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Scientists turn a blind eye to the fraud that is the ITER nuclear fusion project

ITER Is a Suicidal Plan That Would Discredit Nuclear Fusion, Scientist Says, Again, New Energy Times, By Steven B. Krivit, Dec. 5, 2020 A retired plasma physicist has given New Energy Times permission to republish critical letters he wrote about the ITER fusion reactor project many years ago. He has done this despite risks associated with publicly criticizing the international project.

Ernesto Mazzucato spent his entire career — from 1965 to 2014 — working at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory. Mazzucato continues to work on his own fusion concepts.He told us about pressure from some of his peers from 1996 to 2006 when he openly criticized the ITER project, but he asked us to withhold those details for fear that it would  interfere with his present access to resources and the ability to publish in peer-reviewed journals.

Mazzucato is the second retired fusion physicist from the Princeton laboratory with whom New Energy Times has spoken who is critical of ITER. The first was Mazzucato’s colleague, Daniel Jassby, who has been publishing critical articles about ITER on the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Web site.Jassby was the first scientist to provide New Energy Times with clear values for the ITER reactor power requirements, following our attempts to obtain this information directly from the ITER organization.

Mazzucato told New Energy Times that he “suffered dearly” shortly after Science magazine published his first critical comments in 1996.

I knew that speaking out was risky, but I had to say what was on my mind,” Mazzucato said. “I thought that ITER would ruin fusion, and I had spent all my life working on fusion. ITER was the wrong track.”Mazzucato told New Energy Times that, decades earlier, at the beginning of the discussions about the ITER concept, the conversation was purely about physics. The conversation soon shifted to the bait-and-switch scheme, as Nobel laureate Masatoshi Koshiba called it.

“The scientists were not talking about power production,” Mazzucato said, “but then slowly, the bureaucrats were put in charge of this project, and they started talking about a power gain, that ITER would produce 10 times more power than it would use.“But none of the scientists said anything. We all knew that the power values only applied to the particles, not the overall reactor.”These are the three letters Mazzucato provided.

1996 Mazzucato Letter to Science
In his first letter, Mazzucato responded to an article published in Science magazine by Andrew Lawler about the ITER projec

For the United States to concentrate its efforts on the construction of ITER, which by my estimates would require at least twice the $8 billion cited by Lawler, [Andrew Lawler, “U.S. Power Outage Won’t Dim ITER,” Science, Jan. 19, 1996, p. 282] would halt significant progress in domestic thermonuclear research.It is tantamount to a suicidal plan that would discredit nuclear fusion as an economically viable form of energy production………….

The construction of ITER, by absorbing all the available funds, would inevitably prevent development in these critical areas. From Lawler’s article, it appears that ITER finds its strongest support in a “wealthy and influential association of major corporations…..” This sounds like an ominous repetition of history, as our problems today with nuclear fission power plants originated when the nuclear industry decided to bring to prominence the first fission reactor concept that appeared to work. Similarly, the adoption of this probably faulty device would have catastrophic consequences for the development of nuclear fusion energy……………..

Turning a Blind Eye
Mazzucato is the first fusion scientist I know who a) noticed the discrepancy between ITER’s planned power values and the publicized power values and b) openly objected to the false claims its promoters were making about the promised power gain of the reactor. Nobel Prize winner Masatoshi Koshiba had also sounded the alarm sometime between 2001 and 2004, calling the ITER project a bait-and-switch trick.

Mazzucato told me that all of his colleagues knew that the bureaucrats in charge of the project were tricking the public. Assuming he’s right, then there are thousands of fusion experts who saw what was going on and did and said nothing about it. It’s not the first time in history that something terrible was happening in a community and was known as an open secret within that community. But it is the first time in modern history that something like this, on this scale, has happened in science.

By 2003, the deception was firmly established, as evident by Robert Stern’s statement in the New York Times on Jan. 31, 2003: “ITER would provide a record 500 megawatts of fusion power for at least 500 seconds, a little more than eight minutes, during each experiment. That would meet the power needs of about 140,000 homes.”

In reality, a fusion reactor designed with the parameters of ITER, if configured to convert its thermal output to electricity, wouldn’t be able to power a single light bulb.

Public statements like Stern’s, published without the authors’ knowledge that they were false, were the norm for more than two decades. Either no fusion scientists except Mazzucato and Koshiba read news accounts about ITER and realized what was happening, or the majority of fusion scientists saw that the “mistakes” significantly favored their field, and they turned — and continue to turn — a blind eye to what has now developed into the largest science fraud in modern history.

By 2003, the deception was firmly established, as evident by Robert Stern’s statement in the New York Times on Jan. 31, 2003: “ITER would provide a record 500 megawatts of fusion power for at least 500 seconds, a little more than eight minutes, during each experiment. That would meet the power needs of about 140,000 homes.”

Public statements like Stern’s, published without the authors’ knowledge that they were false, were the norm for more than two decades. Either no fusion scientists except Mazzucato and Koshiba read news accounts about ITER and realized what was happening, or the majority of fusion scientists saw that the “mistakes” significantly favored their field, and they turned — and continue to turn — a blind eye to what has now developed into the largest science fraud in modern history.

May 22, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, technology | Leave a comment

Rolls Royce plans fleets of small nuclear reactors. At approx £2billion per reactor (that’s approx $2.8billion) how much will each fleet cost?

Rolls-Royce expects the first five reactors to cost £2.2bn each, falling to £1.8bn for subsequent units.

SMRs could not achieve economies of scale unless developers secured a large number of orders. “How are you going to get orders for 16 of an unproven reactor type and if you don’t have orders for 16 how are you going to build a factory?” 

