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Concept: Sustainable energy


Tritium concentrations in Japanese precipitation samples collected after the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP1) were measured. Values exceeding the pre-accident background were detected at three out of seven localities (Tsukuba, Kashiwa and Hongo) southwest of the FNPP1 at distances varying between 170 and 220km from the source. The highest tritium content was found in the first rainfall in Tsukuba after the accident; however concentrations were 500 times less than the regulatory limit for tritium in drinking water. Tritium concentrations decreased steadily and rapidly with time, becoming indistinguishable from the pre-accident values within five weeks. The atmospheric tritium activities in the vicinity of the FNPP1 during the earliest stage of the accident was estimated to be 1.5×10(3)Bq/m(3), which is potentially capable of producing rainwater exceeding the regulatory limit, but only in the immediate vicinity of the source.

Concepts: Water, Precipitation, Nuclear fission, Nuclear power, Desalination, Sustainable energy, Tritium


The events of March 2011 at the nuclear power complex in Fukushima, Japan, raised questions about the safe operation of nuclear power plants, with early retirement of existing nuclear power plants being debated in the policy arena and considered by regulators. Also, the future of building new nuclear power plants is highly uncertain. Should nuclear power policies become more restrictive, one potential option for climate change mitigation will be less available. However, a systematic analysis of nuclear power policies, including early retirement, has been missing in the climate change mitigation literature. We apply an energy economy model framework to derive scenarios and analyze the interactions and tradeoffs between these two policy fields. Our results indicate that early retirement of nuclear power plants leads to discounted cumulative global GDP losses of 0.07% by 2020. If, in addition, new nuclear investments are excluded, total losses will double. The effect of climate policies imposed by an intertemporal carbon budget on incremental costs of policies restricting nuclear power use is small. However, climate policies have much larger impacts than policies restricting the use of nuclear power. The carbon budget leads to cumulative discounted near term reductions of global GDP of 0.64% until 2020. Intertemporal flexibility of the carbon budget approach enables higher near-term emissions as a result of increased power generation from natural gas to fill the emerging gap in electricity supply, while still remaining within the overall carbon budget. Demand reductions and efficiency improvements are the second major response strategy.

Concepts: Nuclear physics, Nuclear fission, Coal, Nuclear power, Energy development, Electricity generation, Sustainable energy, World energy resources and consumption


Research interest in bimetallic catalysts is mainly due to their tunable chemical/physical properties by a number of parameters like composition and morphostructure. In catalysis, numerous bimetallic catalysts have been shown to exhibit unique properties which are distinct from those of their monometallic counterparts. To meet the growing energy demand while mitigating the environmental concerns, numerous endeavors have been made to seek green and sustainable energy resources, among which hydrogen has been identified as the most promising one with bimetallic catalysts playing important roles. This tutorial review intends to summarize recent progress in bimetallic catalysts for hydrogen production, specifically focusing on that of reforming technologies as well as the relevant processes like water-gas shift (WGS) and CO preferential oxidation (PROX), and emphasizing on the fundamental understanding of the nature of catalytic sites responsible for generating high purity hydrogen and minimizing carbon monoxide formation. Meanwhile, some important synthesis and characterization methods of bimetallic catalysts developed so far are also summarized.

Concepts: Hydrogen, Catalysis, Nitrogen, Haber process, Sustainable energy, Water gas shift reaction, Hydrogen production, Partial oxidation


Japan’s 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant incident required the evacuation of over a million people, creating a large displaced population with potentially increased vulnerability in terms of chronic health conditions. We assessed the long-term impact of evacuation on diabetes, hyperlipidaemia and hypertension.

