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What does Vietnam need for its nuclear power program?

July 2, 2014 by

The Hanoitimes – Vietnam’s proposed nuclear power program remains controversial, with a number of issues hotly debated: Does the country really need to build a new 15-20 MW research reactor? Who will be Vietnam’s partners? Which technologies should be used for the reactor and where should it be located?

No need for a high-capacity reactor right now

Vietnam already has a nuclear reactor. The research reactor, in the city of Da Lat,serves some important functions – preparing the labor force for the nuclear power program, carrying out basic research, making radioactive isotopes, , taking neutron pictures, conducting neutron beam research and testing materials.

In terms of training, a high-capacity reactor offers no real advantage over a reactor with low capacity, like Da Lat’s present reactor.

July 3, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How 9/11 Made The Global Helium Shortage Worse – Helium bubble about to burst?

Helium has many uses besides filling children’s birthday balloons–it’s importantly used in MRI machines, wafer manufacturing, and welding. Helium is also used to cool the Large Hadron Collider–120 tons of liquid helium, to be exact–and other particle accelerators that teach us about how the smallest bits of matter behave.

Helium-3, an isotope or form of helium with two protons and one neutron, is especially useful for low-temperature physicists, who use this substance to research  quantum properties, and its study has provided breakthroughs in understanding “hydrodynamics of intricately ordered systems, the microscopic theory of electrons in metals” and more. The price of this isotope remained stable for decades at a price of about $100 per liter, as reported by Nature Physics. But then something happened:

But after 11 September 2001, in the interest of national security, the US government started using helium-3-based neutron detectors (‘radiation portal monitors‘) to uncover any potential bomb-making components entering the country. That increased demand, coupled with a large order from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2008, suddenly revealed that the US Department of Energy was allocating helium-3 faster than it could be produced. In 2008, the demand reached 80,000 litres, becoming unsustainable.

Since then, the U.S. has scaled back the use of the substance in these monitors, but there is not enough of both regular helium and helium-3 to go around. Researchers are adapting by “using cryogen-free technology that (although prone to vibration) is compatible with dilution refrigerators and superconducting magnets,” Nature reported. Helium-3 derives from the decay of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen produced in the production of nuclear weapons–as nuclear weapon production has fallen, so has helium-3 abundance. It can also be found on the moon, so if we ever needed a plentiful supply of helium-3, we could get it there. But that would obviously be quite an undertaking.

The situation is worse today (for both helium and helium-3) than it when it was declared “unsustainable” in 2008, and that price has gone up by a factor of 2.5 each year since then. And demand is increasingly outstripping supply (for example, Cornell scientist Robert Richardson said that helium balloons will one day cost $100). So, physicists will have to start using less, writes Northwestern University William Halperin writes in Nature. That means funding will have to be found for projects to use new methods for keeping stuff cool, or technology to conserve helium and prevent it from evaporating.

The situation may get much worse beginning in 2021, Halperin writes. That year, the U.S. is set to close its strategic reserve of helium, which it draws from to alleviate market pressures.

Here’s an infographic showing the fluctuations in helium demand and price since 1939.

July 3, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

IAEA Supports Medical Isotope Production in Armenia

YEREVAN—The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has indicated its support for the Technetium 99m Medical Isotope Production Project at the newly formed Medical Isotope Production Division of the Yerevan Physics Institute (YerPhI). The research and production program will use an 18 MeV (million electron-volt) proton beam of an IBAC18 cyclotron particle accelerator to be installed at a newly renovated facility of the physics institute by the end of 2014. The Technetium is produced by irradiating Molybdenum with a proton beam from the cyclotron.

Technetium (99mTe) is the most widely used isotope for medical imaging today with over 30 million diagnostic medical imaging scans every year world-wide. When injected into patients it produces radiation similar to x-rays which are used to image internal organs. This isotope has a half-life of 6 hours, meaning that half of the remaining isotope decays every 6 hours. Thus 94% of the Technetium injected into a patient decays within 24 hours resulting in minimal radiation exposure. Exposure is about the same as from an x-ray.

According to the Scientific Center of Radiation Medicine and Burns, Armenian Ministry of Health, the need in Armenia for the isotope 99mTe is 5,000 doses per year. Due to its rapid decay, and due to the fact that currently this isotope must be shipped from abroad, there is in Armenia only enough of this isotope to treat 1,000 patients per year. Thus 80% of Armenian patients have no access to this medical imaging technology. There is, in Armenia, a need for a non-stop supply of the isotope 99mTe.

The goal of the Isotope Production Division of the Yerevan Physics Institute is to develop the technology of direct 99mTe production in order to cover the need of Armenian clinics and their patients. Senior scientists at the Yerevan Physics Institute, together with recent physics and engineering graduates and graduate students are preparing the facilities for the manufacture, purification, and testing of this isotope in a newly equipped laboratory at the institute’s facilities in Yerevan. Special efforts are being implemented to assure quality and safety. This project is one of many bringing the benefits of science to the Armenian public.


July 3, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

This week in nuclear and climate news

Christina Macpherson's websites & blogs

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

Japan. A high proportion of deformities in migratory birds.  Nuclear-news ‘ own co-editor, Sean arclight-SmMcGee, exposes the pro nuclear publicity campaign by Toyota, and Ogilvy and Mather, to discredit the scientific research on this.

Japan’s restart of nuclear power is far from  a done deal, as municipalities object,  and evacuation plans are inadequate. P.M Abe is ignoring public opinion, and stiff opposition to nuclear power.   Meanwhile, Japan’s nuclear utilities are mired in problems. In energy policy, it is apparent that Germany is now  winner, and Japan on a losing trajectory

Germany is achieving record levels of energy from solar and wind power (74% on one day) The State of  Schleswig-Holstein is close to 100% renewable energy, from starting just 8 years ago.

Fukushima  Japan Gov’t-funded Study: Fukushima has released up to 120 Quadrillion becquerels of radioactive cesium into North Pacific Ocean — Does not include amounts that fell on land — Exceeds Chernobyl total, which accounts for releases deposited on land AND ocean. Plutonium has been found in soil around Fukushima, including in a children’s playground.

India, with 4 big projects going, is on the way to a  renewable energy revolution.  India struggles to find a way toinsure nuclear power plants, as France renews its nuclear sales pitch to India. But at home, France adopts a vigourous pro renewable energy policy, and downgrading of nuclear power.

Climate Change. USA  In what might be a very important precedent  A federal judge has blocked a coal project in the wilds of Colorado because federal agencies failed to consider the future global-warming damages from burning fossil fuels.

Renewable Energy  records set in California and Texas 

July 3, 2014 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment