Case Study Of Chernobyl

1550 Words 7 Pages
The disaster at Chernobyl was like a cannon shot heard across the world. On April 26th, 1986, the people living near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant were about to experience something no one had ever experienced before. One of the units at the power plant, unit four specifically, failed spectacularly. An uncontrolled reaction within the reactor ended up blowing the top off of the reactor and caused it to spew out great amount of nuclear material. The meltdown was then led by a fire. In total, twenty-eight people ended up dying from either radiation burns or exposure to high amounts of radiation. This number of deaths directly related is still up for debate though as there is no clear source. Other sources even report that thousands more may …show more content…
One decision that was made by the workers at the plant was to run all four reactors at low power. This may not have been an issue for most plants, but these reactors were specifically designed to be ran at a high power setting. At a low power the reactors would be highly unstable. This instability was due to what is known in nuclear engineering as a void coefficient of reactivity. Essentially it is a way to measure the overall power output in a nuclear reactor. When the void coefficient is positive, the overall power of the system tends to increase and when it is negative it tends to decrease. The increase in the void coefficient caused more energy to be outputted by the reactor which in turn increased the void coefficient even more. This chain reaction caused an increase in the heat of the system and ended up rupturing several tubes that were carrying the material. The material reacted with the steam and the steam ended up blowing the top off of the reactor. It also ended up blowing open all the other tubes containing the material as well as exposing the nuclear material to the environment. Much of this could have been avoided if not only had the reactors had been going at a high power state, but it could have also been prevented if there were more control rods within the reactor. These rods are used to help control the rate of fission within the nuclear reactor and they are …show more content…
The design was made by the Soviet Union during what many would call the height of the cold war. The Soviets designed a plant design which was known as an RBMK reactor. The exact name of these reactors is in Russian so I will refer to them as RBMK reactors. These reactors were somewhat rushed due to the cultural climate at the time. Due to this, the reactors themselves had several shortcoming, especially when it came to safety. As was already discussed, the reactors were not designed to be able to be run on a low power mode and there were not nearly enough control rods to keep the reactor balanced. One major flaw for safety though was that even though the system was not meant to be run at low power there were no systems or balances put into place to fix this or to stop it from happening. After the Chernobyl disaster the other RBMK were adjusted so that they had extra control rods as well as systems to monitor the overall void coefficient of reactivity and a system that would not allow the reactors to be ran at low

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