Concepts: Nuclear physics, Nuclear fission, Coal, Nuclear power, Electricity generation, Sustainable energy


After the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, little information has been available on individual doses from external exposure among residents living in radioactively contaminated areas near the nuclear plant; in the present study we evaluated yearly changes in the doses from external exposure after the accident and the effects of decontamination on external exposure. This study considered all children less than 16 years of age in Soma City, Fukushima who participated in annual voluntary external exposure screening programs during the five years after the accident (n = 5,363). In total, 14,405 screening results were collected. The median participant age was eight years. The geometric mean levels of annual additional doses from external exposure attributable to the Fukushima accident, decreased each year: 0.60 mSv (range: not detectable (ND)-4.29 mSv), 0.37 mSv (range: ND-3.61 mSv), 0.22 mSv (range: ND-1.44 mSv), 0.20 mSv (range: ND-1.87 mSv), and 0.17 mSv (range: ND-0.85 mSv) in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, respectively. The proportion of residents with annual additional doses from external exposure of more than 1 mSv dropped from 15.6% in 2011 to zero in 2015. Doses from external exposure decreased more rapidly than those estimated from only physical decay, even in areas without decontamination (which were halved in 395 days from November 15, 2011), presumably due to the weathering effects. While the ratios of geometric mean doses immediately after decontamination to before were slightly lower than those during the same time in areas without decontamination, annual additional doses reduced by decontamination were small (0.04-0.24 mSv in the year of immediately after decontamination was completed). The results of this study showed that the levels of external exposure among Soma residents less than 16 years of age decreased during the five years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. Decontamination had only limited and temporal effects on reducing individual external doses.

Concepts: Chernobyl disaster, Nuclear fission, Nuclear power, Radioactive contamination, Nuclear safety, Sustainable energy, Three Mile Island accident, Nuclear Regulatory Commission


With a projection of nearly doubling up the world population by 2050, we need wide variety of renewable and clean energy sources to meet the increased energy demand. Solar energy is considered as the leading promising alternate energy source with the pertinent challenge of off sunshine period and uneven worldwide distribution of usable sun light. Although thermoelectricity is considered as a reasonable renewable energy from wasted heat, its mass scale usage is yet to be developed. Here we show, large scale integration of nano-manufactured pellets of thermoelectric nano-materials, embedded into window glasses to generate thermoelectricity using the temperature difference between hot outside and cool inside. For the first time, this work offers an opportunity to potentially generate 304 watts of usable power from 9 m(2) window at a 20°C temperature gradient. If a natural temperature gradient exists, this can serve as a sustainable energy source for green building technology.

Concepts: Energy, Light, Sun, Renewable energy, Nuclear power, Alternative energy, Sustainable energy, World energy resources and consumption


The great east Japan earthquake and subsequent tsunamis caused Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) accident. National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS) developed the external dose estimation system for Fukushima residents. The system is being used in the Fukushima health management survey. The doses can be obtained by superimposing the behavior data of the residents on the dose rate maps. For grasping the doses, 18 evacuation patterns of the residents were assumed by considering the actual evacuation information before using the survey data. The doses of the residents from the deliberate evacuation area were relatively higher than those from the area within 20 km radius. The estimated doses varied from around 1 to 6 mSv for the residents evacuated from the representative places in the deliberate evacuation area. The maximum dose in 18 evacuation patterns was estimated to be 19 mSv.

Concepts: Mathematics, Nuclear physics, Nuclear fission, Japan, Nuclear power, Lists of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents, Electricity generation, Sustainable energy


