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For a safer reactor?

July 8, 2014

Tech minister promotes 'safer' nuclear reactor



Japan's science and technology minister Hakubun Shimomura has inspected a test nuclear reactor that is said to be safer than conventional light-water reactors.

Shimomura visited the experimental high-temperature gas-cooled reactor at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency's key facility in Ibaraki Prefecture, north of Tokyo, on Monday.

The government decided in April as part of its new energy policy to promote research and development of this type of reactor.

High-temperature gas-cooled reactors use helium to cool their core. Their fuel kernels are coated with ceramics, which are highly resistant to heat.

They are said to be have lower chances of meltdowns or hydrogen explosions than light-water reactors, which are cooled with water and use metals to coat nuclear fuel.

After his tour, Shimomura told reporters that his ministry will promote further development of high-temperature gas-cooled reactors.

He said the ministry wants to make effective use of Japan's technology and will provide objective explanations to the public.

Jul. 8, 2014 - Updated 02:57 UTC

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