Toxins are everywhere. Car exhaust, secondhand smoke, flame retardants, plastic packaging, heavy metals, pesticides, BPA-coated receipts… Unless you’re living in virgin forest, you’re going to come into contact with some less-than-optimal chemicals pretty much every day.
That’s definitely no reason to panic. In fact, small doses of toxins may be good for you because of a phenomenon called hormesis – mild stress makes your cells work more efficiently. However, your body can have trouble clearing certain toxins. You eliminate most of the bisphenol-A (BPA) and other plastics you ingest, but a small percentage hides away in your fat cells, messing with your hormones and accumulating over time. It’s the same deal with several mold toxins, heavy metals like lead, nickel, cadmium, mercury, and aluminum, and with certain pharmaceuticals and drugs like THC.
A good detox protocol can help you eliminate these more stubborn toxins. The trouble is that many common detoxes don’t work. Juice and water cleanses, for example, are often actually counterproductive because they deprive your body of essential nutrients it needs to function. That said, there are a few genuine ways to detox.
Because so many toxins stay in your fat cells, one way to detox is through lipolysis – breaking down your fat cells and releasing the hard-to-reach toxins stored within them. Lipolysis is especially effective when you combine it with liver and kidney support or adsorbents that can suck up the released toxins. This article focuses on all of the above. Let’s start with saunas.
1) Sauna sessions
Sweating does more than cool you off. It also helps you get rid of both heavy metals and xenobiotics – foreign compounds like plastics and petrochemicals – in small but significant amounts. A 2012 review of 50 studies found that sweating removes lead, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury, especially in people with high heavy metal toxicity . Another study put participants in both traditional and infrared saunas and found similar results . Sweating also eliminates hormone-disrupting BPA, which accumulates in your fat cells .
There’s debate about the best kind of sauna for detoxification. A couple studies have shown that infrared saunas are the most effective for detoxing, but the research was funded by infrared sauna companies, so the results are questionable. Both traditional and infrared saunas are effective for detoxing . That said, I prefer infrared saunas for a few reasons:
They don’t get as hot. Traditional saunas heat the air around you, while infrared light penetrates and heats your tissue directly. You sweat in an infrared sauna at around 130-150 degrees instead of at 180-200 degrees, so you can stay in for longer without feeling like you’re going to pass out. I’ve done 2-hour infrared sauna sessions (drinking salt water the whole time to replenish electrolytes and fluids, of course).
They’re easier on your electric bill. Again, infrared saunas require less energy, especially if you get a sauna that reflects infrared light back on you. This one, for example, costs about 15 cents an hour to run.
I personally use a Sunlighten infrared sauna and love it. If you don’t want to buy an infrared sauna and there isn’t one around you, a standard sauna will work perfectly well . There’s probably one in your local gym.
Keep in mind that sweating pulls electrolytes and trace minerals from your body, so it’s important to drink a lot of fluids and get plenty of salt (preferably Himalayan pink salt or another mineral-rich natural salt) if you’re going to use a sauna to detox .
Exercise is another way to flush toxins from your body, and through more than just making you sweat. Exercise increases lipolysis (the breakdown of fat tissue), releasing toxins stored in your fat tissue. Studies show that people who exercise and lose body fat end up with higher levels of circulating hormone disruptors . Increasing lipolysis through diet does the same thing .
Mobilizing toxins isn’t necessarily a good thing, particularly if you’re unequipped to get rid of them. You want to be sure you’re getting rid of toxins, not just moving them to a different part of your body. Working out addresses the issue to a degree: it improves circulation, providing more oxygen to your liver and kidneys so they can better filter out toxins. You can also give your system even more support and pull out bad stuff with the next two detox tools: activated charcoal and glutathione.
Activated charcoal is a form of carbon that has massive surface area and a strong negative charge. It’s been around for thousands of years and it’s still used in emergency rooms today to treat poisoning.
Charcoal binds to chemicals whose molecules have positive charges, including aflatoxin and other polar mycotoxins , BPA , and common pesticides . Once the chemicals attach to the charcoal you can pass them normally (i.e. poop them out).
Charcoal can bind to the good stuff, too, so I don’t recommend taking it within an hour of other supplements. Try taking a couple charcoal pills along with exercise or have a sauna session. They should adsorb many of the toxins you release into your gut and GI tract.
Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that protects you from heavy metal damage, according to studies in both human and rat cells [9,10,11,12]. Glutathione also supports liver enzymes that break down mold toxins and heavy metals. Your digestion will destroy normal glutathione, so opt for a liposomal glutathione supplement that makes it through your stomach. You can also supplement with N-acetylcysteine and alpha-lipoic acid, which your body can use to build glutathione on its own . If you have severe heavy metal or mycotoxin poisoning, talk to a naturopath or functional medicine doctor about intravenous (IV) glutathione. It’s expensive and less convenient than an oral supplement, but it works very well.
We’ve talked about how heat and exercise can increase fat burning to detox your fat cells. It turns out cold can do the same. Cryochambers are gaining popularity with professional athletes and other high performers for their ability to quell inflammation. It turns out they can help you burn fat – and release the toxins stored in it – as well.
A cryochamber uses liquid nitrogen to supercool your body, stimulating mitochondrial function and decreasing inflammation. Intense cold also destroys fat cells, which has led to cryolipolysis therapy as a way to slim down [14,15]. You can use it to detox, too.
Quick disclaimer: I haven’t found studies specifically looking at ketosis and toxin load, so you may want to take this section with a grain of (Himalayan) salt. That said, ketosis is a very effective way to induce lipolysis, particularly if you’re fasting.
When you’re in ketosis and you haven’t eaten recently, your body breaks down your fat stores into free fatty acids, which it then converts to ketones for fuel. That means that, in theory, you should be able to supercharge your detox (and fat loss) by dropping into nutritional ketosis.
The Bulletproof Diet puts you into mild ketosis, which curbs your hunger and sharpens your brain without forcing you to forego carbs entirely. If you want to try nutritional ketosis for detoxing, you’ll have to modify the Bulletproof Diet slightly. Skip carb reefed days for a couple weeks and limit carbs to ~30-50 grams per day. You can use keto urine strips or – even better – a blood ketone meter to test and make sure you’re becoming fat-adapted. Once your levels read around 1.5 mg/dL, you’re comfortably in nutritional ketosis. At that point, fasting will attack your fat stores and mobilize toxins, which you can mop up with activated charcoal or sweat out (or both).
Chelation therapy is the strongest way to detox heavy metals. It can also be dangerous, so many doctors don’t recommend it unless you have moderate to severe heavy metal poisoning. Chelation therapy uses compounds called chelators that form strong bonds with heavy metals, leaving them unable to further poison your body. You can then pass them normally. Chelation therapy is very effective for removing lead, mercury, aluminum, arsenic, iron, and copper.
If you’ve been exposed to a lot of heavy metals, talk to a functional medicine doctor about chelation therapy. You really want to go to a medical professional for this one, because it’s so effective that if your liver and kidneys aren’t able to process the metals (a common problem in people with heavy metal poisoning) you can get seriously ill.
Combining detox methods for maximum effect
Each of these 7 methods works well on its own, and you can stack methods for an even greater effect. Exercise and sauna sessions are a good example. Preliminary evidence suggests that exercising and then hitting the sauna afterward will detoxify you better than either one alone does . With that in mind, here’s a sample detox protocol:
If you have a lot of fat and you’re burning it off quickly, you’re probably getting rid of a lot of toxins in one fell swoop, and you may get a headache, digestive problems, brain fog, etc. If that happens try taking more glutathione, vitamin C, and charcoal. Be sure you take charcoal at least an hour away from other supplements, as it binds to vitamin C.
Toxins are a fact of modern life, especially if you live in a city or somewhere with poor air quality, mold, and/or a lot of petrochemical byproducts. These detox methods can give your body a little extra support dealing with pollutants and help you perform your best.
2021年6月16日、ホンダ・クラリティFuel Cellの生産中止が発表された。ホンダ、FCV生産中止 販売低調で : 日本経済新聞 理由は販売低調。そりゃそうだ、高い（783万円）、でかい（全長4915mm・全幅1875mm）、買いにくい（リース専用）。2021年6月時点でも全国の水素ステーションの数は147箇所止まり。助成金たんまり乗せて官公庁と法人に買ってもらうしかマーケットがない。そもそもクルマとしてのユーティリティが乏しいFCVで、さらにあえてホンダ車を選ばなければならない自治体や企業はほとんどない。全世界での累計販売台数はわずか1900台だったそうだ。FCV全体を断念するわけではなくGM合弁でFCVは続けるということだが、あくまで保険的なムーブだろう。
もう一方のトヨタ・MIRAIはどうなったかといえば、こちらも累計販売1万台・国内販売3700台と全く振るわない状況だったが、2020年12月にガラッと雰囲気の変わった2代目が出てきた。https://toyota.jp/mirai これが実にお見事なのだ。といっても「これなら売れる！ FCVの時代が来た！」という意味ではない。5年前にこの増田で書いた諸問題をまったく解決できないまま、それでも「FCVには将来性がある」という幻想を維持するために、針の穴に糸を通すようなコントロールで商品企画をやり直し、それにある程度成功している、ということだ。
どういうことか。まずボディサイズだ。レクサスLSと同じGA-Lプラットフォームを採用して、全長4975mm・全幅1885mmに。ちなみに初代は全長4890mm・全幅1815mmだった。初代よりひとまわりデカくなっているのである！ 価格は？ 細かくグレードを刻んで710万円〜860万円。こちらも高くなっている！ 高圧タンクはどうなった？ なんと3本に増槽している。しかも1本は運転席の真横に据え付けられている。
・NEED FOR SPEED MOST WANTED
・Need For Speed Rivals
The green environmental protection battery is to point to in recent years has been put into use or are development, the development of kind of high performance, no pollution batteries. At present already use large nickel metal hydride battery, the lithium ion battery and is expanded use of mercury free alkaline battery manganese zinc and rechargeable batteries and is research and development of lithium or lithium ion plastic pack and fuel cells belong to this category. In addition, it is widely used and use of solar energy for photoelectric convert solar cell (also called photovoltaic power generation), can also be included in this category.
Nickel metal hydride battery (Ni-MH) and nickel cadmium battery (Ni-Cd) have the same working voltage (1.2 V), due to the adoption of rare earth alloy or TiNi alloy anode materials for the activity of hydrogen storage material, replacing the carcinogen cadmium, which not only makes this battery became a kind of green environmental protection battery, and make a battery of energy than increased nearly 40%, to 80-60 Wh/kg and 210-240 Wh/L. The battery is 90 s gradually realize industrialization PANASONIC VW-VBK360 Battery , and the first to use in the cell phone battery. At present although it on their dominance of the gradually be lithium ion battery replaced, but mobile phone applications in Europe and America, and its market share is still at about 50%.
The lithium ion battery (Li-ion) is by can make the lithium ion embedding and take off the carbon embedded as negative, reversible intercalated-li metal oxide as the positive (LiCoO2, LiNiO2 or LiMn2O4) and organic electrolyte constitute, the working voltage of 3.6 V, so a lithium-ion battery is equivalent to three cadmium nickel metal hydride battery or nickel. Thus the batteries than energy is the over 100 Wh/kg and 280 Wh/L, and considerably more than the nickel metal hydride battery than energy. In view of the above advantages, since the 1993-2000 in just a few years, its production and usage with extremely high speed growth.
Alkaline manganese zinc dry (alkaline) compared with ordinary dry cell size has higher capacity PANASONIC CGA-S005E Battery, and have high discharge current ability. In recent years has been used on mercury zinc powder, therefore make the battery become a green battery, and become the mainstream battery products, at present the alkaline xinmeng dry cell is still BP machine use most power supply. At the same time, the world is the battery charged on the sex, an American company has launched a charged battery alkali manganese, product and application of slow growth. Such batteries keep the battery discharge characteristics, but also can be recharged using a dozen times to hundreds of times (deep recharge cycles life of about 25 times).
Lithium plastic battery (LIP) is for lithium metal anode, conductive polymers of electrolyte for new battery, the energy than has reached 170 Wh/kg and 350 Wh/L. The lithium ion battery is will present plastic of organic lithium ion battery electrolyte stored in a polymer membrane, or use conductive polymer as electrolyte, make a battery in no free the electrolyte. Such batteries can use aluminum plastic composite membrane realize hot pressing encapsulation, with light weight, shape can be arbitrary change, safety better characteristics.
Fuel cells (FC) is a kind of use of fuel (such as hydrogen or contain fuel) and antioxidant (such as pure oxygen or the oxygen in air) for power generation device directly, because avoided the carnot cycle limit, this power unit is not only high efficiency (electrochemical reactions conversion efficiency can be as high as 40% or more), and no pollution discharge gas, so is the future of efficient and clean power generation method. Many companies at home and abroad are engaged in development for mobile phones, notebook computers, the PEM fuel cell, once put into application, and its economy benefit greatly.
In addition to the above, in view of the communication industry growth, China's battery industry is with extremely high speed to promote environmental protection mercury-free alkali manganese zinc original pool and rechargeable batteries and seal lead-acid battery technology development and application expansion market.
