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 Post subject: Tsunami Hardening
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:14 am 
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If you go looking for ideas about Tsunami Hardening, you better be google-crazy, dare have some good ones of your own, and even take a hint from some really, really OLD GEEZERS.




THIRSTY SUCKERS, AIN’T THEY

One of the disconcerting realizations after the 14:46 hrs-onward Friday 3/11/2011 tsunami ravaged the Japanese Sendai coastlands, and put its people under a continuing nuclear threat, is the simple reason why these power plants lost their cooling system: they were old 1970’s designs. New, so called ‘passive cooling’ methods have been developed for some time, but upgrading/replacing nuclear reactors is expensive, so many nuclear nations feeling the pain of economic crisis, have saved precious yen/euros/dollars by operating those older models for as long as possible.




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Japanese Passive Cooling design showing a system of reservoirs suspended directly over the reactor, allowing water cooling by gravity alone.




I’m no nuclear physicist, so I look at a nuke power plant like kinda a giant cooker, and you bet my 1.2 liter watercooker used for tea and coffee, if turned on without water, gets too hot, generating stink and soot and steam before quickly shutting off, so seeing all that steam/smoke/fire bursting off Fukushima made perfect sense to me. Reactor rods continually generate immense heat from nuclear fission, endlessly boiling water into steam, so a plentiful water supply is always essential to carry heat energy away (even after an emergency shut-down). The Fukushima plants used pumps to ensure water kept moving to the fuel rods, and we now know the tsunami hit so hard it damaged/disabled them all. The new generation reactors’ water supply will come from huge reservoirs suspended directly over the reactor, allowing water cooling by gravity alone. If calamity strikes, initiating an automatic shut down, no pumps are involved, only gravity allowing the suspended water to move down into the reactor, no human intervention needed for about three days.



LET’S PUT ON SOME ROLLERSKATES




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Spherical Sliding Bearings are the business end of movable foundations: instead of fixing buildings to the ground, they allow a building to react to quake jolts by freely moving vertically and horizontally.




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Surviving a major quake, allowing whole buildings, individual floors and rooms to move sideways, up and down, twist and flex, means you have to use continuous steel joints, bars designed to bend (not crumble) everywhere.




An earthquake hits buildings like one or more powerful jolts, some vertical, some sideways, as if there’s an enraged giant stomping around, kicking/pushing against the walls and on the roof erratically. Masonry and building supports may crumble, start breaking and leaning away from the foundations, causing the building to topple and collapse. There’s mature research into ‘earthquake-resistant’ houses, buildings and engineered structures like nuclear plants, and for obvious reasons Japan and California have become leaders in this field. I only give two well-known examples. To compensate for all the SHA-HA-HA-HA-AH-KING, up/down/twisting, threatening to pretty damn quick reduce structures to mounds of rubble, scientists have developed movable foundations. Really much like placing a building on roller skates. So called Spherical Sliding Bearings are the business end of Earthquake Proof foundations: instead of fixing buildings to the ground, they allow a building to react to quake jolts by freely moving vertically and horizontally. Secondly, a vital function of a building/house/power plant is maintaining space in it, it’s like a huge box, consisting of many interconnected smaller boxes, all of which serve to make room for the people living/working, and the machines operating there. The Fukushima plant was in a world of hurt, with folks killed and getting sick, its core reactor walls breached and leaking terrifying radiation, and essential pumps damaged, because the March 11 quake and megawave carried a crushing force many times that of an atomic bomb. Its structure provided inadequate protection for the cooling pumps, reactor and workers inside. As Japanese builders and engineers start planning to rebuild their communities and industry, nuclear plants included, the mindboggling challenge is how far to take the ductile (=flexible) reinforcement of buildings. Surviving a major quake, allowing whole buildings, individual floors and rooms to move sideways, up and down, twist and flex, means you have to use continuous steel joints, bars designed to bend (not crumble) everywhere, so the larger box, containing all those smaller boxes, only shakes, vibrates, swings and harmonizes with a big quake. Yet rooms and people and equipment inside remain safe within their space.
Source


WAY OF THE KISSAKI

In Honolulu engineers have experimented with designs that include a 'sacrificial first floor', on which water will run right through it without compromising the building's structural integrity. It’s an idea circulating among the tiny minority of scientists specializing in tsunami hardening.
Source

Regardless of how you utilize that first floor, or leave it an open space, designing room under a building for a raging tsunami to pass freely comes down to a structure mounted on pillars. The somewhat disconcerting gamble when you do that, concerns how high you model the tsunami wave destined to hit you. Go for 10 meter height pillars (=up to 10 m. high wave), and a 20 meter specimen will have the building’s occupants most likely buried/dead in a heap of wet rubble. Giant tsunamis get born from seaquakes giving off jolts as powerful as thousands of Nagasaki bombs. Tsunamis do not stop, but break or pass over any solid barrier!

Remember I said I’m no nuclear physicist? Well, I’m not an engineer either! So some of my proposals have to be basic and simple enough for me to grasp, and I fear a few of them will make real experts smile on me with pity. Back to exquisite Japanese culture:




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A Master of Iaido, or ‘sword fast drawing’ makes a test cut with his katana, favoring the length near its tip, called the Kissaki.




I doubt if ever a better sword was made than the traditional Japanese longsword, or ‘katana’. Lovingly crafted by generational master smiths, it derived its strength from using the best steel, then forging by endlessly hammering out, folding and refolding the blade. Katanas have a more flexible core, yet with an edge hardened to extremes. As a weapon of battle, it was used to simultaneously hack and cut into enemy samurai, its masters favoring the length of blade near its tip, called ‘kissaki’.




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Close up of the kissaki from a superb Hizen Tadakuni longsword.




Mulling over a ‘sacrificial’ 1st floor, or open space underneath buildings, meant to allow a tsunami wave free passage, I tend to worry about the impact on the pillars. Tsunamis are charged with the unstoppable long-wave force of a great earthquake, its water filled with debris, soil and parts of demolished cars/trucks and machinery. I fear round pillars simply would get ripped away, bringing the building down, and carried along with the surge. Instead I propose using relatively flattened pillars, shaped like standing blades, which can be rotated towards an incoming tsunami. The leading edge should be extremely sharp and hardened, reducing the pillars’ drag on the powerful wave to a minimum, while deflecting its momentum as much as possible. Like ancient Japanese swordsmen and women did not kill by blunt force, but by sweeping a katana’s leading edge, the Kissaki at the enemy, dividing a body in two halves, Giant Tsunamis may be defeated by letting them pass virtually unopposed through and past buildings.

We aren’t done yet. Remember the height of the pillars, GAMBLING that the future tsunamiwave heading your way will be shorter? Gambles, or predictions like these are done for economic reasons. Housing must stay affordable, and nuclear energy must be relatively cheap. Japanese plants were located near the sea, and kept operational with outdated 1970s safety features, precisely for that reason, GAMBLING that no (rare) great tsunami would strike before they were replaced by a safer generation of power plants. The Tokyo Electric Power Company lost this gamble, to the effect of (est.) over 20.000 deaths and $235 billion. On second thought, maybe it’s worth investing in tsunami hardening after all? If we decide to splurge we could go well beyond moving foundations, cutting edge pillars, and steel reinforced ‘ductile’ structures. Since nature puts no economic upper limits to the power of quakes or the height of resulting waves, why not harden the entire building, nuclear plant or even CITY to withstand mega-tsunamis towering hundreds of meters high!! Applying all of the technologies shown above, including cutting and deflecting wave power ‘kissaki’-style, I imagine taking a hint from ancient architecture, or really, really OLD geezers like the Egyptian pharaohs. Would it make sense to create a city shaped like the pyramids, structurally flexible to resist earthquakes, its four sharp edges super-hardened to cut the greatest tsunami in two deflected halves? Not fixed down, this pyramid city, would be kinda ‘rollerskating’ on a base of Spherical Sliding Bearings, able to turn into approaching tsunamis and freely be displaced by the waves’ impact.

Expensive stuff, yes. Some project this ambitious could for Japanese power plants mean the true cost of nuclear energy, while (preferably) keeping Japan. And hardening entire cities against tsunamis/mega disasters could be the way for you and me, all our children, to survive on Earth.


orangekea




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Would it make sense to create a city shaped like the pyramids, structurally flexible to resist earthquakes, its four sharp edges super-hardened to cut the greatest tsunami in two deflected halves? Credit: artwork by Akiane.




The 'old GEEZERS' or Gizah shown over Opening Post of course refers to the Pyramids of Gizah, Egypt: an artist's view of how they may have looked when brandnew.




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Gizah as it looks from the air today.


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