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Russian researchers find atomic nuclei in reactors accumulate dangerously excessive energy

August 31, 2017, 18:25 UTC+3 MOSCOW

According to the scientists, when designing modern reactor facilities, the possibility of the accumulation of excessive energy in materials has to be taken into account

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MOSCOW, August 31. /TASS/. Researchers from the Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) and Russian Academy of Sciences have demonstrated that atomic nuclei in absorbent materials at atomic power stations might accumulate excessive energy, the TPU’s press office said. This process could lead to emergencies, therefore this discovery by Russian scientists will lead to bolstering safety at nuclear facilities. The study was recently published in the journal Bulletin of the Lebedev Physics Institute.

"When designing modern reactor facilities and choosing construction material, the possibility of the accumulation and uncontrolled release of excessive energy in materials has to be taken into account. This is a crucial component in nuclear safety," the study’s author, Professor Igor Shamanin, Chief of the Chair of Technical Physics at TPU and a full member of RAS said.  

Nuclear reactors are based on absorbent materials that catch neutrons and hold the chain reaction at a constant level. The absorbents are also utilized in order to terminate the reaction in an emergency.

In the research article, scientists theoretically proved that the nuclei of substances used for absorbents might catch a neutron and transform into an isotope of a greater mass. "In the nuclear reaction of a neutron capture, the nuclei of isotopes appears which can store excessive energy for a long time (on a nuclear scale) sort of like a battery," Shamanin explained.

According to the scientists, the surplus of energy might lead to various emergency situations at a nuclear station. However, if this issue is taken into account, then improved safety levels can be expected in nuclear reactors. Moreover, now, researchers are looking for approaches to harnessing the process of amassing such energy and for putting it to use for the public’s needs.

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