Float Switch Heroes: Preventing Nuclear Meltdown
The tsunami that hit the shores of Japan last year was a tragic event, and that tragedy was compounded by the damage it caused to the now-infamous Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. One of the factors that complicated recovery efforts was an inability to measure the level of water being used as coolant in the reactor’s spent fuel pool. Not only were the installed liquid level sensors malfunctioning because of damage from the earthquake and tsunami, but replacement gauges failed soon after being installed because of an inability to resist the incredible heat.
As a result of these systematic failures, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission established new regulations mandating reliable spent fuel pool instrumentation, and the level sensor industry rose to the challenge. New monitoring systems are waterproof and resistant to falling debris in addition to the essential thermal dispersion properties necessary for any equipment exposed to the pressures of a nuclear environment.
The technology involved in producing these liquid level sensors is far beyond the kind you’d use for standard industrial flow instrumentation, but technologically advanced though they are, they’re still Float Switch Heroes through and through.