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New device keeps nuclear plants safe amid blackout

Posted September. 30, 2011 03:00,   


Korea has developed the world`s first passive auxiliary feedwater system that automatically feeds cooling water in the event of a blackout at nuclear power plants.

If the system is installed at a nuclear power generator, it can cool the power plant and nuclear fuel in case of a shutdown of electricity that occurred in Fukushima, Japan.

“We completed the first performance test on PASF. We can export this device that dramatically increases safety at nuclear plants,” said Baek Won-pil, head of the nuclear energy research division at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, on Thursday.

The institute conducted a preliminary test in a “station blackout (complete loss of power that does not even offer emergency power at nuclear plants)” by using ATLAS, a comprehensive test device used in a mock nuclear accident, saying, “We will conduct a final performance test on PASF in the worst-case scenario.”

The think tank tested cases based on the design standards of nuclear reactors for predictable accidents such as small fires and leaks of cooling water with ATLAS, but conducted an experiment for a large accident going beyond the scope of the design standard for the first time.

“Metro-K,” a model that predicts radioactive contamination and spread in case of radioactive terrorist attacks in an urban area, was developed in the run-up to the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit at the end of March next year. Now in the final stage of development, Metro-K is undergoing a simulation test in Seoul.

The Korean government plans to add 5 billion won (4.27 million US dollars) to the R&D budget for nuclear safety technologies to raise it to 35 billion (29.8 million dollars) given growing public interest in nuclear plant safety in the wake of the nuclear accident in Fukushima.