nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Small Modular Nuclear Reactor development hampered in USA

TVA’s plan for small nuclear reactor on Clinch River running into barriers, Knoxville News Sentinel Tyler Whetstone , USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee, 2 May 17, TVA’s plan to put a small modular nuclear reactor on its Clinch River site near Oak Ridge, which has been on the priority list for the energy giant, has experienced setbacks in the last year and is still a long way from getting started, members of TVA’s Regional Energy Resource Council learned Tuesday.

May 3, 2017 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

UK House of Lords Report on Small Modular Nuclear Reactors’ non progress

HOUSE OF LORDS Science and Technology Select Committee 3rd Report of Session 2016–17 HL Paper 160 Nuclear research and technology: Breaking the cycle of indecision  https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201617/ldselect/ldsctech/160/160.pdf
Potential Challenges The ‘first of a kind’ build cost for any commercial SMR would be comparable to that of a conventional large reactor and would therefore need Government support. Cost savings for manufacture will typically only be realised after 10 or more reactors have been built, which is likely to be bigger that the UK market for SMRs. SMRs have the potential to both increase and decrease the proliferation risk depending upon the type of SMR produced.
We are disappointed that the Government launched a competition for SMRs and has not kept to its stated timetable. This has had a negative effect on the nuclear sector in the UK and if the Government does not act soon the necessary high level of industrial interest will not be maintained. It is particularly alarming that the results of Phase One of the competition, which does not involve the selection of an SMR design, have yet to be announced by the Government.

May 3, 2017 Posted by | politics, technology, UK | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors not a good deal for Indonesia

Nuclear Power and Small Modular Reactors in Indonesia: Potential and Challenges, The Nautilus Institute, Bernadette K. Cogswell, Nataliawati Siahaan, Friga Siera R, M. V. Ramana, and Richard Tanter Indonesian Institute for Energy Economics Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability April 2017 

“………CONCLUSION This report has also outlined many challenges that would have to be overcome before any SMRs are constructed in Indonesia, including a lack of support for nuclear power at the highest (and lower) political levels, public opposition to nuclear power, the absence of tested SMR designs, and the higher electricity generation costs associated with SMR technology. There are also legislative regulations that could become obstacles for specific technologies, such as floating power plants, and the model of SMR construction that involve fabrication of the bulk of the reactor in factories

The first factor, the absence of widespread and sustained political support, has been the major roadblock for the establishment of nuclear power in general. The Indonesian nuclear establishment has been trying to set up nuclear power plants since the 1970s but has so far not managed to persuade government leaders. Indeed, in December 2015, then Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said announced publicly that the government had concluded that “this is not the time to build up nuclear power capacity. We still have many alternatives and we do not need to raise any controversies”.155 Although this decision might be revised in the future, it testifies to lack of broad-based political support. Given this context, those advocating constructing SMRs in a country like Indonesia that has no nuclear power capacity face the basic conundrum: building untested nuclear technologies that might lead to higher electricity generation costs is going to be more of a political challenge than constructing nuclear reactor designs that have been operated in other countries.

The higher electricity generation cost associated with SMRs should be seen not just in comparison with the cost of generating electricity with a large NPP but also with a range of alternatives that are available in Indonesia. Of these, the declining cost of solar photovoltaic technology is particularly relevant. Studies testify to the large potential of solar energy in Indonesia and the government has been adopting policies that promise to accelerate the construction of significant amounts of solar capacity.

The smaller power level of SMRs also implies that producing the same amount of electricity using these as opposed to large reactors would require dealing with public resistance at many more sites. Because public opposition has played a major role in stopping construction of nuclear power plants so far, constructing SMRs might be even more of a challenge than large reactors; for SMRs, the potential benefits accruing from electricity generation comes at a higher economic and social cost. As a result, it would seem that the construction of SMRs is unlikely, especially in large enough numbers to make a sizeable contribution to Indonesia’s electricity generation. http://liu.arts.ubc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/IIEE-Nautilus-SMR-Report-Final-For-Publication-April2017.pdf

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Indonesia, technology | Leave a comment

Plutonium in space – the danger in space probes

The final mission for Cassini, Enformable, 26 Apr 17, Karl Grossman Despite protests around the world, the Cassini space probe—containing more deadly plutonium than had ever been used on a space device—was launched 20 years ago. And this past weekend—on Earth Day—the probe and its plutonium were sent crashing into Saturn.