Apple on an application for a patent for the fuel cells on Thursday are exposed. In the patent application, apple describes a kind of electronic equipment, such as notebook computer use fuel cells, and without any increase in too much weight of fuel cell performance optimization method.
An application for a patent for the title as "for portable computing devices power supply of fuel cell system". Apple says, consumers are becoming more and more attention to use of renewable energy. Fuel cell in technology competitive, as the energy density high, compared with the traditional batteries can be in the same volume provide more energy.
Apple patent application show: "fuel cells and additional fuel can bring high energy density, in not adding fuel to support of portable electronic devices for days or even weeks." Apple also said, use a fuel cell is to face the challenge of portability and cost.
Usually, the fuel cells to electronic equipment support portable charging, and users need to carry a fuel rods. And this is different, have conceived a and apple electronic equipment tightly integrated fuel cell. And this one the bulk of the patent application in a description of a fuel cell stack is used to optimize the flow of energy control system.
Another apple patent application describes how the fuel cell and rechargeable batteries work together, and to make the fuel cell and rechargeable batteries charging each other. This patent application said: "it will be to make the fuel cell system not necessary to large and heavy integration of the battery, thus obviously reduce the fuel cell system size, weight and cost."
This is not the first application for apple about fuel cell patent. Patently Apple web site said, October the exposure to a patent application shows that Apple are designing a fuel panels, from portable equipment to produce more energy.
About fuel itself, apple a patent application shows that there are a variety of fuel for power electronic equipment, one of which is sodium borohydride and water mixture. But these are still at the experimental stage, has yet to commercial.
Portable fuel cell charger faces a major obstacle is that manufacturers need to establish sales channel sales and recycled fuel rods. Apple will likely use apple retail stores to have finished the work.
When the diesel generators were gone, the reactor operators switched to emergency battery power. The batteries were designed as one of the backups to the backups, to provide power for cooling the core for 8 hours. And they did.
Within the 8 hours, another power source had to be found and connected to the power plant. The power grid was down due to the earthquake. The diesel generators were destroyed by the tsunami. So mobile diesel generators were trucked in.
This is where things started to go seriously wrong. The external power generators could not be connected to the power plant (the plugs did not fit). So after the batteries ran out, the residual heat could not be carried away any more.
At this point the plant operators begin to follow emergency procedures that are in place for a “loss of cooling event”. It is again a step along the “Depth of Defense” lines. The power to the cooling systems should never have failed completely, but it did, so they “retreat” to the next line of defense. All of this, however shocking it seems to us, is part of the day-to-day training you go through as an operator, right through to managing a core meltdown.
It was at this stage that people started to talk about core meltdown. Because at the end of the day, if cooling cannot be restored, the core will eventually melt (after hours or days), and the last line of defense, the core catcher and third containment, would come into play.
But the goal at this stage was to manage the core while it was heating up, and ensure that the first containment (the Zircaloy tubes that contains the nuclear fuel), as well as the second containment (our pressure cooker) remain intact and operational for as long as possible, to give the engineers time to fix the cooling systems.
Because cooling the core is such a big deal, the reactor has a number of cooling systems, each in multiple versions (the reactor water cleanup system, the decay heat removal, the reactor core isolating cooling, the standby liquid cooling system, and the emergency core cooling system). Which one failed when or did not fail is not clear at this point in time.
So imagine our pressure cooker on the stove, heat on low, but on. The operators use whatever cooling system capacity they have to get rid of as much heat as possible, but the pressure starts building up. The priority now is to maintain integrity of the first containment (keep temperature of the fuel rods below 2200°C), as well as the second containment, the pressure cooker. In order to maintain integrity of the pressure cooker (the second containment), the pressure has to be released from time to time. Because the ability to do that in an emergency is so important, the reactor has 11 pressure release valves. The operators now started venting steam from time to time to control the pressure. The temperature at this stage was about 550°C.
This is when the reports about “radiation leakage” starting coming in. I believe I explained above why venting the steam is theoretically the same as releasing radiation into the environment, but why it was and is not dangerous. The radioactive nitrogen as well as the noble gases do not pose a threat to human health.
