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Imaging the Fukushima Daiichi reactors with cosmic-ray muons

Morris and colleagues have developed a method that uses muons to peer inside closed containers, even very dense ones. This will help detect smuggled nuclear materials or gaze inside damaged nuclear reactor cores like those at the Fukushima Daiichi complex in Japan. Video courtesy Los Alamos National Lab Communications Office.

Los Alamos National Laboratory, in New Mexico, US, will team up with Toshiba Corporation to use muon tomography to safely peer inside the cores of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors. The initiative could reduce the time required to clean up the disabled complex by at least a decade, and greatly reduce plant personnel exposure to radiation.

“Los Alamos researchers began working on an improved method for muon radiography within weeks of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that damaged the Fukushima reactor complex,” says Christopher Morris, chief scientist and lead of the Los Alamos muon tomography team. “Within 18 months we had refined our technique and published a paper showing that the Los Alamos method was superior to traditional muon radiography techniques for remotely locating and identifying nuclear materials, and that it could be employed for field use.”


- Amber Harmon

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