The $3.27 billion mission constituted a huge risk. Cassini with its 72.3 pounds of Plutonium-238 fuel was launched on a Titan IV rocket on October 17, 1997 despite several Titan IV rockets having earlier blown up on launch.

At a demonstration two weeks before in front of the fence surrounding the pad at Cape Canaveral from which Cassini was to be launched, Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York, warned of widespread regional damage if this Titan IV lofting Cassini exploded on launch. Winds could carry the plutonium “into Disney World, University City, into the citrus industry and destroy the economy of central Florida,” he declared………

on an Earth “flyby” by Cassini , done on August 18, 1999, it wouldn’t have been a regional disaster but a global catastrophe if an accident happened.

Cassini didn’t have the propulsion power to get directly from Earth to its final destination of Saturn, so NASA figured on having it hurtle back to Earth in a “sling shot maneuver” or “flyby”—to use Earth’s gravity to increase its velocity so it could reach Saturn. The plutonium was only used to generate electricity—745 watts—to run the probe’s instruments. It had nothing to do with propulsion.

So NASA had Cassini come hurtling back at Earth at 42,300 miles per hour and skim over the Earth’s atmosphere at 727 miles high. If there were a rocket misfire or miscalculation and the probe made what NASA in its “Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini Mission” called an “inadvertent reentry,” it could have fallen into Earth’s atmosphere, disintegrating, and releasing plutonium. Then, said NASA in its statement, “Approximately 7 to 8 billion world population at a time … could receive 99 percent or more of the radiation exposure.”

The worst accident involving space nuclear power occurred in 1964 when a satellite powered by a SNAP-9A plutonium system failed to achieve orbit and fell to Earth, breaking apart and releasing its 2.1 pounds of Plutonium-238 fuel, which dispersed all over the planet. According to the late Dr. John Gofman, professor of medical physics at the University of California at Berkeley, that accident contributed substantially to global lung cancer rates……….

the U.S. Department of Energy working with NASA has started up a new production facility at its Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee to produce Plutonium-238 for space use. Other DOE labs are also to participate.

Says Gagnon of the Maine-based Global Network: “Various DOE labs are rushing back into the plutonium processing business likely to make it possible for the nuclear industry to move their deadly product off-planet in order to ensure that the mining operations envisioned on asteroids, Mars, and the Moon will be fully nuclear-powered. Not only do the DOE labs have a long history of contaminating us on Earth but imagine a series of rocket launches with toxic plutonium on board that blow up from time to time at the Kennedy Space Center. They are playing with fire and the lives of us Earthlings. The space and the nuke guys are in bed together and that is a bad combination—surely terrible news for all of us.”

“The Global Network,” said Gagnon, “remains adamantly opposed to the use of nuclear power in space.” http://enformable.com/2017/04/the-final-mission-for-cassini/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Enformable+%28Enformable%29

April 28, 2017 Posted by | - plutonium, safety, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Japan’s very big problem of nuclear wastes from its failed Tokai Reprocessing Plant

The three-tier disposal scheme for the waste generated by the Tokai Reprocessing Plant is based on radiation level.

Waste with the highest radiation level, which will fill some 30,000 drums, will be buried more than 300 meters underground.

Mid-level waste, which will fill about 24,000 containers, is expected to be buried several dozens of meters underground.

Low-level waste, involving another 81,000 drums, will be buried close to the surface, the JAEA said. In the meantime, the plant’s tainted equipment and facilities will need to be decontaminated and scrapped before being filled with cement and mortar and put in drums for transport to a final disposal site.

The big problem is, there has been little progress in deciding where to bury the drums because they can’t find anyone willing to accept them.

Closure of Tokai Reprocessing Plant to cost an estimated ¥800 billion: JAEA source http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/04/23/national/closure-tokai-reprocessing-plant-cost-estimated-%C2%A5800-billion-jaea-source/#.WP_gPUWGPGg The Japan Atomic Energy Agency has revealed that the scrapping of the Tokai Reprocessing Plant, the nation’s first facility for reusing spent nuclear fuel, will cost an estimated ¥800 billion, an official said.