Rolls-Royce courts investors for mini nuclear plants, Consortium led by engine group seeks £300m in funding as it prepares application for small modular reactors, Nathalie Thomas in Edinburgh and Sylvia Pfeifer in London, 17 May 21,

A consortium led by Rolls-Royce that is hoping to build a fleet of mini nuclear power stations across Britain is talking to investors to secure £300m in funding as it prepares to submit its design to regulators later this year. The consortium, which also includes Jacobs and Laing O’Rourke, hopes to be the first “small modular reactor” developer to put its design through the UK’s rigorous nuclear regulatory assessment. The process is expected to take up to four years but would keep the companies on track to complete their first 470MW plant by the early 2030s, which would be capable of generating enough low-carbon electricity for about 1m homes.

 UK prime minister Boris Johnson backed SMRs as part of his 10-point plan for a “green industrial revolution” last year. The technology is viewed within the government as a good way to create manufacturing jobs as well as delivering on Johnson’s “levelling up” agenda. Rolls-Royce believes at least 16 SMRs could be installed at existing and former nuclear sites in Britain and more could potentially be built at locations such as former coal mines. It estimates the programme could create as many as 40,000 jobs in the UK regions by 2050.

Environmental groups say the technology is unproved and point out that nuclear energy leaves behind a legacy of waste, the most toxic of which takes at least 100,000 years to decay The prime minister has promised £215m in public funds, which the consortium hopes will help it secure the £300m in private match funding needed for the project to progress.  

Rolls-Royce, which has been working on SMRs since 2015, expects the first five reactors to cost £2.2bn each, falling to £1.8bn for subsequent units.

It has argued that its design, which uses pressurised water reactors similar to existing nuclear power stations and boasts an increased generation capacity from 440MW previously, is more commercially viable and lower-risk than rival plans. The company has also claimed it could compete with renewable technologies such as offshore wind.  Tom Samson, chief executive of the Rolls-Royce-led consortium, said “the way we manufacture and assemble our power station brings down its cost to be comparable with offshore wind at around £50/MWh”.

But Tom Burke, chair of climate change think-tank E3G, argued that SMRs could not achieve economies of scale unless developers secured a large number of orders. “How are you going to get orders for 16 of an unproven reactor type and if you don’t have orders for 16 how are you going to build a factory?”  If sufficient private funding is secured, the consortium intends to set up a special purpose vehicle this summer in which Rolls-Royce is expected to retain a significant interest. The programme could give Rolls-Royce an important new revenue stream as it looks to reduce its exposure to the commercial aerospace sector, which has been severely dented by the coronavirus pandemic.

May 18, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors – a way to get indigenous people to then accept nuclear waste?

Gordon Edwards is president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility and notes the Moltex SMR design involves dissolving spent nuclear fuel in molten salt, and there lies an issue, he believes.

“What happens when you dissolve the solid fuel in a liquid, in this molten salt – then all of these radioactive materials are released into the liquid,” says Edwards, “and it becomes more dangerous to contain them because a solid material is much easier to contain than a liquid or gaseous material.

Peskotomuhkati chief unhappy about nuclear reactor testing on his traditional territory

Christopher Read cread@aptn.caMay 16, 2021,

Feds say they won’t reach zero emissions by 2050 without small nuclear reactors.

It’s a new kind of nuclear reactor that the federal government is putting up $50.5 million in development money for, but some Indigenous leaders are already speaking out against it

.Moltex Energy Canada is getting the tax-dollar investment to develop what the nuclear industry calls a “small modular reactor” or SMR – which is generally considered to be a reactor with a power output of 300 megawatts or less.The Moltex SMR design is to be developed at New Brunswick Power’s Point LePreau Nuclear Generating Station, which is on the north shore of the Bay of Fundy and in Peskotomuhkati traditional territory.

ARC Clean Energy Canada is another operation also set to develop an SMR at the Point LePreau site.  It was announced in February that ARC would get $20 million from the New Brunswick government if the company can raise $30 million of its own cash.

Hugh Akagi is Chief of Peskotomuhkati Nation and has concerns about more nuclear development in the aging facility.

“Well, I don’t feel very good about it, to be honest,” says Akagi. You paid that money if you pay tax on anything in this country, you’ve just made a donation to Moltex. If you’re not concerned about $50 million being turned over to a corporation for a technology that does not exist – I hope you heard me correctly on that.”

The federal government has taken a shine to the idea of SMRs and Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan is on the record as saying “We have not seen a model where we can get to net-zero emissions by 2050 without nuclear.”

Under the Small Modular Reactor Action Plan, the federal government is pushing for SMRs to be developed and deployed to power remote industrial operations as well as northern communities.

Three streams of government-supported SMR developments are underway at two sites in Ontario as well as at Point LePreau.

As well, the governments of New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta have all signed a memorandum of understanding pledging their support for SMR development.

Akagi says he hasn’t been formally consulted – but has been to a presentations put on by NB Power about the SMR project.

He says he is unlikely he’ll ever give it his support.

“Until I can have an assurance that the impact on the future is zero,” says Akagi, “I don’t want to 100 years, 200 years is still seven generations. I want zero impact.”

But Moltex Energy Canada CEO Rory O’Sullivan says his company’s technology will ultimately reduce environmental impact, by recycling spent nuclear fuel from full scale reactors.

“Instead of putting it in the ground where it’ll be radioactive for very long periods, we can reuse it as fuel to create more clean energy from what was waste,” says O’Sullivan. “We can’t get rid of the waste altogether. But the aim is to get rid, to get it down to about a thousandth of volume of the original long-lived radioactivity.

O’Sullivan admits to formerly seeing nuclear as too much of a problem to be a viable solution in the climate crisis.

“When I graduated as a mechanical engineer I saw that nuclear is potentially as too expensive, has the waste issue, has a potential safety issue,” says O’Sullivan. “Well, actually, with these innovative new designs, you can potentially have nuclear power that is lower cost, cheaper than fossil fuels – you can get much safer solution using innovation and you can potentially deal with the waste.”

Gordon Edwards, one of Canada’s most prominent nuclear critics, isn’t buying that argument.

