Brouillette: Nuclear should be part of California’s energy problem solution

Brouillette

In an op-ed published on September 25 in the Orange County Register, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette decryed the state of California’s handling of its energy crisis.

Brouillette criticized state leaders for championing a 100 percent renewable energy plan that ignores nuclear and natural gas. He also found fault with the plan to prematurely close the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

Nuclear power: Are we too anxious about the risks of radiation?

Rowlatt

Following U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent restatement of the United Kingdom’s commitment to nuclear power, BBC News chief environment correspondent, Justin Rowlatt, wrote an article aimed at separating fact from fiction regarding the safety and benefits of nuclear energy.

Among his points, Rowlatt defended the use of nuclear power to combat climate change, examined the data behind deaths from radiation exposure directly caused by the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents, and explained that exposure to low levels of radiation is not a major health risk.

JPP lays out SPARC fusion physics basis

Cutaway of the SPARC engineering design. Image: CFS/MIT-PSFC, CAD Rendering by T. Henderson

A special issue of the Journal of Plasma Physics gives a glimpse into the physics basis for SPARC, the DT-burning tokamak being designed by a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Commonwealth Fusion Systems. The special issue was announced in a September 29 post on the Cambridge University Press blog Cambridge Core.

The special JPP issue includes seven peer-reviewed articles on the SPARC concept, which takes advantage of recent breakthroughs in high-temperature superconductor technology to burn plasma in a compact tokamak design.

The Netherlands mulls more nuclear energy

The government of the Netherlands has released a report, Possible Role of Nuclear in the Dutch Energy Mix in the Future, that answers in the affirmative the question of whether nuclear energy can play an important role in the country’s future energy mix.

The report, released this month by Enco, an Austrian energy research group, was commissioned by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.

The Netherlands currently has one nuclear power facility supplying the grid—the Borssele plant, which houses a 482-MWe two-loop pressurized water reactor that entered commercial operation in 1973.

A look back at 1984 U.K. spent fuel flask test

The government of the United Kingdom conducted a series of tests in the 1980s to assess the robustness of spent nuclear fuel packages. One such test involved ramming a 140-ton diesel locomotive into a transportation canister, called a nuclear flask, at 100 miles per hour. The test, according to a recent article published by the online magazine The Drive, was a “smashing” success. Just 0.29 psi of pressure escaped the 50-ton test flask, which had been pressurized to 100 psi.

Labor union leader weighs in on closure of Illinois nuclear plants

Lonnie Stephenson, international president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, wrote an op-ed published in the September 25 Chicago Sun-Times touting the benefits of nuclear power in Illinois and decrying Exelon’s plan to prematurely shutter the Byron and Dresden plants.

A last look at Fort Belvoir’s SM-1 reactor

A series of photos published by the Washingtonian on September 22 capture rarely seen images of Fort Belvoir’s SM-1 reactor, the U.S. Army’s first nuclear reactor and the first facility in the United States to provide nuclear-generated power to the commercial grid for a sustained period. These images may be some of the last photos of SM-1, as crews are set to begin decommissioning and dismantling the nuclear facility early next year.

Washington State utility says, “No more wind”

An article published over the weekend in the Tacoma News Tribune reports that the Benton Public Utility District in Kennewick, Wash., is saying no to more wind farms. Even though utilities are moving to decarbonize the grid, a report from the Benton PUD says that more wind farms “will contribute very little to keeping the regional power grid reliable and will not help Benton PUD solve our seasonal energy deficit problems.”

The First Nuclear Textbook?

Yesterday, we had one of the nicer yet stranger events during this wholly strange time - that is, the meeting of the American Nuclear Society's Book Publishing Committee, of which yours truly is the Vice Chair.  I say "nicer" because I always look forward to these meetings, given the opportunity they afford to interact with some of ANS' finest people and the fact that these meetings really get things done.  I say "stranger" because it was a Zoom meeting and not face to face, around a table.  What's even more impacting for me is the fact that the BPC meeting usually is the first event I attend at ANS' Annual and Winter meetings and it serves, thus, as the best possible kickoff for me.  November, maybe.  Maybe.

Closer Than We Think

I'm writing this on National Maritime Day 2020, a day in which we think of and thank all those who have worked on the water moving people and things.  Our nation's maritime history isn't as long as that of some other nations but it has been rich and, worldwide, significant.  We've contributed a number of "firsts."

RadioNuclear Episode 29: Micro Reactors to the Frontline? Dr. Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar and Dr. Rita Baranwal Guest!

RadioNuclear.orgEpisode 29 of RadioNuclear is now online! In this episode, we discuss the potential for micro-reactors and their use on military front-lines Do they offer a strategic advantage, or are they a liability? Additionally, does Gen Z understand nuclear? Apparently not, because 72% of Gen-Z doesn't know nuclear doesn't emit C02. Next, we discuss how congressional members on the hill are supporting the modernization of the NRC reactor oversight process. Lastly, some more good news out of India, because they have just agreed to build 6 new nuclear reactors with Westinghouse. Some truly great news!

Thoughts on THRESHER

As is the case on every 10APR, I find myself – even in the midst of the present national and, really, worldwide crisis – returning to thoughts of the USS THRESHER on this date in 1963. All of us who have been through the Naval Nuclear Power Program and served in submarines are aware to greater or lesser extent what happened; my experience, having served aboard one of the SUBSAFE boats whose development was a direct result of the accident, lends perhaps to more sustained reflection.

Army Off-Road Nuclear Train – 1958

At the end of the 1950’s the US Army was looking at its entire operational sphere to determine in what areas nuclear energy could be of benefit. While many of these are fairly well known today – for example, the small nuclear plants that were to have been installed at remote locations for powering bases like the Defense Early Warning stations – there are a few applications that remain obscure.

Nuclear Energy for Quarantined Kids – and Everyone!

More and more folks are having to essentially home-school their children or relatives’ children as this whole virus thing plays out – and they are benefiting from a tremendous effort on the part of educators everywhere as transition is made to sent-out and, increasingly, remote educational materials. I thought it might be useful to present, with commentary, some short nuclear energy videos that you could watch or use if you check down through materials or want to supplant them. (We really do have to take a moment to applaud our educators, everywhere, for what they’re facing – and the administrators as well.)

Power and Promise: Early Atomic Power in Film!

Our ANS Nuclear Cafe matinee feature this week is a fascinating in-depth look at the fabrication of major components for, and the construction of, the Shippingport Atomic Power Station. In this film you’ll get to see some very interesting, rarely seen things; I will add some comments above and beyond what’s described in the film below.