The state-backed JAEA did not reveal the cost to taxpayers in 2014, when it made the decision to shut down the plant in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, over a 70-year period.

The facility started operation in 1977 as part of Japan’s desire to establish a nuclear fuel cycle, in which all spent fuel is reprocessed to extract its plutonium and uranium to make more fuel. The policy is designed to ensure resource-dependent Japan uses its nuclear fuel as efficiently as possible.

The JAEA decided to scrap the sprawling plant after it became too costly to run under the more stringent safety rules introduced following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis. The facility comprises around 30 buildings and has large areas rife with contamination caused by its task of disassembling spent nuclear fuel.

According to the official, the startling decommissioning estimate is based on an estimate the agency made in 2003. The JAEA is finalizing the assessment and on course to submit it for approval by the Nuclear Regulation Authority as early as June.

The three-tier disposal scheme for the waste generated by the Tokai Reprocessing Plant is based on radiation level.

Waste with the highest radiation level, which will fill some 30,000 drums, will be buried more than 300 meters underground.

Mid-level waste, which will fill about 24,000 containers, is expected to be buried several dozens of meters underground.

Low-level waste, involving another 81,000 drums, will be buried close to the surface, the JAEA said. In the meantime, the plant’s tainted equipment and facilities will need to be decontaminated and scrapped before being filled with cement and mortar and put in drums for transport to a final disposal site.

The big problem is, there has been little progress in deciding where to bury the drums because they can’t find anyone willing to accept them.

Despite the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the government is trying to resume nuclear power generation and continue its pursuit of a nuclear fuel cycle.

This policy, however, has experienced setbacks from the recent decision to decommission the Monju fast-breeder reactor, an experimental facility in Fukui Prefecture that was considered key to the nuclear fuel cycle plan.

And the completion of a new fuel reprocessing plant in the village of Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, has also been largely behind schedule for years.

In the meantime, public concerns about the safety of atomic power remain strong at a time when the government is aiming to make it account for 20 to 22 percent of Japan’s electricity supply by 2030.

The new estimate for decommissioning the Tokai Reprocessing Plant includes ¥330 billion for storing waste underground, ¥166 billion for decontaminating and dismantling the facility, and ¥87 billion for transportation costs.

The JAEA facility is not to be confused with the private uranium-processing facility in Tokai where a fatal criticality accident occurred in 1999.

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Japan, reprocessing, wastes | Leave a comment

Fusion nuclear reactors as a source of electricity? It’s something to be shunned.

These impediments—together with colossal capital outlay and several additional disadvantages shared with fission reactors—will make fusion reactors more demanding to construct and operate, or reach economic practicality, than any other type of electrical energy generator.

The harsh realities of fusion belie the claims of its proponents of “unlimited, clean, safe and cheap energy.” Terrestrial fusion energy is not the ideal energy source extolled by its boosters, but to the contrary: Its something to be shunned.

Fusion reactors: Not what they’re cracked up to be http://thebulletin.org/fusion-reactors-not-what-they%E2%80%99re-cracked-be10699  Daniel Jassby, 19 Apr 17 Daniel Jassby was a principal research physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab until 1999. For 25 years he worked in areas of plasma physics and neutron production related to fusion energy research and development. He holds a PhD in astrophysical sciences from Princeton University.

Fusion reactors have long been touted as the “perfect”energy source. Proponents claim that when useful commercial fusion reactors are developed, they would produce vast amounts of energy with little radioactive waste, forming little or no plutonium byproducts that could be used for nuclear weapons. These pro-fusion advocates also say that fusion reactors would be incapable of generating the dangerous runaway chain reactions that lead to a meltdown—all drawbacks to the current fission schemes in nuclear power plants.

And, a fusion-powered nuclear reactor would have the enormous benefit of producing energy without emitting any carbon to warm up our planet’s atmosphere.

But there is a hitch: While it is, relatively speaking, rather straightforward to split an atom to produce energy (which is what happens in fission), it is a “grand scientific challenge” to fuse two hydrogen nuclei together to create helium isotopes (as occurs in fusion). Our sun constantly does fusion reactions all the time, burning ordinary hydrogen at enormous densities and temperatures. But to replicate that process of fusion here on Earth—where we don’t have the intense pressure created by the gravity of the sun’s core—we would need a temperature of at least 100 million degrees Celsius, or about six times hotter than the sun. In experiments to date the energy input required to produce the temperatures and pressures that enable significant fusion reactions in hydrogen isotopes has far exceeded the fusion energy generated.

But through the use of promising fusion technologies such as magnetic confinement and laser-based inertial confinement, humanity is moving much closer to getting around that problem and achieving that breakthrough moment when the amount of energy coming out of a fusion reactor will sustainably exceed the amount going in, producing net energy. Collaborative, multinational physics project in this area include the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) joint fusion experiment in France which broke ground for its first support structures in 2010, with the first experiments on its fusion machine, or tokamak, expected to begin in 2025.

As we move closer to our goal, however, it is time to ask: Is fusion really a “perfect”energy source? After having worked on nuclear fusion experiments for 25 years at thePrinceton Plasma Physics Lab, I began to look at the fusion enterprise more dispassionately in my retirement. I concluded that a fusion reactor would be far from perfect, and in some ways close to the opposite.

Scaling down the sun.  Continue reading

April 21, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, France, Reference, technology | Leave a comment

Long delay in development of India’s fast breeder nuclear reactor

Fast breeder nuclear reactor delayed by 8 yrs, Deccan Herald, Kalyan Ray, DH News Service, New Delhi, Apr 15 2017,   On record, the target continues to be October 2017  The Centre has set a new target schedule of mid-2018 to commission India’s first gen-next fast breeder nuclear reactor – eight years behind original schedule. Sources in the Department of Atomic Energy told Deccan Herald that the middle of 2018 was being looked at a more realistic target to put the new reactor into operation.

Once functional, the fast breeder reactor would usher in the second stage of India’s three-stage nuclear power programme as envisioned by Homi Bhabha, the father of Indian nuclear programme.

Fast breeder reactors “breed” more fissile material than the fuel they consume. They burn plutonium – generated in Uranium-fueled pressured heavy water reactors and light water reactors – to breed a special type of fissile uranium known as U-233, which is used as fuel.

Anti-nuclear activists, however, are concerned on the FBR reactors for two reasons. No one is sure about its long-term commercial viability and ecological-impact in the absence of similar reactors in other nations. Secondly, it uses liquid sodium, a hazardous material as coolant.

The sodium cooling leads to a temperature of 600 degrees Celsius inside the reactor, because of which there are safety concerns.

“From the day of pouring liquid sodium into the system, we need at least five months for the FBR to generate commercial electricity,” sources said.

As per the original schedule, the project was to be commissioned in September, 2010, which was later rescheduled to September 2014.

The goalpost was against shifted to September 2016 and later on to October 2017….http://www.deccanherald.com/content/606431/fast-breeder-nuclear-reactor-delayed.html

April 19, 2017 Posted by | India, technology | Leave a comment

Problems in Europe with Westinghouse nuclear fuel assemblies

A Bankruptcy That Wrecked Global Prospects Of American Nuclear Energy, Forbes, Kenneth Rapoza , 13 Apr 17  “……….Unlike with fossil fuels, in nuclear, fuel assemblies are a high-tech and R&D-intensive product. These assemblies can make even reactors run more efficiently, sometimes exceeding their original lifespan. But under investment impacted the quality and comparative performance of WEC versus their main rival, Russian owned TVEL, a unit of Rosatom. In some markets fuel rods supplied by Westinghouse have failure rates almost 1.5 times greater than those manufactured by its competitors, according to at least one utility in Finland that has a Russian reactor.

Westinghouse supplies fuel assemblies mainly to Europe where it has always used its mighty lobbying clout in Brussels to prop their market share. Back in 2003, the European Commission adopted directive 2003/54/EC which made it compulsory for EDF, the French energy giant, to buy nuclear fuel from an “alternative vendor”. This completely opened the door to WEC, with wheels already in motion a year earlier.  EDF buys about 15-20% of its fuel from Westinghouse today.

WEC had Washington’s help within companies operating Rosatom reactors, fiercely lobbying for nuclear fuel supply diversification in Eastern Europe. They tried to supply fuel assemblies to Finland and Czech Republic, but both countries eventually chose TVEL. The Czech even had to cancel their contract with Westinghouse amid safety concerns at their Temelin site, despite a large-scale lobbying push which involved letters from the European Commission to utilities encouraging them to switch to WEC. As of now, even after Washington’s cheerleading Toshiba, Westinghouse’s biggest star as far as nuclear fuel assembly diversification goes is Ukraine.