Edwards is president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility and notes the Moltex SMR design involves dissolving spent nuclear fuel in molten salt, and there lies an issue, he believes.

“What happens when you dissolve the solid fuel in a liquid, in this molten salt – then all of these radioactive materials are released into the liquid,” says Edwards, “and it becomes more dangerous to contain them because a solid material is much easier to contain than a liquid or gaseous material.”

Edwards also works on a radioactive task force with the Anishinabek Nation and the Iroquois Caucus.

And as he sees it, small modular reactors could make it harder for Indigenous communities to say no to the deep geological repositories [DGRs] being pitched to Indigenous communities as a supposedly safe way for Canada’s nuclear industry to entomb highly radioactive waste for hundreds of thousands of years.

“We don’t accept the small modular reactors because we know that it’s just a way of implicating us so that we can then have less of an argument against being radioactive waste dumps,” says Edwards. “If we accept small modular reactors into our communities, how can we then turn around and say we don’t want to keep the radioactive waste? It would just put us in an impossible position.”

Edwards and other nuclear critics such as Akagi recently participated in an online webinar focused on concerns around nuclear development at Point LePreau.

And those adding their voices to the critical side of the ledger on nuclear development at Point LePreau include Jenica Atwin – the Green Party’s MP for Fredricton, and Wolastoq Grand Council Chief Ron Tremblay – who issued a Resolution calling for nuclear development to be halted.

Atwin put out a release in April calling Canadian nuclear policies “profoundly misguided.”

“My basic premise is that the government needs to be more responsible in the information that they’re sharing just in general to talk about the risks that exist alongside whatever benefits they’re kind of toting,” says Atwin. “And right now, we’re only hearing that it’s the greatest option. This is how we fight climate change. It is clean, it’s cheap energy. And I have to disagree.”

If all goes to according to the Moltex plan, its SMR could be operable by about 2030.

May 17, 2021 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, wastes | Leave a comment

Rolls Royce desperate for investors for its £2bn Small Nuclear Reactors

It’s not a good look, as Rolls Royce is in a financial crisis

Consortium led by Rolls-Royce on hunt for orders for its £2bn nuclear reactors after redesign that means each will power 100,000 more homes By ALEX LAWSON, FINANCIAL MAIL ON SUNDAY 16 May 2021

 A consortium led by Rolls-Royce is on the hunt for orders for its £2billion nuclear reactors after a redesign that means each will power 100,000 more homes. 

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the UK Small Modular Reactor (SMR) project has revamped the proposed mini reactors to increase their output. The factory-built reactors will now generate 470 megawatts, enough to provide electricity to a million homes. 

The project, launched in 2015, aims to bring ten mini nuclear reactors into use by 2035, with the first due to enter service around 2030.

Tom Samson, chief executive of the UK SMR Consortium, said negotiations had begun with potential investors to fund the creation of the mini reactors – signalling that the project may move more rapidly than previously thought. 

He said it was looking for customers, which could include energy, industrial or technology companies, to operate the sites. He added: ‘We’re ready to take this technology to market. We’re going to be pursuing orders. We’re hoping to get orders soon.’ 

The UK’s nuclear power industry has had a chequered recent past with the future of some huge plants thrown into doubt. Rolls-Royce hopes to create a nimbler solution to complement big power stations.

Rolls-Royce is the major share holder in the venture, which has been developed through a consortium that includes Atkins, Jacobs and Laing O’Rourke. The Government has so far invested £18million to support its design and £215million has been earmarked for the SMR programme as part of a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’. 

Samson said a further £300million of private capital is now being sought to develop the reactors, which it hopes will be located both in the UK and overseas. 

The initial ‘two to three’ units are likely to require Government support, but Samson hopes to move to ‘traditional debt and equity’ to fund following orders. Last week, the Government updated its nuclear policy to open its Generic Design Assessment to new nuclear technologies. UK SMR hopes to be the first to submit a proposal to Government and regulators. 

Samson said 220 engineering decisions had been made in the latest designs. He said the switch from an ‘armadillo’-shaped building to one with a ‘faceted’ top allowing the roof to wrap around the inner workings made it more efficient. 

The Prime Minister’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings was a champion of the UK SMR programme, but Samson said No10 remained behind the project and it chimed with current policy. 

He added: ‘We unashamedly wrap ourselves in the Union Jack. This is a really proud UK innovation that we’ve developed here at low cost. And that’s what consumers need. 

We’re contributing to the Government’s levelling-up agenda. We’re also contributing to its post-Brexit global Britain agenda.’ 

Samson is running the rule over sites for factories to build the mini reactors, and said they were most likely to be in the North of England and the East Midlands, where Rolls-Royce is based. He is also studying potential locations for the reactors, which could include former nuclear sites in West Cumbria and Anglesey, where Japanese giant Hitachi pulled the plug on plans for a £20billion plant last year. 

Samson described renewable energies such as solar and wind power as ‘weather dependent’, adding: ‘We’re not intermittent. These plants will run for 60 years. They will operate 24/7.’

May 17, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Master of Space: Corporate plans for the militarization & privatization of space

Feb 2, 2021 Sun, Jan 31, 2021: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm Master of Space: Corporate plans for the militarization & privatization of space DESCRIPTION: Bruce Gagnon will reveal the deadly connections between the corporate drive to ‘control and dominate’ space as spelled out in the US Space Command’s 1997 planning document called Vision for 2020.…

The gold rush is now underway as space technologies have matured to the point where mining the sky for precious resources becomes possible. Corporate forces intend to use the newly formed ‘Space force’ to guard the front gate on and off Earth to ensure that only ‘authorized’ companies and nations would be allowed to access space.

This vision was first spelled out before Congress in the early 1950’s when former Nazi Maj. Gen. Walter Dornberger shared his vision of orbiting battle stations in space to control the pathway on and off our planet. Dornberger had been Hitler’s liaison to V-1 & V-2 rocket scientist Wernher von Braun during WW II. After the war Dornberger, Von Braun and more than 1,000 Nazi leaders were secretly brought to the US to serve in the military industrial complex. Van Braun built the US space program and Dornberger became a V-P of Bell Aerospace in New York.

