Boric Acid is an element that has made its way into the limelight this weekend.
Image kindly reproduced according to the licence at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Boric-acid-2D.png
Image kindly reporduced according to the licence at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Boric-acid-3D-vdW.png
The people of Japan have been hit by a huge natural disaster. First the earthquake, then the devastating tsunami that followed.
However, a third disaster is facing the country and this time it is man made. At the time of writing, there have been two explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Where does boric acid come into this?
Well, boric acid is very effective at absorbing neutrons. This allows the nuclear reactions to be slowed down, meaning less heat is generated.
The problem in Japan seems to be that a valve is stuck and that the (sea)water pressure is falling.