It’s quite understandable that Ukraine, effectively at war with Russia, may be tempted to turn a blind eye to the issues facing Westinghouse. But concerns over incident risks are growing amid reports that plants using WEC’s fuel have had frequent emergency outages. Many claim that corruption and lack of safety culture in Ukraine make it a really dangerous game potentially leading to another Chernobyl, according to a Washington Times columnist with a flare for the dramatic.

Westinghouse told me that their recent contracts with Ukraine to supply Russian built reactors with fuel assemblies was still intact……….

For Westinghouse’s global ambitions, China was the really big picture and Europe was its hub to challenge Russia’s market in the lucrative fuel assembly business. WEC says that the bankruptcy here will not affect their businesses there, but judge Michael Wiles rejected a request by the company to allow for Apollo’s loan to go towards WEC’s European units. Without those loans, the European companies could face their own funding woes now. AxilPartners said that a cash pool the European affiliates normally draws from was halted by the Swedish bank that serves as its monitor. It is unclear who this monitor is, or what that means precisely, Debtwire’s Tracy says. But without that bank, pensions in Europe could become a problem for Westinghouse, as well as tax and payroll issues cropping up in the U.K.

Westinghouse, meanwhile, is hoping for the best. Or as industry cynics would say: Westinghouse is hoping for pixie dust……https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2017/04/13/a-bankruptcy-that-wrecked-global-prospects-of-american-nuclear-energy/#608e8b7e17a1

April 14, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, technology, Ukraine | 2 Comments

Russia’s plans for nuclear waste ships: but where will they dump the radioactive trash?

Breaking the ice with loads of nuclear waste https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/security/2017/04/breaking-ice-loads-nuclear-waste Russia will build special purpose ship for voyages with radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel along the Northern Sea Route. By Thomas Nilsen April 07, 2017 

Construction starts in 2020 of the 140 meters long ice-classed vessel, approved for carrying irradiated nuclear fuel and High-Level radioactive waste, Izvestia reports.

Beneath the deck, it will be space for 40 to 70 special transport containers for spent nuclear fuel and the upper deck has space for containers with radioactive waste. The design, named INF-2, is made by Krylov State Research Centre in St. Petersburg, a design bureau that has Russia’s latest generation of nuclear powered icebreakers, submarines and warships on its list of merits.

In addition to sailing along the north coast of Siberia, the nuclear waste cargo vessel can make voyages up the Siberian Rivers like Ob and Yenisei, where several of Russia’s nuclear facilities are located, like the storage and planned reprocessing plant in Zheleznogorsk (former Krasnoyarsk-26).

Today, all transport of spent nuclear fuel from icebreakers, submarines and nuclear power plants from northwest Russia to the reprocessing plant in Mayak north of Chelyabinsk go by train through the most inhabited areas of Russia.

Where will the vessel sail?

Andrey Zolotkov, a nuclear expert and former head of the environmental group Bellona in Murmansk says the news that such cargo vessel will be built raises many questions.

«When stating that radioactive waste will be transported out of the Arctic and the Far East, where, interestingly will it then be taken?» asks Zolotkov. He does not immediately see an urgent need for transportation of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste, but agrees that transport to locations along the Siberian rivers could be an option.

«But, maybe they link this vessel to the plans for new floating and smaller nuclear power plants in the Arctic.»

Andrey Zolotkov, that earlier worked on board Atomflot’s service vessel «Imandra»  says the icebreaker fleet will need a new service vessel as well in the future.

«Such vessel could very well replace «Imandra» for storage of spent nuclear fuel from icebreakers,» he says.

Floating nuclear power plant

Krylov State Research Centre says on its portal that one of the tasks for such vessel could be to transport the spent nuclear fuel from Bilibino nuclear heat power plant in Pevek on the Chukotka Peninsula. Bilibino is the world’s northernmost nuclear plant and shutdown procedure is likely to start in 2019. As a replacement, Russia’s first floating nuclear power plant, the «Akademik Lomonosov» will be placed in Pevek.