BIO: Bruce Gagnon is the Coordinator (and Co-Founder) of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He is a Vietnam war-era veteran and began his organizing work with the United Farm Workers Union. He lives in Bath, Maine.

May 16, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, secrets,lies and civil liberties, space travel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear fusion is an energy mirage, and these are the reasons why .

Welsh councils warned over experimental nuclear fusion reactor plans May 2021  Two Welsh local authorities that are considering bids to host a nuclear fusion reactor have been warned of concerns about the proposals being put forward by the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

In recent weeks, councillors from the Vale of Glamorgan and Pembrokeshire County Council have shown public interest in potentially putting a site forward to host an experimental fusion reactor.

The UKAEA has been provided with £200 million of initial funding from the UK Government to create a plant that will harness electricity from fusion and has written to councils suggesting ‘billions’ of pounds will be invested in the project with an aim to help deliver nuclear fusion within the next 30 years.

Fusion technology is still in its infancy and no fusion reactor has ever created more power than it consumes. But scientists say it could be cleaner and safer than fission, the nuclear technology currently used to generate electricity.

Nuclear Free Local Authorities, a body that seeks to increase local accountability over national nuclear policy and identify the impact of national nuclear policy on local communities, has written to both councils highlighting the experimental nature of the project and warning of the environmental and economic consequences of the project.

The conclusions of the NFLA briefing provided to the councils include:

Nuclear fusion, like nuclear fission, still produces significant quantities of radioactive waste.

Radioactive tritium emissions would be released as part of the fusion process into the environment.

A large water source for cooling would be required.It costs huge sums of money that the public exchequer cannot afford after this pandemic.

Any local jobs are a long way off. The target is to have a demonstration plant developed around 2040, so any local construction jobs would not take place for at least 15 years.

As with fission, in operation, the number of jobs working on such a reactor would be small and highly specialist. Those jobs that come will likely be from staff at the existing site in Oxfordshire moving to the new plant.

The site requires a large footprint, with over 100 hectares being requested by the UKAEA. This takes away a large amount of land that could be used for other useful activity, such as developing new renewable energy technology, energy storage or smart energy endeavours.

  • Given the technology will also not make any energy (if at all) till the late 2040s, it will provide the local council or the country with no low carbon benefit in the next two decades, when tackling the climate emergency is required now.

“I can understand why the Vale of Glamorgan and Pembrokeshire Council is considering putting an interest in hosting a nuclear fusion reactor, as any call at present which dangles the prospect of money and jobs will interest any council in these difficult economic times,” NFLA Welsh Forum Chair, Councillor Ernie Galsworthy said.

“However, nuclear fusion is an energy mirage. For seven decades it has been worked upon, and it still remains a distant prospect that fusion will ever be developed successfully. The climate emergency though needs to be sorted out now, not in some distant future.

Councils should be given support to develop their critical work in mitigating it, not having their time wasted on a project that could well be a white elephant. I call on councillors to not express an interest in these proposals and call instead for more central government support to them in developing decentralised energy.”

May 15, 2021 Posted by | technology, UK | Leave a comment

Fusion: Ten Times More Expensive Than Nuclear Power

Fusion: Ten Times More Expensive Than Nuclear Power, Robert L. Hirsch & Roger H. Bezdek
May 12, 2021  

The U.S. and world fusion energy research programs are developing something that no one will want or can afford. The stated goal of fusion energy research is to provide a new source of electric power based on nuclear fusion, the process that powers the sun and the stars. That has proven to be an extremely difficult task because the related physics is extremely difficult. In the 1970s, the Russian tokamak fusion configuration emerged as having great promise for creating and containing the extremely hot gas, known as plasma.

Physicists worldwide adopted the tokamak approach and worked mightily to understand what was going on in the associated hot plasma while scaling up tokamak experiments. The goal was to progress to a system large enough that more energy would be produced in a tokamak system than was required to heat the plasma. Over the past six decades, while substantial progress has been made, ever so slowly the promise of commercially viable fusion power from tokamaks has ebbed away.  Some recognized the worsening commercial outlook, but most researchers simply continued to study and increase the size of their tokamak devices — and to increase the size of their budgets.

At present, there are a number of large tokamak experiments worldwide. The largest such facility is the so-called ITER tokamak experiment, now under construction in France. ITER’s goal is to create a tokamak plasma that is so hot and long lived that it would produce ten times more energy than was used to heat the plasma. ITER was originally envisioned to cost roughly $5 billion, a level that might extrapolate to a reasonably priced tokamak fusion power plant.

However, reality slowly intervened, and the cost of ITER greatly escalated. ITER managers now contend that ITER’s cost is approximately $22 billion. This contention cannot be easily verified, because different parts of ITER are being built in different places around the world, and actual costs are difficult to estimate. The U.S. Department of Energy, which is supposed to be paying 9% of total ITER costs, has estimated that actual ITER costs are much higher, roughly $65 billion.

We calculated that even at a cost of $22 billion, the resulting cost of a power plant based on ITER would be approximately ten times the cost of a nuclear fission power plant, and nuclear fission power plants are considered to be too expensive for further adoption in the U.S. If the ITER cost $65 billion, the resulting cost of a power plant based on ITER would be nearly 30 times more expensive than the cost of a nuclear fission power plant. Thus, no matter how you calculate, ITER is clearly a “White Elephant!”

But the situation is even worse. There are four fusion fuel combinations that might be considered for a practical fusion power plant. The easiest — but by no means easy — involves the fusing of two isotopes of hydrogen, deuterium and tritium.  Deuterium occurs as a small fraction of ordinary water, which is easily extracted. This implies that deuterium exists as an essentially infinite, very low-cost fuel. On the other hand, tritium does not exist in nature and decays radioactively. So, tritium must be produced. 

