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One of the things that not many people know is that the Navy's reactors are designed in a fail-safe (sort of) manner such that if the coolant temperature rises, the rate of fission decreases. This provides a negative feedback that helps to maintain temperatures and power levels. It's self-regulating. Civilian power plants, which are much, much larger than the Navy's small reactors, are designed such that higher coolant temperatures mean higher rates of fission, which heats the coolant further, creating a feed-forward loop with a tendency to run away. How stupid can you get? I mean, really... how utterly imbecilic can you get?

That's not true... It was true of Chernobyl, but BWRs such as those in Fukushima have a negative void coefficient.

Part of the reason for this is that water acts as a moderator, slowing down neutrons and thus aiding the reaction. If water becomes so hot to turn to steam, the moderation is lost and the reaction slows down because the neutrons are too fast and leave the core before reacting.

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 04:27:15 PM EST
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