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» US gov’t concentrate on developping safter nuclear fuel

In response to the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, the U.S. government dramatically increased funding to develop tougher protective skins for nuclear fuel, hoping to spur innovation in designs that had not changed much in years.

While the Department of Energy was spending $2 million on fuel designs before the March 2011 meltdowns, the funding reached as much as $30 million afterward.

Now scientists at multiple institutes are in the middle of developing designs that could start finding their way into test reactors as early as this summer, followed by larger tests later on.

The goal is to create nuclear fuel that is more resistant to damage and melting in extreme situations and less prone to a chemical reaction that makes its metal wrapping brittle and produces explosive hydrogen gas.

If researchers succeed, their work could give plant workers more time to keep an accident from spiraling into a meltdown that releases massive amounts of radiation. The work is no cure-all to prevent accidents, but it is a way of reducing risk.
<Media Report>
Fukushima No. 1 meltdowns stir industry quest for ‘safer’ nuclear fuel (Japan Times)

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