The largest source of tritium in the world is heavy water nuclear reactors in Canada. The combination of very limited world production of tritium and its loss by radioactive decay means that world supplies of tritium are inherently limited.  It has recently become clear that world supplies of tritium for larger fusion experiments are limited to the point that world supplies are inadequate for future fusion pilot plants, let alone commercial fusion reactors based on the deuterium-tritium fuel cycle.  In other words, fusion researchers are developing a fusion concept for which there will not be enough fuel in the world to operate!

So fusion researchers are developing a fusion concept that stands no hope of being economically acceptable, running on a fuel that does not exist in adequate quantities. The situation sounds impossible. How could this happen? The answer is that the cost escalation happened so slowly that researchers failed to notice. Neither did program managers and those involved in program oversight. The tritium supply issue became known after researchers were very far along with expensive, new tokamak experiments.

In effect “The foxes were watching the chicken coop” because all world fusion oversight over the past 60+ years has been conducted by fusion researchers and sympathizers — something we unfortunately witness in numerous government R&D programs. Practical electric power engineers, utility executives, and others who are not members of the fusion mafia have been excluded from fusion program evaluation. We recently suggested to the Secretary of Energy that she appoint a panel of non-fusion engineers and environmentalists to conduct the objective, independent evaluation we believe is necessary. The Secretary gave the request to the leader of the fusion program, who responded that the program is guided by two recent fusion panel determinations. Those panels consisted of fusion physicists and related researchers.

The situation is tragic. With so many people and institutions at risk of losing jobs and financial support, the “wagons have been circled,” and programs continue with excuses held in reserve. The waste is enormous.  Talented people and large sums of money are being wasted. For example, the U.S. fusion research budget for the current fiscal year is over $600 million.

And that is not all. The ITER fusion experiment, which will soak up a large fraction of world radioactive tritium, will yield an enormous amount of radioactive waste. That volume has been estimated at roughly 30,000 tons. Researchers feel that is not a problem because the radioactive decay of that waste will occur in roughly 100 years, which is a much shorter time period than the decay of radioactive waste from fission reactors. So, the argument is that this rad waste is not so terrible. However, this is debatable.

Is there no hope for attractive fusion power? The answer is yes, because there are a number of other fusion fuel cycles that could be economically and environmentally attractive. The fuel for these cycles is in huge supply, but the physics is much more difficult.  Some physicists shy away from even thinking about the related physics challenges. We will not know if one of these fuel cycles could prove viable unless we try. Right now, government support for these higher fuel cycles worldwide is trivial.

We continue to have hope for practical, acceptable, environmentally attractive fusion power. However, without sharp focus, capable management, and careful, independent oversight it will not happen. Change in fusion research will be jolting. It will also take considerable political courage.

May 13, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, technology | Leave a comment

Scepticism in Canada, about the government’s push for small nuclear reactors.

Canada pegs its energy future on nuclear power, but not everyone’s buying it,  Canada’s National Observer, By Charles Mandel  May 12th 2021  “………….   Gorman, along with the rest of the nuclear industry, pins the country’s future decarbonization efforts on a new breed of nuclear power known as small modular reactors (SMRs). 

……… To date, not a single SMR has been built in Canada, but no matter, the technology is the current darling of nuclear power circles…. Currently, 12 proposals for SMR development are winding their way through the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) pre-licensing vendor review process, which enables CNSC staff to provide feedback on proposed designs at a company’s request. But not a single project has yet been approved.

That hasn’t stopped the Canadian federal government from actively promoting a shift to SMRs………

For the time being, any vision of SMRs is largely aspirational. A Conference Board of Canada report in March on SMRs outlined that from concept to commercialization, the technology will require about a billion dollars of development expenditure. The same report noted that as an emerging technology, costs are still uncertain, and the “risky pre-commercial phase needs capital investment, but governments will be reluctant without major private capital commitment.”

It’s early days for financing the technology. For instance, one infusion of federal funds, the $50 million granted to New Brunswick’s Moltex Energy in mid-April, only supports research and development, employee recruitment and the expansion of academic, research and supply chain partnerships, not the physical construction of that firm’s SMR.

Beyond financial considerations, the Liberal government will have a tough time convincing environmentalists to embrace the merits of SMRs, or any nuclear power, as a clean energy source. More than 100 groups have signed a letter issued by the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) condemning the government’s push to pursue nuclear power and SMRs. Among their concerns are that SMRs are more expensive to develop than renewable energy and that the reactors are “dirty and dangerous,” creating new forms of radioactive waste that are especially dangerous to manage.

As the SMR developments move forward, the environmental groups will have a chance to make their views heard during the public consultations that will have to take place as part of the environmental review phase of licensing each SMR.

For now, however, nothing is slowing the momentum. In mid-April, the Canadian Nuclear Association triumphantly announced Alberta was joining Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan in the development of SMRs.

…….. there are signs Europe is now shifting away from nuclear power. In 2019, solar installed capacity exceeded nuclear for the first time in the EU, with 130 gigawatts versus 116 gigawatts,  according to the World Nuclear Industry Status annual report, which provides independent assessments of global nuclear developments. And a technical expert group convened in the EU chose not to recommend nuclear energy when asked to advise on screening criteria that would substantially contribute to climate change mitigation or adaptation while “avoiding significant harm” to other environmental objectives.