At some stage during this venting, the explosion occurred. The explosion took place outside of the third containment (our “last line of defense”), and the reactor building. Remember that the reactor building has no function in keeping the radioactivity contained. It is not entirely clear yet what has happened, but this is the likely scenario: The operators decided to vent the steam from the pressure vessel not directly into the environment, but into the space between the third containment and the reactor building (to give the radioactivity in the steam more time to subside). The problem is that at the high temperatures that the core had reached at this stage, water molecules can “disassociate” into oxygen and hydrogen – an explosive mixture. And it did explode, outside the third containment, damaging the reactor building around. It was that sort of explosion, but inside the pressure vessel (because it was badly designed and not managed properly by the operators) that lead to the explosion of Chernobyl. This was never a risk at Fukushima. The problem of hydrogen-oxygen formation is one of the biggies when you design a power plant (if you are not Soviet, that is), so the reactor is build and operated in a way it cannot happen inside the containment. It happened outside, which was not intended but a possible scenario and OK, because it did not pose a risk for the containment.
So the pressure was under control, as steam was vented. Now, if you keep boiling your pot, the problem is that the water level will keep falling and falling. The core is covered by several meters of water in order to allow for some time to pass (hours, days) before it gets exposed. Once the rods start to be exposed at the top, the exposed parts will reach the critical temperature of 2200 °C after about 45 minutes. This is when the first containment, the Zircaloy tube, would fail.
And this started to happen. The cooling could not be restored before there was some (very limited, but still) damage to the casing of some of the fuel. The nuclear material itself was still intact, but the surrounding Zircaloy shell had started melting. What happened now is that some of the byproducts of the uranium decay – radioactive Cesium and Iodine – started to mix with the steam. The big problem, uranium, was still under control, because the uranium oxide rods were good until 3000 °C. It is confirmed that a very small amount of Cesium and Iodine was measured in the steam that was released into the atmosphere.
It seems this was the “go signal” for a major plan B. The small amounts of Cesium that were measured told the operators that the first containment on one of the rods somewhere was about to give. The Plan A had been to restore one of the regular cooling systems to the core. Why that failed is unclear. One plausible explanation is that the tsunami also took away / polluted all the clean water needed for the regular cooling systems.
The water used in the cooling system is very clean, demineralized (like distilled) water. The reason to use pure water is the above mentioned activation by the neutrons from the Uranium: Pure water does not get activated much, so stays practically radioactive-free. Dirt or salt in the water will absorb the neutrons quicker, becoming more radioactive. This has no effect whatsoever on the core – it does not care what it is cooled by. But it makes life more difficult for the operators and mechanics when they have to deal with activated (i.e. slightly radioactive) water.
In order to prevent a core meltdown, the operators started to use sea water to cool the core. I am not quite sure if they flooded our pressure cooker with it (the second containment), or if they flooded the third containment, immersing the pressure cooker. But that is not relevant for us.
The point is that the nuclear fuel has now been cooled down. Because the chain reaction has been stopped a long time ago, there is only very little residual heat being produced now. The large amount of cooling water that has been used is sufficient to take up that heat. Because it is a lot of water, the core does not produce sufficient heat any more to produce any significant pressure. Also, boric acid has been added to the seawater. Boric acid is “liquid control rod”. Whatever decay is still going on, the Boron will capture the neutrons and further speed up the cooling down of the core.
The plant came close to a core meltdown. Here is the worst-case scenario that was avoided: If the seawater could not have been used for treatment, the operators would have continued to vent the water steam to avoid pressure buildup. The third containment would then have been completely sealed to allow the core meltdown to happen without releasing radioactive material. After the meltdown, there would have been a waiting period for the intermediate radioactive materials to decay inside the reactor, and all radioactive particles to settle on a surface inside the containment. The cooling system would have been restored eventually, and the molten core cooled to a manageable temperature. The containment would have been cleaned up on the inside. Then a messy job of removing the molten core from the containment would have begun, packing the (now solid again) fuel bit by bit into transportation containers to be shipped to processing plants. Depending on the damage, the block of the plant would then either be repaired or dismantled.
・Some radiation was released when the pressure vessel was vented. All radioactive isotopes from the activated steam have gone (decayed). A very small amount of Cesium was released, as well as Iodine. If you were sitting on top of the plants’ chimney when they were venting, you should probably give up smoking to return to your former life expectancy. The Cesium and Iodine isotopes were carried out to the sea and will never be seen again.
・There was some limited damage to the first containment. That means that some amounts of radioactive Cesium and Iodine will also be released into the cooling water, but no Uranium or other nasty stuff (the Uranium oxide does not “dissolve” in the water). There are facilities for treating the cooling water inside the third containment. The radioactive Cesium and Iodine will be removed there and eventually stored as radioactive waste in terminal storage.
