Saturday, March 19, 2011

Carles Domingo: "There are difficulties for cooling, but that does not involve a nuclear explosion"

Carles Domingo is the head of the Department of Atomic Physics, Nuclear and Molecular UAB. Today has been with us in the writing of La Vanguardia. is to resolve the doubts that have arisen readers about nuclear energy as a result of radiation leaks from nuclear power plants in Fukushima, Japan. The expert has sought to distinguish primarily two effects of radioactive material, radiation and pollution.

"The radiation decreases with distance and the emission current is not dangerous to humans from about 50 km. On the other hand, pollution refers to particles of dust in the air, and therefore can be carried by winds and ocean currents. It is expected that these particles from reaching the west coast of the United States by Pacific currents.

" According Carles Domingo, it is unlikely that the contaminated material comes to Spain, barring a disaster like Chernobyl: "In any case, the radioactive materials more negative are the short period of disintegration, which thus eventually disappear. foreseeable damage that can affect people that have been contaminated are the increased risk of cancer.

" UAB physicist has said that most modern power plants generate less waste because the harvested for fuel, but not completely eliminate the creation of waste. Much is made these days of the responsibilities of the company that manages TEPCO Fukushima nuclear power plant. However, Carles Domingo wanted to clarify that the current emergency is managed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), under the UN.

"Private enterprise is responsible, in any case, the plant personnel," he said. Regarding doubts about whether it will be safe to travel to Japan in the coming months, the physicist admits that is more concerned about the likelihood of earthquakes and tsunamis that radiation, according to the levels currently aware.

Japan is in the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire ", the most seismically active zone with faults in California. Several readers have raised the possibility of using sea water, ice or snow to cool the nuclear reactors. To this, Carles Domingo replied that "the specific heat of water is approximately twice the ice, so water cooling is twice as effective as cooling ice." However, the expert recognizes that there are struggling to cool them, but ruled out the possibility of a nuclear explosion.

In the event that the water reached the sea, as posed by a reader, "the consequences would be much smaller than the reactor could have no control, since contamination would dissolve the entire Pacific Ocean." Therefore, Carles Domingo rejects scaremongering and ensures that the evacuations were carried out to protect people as a precaution.

On the other hand, the operators working at the plants "are subject to most rigorous controls of radiation." These days it has generated a debate about the safety of nuclear plants and whether to ignore this source of energy. A reader proposes the use of nuclear fusion energy, to which Carles Domingo replied that it is currently experimental, and that time is not yet profitable energetically and economically.

Physicist proposes to begin the debate on nuclear energy by putting all the cards on the table, addressing the following questions: "Is there no viable alternatives to stop the progress? What direction we want to go? What are the economic consequences? Do we want to really save energy? At what price we want or are willing to pay per kilowatt?.

" Physical expert responses Carles Domingo also been able to follow via Twitter through hashtag # encuentrodigital.

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