“How the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Created Opportunities for the Development of Materials for Nuclear Power”
Commercial nuclear power has been used around the globe since the late 1950s. Nuclear power is classified as clean energy together with wind, solar and hydroelectric power, since it does not raise the carbon footprint. The tsunami induced station blackout accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power stations in March 2011 was an unfortunate event. However, it mobilized the worldwide nuclear community to embark on design, development, and deployment of new nuclear materials, both for light water reactors and for advanced design reactors that enable safer and higher performance nuclear energy systems. This facilitated a much-needed change in the nuclear industry, which has been using a dozen pre-1970s materials for more than six decades. The community, leveraging new computational and experimental materials science tools, has demonstrated a significant reduction in the timeline necessary for introduction of new high-performance materials in nuclear energy systems.