[ RadSafe ] Zirconium Cladding of Fuel Rods - Reaction With Water

Roger Helbig rhelbig at sfo.com
Sat Mar 12 19:33:45 CST 2011

The NEI advised that the Hydrogen gas that is the probable cause of the
explosion at Fukushima #1 Reactor was generated when the Zirconium cladding
of the fuel rod was exposed - how did this exposure generate the Hydrogen

"It appears that as the level of coolant in the reactor vessel lowered, a
portion of the top of the uranium fuel rods was exposed. This may have
caused zirconium cladding of the fuel rods to react with water to create
hydrogen. This hydrogen was vented, then somehow ignited, causing the

Web Elements says that Zirconium does not react with water under normal

Reaction of zirconium with water

"Zirconium does not react with water under normal conditions."


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