee593e5727a5e9856a61a6.html
is some information that includes the design criteria for a blast resistant building (which we know the reactor building wasn't.
It says  that roofs have to stand 69KPa which is about 10 PSI

Yes I saw that but do you think you could reference other sites that are not linked to Iran and china, While looking my comp crashed.



The reactor vessel is designed to run at high pressure. Again, I don't have the data to hand, but BWR generally run at about 1000 PSI.

Now the stored energy in a system is proportional to the product of the volume and the pressure.

If the reactor building had been designed to stand a blast ( it doesn't look tat way) and the reactor pressure vessel had no leeway between the operating pressure and the failure pressure ( which would have been suicidally dumb) then for the explosion of the reactor not to be a bigger blast than the explosion of the building the building would have needed to be at least a hundred times the volume of the rector pressure vessel.
 
There's no reason why they would have made it so big, and the pictures on the web etc. don't indicate that disparity.


So I have a real reason for saying that, if the pressure vessel had burst it would have been a much bigger bang.
What evidence do you have?
Would  "sod all" cover it?

You crack me up, yes.


"Based upon what do you make that claim? "
I base the claim on the fact that, as the fission products decay, there are less of them left generating heat so as time goes on the need for cooling becomes less grave.

Great, well that's fantasic.


On what basis do you question it?

Based on the need to keep the rods underwater consistently to cool them.


" By the way radiation levels inside the reactors are recorded at at least 10 to 100,000 times normal"
When the reactor was running it would have had a neutron flux of something like 10^12 n/cm2/s.
The background is about 0.01 so the radiation levels in a reactor (while it's running) are about a hundred million million times background.
data from here
http://www.wise-uranium.org/rnach.html
Isn't it nice to see how much they have fallen in the last few weeks? ( Actually almost all that drop will have happened between the 'quake and the tsunami when they scrammed the reactor.)

Bored that is inside the reactor during opperation not in the building outside it

Quote
Uranium reactor 10 to the power 8 - 10 or to the power 16.
That's inside the reactor the radiation levels are that high, not in the building that houses the reactor!
 

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« Reply #18 on: 03/04/2011 22:13:18 »
" By the way radiation levels inside the reactors are recorded at at least 10 to 100,000 times normal"
"That's inside the reactor the radiation levels are that high, not in the building that houses the reactor!"

You are arguing with yourself.

BTW, feel free to look up the blast resistance of buildings for yourself. I don't have a copyright on the idea of searching the web. That way you can avoid China.
 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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« Reply #19 on: 03/04/2011 22:28:22 »
" By the way radiation levels inside the reactors are recorded at at least 10 to 100,000 times normal"
"That's inside the reactor the radiation levels are that high, not in the building that houses the reactor!"

You are arguing with yourself.


Ha ha ha, you knew what I meant. I don't think Tepco are going to anounce on the tv that their reactor is running 1,000,000% under normal radiation levels, quiet clear I was referencing the buildings and the radiation leakages not the reactor cores.



BTW, feel free to look up the blast resistance of buildings for yourself. I don't have a copyright on the idea of searching the web. That way you can avoid China.


You recomended the site, I wasnt out looking for the specs on building desined by the Irainian petrol company to withstand explosions. Which as you point out has little baring on reator buildings that have total different specs anyway.
 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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« Reply #20 on: 04/04/2011 16:51:48 »
Update on the situation by Nuke engineer.

Bored what's your oppinion, on what he is saying? As a chemist that has worked for the nuclear industry on occasion?
« Last Edit: 04/04/2011 16:53:36 by Wiybit »
 

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« Reply #21 on: 04/04/2011 18:41:15 »
My opinion is that his video is like farting in a lift- wrong on many levels.

He's wrong about soil sampling, wrong about the origin of the name of plutonium, wrong about the fact that you can't pick up alphas with a Geiger counter, and wrong about the idea that five proves there are more than 5.

I gave up after about a minute and a quarter.

The guy was talking more bollocks than I can stand.

 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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« Reply #22 on: 04/04/2011 20:14:34 »
My opinion is that his video is like farting in a lift- wrong on many levels.

He's wrong about soil sampling,

He is wrong about what? He is wrong they have found Plutoium in five places? 


 wrong about the origin of the name of plutonium,

Clearly relates to pluto, and pluto is;-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluto_(mythology)
Quote
in ancient Greek religion and myth, Pluto (Πλούτων, Ploutōn) was a name for the ruler of the underworld; the god was also known as Hades, a name for the underworld itself.


Quote
In older Greek myths, the realm of Hades is the misty and gloomy

Yet hades has also been mistakenly compared to Hell by some religious groups and people, so hardly that off, even though Hell and Hades are different places.



wrong about the fact that you can't pick up alphas with a Geiger counter,

That wasnt his point, his point was that plutoium gives off alpha not gama, so alpha from plutoium is harder to spot amoungst all the other alpha radiation that is there, interference.


 and wrong about the idea that five proves there are more than 5.

Well five doesn't prove there is less either, would you not have to check the whole site to know, if there is five there could be more, but that does not say how much more.

 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #23 on: 04/04/2011 21:13:55 »

 wrong about the origin of the name of plutonium,

Clearly relates to pluto, and pluto is;-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluto_(mythology)

The element is named after the former planet Pluto.
 

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« Reply #24 on: 04/04/2011 21:51:14 »
He was wrong when he said it could only have come from soil sampling; it could, for example, have been from air sampling or  washed off the suits the guys wore (or from the handle of the gent's bog...)

Plutonium  was, in fact, named after the (erstwhile) planet (as Geezer pointed out) so he was wrong to say it was named after Hell.

Whatever his point may have been, in the first place Geiger counters generally respond better to alphas than to gammas and in the second place there's nothing to stop someone using an alpha energy spectrometer to distinguish Pu from pother alpha emitters.
If the background is still too high then you can clean up the  Pu chemically first.
The bloke doesn't seem to realise that the Japanese nuclear industry is very advanced and they are quite capable of doing that sort of analysis.

Fundamentally, finding 5 places where there's Pu proves that Pu is present in 5 places; neither more nor less.
Saying otherwise is simply not telling the truth.

There's also the very real possibility that the Pu was there from before the 'quake.

Incidentally, I know that Hell and Hades are different places. I believe Hell is in Michigan, but I haven't checked.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell,_Michigan

On the other hand, Hades is in Belgium
http://www.npl.co.uk/upload/pdf/100120_env_rad_prof_andreotti.pdf
I know, I have been there (as a visitor- I wasn't working on that project)


Why are you so determined to believe the guy ?
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Is there anyway to re-coat a semi melted nuclear fuel rod?
« Reply #24 on: 04/04/2011 21:51:14 »

 

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