May 13, 2021 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Elon Musk’s expensive and dangerous space delusion

The Musk delusion  daryan energy blog 2 May 21, I’ve critiqued a number of Musk’s projects before, but I think we need to be a bit more direct. Quite simply is Musk entirely the full shilling? Is he the real life Tony Stark the fan boys seem to think, or a modern day Howard Hughes? Because if its the latter his bizarre behaviour will only get worse and worse until things come to a head. Which could have rather serious consequences………….

his proposed use of Starship, as a point to point transport mechanism amounts to saying that the rich should be allowed to burn vast amounts of fuel, just so they can save a few hours in transit. Well, if Starship was a vaguely sane suggestion that is. In truth, it would take almost as long to get its passengers point to point as a conventional airliner (once you factor in the time taken to get passengers out to the launch pad, suit them up, put on their astronaut diapers (yes, how do you think astronauts meet the calls of nature in a space suit), strap everyone in, fuel the rocket, etc.). And that’s assuming you’d be given permission to fly, given the many likely health and safety, environmental and noise related concerns.

In fact let’s talk about starship. It is a terrible design. I’m not going to waste time going over the many issues, in part because I’ve done so already, but also there are others who have done a far better job. But in summary, even if it worked, its a one trick pony….and that trick is the potential for down cargo (which its far from proving it can do) not going to Mars.

Even so, Musk has managed to blow up a dozen or so test prototypes with not a lot to show for it. He’s now in a dispute with the FAA and environmental groups over the mess he’s making, adding to the thousand or so active legal cases he’s currently fighting, largely because of his inability to keep his big mouth shut and not say dumb things online.

Which raises the question, what is the point of starship? ………

Caricature above by courtesy of Ryadav –


NASA just awarded SpaceX the contract to build the Lunar lander? Ya and if one was cynical it would be that the Biden administration, whose never really committed to space flight, knows they don’t have the funds or the political capital to blow hundreds of billions repeating Apollo. But they equally don’t want to be identified as the assassins who killed off manned lunar/Mars missions. They need a fall guy…which is where Musk comes in!

SpaceX happens to have facilities in key states that will matter in 2024 (most notably Texas, which might be a swing state by then). So, given that Congress sees NASA as a jobs programme, they sling a few billion his way. If he succeeds, well then great. If he crashes and burns, well aw shucks we tried our best, I mean we even got Elon Musk to design the hardware, how can we be to blame.

And this is what worries me about Musk and his fans. Sooner or later his luck is going to run out. Environments such as space, or public transport do not suffer fools. Likely we’ll end up with some tragic accident, or a massive overspend on a government project and he gets to spend the rest of his life going form congressional committee to committee and court house to court house…….

May 12, 2021 Posted by | election USA 2020, space travel | Leave a comment

Many space rockets planned, thousands of satellites, thousands of space debris -what could possibly go wrong?

To read the news, you’d think that only China was the naughty nation that had accidents in space. Indeed, it’s all written up to convey the message that USA space stuff is utterly safe.

Reminds me of when the nuclear lobby tried to put across the idea that the Fukushima disaster was proof of the safety of U.S. nuclear technology.

Wikileaks lists spaceflight accidents and incidents.

Thousands of satellites in orbit (not all functioning) There are at least 6,900 satellites now in orbit around Earth, with 4000 still functioning.

Space debris

Number of debris objects regularly tracked by Space Surveillance Networks and maintained in their catalogue – About 28160 .

Estimated number of break-ups, explosions, collisions, or anomalous events resulting in fragmentation -More than 560

Total mass of all space objects in Earth orbitMore than 9300 tonnes.

NASA slams rocket risk, The Age, print version 10 May 2021,   Remnants  of China’s biggest rocket have landed in the Indian Ocean,with the bulk of its components destroyed on re-entry into the atmosphere according to Chinese state media., fencing days of speculation over where the debris would hit….

The coordinates given by the media yesterday,  citing the China Manned Space Engineering Office, put the point of impact west of the Maldives archipelago.The Long March launched last week was the second deployment of the 5B variant since its maiden flight in May 2020 last year pieces from the first Long March 5B fell on Ivory Coast, damaging several buildings. No injuries were reported.

During the rocket’s flight, Harvard based astrophysicist Jonathon McDowellsaid the debris zone could have been as far north as New York, Madrid or Beijing, and as far south as southern Chile and New Zealand.


 large chunks of the NASA space station Skylab fell from orbit in July 1979 and landed in Australia

May 10, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Christina's notes, space travel | Leave a comment

20 tonne space rocket out of control, but luckily landed in the Indian Ocean, rather than on land.

Out-of-control Chinese rocket finally lands in Indian Ocean near the Maldives, By CNNJoe Attanasio May 9, 2021  A large Chinese rocket that was orbiting earth out of control has finally made impact, landing in the Indian Ocean close to the Maldives and drawing sharp criticism from NASA.

According to China Manned Space Engineering Office, the rocket made impact about 12.24pm AEST, roughly two hours earlier than predicted.Most of the remnants of the vessel burned up during re-entry to earth’s atmosphere, officials said, putting to bed week-long fears over the potential damage the rocket could have caused if it struck land.What was left of the spacecraft landed at open sea, at 72.47 degrees east longitude and 2.65 degrees north latitude.The Long March 5B rocket, which was around 30 metres tall and weighed 20 tonnes, entered earth’s low orbit earlier this morning.

It travelled at more than 30,000 kilometres an hour, was more than 10 stories tall, and weighed roughly the same as a full garbage truck, causing many to raise concerns about the impact its landing could have hadThe rocket launched a piece of the new Chinese space station into orbit on April 29 but then was left to hurtle through space uncontrolled until Earth’s gravity began pulling it back to the ground.
That approach is a break with what officials call “best practice” compared with what other space agencies do.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson criticised China over the re-entry, saying spacefaring nations needed to minimise risk and maximise transparency in such situations.”It is clear that China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris,” he said, in a statement.”It is critical that China and all spacefaring nations and commercial entities act responsibly and transparently in space to ensure the safety, stability, security, and long-term sustainability of outer space activities.”Despite recent efforts to better regulate and mitigate space debris, Earth’s orbit is littered with hundreds of thousands of pieces of uncontrolled junk, most of which are smaller than 10 centimetres.Objects are constantly falling out of orbit, though most of them burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere before they have a chance to make an impact on the surface.