・The seawater used as cooling water will be activated to some degree. Because the control rods are fully inserted, the Uranium chain reaction is not happening. That means the “main” nuclear reaction is not happening, thus not contributing to the activation. The intermediate radioactive materials (Cesium and Iodine) are also almost gone at this stage, because the Uranium decay was stopped a long time ago. This further reduces the activation. The bottom line is that there will be some low level of activation of the seawater, which will also be removed by the treatment facilities.
・I believe the most significant problem will be a prolonged power shortage. About half of Japan’s nuclear reactors will probably have to be inspected, reducing the nation’s power generating capacity by 15%. This will probably be covered by running gas power plants that are usually only used for peak loads to cover some of the base load as well. That will increase your electricity bill, as well as lead to potential power shortages during peak demand, in Japan.
He is a PhD Scientist, whose father has extensive experience in Germany’s nuclear industry. I asked him to write this information to my family in Australia, who were being made sick with worry by the media reports coming from Japan. I am republishing it with his permission.
I am writing this text (Mar 12) to give you some peace of mind regarding some of the troubles in Japan, that is the safety of Japan’s nuclear reactors. Up front, the situation is serious, but under control. And this text is long! But you will know more about nuclear power plants after reading it than all journalists on this planet put together.
By “significant” I mean a level of radiation of more than what you would receive on – say – a long distance flight, or drinking a glass of beer that comes from certain areas with high levels of natural background radiation.
I have been reading every news release on the incident since the earthquake. There has not been one single (!) report that was accurate and free of errors (and part of that problem is also a weakness in the Japanese crisis communication). By “not free of errors” I do not refer to tendentious anti-nuclear journalism – that is quite normal these days. By “not free of errors” I mean blatant errors regarding physics and natural law, as well as gross misinterpretation of facts, due to an obvious lack of fundamental and basic understanding of the way nuclear reactors are build and operated. I have read a 3 page report on CNN where every single paragraph contained an error.
The plants at Fukushima are so called Boiling Water Reactors, or BWR for short. Boiling Water Reactors are similar to a pressure cooker. The nuclear fuel heats water, the water boils and creates steam, the steam then drives turbines that create the electricity, and the steam is then cooled and condensed back to water, and the water send back to be heated by the nuclear fuel. The pressure cooker operates at about 250 °C.
The nuclear fuel is uranium oxide. Uranium oxide is a ceramic with a very high melting point of about 3000 °C. The fuel is manufactured in pellets (think little cylinders the size of Lego bricks). Those pieces are then put into a long tube made of Zircaloy with a melting point of 2200 °C, and sealed tight. The assembly is called a fuel rod. These fuel rods are then put together to form larger packages, and a number of these packages are then put into the reactor. All these packages together are referred to as “the core”.
The core is then placed in the “pressure vessels”. That is the pressure cooker we talked about before. The pressure vessels is the second containment. This is one sturdy piece of a pot, designed to safely contain the core for temperatures several hundred °C. That covers the scenarios where cooling can be restored at some point.
The entire “hardware” of the nuclear reactor – the pressure vessel and all pipes, pumps, coolant (water) reserves, are then encased in the third containment. The third containment is a hermetically (air tight) sealed, very thick bubble of the strongest steel. The third containment is designed, built and tested for one single purpose: To contain, indefinitely, a complete core meltdown. For that purpose, a large and thick concrete basin is cast under the pressure vessel (the second containment), which is filled with graphite, all inside the third containment. This is the so-called “core catcher”. If the core melts and the pressure vessel bursts (and eventually melts), it will catch the molten fuel and everything else. It is built in such a way that the nuclear fuel will be spread out, so it can cool down.
This third containment is then surrounded by the reactor building. The reactor building is an outer shell that is supposed to keep the weather out, but nothing in. (this is the part that was damaged in the explosion, but more to that later).
The uranium fuel generates heat by nuclear fission. Big uranium atoms are split into smaller atoms. That generates heat plus neutrons (one of the particles that forms an atom). When the neutron hits another uranium atom, that splits, generating more neutrons and so on. That is called the nuclear chain reaction.
Now, just packing a lot of fuel rods next to each other would quickly lead to overheating and after about 45 minutes to a melting of the fuel rods. It is worth mentioning at this point that the nuclear fuel in a reactor can *never* cause a nuclear explosion the type of a nuclear bomb. Building a nuclear bomb is actually quite difficult (ask Iran). In Chernobyl, the explosion was caused by excessive pressure buildup, hydrogen explosion and rupture of all containments, propelling molten core material into the environment (a “dirty bomb”). Why that did not and will not happen in Japan, further below.
In order to control the nuclear chain reaction, the reactor operators use so-called “moderator rods”. The moderator rods absorb the neutrons and kill the chain reaction instantaneously. A nuclear reactor is built in such a way, that when operating normally, you take out all the moderator rods. The coolant water then takes away the heat (and converts it into steam and electricity) at the same rate as the core produces it. And you have a lot of leeway around the standard operating point of 250°C.
The challenge is that after inserting the rods and stopping the chain reaction, the core still keeps producing heat. The uranium “stopped” the chain reaction. But a number of intermediate radioactive elements are created by the uranium during its fission process, most notably Cesium and Iodine isotopes, i.e. radioactive versions of these elements that will eventually split up into smaller atoms and not be radioactive anymore. Those elements keep decaying and producing heat. Because they are not regenerated any longer from the uranium (the uranium stopped decaying after the moderator rods were put in), they get less and less, and so the core cools down over a matter of days, until those intermediate radioactive elements are used up.
There is a second type of radioactive material created, outside the fuel rods. The big main difference up front: Those radioactive materials have a very short half-life, that means that they decay very fast and split into non-radioactive materials. By fast I mean seconds. So if these radioactive materials are released into the environment, yes, radioactivity was released, but no, it is not dangerous, at all. Why? By the time you spelled “R-A-D-I-O-N-U-C-L-I-D-E”, they will be harmless, because they will have split up into non radioactive elements. Those radioactive elements are N-16, the radioactive isotope (or version) of nitrogen (air). The others are noble gases such as Xenon. But where do they come from? When the uranium splits, it generates a neutron (see above). Most of these neutrons will hit other uranium atoms and keep the nuclear chain reaction going. But some will leave the fuel rod and hit the water molecules, or the air that is in the water. Then, a non-radioactive element can “capture” the neutron. It becomes radioactive. As described above, it will quickly (seconds) get rid again of the neutron to return to its former beautiful self.
I will try to summarize the main facts. The earthquake that hit Japan was 7 times more powerful than the worst earthquake the nuclear power plant was built for (the Richter scale works logarithmically; the difference between the 8.2 that the plants were built for and the 8.9 that happened is 7 times, not 0.7). So the first hooray for Japanese engineering, everything held up.
When the earthquake hit with 8.9, the nuclear reactors all went into automatic shutdown. Within seconds after the earthquake started, the moderator rods had been inserted into the core and nuclear chain reaction of the uranium stopped. Now, the cooling system has to carry away the residual heat. The residual heat load is about 3% of the heat load under normal operating conditions.
The earthquake destroyed the external power supply of the nuclear reactor. That is one of the most serious accidents for a nuclear power plant, and accordingly, a “plant black out” receives a lot of attention when designing backup systems. The power is needed to keep the coolant pumps working. Since the power plant had been shut down, it cannot produce any electricity by itself any more.
Things were going well for an hour. One set of multiple sets of emergency Diesel power generators kicked in and provided the electricity that was needed. Then the Tsunami came, much bigger than people had expected when building the power plant (see above, factor 7). The tsunami took out all multiple sets of backup Diesel generators.
When designing a nuclear power plant, engineers follow a philosophy called “Defense of Depth”. That means that you first build everything to withstand the worst catastrophe you can imagine, and then design the plant in such a way that it can still handle one system failure (that you thought could never happen) after the other. A tsunami taking out all backup power in one swift strike is such a scenario. The last line of defense is putting everything into the third containment (see above), that will keep everything, whatever the mess, moderator rods in our out, core molten or not, inside the reactor.
KEREM SHALOM, Israel, July 11 ?? Real life has a way of intruding into the airy absolutes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Each side may deny the other’s historical legitimacy, or plot the other’s demise, but somehow, the gritty business of coexistence marches on.
Skip to next paragraph
Enlarge This Image
The New York Times
For the past month, since the Islamic militants of Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, Israel has kept the main commercial crossing point at Karni shuttered, squeezing the life out of the limp Gazan economy. Israel bans contact with Hamas, and Hamas seeks Israel’s destruction, making border crossing etiquette more precarious than elsewhere.
