Nuclear Plant Construction Delay and Cost 8

July 4, 2019, 11:00AMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

We continue now our look at Appendix III of WASH-1250, the unpublished (except in final draft form) AEC study on reactor safety from 1973.  This appendix describes the rise of the anti-nuclear movement in the United States; the previous installment contains roughly the first half of this important historical record.  We now present the second part, word for word unaltered.

Nuclear Plant Construction Delay and Cost 7

July 1, 2019, 10:06PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

We are quite aware today that a major force in delaying nuclear plant licensing has been the action of "intervenors" - persons, or more often groups pretending to act as concerned individuals, who attend open meetings, file motions, and start all sorts of legal proceedings intended to delay nuclear plants long enough that the owners decide to quit.  How did this all start?

The Value of Nuclear - 2019 ANS Annual Meeting Opening Plenary

June 11, 2019, 1:15AMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

American Nuclear Society's 2019 Annual Meeting kicked off today in Minneapolis. President John Kelly opened in the theme of this year's meeting, The Value of Nuclear. The meeting's host, Xcel Energy, committed to end the use of coal by 2030. Kelly pointed out, "that would be impossible without its reliable, well-run nuclear plants* right here in Minnesota."  He added that nuclear power is America's largest source of carbon-free energy and that nuclear energy is critical to any future reductions in the use of fossil fuels or lowering of emissions.

The Add-Ons

May 17, 2019, 3:46PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

Roughly six years ago, I wrote an article for ANS Nuclear Cafe entitled "The Hook-Ons," which covered small nuclear plants that were added (or "hooked") onto existing or purpose-built cooperative fossil fired plants.  That idea continues to receive attention today as we think about converting various fossil powered things to nuclear.  I say "things" because these might be power plants, chemical plants, factories, or anything else.  In recalling this article recently though, I thought about another aspect of those days of wide nuclear enthusiasm and construction - what about add-ons?  Let's take a look.

ANS and the Value of Nuclear

April 19, 2019, 12:00PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

Nuclear energy is perhaps mankind's ultimate technical achievement.  (Big Rock Point photo from Consumers Power brochure in my collection.)

Nuclear energy is perhaps mankind's ultimate technical achievement. (Big Rock Point photo from Consumers Power brochure in my collection.)

The upcoming American Nuclear Society Annual Meeting in June has, as its theme, "The Value of Nuclear."  I am aware that this phrase covers many different things felt by many different people; I'd like to tell you what it means to me.

What if we DO need nuclear now?

April 4, 2019, 3:15PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

Looking at the news every day these days, remembering of course that algorithms collate content for me quite often on various platforms, it seems that there's some considerable momentum growing for nuclear energy here in the United States.  What's troubling is that while there is a growing sense of urgency, I also see a continued, repeated focus in far too many articles on 'probably in ten years' technologies.  If there's really an urgency, it seems probable that looking to the next hill is ridiculous while we're getting ready to die on this one.  If we really do need urgency, what do we do?  Here are a few suggestions - feel free to add some constructive or additional ideas in the comments.

Nuclear Concept Art: A Visual Journey

March 8, 2019, 12:00PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

Although we may not think of art at the same time as we think of nuclear facilities, art has nevertheless played an important role in their development.  The "artist's concept," or an illustration (or model, or doctored photo of a model) was, and is, a very useful tool to display to anyone what a planned facility will look like - no small thing to a community asked to host one, or a utility paying to build one.  There have been many genres of concept illustration or art produced for nuclear plants just as there have been for any other kind of thing - so let's take a look at some from my collection.  Descriptions are in the captions; click photos to enlarge.

Organic Cooled Reactors: Five Fast Facts!

February 28, 2019, 4:31PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

Atomics International Commercial Organic Nuclear Plant

Early 1960's artist's concept for a commercial organic cooled nuclear power plant - right near a city. This isn't far from what actually happened as we'll see below. Concept art published by Atomics International.

The present re-examination of reactor principles tried in the past but for one or another reason sidelined has skipped a very significant principle:  Organic coolant.  This was an early idea which received a great deal of research and press during the great buildup of nuclear technology; today, it's largely been forgotten.  Let's take another look!

BORAX, SPERT Tests; INL at 70!

February 22, 2019, 4:51PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

Idaho National Laboratory is celebrating 70 years of operation in the mission of advancing knowledge in the field of nuclear technology.  Materials, methods - even basic questions about feasibility of certain concepts - have been tested and proven at this historic, and quite large remote facility in the Idaho desert over all these years.  A number of notable firsts have occurred there, including the first operation of a nuclear plant designed for shipboard use (STR, later S1W) as well as tests for the (abortive) nuclear bomber program.  Thousands of valuable test hours were racked up by samples in the legendary Materials Test Reactor and its neighbor the Engineering Test Reactor - both now gone, their former sites mostly now a parking lot.

Smorgasbord or Specialty? Nuclear Ships and Now

January 24, 2019, 6:12PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

At the end of last month there was some press about the emissions from cargo ships as a threat to the environment, and in due course nuclear propulsion was brought up as a way to get around it.  It seems that every once in a while nuclear propulsion for cargo and/or passenger ships is revived, only to be forgotten again after a few superficial studies.  The plain fact seems to be that the economics of nuclear ships will not allow their wide spread until something external re-racks the whole economic model of shipping to allow this option to be considered.  That "something" is very likely to be penalty for emissions near shore, or for burning fossil fuel in ships in the first place - in other words, some form or another of carbon taxing applied specifically to open-ocean shipping.

2019 - A Wish List in Nuclear Energy

January 10, 2019, 3:54PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

Welcome to 2019!  I hope everyone who took a break enjoyed it. For those who didn't, why didn't you?  Initially, I had thoughts of trying to separate from social media and news to a significant extent during the holidays but, after conversations with Linda Zec (our wonderful ANS staff liaison for the Social Media Team, among many other things) decided that it was impractical to do so for a variety of reasons.  So, as the holiday furor ebbed and flowed and I continued, still connected, to read news and year-end summations, I found myself wishing that there wouldn't be so much frustrating news in 2019.  That's why I decided to open my eighth calendar year writing for the ANS Nuclear Cafe with a wish list, or "listicle" in the inside jargon, if you prefer.  Here, in ascending order of importance (or, I suppose, increasing order of unlikelihood) are my five wishes for this new year in nuclear energy.  (All on one screen; no annoying "next" buttons.  You're welcome.)

EBR-1 in Photos

December 20, 2018, 5:02PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

December 20, 1951 marks an important date in the history of nuclear power; it's the date on which the first useful electric power was generated by atomic fission.  While the now-famous event at that time only powered four light bulbs, the somewhat stunt-like nature of the day obscured the fact that the plant was actually set up to generate considerably more power, and did so.  Let's take a look at this fact and, at the same time, the facility through illustrations from my collection and from photographs that I took myself while touring EBR-1 earlier this year.