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Nuclear Fuel Rod Meltdown Demonstration

April 10, 2011, by Ken Jorgustin

arnie-gundersen

Arnie Gundersen demonstrates nuclear fuel rod meltdown

Nuclear Engineer, Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, performs a hands-on demonstration to illustrate what has happened to the fuel rods at the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Japan.

I love this guy… because of his clear and seemingly unbiased explanations and level-headed mannerism, we have linked to Arnie’s video updates within several related Japan-Meltdown posts.

This latest update we would like to show you really helps to visualize what is happening, or has happened, to the nuclear fuel rods at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Gundersen uses an actual fuel rod (a short section of one – without the nuclear pellet fuel of course), which is made of Zircominum alloy (Zircaloy), and demonstrates how high temperature will oxidize the Zircaloy, which in turn causes it to become very brittle and break.

This leads to nuclear fuel pellets falling out of the fuel rods to the bottom of the reactor where they begin to melt their way through the bottom – which is apparently what is happening, or has happened to Reactor No. 2 at Fukushima, and possibly Reactor No. 3, according to Arnie.



Here’s Arnie Gundersen doing his nuclear fuel rod science experiment:

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/22209827[/vimeo]



About:
Arnie Gundersen is an energy adviser with 39-years of nuclear power engineering experience. A former nuclear industry senior vice president, he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in nuclear engineering, holds a nuclear safety patent, and was a licensed reactor operator. During his nuclear industry career, Arnie managed and coordinated projects at 70-nuclear power plants around the country.