Thursday, October 7, 2010

Scientific explanation

The 'China Syndrome' refers to the most drastically severe meltdown a nuclear reactor could possibly achieve. In this case, the reactor would reach the highest level of superficiality for a sustained period of time, resulting in the melting of its support infrastructure (meltdown). The uranium in the core would behave in a similar manner to a delta-class fire, self-sustaining temperatures in excess of 2000°C. Since these temperatures would melt all materials around it, the reactor would sink due to gravity, effectively boring a hole through the reactor compartment's floor.

The China syndrome becomes fictional in the hypothesis of it boring a hole from the United States to China, or any other part of the world (the opposite side of the earth from the USA is not China, but the Indian Ocean). Most obviously it is impossible because the Earth's gravity would only pull it towards the core of the planet and no further. Additionally the uranium core would not exceed more than 10 meters of 'boring' due to natural passive safety; the surrounding ground beneath the reactor would absorb the heat and transfer it inductively to the surrounding area, thus preventing the ground directly beneath the core from 'melting'. This manner of spreading heat collectively through the ground is proposed for use in General Atomic s' Gas Turbine Modular Helium Reactor for regular operation and passive safety, which aims to eliminate the possibility of a meltdown.

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