• Updated : 2019.3.18 월 13:58
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Nuclear Energy Based on Mutual Agreements of the Community원자력발전: 지속 혹은 폐지?
주경광 물리학과 교수  |  tribune1968@cnumedia.com
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승인 2013.10.04  20:09:44
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Wolsung Newclear Power Plant in Gyeongsangbukdo

 
 
 
There is no perfect energy source in the world. Each one has its own pros and cons involved. Currently nuclear energy is one of hot issues in our country. Nuclear power is widely considered as a somewhat dangerous and problematic, but manageable source of generating electricity for the time being. Proponents advocate that nuclear power is an economical, clean form of energy and needs relatively low operating costs. Various controlled technologies are well developed and ready for market. They claim that through an adequate waste recycling and reprocessing, existing and future nuclear waste can be also reduced successfully. However, critics point out that it has a high construction costs, known or unknown risks. Uranium is just one of finite natural resources like other sources such as coal, natural gas, petroleum, etc. Furthermore, we need to deal with nuclear waste that last very long time. Nonetheless, compared to other fuels large power-generating capacity of nuclear reactors to meet industrial and city’s necessities must be attractive. In any case, no one can deny that somewhat expensive solutions are necessary to control, and shield both human beings and the environment from radiation safely.
Currently I am working in the area of experimental high energy physics, especially neutrino (meaning “little neutral one” in Italian). So far Nobel Prize was given three times to neutrino sector. Neutrino is one of elementary particles composes the universe. Three types of neutrinos exist and they are mixing among them. Namely as time passes one type of neutrino can change to another type by way of the wave-like properties of the particle. They are invisible, massless and harmless particles with no electric charge. They are almost traveling at the speed of light and even penetrating the earth. Neutrinos were suggested to exist by Wolfgang Pauli in the early 1930’s. They were firstly detected twenty-five years later by using a nuclear reactor. Because neutrinos barely interact with other matter, they are very difficult to detect. Furthermore, the neutrino mass has not been measured yet, but neutrino oscillation implies that neutrinos have a non-zero mass. During the nuclear fission production via beta-decay, a trillion-times-billion neutrinos every second are emitted. There are 4 nuclear reactor sites in Korean peninsula. In 2006, the RENO (Reactor Experiment of Neutrino Oscillation) collaboration was established to detect neutrinos from Yonggwang (new name: Hanbit) 6 nuclear reactors with 16.5 Giga-watt of full thermal power. Currently, about 40 physicists from 12 domestic universities are working together at RENO. The underground laboratories are constructed inside two horizontal tunnels, 100m and 300m long near the Hanbit reactor site. Neutrinos are detected by two identical detectors located 294m apart at the site. They are 1383m at far site from the Hanbit reactor array center. RENO was the first experiment to take data with both near and far detectors, from August 1, 2011.
My graduate students and myself are most active members in the RENO experiment. Recently we announced the first result of the search for the remaining, most elusive puzzle of the neutrino transformation in high energy physics. Up to now, three countries (France, China, and Korea) intensely compete with each other to measure the one last neutrino mixing parameter. Even though RENO started its project 3 years behind those two countries, we have released ground-breaking results related to neutrino properties measurement.
Due to this astonishing result, RENO is a well-known and has a good reputation from world-wide neutrino community. Now we are planning to become one of world-leading neutrino research centers to do next-generation neutrino experiments. Furthermore, RENO has developed core technologies in the direct measurement of thermal power and produced plutonium amount of reactors without turning the reactors off. Through neutrinos the nuclear fuel core of the power station can be directly seen in real time. This is a completely new way to measure the reactor thermal power and monitor the fuel core remotely. IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) has a big interest in this monitoring system and non-proliferation applications. Korean reactors can be used as an intense neutrino source to study the neutrino properties. In my case, Korean reactors are cost-free, intense, low-energy and well-known neutrino source to give rich programs in researching neutrino properties. Without neutrinos produced from Hanbit reactors, all these remarkable results would have never become a reality. Therefore it is an undeniable fact that I am one of the biggest beneficiaries of using Korean reactors.
Finally, I like to say that it is up to us to decide whether we are in favor of or against nuclear power. The final decision should be made based on mutual agreements of the community. Our ancestors used our territory peacefully and handed on clean nature to us, we too are obligated to pass these on to our descendants.
 
By Joo Kyung-kwang, Associate Professor, Department of Physics
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