We Were Once Terrified of Fire, Too

October 5, 2011, 6:00AMANS Nuclear CafeSteven B. Krivit

The discovery of fire a million years ago must have been terrifying to cave men and women. Since that time, many people have died and much damage to the earth has occurred as a result of chemical energy released through fire. Nevertheless, that chemical energy found its place in the world, providing great benefits, and most people take it for granted.

The Dispatch Queue – An Alternative Means of Accounting for External Costs?

September 28, 2011, 6:00AMANS Nuclear CafeJim Hopf

Without much going on recently that hasn't been covered by other blog posts, I'd like to explore a topic not specifically tied to nuclear power or to activities currently going on in Washington, D.C. It involves an idea I have about a possible alternative means of having the electricity market account for the public health and environmental costs of various energy sources, and encouraging the development and use of cleaner sources (including nuclear) without requiring legislation. Given the failure of Congress to take action on global warming, as well as environmental issues in general, non-legislative approaches to accomplishing environmental goals may be necessary.

Small Modular Reactors and Current Policy Initiatives

June 20, 2011, 6:00AMANS Nuclear CafeJim Hopf

Over the past year or so, there has been a lot of buzz about small modular reactors (SMRs). These are reactors whose electrical output ranges anywhere from ~25 MW to ~300 MW, as compared with over 1000 MW for large "conventional" nuclear power plants. With SMRs, the entire reactor (or possibly the entire nuclear island-NSSS) could be built in a factory and shipped to the site. Any site construction would be much more limited, and would only involve the (non-nuclear) balance of plant. Descriptions of some proposed SMRs can be found herehere and here.

57th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

June 18, 2011, 9:59PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Perhaps one of the more enduring cartoons that relates to the quality of information on the Internet is the one that states, "On the Internet no one knows you are a dog." It shows a drawing of two dogs sitting in front of a computer terminal. Unfortunately, the cartoon is copyrighted material so it can't be reposted here, but you can see it here along with many variations. The point of the cartoon is that words and images on the screen can come from anywhere and anyone.Clearing up misconceptions and outright falsehoods about nuclear energy since the March 11 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami is getting more attention these days. Problems range from not mainstream journalists not understanding the technical issues to people who are publicity crazed fear mongers out to get their face on a video.

Going electric on the highway

April 19, 2011, 6:00AMANS Nuclear CafeJim Hopf

For this month's perspective post, I'm going to give readers a break from all the negative things going on in Japan, and instead tell a positive story about progress being made toward solving the world's problems. The story is about recent advances in the area of electric cars and, more specifically, my personal experiences purchasing and driving the new Chevy Volt.