Another task for such new vessel, supposed to be operated in a consortium consisting of Rosatom and the military, could be to transport solid radioactive waste to a future repository. Location of such repository is yet to be decided; one option under consideration and approved by county authorities in Arkhangelsk is is the Arctic archipelago of Novaya Zemlya.

There are today stored tens of thousands of cubic meters of solid radioactive waste both on the Kola Peninsula, in Severodvinsk by the White Sea and at naval yards in the Far East.

On the Kola Peninsula, the Italian built vessel «Rossita» is later this year ready to start transport of containers with spent nuclear fuel out of the Andreeva Bay. The containers will be taken to Atomflot in Murmansk where they will be reloaded to railwagons for transport further to Mayak. «Rossita» is not suitable for voyages along the Northern Sea Route or into the river systems in Siberia.

Earlier, the Russian Northern Fleet had its own transport and storage vessels of the Malina-class (Project 2020) for spent nuclear fuel from submarines.

April 12, 2017 Posted by | Russia, technology | Leave a comment

French utility Engie backs out of UK Moorside nuclear project

UK’s Moorside nuclear project in turmoil as Toshiba’s French partner backs out, Guardian, 5 Apr 17, 
Troubled tech giant forced to take sole ownership of NuGen after Engie sells stake, adding to uncertainty over plan for three reactors 
Toshiba has been forced to buy out the French utility Engie from a project to build three nuclear reactors in Moorside, northwest England, further straining the Japanese company’s finances and adding to uncertainty over the project.

Engie said on Tuesday it was exercising its right to sell its 40% stake in the NuGen venture to Toshiba following the bankruptcy of the Japanese firm’s Westinghouse nuclear power plant business. Toshiba will pay 15.3 billion yen ($138.5m) for the stake.

Toshiba is now the sole owner of NuGen, but has said it is looking for more investors to join the $15-20bn project or to sell out altogether…..

EDF’s £18bn Hinkley Point C nuclear project in Somerset got the final go-ahead in 2016 after several years of delay, but only after securing backing from the French government.

 The British government has been working to attract new investors to NuGen, and some analysts said Engie’s departure might make it easier for Toshiba to sell NuGen as a whole.

Korea Electric Power Corp (Kepco) is a potential investor: its chief executive said last month it was in talks to buy a stake in NuGen.

Britain’s energy minister is currently in South Korea for talks on future collaboration between the two countries, including nuclear projects, a government spokeswoman said…….https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/apr/04/toshiba-moorside-nuclear-nugen-engie-reactor

April 7, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, technology, UK | Leave a comment

Brexit brings bad news for world’s biggest active nuclear fusion project

Brexit brings nuclear (con)fusion http://www.politico.eu/article/world-leading-nuclear-fusion-project-threatened-by-brexit/ The world’s biggest active nuclear fusion project could lose EU funding just as it gears up for its grand finale. By SARA STEFANINI , 4/6/17, CULHAM, England — Just as European scientists here gear up to put decades of experiments to the test and try to bottle up the nuclear reaction that powers every star in the universe, Brexit is throwing the future of their work into doubt.

The 34-year-old Joint European Torus (JET), which sits in the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy’s retro 1960s laboratory, is a crucial part of an international research push on nuclear fusion that hopes to, one day, fuel homes and cities with energy free of greenhouse gases and waste.

Despite its location in the Oxfordshire meadows, JET is an EU venture through and through. The hundreds of scientists, engineers and technicians who visit the center to conduct experiments, as well as the parts used to assemble the world’s biggest nuclear fusion reactor so far, come from all around the Union.

Crucially, so does the €283 million that underpins the JET program for the five years through 2018. New European Commission funding, at least for 2019 and 2020, looked pretty certain — until Britain’s referendum, and London’s announcement in January that it would leave the European atomic energy community, Euratom, once the U.K. leaves the block in two years.

Talks to renew JET’s funding are now on hold, according to Culham center officials. What happens after 2018 depends largely on the outcome of Brexit negotiations.

The uncertainty could delay or even derail the JET program’s grand finale: Heating two hydrogen isotopes — heavy hydrogen (deuterium), which comes from water, and super-heavy hydrogen (tritium), from lithium — to temperatures hotter than the center of the sun.