May 10, 2021 Posted by | China, incidents, space travel | Leave a comment

China sets out to control the world nuclear industry, – Pakistan, UK, and beyond

Nikkei Asian Review 9th May 2021,
Nick Butler: On Mar. 11, Pakistan inaugurated its most recent and largest
civil nuclear power project with the opening of the 1.1-gigawatt plant in
Karachi, doubling the capacity of Pakistan’s four existing nuclear
facilities. A second similar unit is due to come online in the coming
months. The event marked a significant step for Pakistan which needs
additional capacity from all sources to bolster its existing inadequate
power supplies.

But even more important was the fact that the plant was
built and will be operated by the state-owned China National Nuclear Corp.
(CNNC), one of the companies leading Beijing’s drive to join the very short
list of countries with the capability to build and operate civil nuclear
power projects around the world. The development of China’s nuclear
industry over the last decade has been remarkable. With over 30 new
reactors commissioned and another 16 under construction, China is now the
main source of growth for nuclear power across the world.

China’s objective is to create a closed cycle, self-reliant nuclear industry within
China from the processing of uranium to produce fuel for the reactors
through to construction and management of the operating plants. This is
being achieved through the adaptation of international technology, in
particular from Westinghouse into new Chinese designed reactors. In the
process, the Chinese nuclear industry will reduce or eliminate the role of
the foreign companies whose capabilities established the first wave of

The other part of the Chinese strategy is to create an export
industry, with the plan focused on a range of countries lacking resources
of their own and, in most cases, also lacking the technical skills to
develop their own indigenous nuclear skills.

The leading Chinese nuclear
company, the China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), formerly the China
Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, joined the French state company Electricite
de France (EDF) in the U.K. in funding a third of the Hinkley Point
project. Their aim was to secure the opportunity to go on to build, own and
operate a Chinese reactor in Britain, beginning with a new plant at
Bradwell in Essex. China, by pursuing its industrial aspirations, is
creating a set of relationships and alliances, making full use of the fact
that power supplies are crucial for the day-to-day operations of economic
life. In the modern world, this is the way in which empires are built.

May 10, 2021 Posted by | China, Pakistan, politics international, technology | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors- a very problematic ”solution” to climate change

The controversial future of nuclear power in the U.S. National Geographic, 5 May 21, ”……………. In the U.S., a company called NuScale has recently received design certification approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for its SMR, the first and only company to do so. Its reactor is a miniaturized version of a traditional reactor, in which pressurized water cools the core where nuclear fission is taking place. But in the NuScale design, the whole reactor is itself immersed in a pool of water designed to protect it from accidental meltdown.

NuScale hopes to build 12 of these reactors to produce 720 megawatts at the Idaho National Laboratory as a pilot project. It’s been supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, which has approved up to $1.4 billion to help demonstrate the technology. NuScale plans to sell the plant to an energy consortium called Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems.

Last year, eight of the 36 utilities in the consortium backed out of the project, citing the cost. The company recently announced the project would be delayed to 2030, and the cost would rise from $4.2 billion to $6.1 billion.

Nuclear opponents point to this latest disappointment as yet another example of why nuclear isn’t up to the task.

“If your first SMR isn’t built until the late 2020s, and then you have to turn it on, not to mention set up a whole new global supply chain, are you going to reach zero emissions by 2035?” asks IEER’s Makhijani. “You can’t make a significant contribution in time.” He adds that the industry’s long history of overruns and delays are especially problematic when considering climate commitments. “There’s no room for significant mistakes.”

……. The future of nuclear power will depend in part on how well it can balance a grid that increasingly relies on renewables…..   Unlike gas turbines, which can be turned on and off in seconds to “follow the load,” reactors take an hour or more to cut their production in half.

It’s not that reactors can’t follow the load; they’re just slower. “They can and do, because they have to,” Buongiorno says. “It’s just never an attractive economic proposition.”

Last fall, the DOE awarded $80 million each to two companies working on advanced reactor designs intended in part to address this problem. 

The first, TerraPower, a startup founded by Bill Gates, is working on a sodium-cooled reactor………   The second grant went to a company called X-energy for a gas-cooled reactor that operates at very high temperatures.

……  The high-level radioactive waste they produce, however, would need to be transported to a centralized location for management.

.. none of these new designs are moving quickly enough to meet Biden’s targets. DOE officials called their decision to support these two pilot projects, which aim to be fully operational by 2028, “their boldest move yet.”

Meanwhile, there’s a more direct way to balance the variability of renewables: store electricity in batteries. The market for utility-scale battery storage is exploding; it increased by 214 percent in 2020, and the EIA predicts that battery capacity will surge from its current 1,600 megawatts to 10,700 by 2023.

Makhijani thinks nuclear power isn’t going to be needed to balance the grid. A study he conducted in 2016 for the state of Maryland found that increased battery storage, combined with incentives to consumers to reduce their electricity use at peak times, would almost allow utilities to balance the variability of renewables.

They’d just need to store a little energy as hydrogen, which can be produced by running renewable electricity through water and then converted back to electricity in a fuel cell. That process is currently very expensive, Makhijani says, but “as long as it’s not giant amounts, it’s affordable.”……

May 6, 2021 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Canada’s push for small nuclear reactors effectively stops real action on climate change.

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors Are Mostly Bad Policy, 
“………So Who Is Advocating For SMRs & Why? Clean Technica, ByMichael Barnard, 3 May 21,

At present we see SMR earmarked funds in both Canadian and US federal budgets, $150 million in Canada and 10 times as much in the US, mostly for research and development with the exception of over a billion to NuScale to, in theory, build something. In Canada, four provinces — Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan — have joined forces in an SMR consortium. Bill Gates’ Terrapower has received another $80 million, as has X-Energy from the US DOE.

