We study the mechanisms of nuclear power plant deterioration to establish their technical countermeasures and safety evaluation criteria.
Our research is guided by these three pillars: "integrity," "durability," and "safety."
It is not an exaggeration to say that nuclear energy which converts mass to energy may be the most appealing technology among the sciences and technologies that humankind has achieved so far. On the other hand, as the process of using nuclear energy is accompanied by hazards such as radioactive substances, it is also a technology that must be handled with highest safety.
Moreover, ever since the Tokyo Electric Power Company Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster brought about by the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake of March 11th, 2011, the importance of nuclear power plants' safe operations is increasing, but there is also an urgent need for research and technological development in the decommission of nuclear power plant reactors.
With the aim of achieving safer and more reliable power plant operations, we have taken up three important research themes at the Watanabe Laboratory, namely: predicting damage mechanisms during the operation of equipment and structures for integrity, developing countermeasures against deterioration for durability, and improving maintenance technologies for safety. In addition, as a member of the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning technical committee, this laboratory has been involved in the technological development of decommissioning nuclear power plant reactors ever since the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake. Especially with regards to decommissioning nuclear reactors, this is a technical challenge that humankind has never experienced before and it is a crucial issue that must be overcome.
Whether we will increase the use nuclear energy or gradually reduce it, technological research must continue to guarantee safety. It is a long journey of solving issues step-by-step over the long-term; the kind of prolonged research looking 50 years, 100 years ahead.