April 7, 2017 Posted by | technology, UK | Leave a comment

“New Generation” reactors the saviours of the nuclear industry ? – Not very likely.

As things stand, no country, company or utility has any intention of betting billions on building an SMR supply chain. The prevailing scepticism is evident

Lobbyists debate responses to the nuclear power crisis, Online opinion By Jim Green – , 27 March 2017  Lobbyists debate solutions to the crisis  “……… The four Third Way / Breakthrough Institute authors conclude that “a radical break from the present light-water regime … will be necessary to revive the nuclear industry”. Exactly what that means, the authors said, would be the subject of a follow-up article.

So readers were left hanging – will nuclear power be saved by failed fast-reactor technology, or failed high-temperature gas-cooled reactors including failed pebble-bed reactors, or by thorium pipe-dreams or fusion pipe-dreams or molten salt reactor pipe-dreams or small modular reactorpipe-dreams? Perhaps we’ve been too quick to write-off cold fusion?

The answers came in a follow-up article on February 28. The four Third Way / Breakthrough Institute authors argue that nuclear power must become substantially cheaper and this will not be possible “so long as nuclear reactors must be constructed on site one gigawatt at a time. … At 10 MW or 100 MW, by contrast, there is ample opportunity for learning by doing and economies of multiples for several reactor classes and designs, even in the absence of rapid demand growth or geopolitical imperatives.”

Other than their promotion of small reactors and their rejection of large ones, the four authors are non-specific about their preferred reactor types. Any number of small-reactor concepts have been proposed.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) have been the subject of much discussion and even more hype. There’s quite a bit of R&D ‒ in the US, the UK, South Korea, China and elsewhere. But only a few SMRs are under construction: one in Argentina, a twin-reactor floating nuclear power plant in Russia, and three SMRs in China (including two high-temperature gas-cooled reactors). The broad picture for SMRs is much the same as that for fast neutron reactors: lots of hot air, some R&D, but few concrete plans and even fewer concrete pours.

There isn’t the slightest chance that SMRs will fulfil the ambition of making nuclear power “substantially cheaper” unless and until a manufacturing supply chain is mass producing SMRs for a mass market ‒ and even then, it’s doubtful whether the power would be cheaper and highly unlikely that it would be substantially cheaper. After all, economies-of-scale have driven the long-term drift towards larger reactors.

As things stand, no country, company or utility has any intention of betting billions on building an SMR supply chain. The prevailing scepticism is evident in a February 2017 Lloyd’s Register report based on “insights and opinions of leaders across the sector” and the views of almost 600 professionals and experts from utilities, distributors, operators and equipment manufacturers. Respondents predicted that SMRs have a “low likelihood of eventual take-up, and will have a minimal impact when they do arrive”.

In the absence of a mass supply chain, SMRs will be expensive curiosities. The construction cost of Argentina’s 25 MWe CAREM reactor is estimated at US$446 million, which equates to a whopping US$17.8 billion / GW. Estimated construction costs for the Russian floating plant have increased more than four-fold and now equate to over US$10 billion / GW.

Small or large reactors, consolidation or innovation, conventional reactors or Generation IV pipe-dreams … it’s not clear that the nuclear industry will be able to recover however it responds to its current crisis.http://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18929&page=0

March 27, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, technology | Leave a comment

A declassified report describes strange UFO incident near a nuclear station

DECLASSIFIED: TR-3B UFO staked out nuclear power plant, claims shock government report http://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/783479/TR-3B-UFO-Cooper-Nuclear-Station-Nebraska-Black-Vault  A TRIANGLE-shaped UFO hovered above a nuclear power plant for two consecutive nights newly declassified government files have revealed.  By JON AUSTIN, Mar 24, 2017  Papers released under freedom of information laws describe reports by a former security officer at the power plant describing the strange incident.

The unnamed officer worked at the Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville, Nebraska, according to the files released by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The incident was described as an “unidentified flying object violating the protected area at the station”.

According to the documents, the report was only received by the former employee in June 2010.

The report said: “An unidentified flying (UFO) object violated the protected area at Cooper Nuclear Station between 1986 and 1989, but the event was not reported to the NRC as required.

“The CI [confidential informant] described an event that occurred during his employment as a security officer.

“He was employed there from 1986 through 1989 and did not remember specifically when during that time the event occurred.

