Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 167, Issue 4–5, pp 575–580 | Cite as

Estimation of Explosion Energy Yield at Chernobyl NPP Accident

  • Sergey A. PakhomovEmail author
  • Yuri V. Dubasov


The value of the 133Xe/133mXe isometric activity ratio for the stationary regime of reactor work is about 35, and that for an instant fission (explosion) is about 11, which allowed estimation of the nuclear component of the instant (explosion) energy release during the NPP accident. Atmospheric xenon samples were taken at the trajectory of accident product transfers (in the Cherepovetz area); these samples were measured by a gamma spectrometer, and the 133Xe/133mXe ratio was determined as an average value of 22.4. For estimations a mathematic model was elaborated considering both the value of instant released energy and the schedule of reactor power change before the accident, as well as different fractionation conditions on the isobaric chain. Comparison of estimated results with the experimental data showed the value of the instant specific energy release in the Chernobyl NPP accident to be 2·105–2·10J/Wt or 6·1014–6·1015 J (100–1,000 kt). This result is matched up to a total reactor power of 3,200 MWt. However this estimate is not comparable with the actual explosion scale estimated as 10t TNT. This suggests a local character of the instant nuclear energy release and makes it possible to estimate the mass of fuel involved in this explosion process to be from 0.01 to 0.1% of total quantity.


Xenon-133 isomeric ratio Chernobyl estimation energy explosion 


Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


  1. Abagyan, A.A., Adamov, E.O. Burlakov, E.V. et al. (1996), IAEA-J4-TC972, Vienna, April 1–3, 46–65.Google Scholar
  2. De Geer, L. E. (2007), The Xenon NCC method, FOI-R-2350—SE, October 2007.Google Scholar
  3. England, T. R. and Rider, B. F. (1994), LA-UR-94-3106 (ENDF-349), October, 1994.Google Scholar
  4. JEFF 3.1. Nuclear Dates Library (2008), OECD Nuclear Energy Agency Google Scholar
  5. Pakhomov, S.A., Krivokhvatsty, K.S., and Sokolov, I.A. (1991), Assessment of the prompt energy release by the accident at the reactor of the Chernobyl NPP, based on estimation of the ratio of Activities of Xenon-133 and Xenon-133 m in the Air, Radiokhimiya 33, 6, 125–132 (in Russian).Google Scholar
  6. Strahov, V.N. et al. (1997), Seismic phenomena’s in region of Chernobyl NPP. Geophys. J., (Ukraine) 19, 3.Google Scholar
  7. UNSCEAR Report (1988), Annex D: Exposures from the Chernobyl accident, pp. 5 and 7.Google Scholar
  8. Winkelmann, I. et al. (1987), Radioactivity measurements in the Federal Republic of Germany after the Chernobyl accident, ISH-116.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.V.G. Khlopin Radium InstituteSt.-PetersburgRussia

Personalised recommendations