The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

July 30 Energy News


Science and Technology:

¶ Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will lead a new $9 million project to address technical barriers to commercializing enhanced geothermal systems. The clean energy technology has a potential to power 100 million American homes. The effort is to develop field experiments to understand and model rock fractures. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

Testing rock samples (Credit: Marilyn Chung | Berkeley Lab)

¶ Levels of some forms of particulate air pollution present in car cabins while driving may be twice previous estimates, according to a study performed as part of the Atlanta Commuter Exposures Study. The air quality study was based on actual readings in cabins of operating cars, instead of on roadsides as earlier studies had done. [CleanTechnica]

¶ According to a study from Columbia University, the high temperatures we can expect in many parts of the world over the coming decades as a result of…

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Are We Doomed or Can We Survive the Coming Crash?

GarryRogers Nature Conservation

GR: I read an interesting article by Richard Heinberg published on the Post Carbon Institute website on Thursday. The article offers two responses to the coming crash that improve our chances for surviving The solutions are quite clearly presented and I think you will agree with me that they make sense.

The crash will occur because our energy-dependent industrialized societies cannot sustain their current level of energy consumption. As Heinberg points out, it is possible to live a good life on a smaller energy budget. And this means that our civilization can survive a major reset without total failure. My only quibble with the article is that Heinberg seems to assume that carbon emissions have begun to fall. We just learned that this isn’t true. This is a problem we need to deal with now.

Heinberg explains that the reason the coming crash threatens our survival is that…

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July 29 Energy News



¶ “Electric trucks and vans cut pollution faster than cars” • The clock may be ticking for petrol and diesel-powered cars, but it’s vans, trucks and buses that are driving the electric vehicle revolution on the world’s roads. The larger vehicles are far bigger polluters than cars, and the need to switch the fleets over to electric power is greater. [BBC News]

Electric garbage truck in Sacramento (Electrek image)

¶ “Al Gore Returns with an Ever-More Inconvenient Truth” • An Inconvenient Truth was released in 2006. Since then more polar ice has melted, and global temperature and carbon dioxide levels have climbed. Hurricanes are growing stronger, droughts more intense and flooding more extensive. And Al Gore has an urgent, but hopeful, message. [Scientific American]

Science and Technology:

¶ The western US is ablaze as the wildfire season has gotten off to an intense start. More than…

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Fukushima officials visit USA to learn about testing of filters used to contain radioactive materials 6 years on!


STARKVILLE, Miss.— Officials and engineers tasked with preventing the release of radioactive material during debris removal from the Fukushima nuclear site in Japan are visiting Mississippi State University this week to learn about the university’s expertise in evaluating components of radioactive containment systems.

MSU’s Institute for Clean Energy Technology is the international leader in evaluating the performance of high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration systems used in nuclear power plants. ICET Director Charles Waggoner said HEPA filters, which are used in nuclear power plants’ containment ventilation systems, prevent the release of air with radioactive material into the atmosphere.

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was damaged in March 2011 by a tsunami that followed an earthquake. The team of engineers visiting ICET is responsible for designing the containment ventilation systems for the damaged reactors before the containment vessels can be breached to begin debris removal.

“Much of the world’s population is aware of what happened at Fukushima. Of the four reactors, three suffered a core meltdown,” Waggoner said. “They are at the point of trying to determine how to breach the containment vessel in order to start to retrieve the radioactive debris from the core melting down. That material will be highly radioactive and the process that will be used will also produce aerosols. The way you remove radioactive aerosols from an airstream is to, among other things, use HEPA filters at the end of the treatment train. They’re here because of our ability to evaluate the performance capabilities of HEPA filters under very adverse conditions.”

The six visitors from Japan each represent one of the organizations collaborating on the design of processes and infrastructure to remove materials from the damaged reactors. The group is led by Osamu Seki of the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning.

“It is indispensable to use the HEPA filters because from now on they will help get rid of the debris from the failed nuclear plant,” Seki said. “It is very important to ventilate the air, which is why the HEPA filters are indispensable to this whole process. We want to learn more about the knowledge and expertise the MSU researchers have accumulated. We also want to build a continuous relationship so we can learn more and help solve our problems.”

ICET, a unit of MSU’s Bagley College of Engineering and a part of MSU’s Energy Institute, has been working with the U.S. Department of Energy for almost 20 years to develop the capability of testing filters under worst-case scenario conditions. Jaime Rickert, ICET’s research program manager and quality assurance manager, implemented a nuclear quality assurance program at ICET that meets Department of Energy standards. Data gathered by ICET researchers is used by the Department of Energy to determine what, if any, changes need to be made to filters at nuclear facilities.

“We provide testing data to the Department of Energy that meets their most stringent quality assurance standards, so they can then go to nuclear facilities using these filters and say, ‘yes, these filters are good for your facility,’ or, ‘we may need to adjust the conditions they’re being used in,’” Rickert said. “ICET’s nuclear quality assurance program, which has been audited and approved by the Department of Energy, ensures that they have the data to support any changes that need to be made.”

The visiting officials from Japan also will visit the Hanford Site in Washington State to discuss design considerations and the use of HEPA filters in the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant.
For more on MSU’s Institute for Clean Energy Technology, visit

Information provided by Mississippi State University.

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