I am quite sure that the 2011 earthquake and tsunami double whammy that struck Japan still remains fresh in the minds of many, especially when the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was at the heart of the disaster, resulting in contamination that has yet to fully run its course. The after effects of the disasters, including the lack of cooling for the reactor cores in particular, is a major contributor to the environment’s groaning all around. Is there a safer way to house a nuclear plant? MIT professors Jacopo Buongiorno, Michael Golay, and Neil Todreas, working alongside others from MIT, the University of Wisconsin, and Chicago Bridge and Iron, a major nuclear plant and offshore platform construction company, are exploring the possibility of designing a nuclear plant that is built on floating platforms.
Such an industrial design is modeled after the ones used for offshore oil drilling, and in all probability, it could very well help prevent such catastrophic consequences down the road should a similar scenario strike. These floating plants would be able to be cooled automatically thanks to the surrounding seawater in a worst-case scenario, which would help stop any of the fuel rods from melting, and in turn prevent the escape of radioactive material.
Of course, as with any best laid plans, there is always the possibility of something going wrong. This could lead to a major worldwide disaster as radioactive material leaks out right smack in the middle of the sea, affecting marine life worldwide. I suppose it will need to be located far enough offshore so that it can ride out a tsunami, but then it would mean that working there is going to be a bore in the long run. [Press Release]