Following the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, assessment of internal radiation exposure was indispensable to predict radiation-related health threats to residents of neighboring areas. Although many evaluations of internal radiation in residents living north and west of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant are available, there is little information on residents living in areas south of the plant, which were similarly affected by radio-contamination from the disaster. To assess the internal radio-contamination in residents living in affected areas to the south of the plant or who were evacuated into Iwaki city, a whole body counter (WBC) screening program of internal radio-contamination was performed on visitors to the Jyoban hospital in Iwaki city, which experienced less contamination than southern areas adjacent to the nuclear plant. The study included 9,206 volunteer subjects, of whom 6,446 were schoolchildren aged 4-15 years. Measurements began one year after the incident and were carried out over the course of two years. Early in the screening period only two schoolchildren showed Cs-137 levels that were over the detection limit (250 Bq/body), although their Cs-134 levels were below the detection limit (220 Bq/body). Among the 2,760 adults tested, 35 (1.3%) had detectable internal radio-contamination, but only for Cs-137 (range: 250 Bq/body to 859 Bq/body), and not Cs-134. Of these 35 subjects, nearly all (34/35) showed elevated Cs-137 levels only during the first year of the screening. With the exception of potassium 40, no other radionuclides were detected during the screening period. The maximum annual effective dose calculated from the detected Cs-137 levels was 0.029 and 0.028 mSv/year for the schoolchildren and adults, respectively, which is far below the 1 mSv/year limit set by the government of Japan. Although the data for radiation exposure during the most critical first year after the incident are unavailable due to a lack of systemic measurements, the present results suggest that internal radio-contamination levels more than one year after the incident were minimal for residents living south of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, and that the annual additional effective doses derived from internal Cs contamination were negligible. Thus, internal radio-contamination of residents living in southern radio-contaminated areas appears to be generally well controlled.

Concepts: Chernobyl disaster, Nuclear fission, Nuclear power, Nuclear safety, Sustainable energy


We conducted a survey among nurses who were working at the Fukushima Medical University Hospital at the time of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident to clarify the factors associated with their intention to leave their jobs during the radiation emergency. We asked 345 nurses (17 men and 328 women) about their intention to leave their jobs after the accident. We also asked about relevant factors including the participants' demographic factors, living situation, working status, and knowledge of radiation health effects. We found that living with preschoolers (OR = 1.87, 95%CI: 1.02-3.44, p = 0.042), anxiety about life in Fukushima City after the accident (OR = 5.55, 95%CI: 1.18-26.13, p = 0.030), consideration of evacuation from Fukushima after the accident (OR = 2.42, 95%CI: 1.45-4.06, p = 0.001), consideration of the possible radiation health effects in children (OR = 1.90, 95%CI: 1.02-3.44, p = 0.042), and anxiety about relationships with colleagues in the hospital after the accident (OR = 3.23, p = 0.001) were independently associated with the nurses' intention to leave their jobs after the accident. On the other hand, the percentage of nurses with knowledge on radiation health effects was relatively low among those who had the intention to leave the job and among those who did not have the intention to leave the job after the accident, with no significant differences between the two groups. Our results suggest the need for an education program for nurses regarding radiation health effects.

Concepts: Nuclear physics, Chernobyl disaster, Nuclear fission, Coal, Nuclear power, Lists of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents, Electricity generation, Sustainable energy


We summarize the inspections of radiocesium concentration levels in rice produced in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, for 3 years from the nuclear accident in 2011. In 2011, three types of verifications, preliminary survey, main inspection, and emergency survey, revealed that rice with radiocesium concentration levels over 500 Bq/kg (the provisional regulation level until March 2012 in Japan) was identified in the areas north and west of the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The internal exposure of an average adult eating rice grown in the area north of the nuclear plant was estimated as 0.05 mSv/year. In 2012, Fukushima Prefecture authorities decided to investigate the radiocesium concentration levels in all rice using custom-made belt conveyor testers. Notably, rice with radiocesium concentration levels over 100 Bq/kg (the new standard since April 2012 in Japan) were detected in only 71 and 28 bags out of the total 10,338,000 in 2012 and 11,001,000 in 2013, respectively. We considered that there were almost no rice exceeding 100 Bq/kg produced in Fukushima Prefecture after 3 years from the nuclear accident, and the safety of Fukushima’s rice were ensured because of the investigation of all rice.

Concepts: Chernobyl disaster, Nuclear fission, Japan, Nuclear power, Nuclear safety, Sustainable energy, Three Mile Island accident, Nuclear Regulatory Commission