The failure conditions of small modular reactors are obvious. The lack of a significant market is obvious. The lack of ability to create a clear winner is obvious. The security costs are obvious. The lack of vertical scaling to thermal efficiency is obvious. The security risks and associated costs are obvious. The liability insurance cap implications are obvious. So why is all of this money and energy being thrown at SMRs? There are two major reasons, and only one of them is at all tenable.

Let’s start with the worst one. The Canadian provinces which are focused on SMRs are claiming that they are doing this as a major part of their climate change solutions. They are all conservative governments. Only one of those provinces has a nuclear fleet, although New Brunswick has one old, expensive, and due-to-retire reactor, as well as a track record of throwing money away on bad energy ideas, like Joi Scientific’s hydrogen perpetual motion machines. One of the provinces, Ontario, has been actively hostile to renewable energy, with the current administration cutting up 758 renewables contracts and legislating a lack of recourse as a very early act after election.

So why are they doing this? Because it allows them to defer governmental climate action while giving the appearance of climate action. They can pander to their least intelligent and wise supporters by asserting that renewables aren’t fit for purpose, while also not doing anything about the real problem because SMRs don’t exist in a modern, deployable, operable form yet.

The other major reason gets back to renewables as well. 15 years ago it was an arguable position to hold that renewables were too expensive, would cause grid reliability issues and that nuclear in large amounts was necessary. That’s been disproven by both 15 years of failures of nuclear deployments, but more importantly plummeting costs and proven grid reliability with renewable generation. Now almost every serious analyst agrees that renewables can economically deliver 80% of required grid energy, but there is still debate from credible analysts about the remaining 20%.

Mark Z. Jacobson and his Stanford team are at the center of this debate. Since the late 2000s, they’ve been publishing regular studies of increasing scope and sophistication on the thesis of 100% renewables by 2050. The 2015 publication saw a lot of pushback. At the time, my assessment of the fundamental disagreement was that the people who published a criticism of it thought the last 20% would be too expensive, and that both nuclear and carbon capture and sequestration would be necessary and scaled components.

Personally, I’ve done various aspects of the math, looked at grid reliability and transformation data from around the world, and looked at ancillary services requirements, and I think Jacobson and team are right. Further, that since we all agree that renewables are fit for purpose for 80% of the problem we should deploy them as rapidly as possible.

However, it’s very reasonable to make a side bet or two to ensure coverage of that last 20%. I don’t mind research dollars spent on SMRs, which is all most of the SMR expenditures amount to, outside of the Nu Scale bailout (which is added to the Ohio $1.3 billion bailout, which is added to the annual $1.7 billion overt federal subsidy, which is added to the annual hidden $4 billion security subsidy which is added to the $70 billion unfunded cleanup subsidy, which is added to the uncosted and unfunded taxpayer liability). Spending a few tens of millions of dollars in rich countries to ensure that we have that last 20% bridged is reasonable.

But the people asserting that SMRs are the primary or only answer to energy generation either don’t know what they are talking about, are actively dissembling or are intentionally delaying climate action.

May 4, 2021 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Misguided funding for small nuclear reactors

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors Are Mostly Bad Policy, Clean Technica  By Michael Barnard 3 May 21,

People asserting that SMRs are the primary or only answer to energy generation either don’t know what they are talking about, are actively dissembling or are intentionally delaying climate action.

Like hydrogen, small modular nuclear reactors have been seeing a resurgence of interest lately. Much of that is driven by governmental policies and investments focusing on the technology. Much of it comes from the nuclear industry. And inevitably, some comes from entrepreneurs attempting to build a technology that they hope will take off in a major way, making them and their investors a lot of money.

Most Of The Attention & Funding Is Misguided At Best, & Actively Hostile To Climate Action At Worst

First, let’s explore briefly the world of small modular nuclear reactors (SMNR) or small and medium reactors (SMR). The most common acronym is SMR, but you’ll see both.

As it says on the box, they are nuclear generation devices, specifically fission nuclear. That means they use radioactively decaying fissile materials, fuels, to heat a liquid which creates steam which drives steam turbines to generate electricity. Technically, they are like a coal generation plant, but with the heat provided by the decay of uranium instead of the burning of long-buried plant matter.

There are a handful of differences between them and traditional nuclear generation reactors. The biggest one is that they are smaller, hence the ‘small’ and ‘medium’ in the names. They range from 0.068 MW to 500 MW in capacity, with the International Atomic Energy Association using small for up to 300 MW and medium for up to 700 MW.

Despite the buzz, this is not new technology. The first nuclear generation plant was a Russian 5 MW device that went live in 1954. Hundreds of small reactors have been built for nuclear powered vessels and as neutron sources. This is well trodden ground. Most of the innovations being touted were considered initially decades ago.

In the seven decades since the first SMR was commissioned, 57 different designs and concepts have been designed, developed and, rarely, built. Most of the ones which are built are doing what nuclear reactors do, getting older without new ones being built to replace them.

The Russian models are far-north icebreaker power plants being considered for land-based deployment in remote northern towns, with the Siberian one at end of life. The Indian ones are 14 small CANDU variants in operation, most decades old now. The Chinese one is coming up to end of its 40-year life span as well.

The Argentinean model has been in construction on and off for over a decade with work stoppages, political grandstanding, and monetary problems. It may never see the light of day.

The Chinese HTR-PM, under construction for the past decade, is the only one with remotely new technology. If commissioned, it is expected to be the first Gen IV reactor in operation.

And to be clear, this isn’t a technology, it’s many technologies. Across the decades, 57 variants of 18 types have been put forward. None of the types can be considered to be dominant.

Claims About SMRs Don’t Withstand Advocates for SMRs typically make some subset of the following claims:

They are saferThey can be manufactured in scaled, centralized manufacturing facilities so they will be cheaperThey can provide clean power for remote facilities or communitiesThey can be deployed onto decommissioned coal generation brownfield sitesThey can be built faster.

Safety concerns aren’t why nuclear is failing in the marketplace, economics are why nuclear is failing in the marketplace…….. .

May 4, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment