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Estimation of Explosion Energy Yield at Chernobyl NPP Accident


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.

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Correspondence to Sergey A. Pakhomov.

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Pakhomov, S.A., Dubasov, Y.V. Estimation of Explosion Energy Yield at Chernobyl NPP Accident. Pure Appl. Geophys. 167, 575–580 (2010).

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  • Xenon-133
  • isomeric ratio
  • Chernobyl
  • estimation
  • energy
  • explosion