“While posted at the intake structure one night, he observed an ‘unidentified flying object’ fly down the Missouri River about 150 feet in the air and hover in front of the intake. He observed it for a few moments and then contacted a fellow security officer who also observed it.”

It said that after they watched it together, the object went back up the river.

Colleagues did not believe the pair, it was reported.

It said the following evening, the officer saw the UFO return.

He did not tell anyone until it came into the protected area and hovered just north of the reactor building.

The man described it as triangular in shape with a rotating circle of lights on the bottom. This matches the description of the alleged TR-3B triangular UFO, which some conspiracy theorists claim is a secret US spy craft developed using reverse engineered alien technology taken from crashed flying saucers.

It was also reportedly silent and a third of the size of the reactor building.

He the called the security room and most officers on shift reportedly saw it.

The report addedL “These individuals included (names reacted), all of whom still work at the plant today.

“After hovering there for a few minutes, the UFO exited the protected area and returned back up the river to the north as it had the previous night.

“The CI said that he never saw the UFO at the plant again after that evening.”The whistleblower said the incident should have been reported as a violation of the protected area space but was not reported.

The documents show that Nick Taylor, the NRC senior resident inspector, searched for corroborating documents from the time, but found nothing.

However, he said: “I’d be careful about concluding that if an event wasn’t recorded in CAP [Corrective Action Program] that it did not occur.”

The files were published on UFO website TheBlackVault.com, whose founder John Greenewald requested they be released.

The website includes millions of declassified documents, many obtained by Mr Greenewald.

March 25, 2017 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

A computer model to simulate how 20 MILLION people would react to nuclear bomb in New York City

Scientists to simulate how 20 MILLION people would react to nuclear bomb in New York City .  http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/scientists-simulate-how-20-million-10054846 Experts are building a computer model which will test how people and buildings would respond to a nuclear blast BY JAMIE BULLEN 18 MAR 2017  Scientists are testing how 20 million people would react to a nuclear attack in New York City.

Experts at the Center for Social Complexity in Virginia have been awarded a $450,000 (£363,000) grant to study the aftermath of a blast in the Big Apple.

 The money is being used to develop a computer model to simulate how up to 20 million people or “agents” would respond in the first 30 days after the bomb, The Atlantic reported.

The model is also expected to show how buildings and the environment would be affected.The simulated bombs will have a strength of up to 10 kilotons – half the amount used in the Hiroshima attack.

Professor William Kennedy predicted survivors would follow instructions and stay in place instead of running wildly on the streets in search of loved ones.

He told the magazine: “We’ve found that people seem to be reasonably well behaved [Ed.   oh isn’t that nice?] and do what they’ve been trained to, [Ed. very good. so it’ll all be OK? ] or are asked or told to do by local authorities. Reports from 9/11 show that people walked down many tens of flights of stairs, relatively quietly, sometimes carrying each other, to escape buildings. “We’re finding those kinds of reports from other disasters as well—except after Hurricane Katrina.”

The project is expected to take three years.

But professor Kennedy said he hoped to start experiments in the next six months and report some results from next year.

March 20, 2017 Posted by | technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK plans for small nuclear reactors stalling. Bechtel pulls out.

Bechtel pulls out of mini-nuclear development, Construction News, 17 MARCH, 2017 Bechtel is to pull out of small modular reactor development, the US engineering giant has confirmed. The company said it would no longer be attempting to create its own SMR reactor after it was unable to find investment for its programme, or a utility company that would provide a site.

Bechtel’s SMR aspirations were as part of mPower, a joint venture with energy giant Babcock & Wilcox…..

Bechtel will take itself out of the government’s SMR reactor design competition.

In March 2016 the government launched its £250m SMR competition which set out to identify the preferred reactor technology to be rolled out across the UK over the next 15 years. The Bechtel team was listed as one of the 33 parties to have made it past the first round of the competition, including engineering firms such as Atkins and contractors such as Costain.

Alongside firms such as Westinghouse and NuScale Power, the mPower JV was one of the companies capable of developing the technology after its reactor design was recommended for “further government investigation” by the National Nuclear Laboratory in 2014.

The competition has stalled ever since, with sources telling Construction News that they have been largely left in the dark by the government over the next steps……

March 17, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, technology, UK | Leave a comment