Yet at this small crossing near the Egyptian border on Wednesday, between mortar attacks by Hamas and other militants, about 20 truckloads of milk products, meat, medicines and eggs passed from Israel into Gaza, part of the effort to keep basic commodities reaching the 1.5 million Palestinians of the largely isolated strip. Most of the supplies are not humanitarian relief, but are ordered by Palestinian merchants from Israeli suppliers, relying on contacts built up over years.
The mechanics of the crossover manage to answer Israel’s security needs while avoiding contact with Hamas. At Kerem Shalom, Israeli trucks transfer their goods to what Israeli military officials describe as a “sterile” Palestinian truck. Driven by a carefully vetted Palestinian driver, the truck never leaves the terminal, carrying the goods to the Palestinian side, where they are transferred onto ordinary Palestinian trucks that drive into Gaza.
The hardier goods, which make up the bulk of the supplies, go through another crossing, at Sufa, to the north. About 100 Israeli trucks a day come from Israel, swirling up clouds of dust before dumping thousands of tons of dry products, bales of straw and crates of fruit on “the platform,” a fenced-in patch of baked earth. At 3 p.m. the Israeli suppliers leave. Like drug dealers picking up a “drop,” the Gaza merchants send in trucks from a gate on the other side and take the products away.
Other products make their way into Gaza with virtually no human interaction. At the fuel depot at Nahal Oz, Israeli tankers pour diesel, gasoline and cooking gas into Gaza through pipes that run beneath the border. And even at Karni, the main crossing that closed for normal operations on June 12, the Israelis have adapted a 650-foot-long conveyor belt, which was previously used for gravel, to send in grain.
“It is better all around from a security point of view that commodities go in,” said Maj. Peter Lerner of the Coordination and Liaison Administration, the Israeli military agency that deals with the civilian aspects of the Gaza border. “More despair doesn’t serve anyone.”
Israeli officials cite security reasons for having shut Karni, the only crossing equipped to send containers into Gaza, or to handle exports out of the strip. “Karni was based on the concept of two sides operating together,” said Col. Nir Press, the head of the coordination agency.
Colonel Press noted that in April 2006, a vehicle loaded with half a ton of explosives got through three of four checkpoints on the Palestinian side of Karni, and was stopped at the last security position by members of the American-backed Presidential Guard, loyal to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.
But the Presidential Guard is no longer there, having been routed, along with all other Fatah forces in Gaza, by Hamas.
Instead, the military wing of Hamas and other Palestinian factions have been firing mortar shells at Kerem Shalom. On Tuesday, 10 of them landed in and around the terminal as two trucks of milk were passing. The crossing was closed for the rest of the day. [Another barrage of mortar shells hit areas around Kerem Shalom on Thursday.]
Hamas suspects that Israel wants to use Kerem Shalom to replace the Rafah crossing on the Egypt-Gaza border, which has been closed since June 9. The Palestinians had symbolic control at Rafah. At Kerem Shalom, Israel can better supervise who ?? and what ?? is going in and out of the strip.
“Kerem Shalom is a military post, a place from which Israeli tanks begin their incursions into Gaza,” said Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, justifying the mortar attacks. “How can we consider it a safe and legitimate crossing to replace Rafah?”
But when it comes to food, rather than principle, Hamas is proving itself pragmatic as well. On Sunday, Palestinian merchants, trying to press Israel to reopen Karni, told the Israelis that Hamas had barred the import of Israeli fruit. But by Wednesday, the Israeli fruit was ordered again. “Hamas does not want to lose the private sector,” a Gaza businessman explained.
Tellingly, the exposed Sufa crossing, through which most of the food comes, has not been attacked with mortars so far. Without Karni, however, and with the smaller crossings operating on a one-way basis, Gaza can barely subsist. With hardly any raw materials going in, and no products from Gazan farms, greenhouses and factories so far allowed out, Gaza’s tiny industrial base is on the verge of collapse.
Hamas officials say they want to start negotiations with Israel about reopening the formal crossings. Major Lerner said that Hamas had “a few things to do” first, including recognizing Israel’s right to exist and freeing Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured and taken to Gaza in a raid more than a year ago.
But the ultimate test of pragmatism may come in September when the Hebrew calendar enters what is known in Jewish law as a “shmita” year. Then the fields of Israel are supposed to lie fallow, and observant Jews seek agricultural products grown elsewhere. Before the Hamas takeover, Israel’s rabbis had reached agreements with Palestinians to import vegetables from Gaza, Major Lerner said. Given the needs of both sides, it may still happen.