Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nuclear Carnival and News

The founder of the Carnival of Nuclear Energy, Brian Wang, hosts the 58th Carnival of Nuclear Energy at NextBigFuture. Here are excerpts:
1. TVA's basis for building Bellefonte - The New York Times cites critics calling it a "salvage heap," but ignores the utility's success in completion and restart of Browns Ferry in 2007. What gets TVA in the game is that it has something no other nuclear utility planning to build will get for a long time. What it has on its hands is a 1,200 MW reactor pressure vessel. That's right, there's no waiting for years for Japan Steel Works to make one. It's right there in Alabama, right now, which is what gets TVA in the game. The NYT seems to have overlooked that fact.

2. Associated Press nukes the NRC - A national wire story, the first of two, alleges the Nuclear Regulatory Agency has undermined safety at aging reactors. Is it true? A nuclear engineer with impeccable credentials says not so fast. John Bickel, who holds a PhD in nuclear engineering, says, "I had hoped for more insight from a prestigious organization such as AP. Their article entitled: "US nuke regulators weaken safety rules" is pretty sloppy and indicative of the fact AP failed to research much of what they have written about."

3. Rod Adams at Atomic Insights - The battle for the atom is heating up again

The initial conditions of our current fight to defend and expand the safe use of atomic energy are far different from those that faced the people engaged in the earliest battles against a well organized opposition to nuclear technology development. We have a much better chance of success now than we did then – and there are several reasons why that is true.

One condition that is vastly different is the ability of nuclear professionals to have their voices heard. No longer are most people who understand nuclear energy isolated in small communities with few media outlets.

Another thing that is different about the fight over using atomic energy now, compared to the fight that happened in the late 1960s through the 1990s is that the opposition has a much less capable base of leaders.

The groups organized against nuclear energy today are no longer led by world renowned scientists, though they do have some media celebrities with spotty professional histories and puffed up resumes.

...10. Banri Kaieda, Japan minister for economy, trade and industry, has now said that for nuclear to remain one of Japan's key energy sources, "It is indispensible to obtain lessons we should learn from the accident in order to present a general image of nuclear safety measures and to put such measures into practice." He added that it is also important to "clarify the actual situation of the accident" at Tokyo Electric Power Co's (Tepco's) Fukushima Daiichi plant.

A shortage of electricity would be the greatest obstacle to economic recovery in Japan following the huge earthquake and tsunami in March, according to the country's industry minister. He said that this makes local permission for restarting Japan's nuclear power plants essential.

Twenty units, with a combined generating capacity of 17,705 MWe (or 36.2% of total nuclear capacity) were not operating as they had been shut for periodic inspection, while another two units had been shut for unplanned inspections or equipment replacement. It is not yet known when these units will be restarted.

11. If ongoing negotiations with a foreign sponsor are successfully completed then Terrapower, Traveling Wave Reactor will be developed overseas says Roger Reynolds, TerraPower's technical adviser. China, Russia, India and France have talked to TerraPower. TerraPower design employs a high-temperature, liquid metal core cooling technology suited to a breeder reactor with "fast" neutron activity, rather than today's predominant reactors whose water cooling systems slow neutrons. TerraPower wants to partner with countries that are actively pursuing fast, breeder reactor technology.
The game-changing aspect of small modular reactors (SMRs)

Is the technology of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR) the "new fire?" Something of a "rah! rah!" article, but an indication that a groundswell of excitement over the unproven technology being touted by Andrea Rossi and Defkalian may be building.

An important article from this blog you may have overlooked: Can TVA save the US nuclear industry from Obama's Nuclear Regulatory Commission (eg Jazkco)

At the farther limits of physics, scientists are studying the conditions necessary for a "phase change" from ordinary matter to a "quark-gluon plasma" state. There will probably be no immediate energy technology spinoffs from this research. But then, one never knows.

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