Archive for March, 2011

Nucleonica welcomes PSI users!

March 31st, 2011

Through an institutional license agreement, staff at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland has now full Premium access to the Nucleonica modules and features. The license agreement covers also the Lib4RI consortium (Library of Eawag, Empa and WSL).

The Nucleonica team looks forward to a close interaction with the PSI colleagues and encourages a strong use of the web portal.

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Virtual Reality Tools for Training in Nuclear Safeguards

March 24th, 2011

This one day meeting took place at the JRC, Ispra site, with colleagues from JRC-ITU (both Ispra and Karlsruhe sites), Nucleonica, IAEA and DG ENERGY. The subject addressed was how safeguards training could be enhanced by the use of virtual reality (VR) tools and technologies. Two interesting demonstrations showed (a) the use of VR for the design and simulation of the optical surveillance approach to safeguard a nuclear fuel storage area and (b) training of customs officers in using radiation detection equipment as a measure to counter the illicit trafficking of nuclear materials at border control points. The prime objective of the meeting was to discuss the use of VR technologies, including physics based modules, to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of training actions in Nuclear Safeguards both for the IAEA and DG-ENERGY. The work to be done falls under the framework of the European Commission Support Programme to the IAEA (EC-SP).
Further information can be obtained from the EC-SP coordinator, João Gonçalves , from JRC-ITU, Ispra site.

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Chronology of events at Fukushima plant

March 19th, 2011

A clear statement has just been issued by the European Nuclear Society on the recent Japanese nuclear accident…

“The information gathered from the Japanese authorities permit to draw a rough picture of the sequence of events that led to the Fukushima nuclear accident. Among the 6 reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (Tepco’s) East coast Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, reactors 1, 2 and 3 were in operation when the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck. During the earthquake, the safety rods were automatically inserted in the three running reactors, stopping the chain reaction. At the same time, the grid power supply was blown out, and the auxiliary reactor core cooling system started normally, providing temporary cooling to the reactors. The same scenario then applied to the three reactors. At the time of the shutdown, the decay heat that needed to be removed from the cores amounted to about 7% of the nominal power of the reactors. Unfortunately, the 7 to 10 meter tsunami wave that hit the coast in the plant area after the earthquake seems to have caused the failure of the heat sink necessary to cool the reactors on a long-term basis. The cooling of the reactors then depended on the vaporisation of the water available in the reactor vessel and in the other reservoirs in the plant. The steam produced inside the reactor vessel was condensed in the condensation vessel, whose temperature and pressure began to rise slowly. A few tens of hours later, it was decided to vent some steam outside this vessel in order to reduce the pressure. Unfortunately, the steam appeared to contain some hydrogen, produced by the oxidation of the overheated fuel cladding. This hydrogen, vented in the top part of the reactors buildings, exploded when it came into contact with air.”

This and more information is available on the ENS website:;

The decay heat from the Fukushima I reactor has been be calculated with the webKORIGEN module in Nucleonica. In addition, a script has been written to determine the water flow rate required to remove this decay heat. For details, see the Nucleonica Fukushima I script.

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