Containing a nuclear accident with ground-up minerals

October 17, 2019 2:56 pm Published by

Sandia’s injectable materials could stop contamination from spreading

By Kristen Meub

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are developing a promising new way to prevent the spread of radioactive contamination and contain the hot molten mass that develops within a nuclear reactor during a catastrophic accident.

During a three-year Laboratory Directed Research and Development project, a team of scientists discovered and patented a process for injecting sand-like minerals into the core of a nuclear reactor during an accident to contain and slow down the progression of a meltdown.

Sandia developed computer models and software (known as MELCOR) that show how corium, a highly radioactive lava-like mixture of nuclear fuel, fission products, control rods, structural materials and other components, melts through a nuclear reactor and spreads during a meltdown.

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