National Nuclear Science Week 2015 - Nuclear Energy

NSW logoWednesday during National Nuclear Science Week is devoted to the topic of Nuclear Energy.  Do you know how we use the energy obtained by splitting the atom to produce the electricity that charges up your phone, powers your TV and router, and lights your way?  Click on the link below to see the basics.

Belgian Doel-3 and Tihange-2 Back in the News

Tihange Nuclear Plant, Belgium.  Courtesy Electrabel.

Tihange Nuclear Plant, Belgium. Courtesy Electrabel.

The years-long saga surrounding the reactor pressure vessels at the Doel-3 nuclear power plant and Tihange-2 NPP in Belgium has taken another turn, pushing these units back into the broader news cycle and renewing calls from some (uninformed) quarters for further worldwide action and/or permanent shutdowns.

Responding to System Demand II: Extreme Scenarios

Gravelines Units 1 through 6, France.  Image courtesy AREVA USA.

Gravelines Units 1 through 6, France. Image courtesy AREVA USA.

The continued introduction of renewables onto the electric grid in the United States is ensuring that discussion of whether or not these assets can be integrated with existing or expected designs of other sources continues. In this discussion, nuclear energy is often wrongly described as "on or off"-but in fact, nuclear plants can and do load follow (respond to changing system demands) although it's a matter of both design and owner utilization-with a focus on economics-that determines if or when any actually do.

The Final Entrant - Last Nuclear Utility in Japan Applies for Restart

Shika NPP Unit 2.  Courtesy Hokuriku Electric Power Co.

Shika NPP Unit 2. Courtesy Hokuriku Electric Power Co.

Yesterday, the saga of nuclear energy in post-Fukushima Japan reached an important milestone as the final utility that owns nuclear power plants in that country applied to the regulator for restart, in an event that snuck under the radar of most news venues.

Caught in the Leadership Paradox: Insight from Admiral Rickover

Recent scandals at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and General Motors (GM) have struck a chord with the media and the American people because they represent the worst in bureaucracies-where the lives of individuals seem to get lost in the bureaucratic woods. In the case of the VA, lying about wait times blocked pathways for care and potentially resulted in the early deaths of some veterans. In the case of GM, the bureaucracy put horse blinders on its employees so that they couldn't recognize the safety significance of ignition switch problems linked to at least 13 deaths.

Argentina carries torch for SMR construction

CAREM 25 Prototype Plant; illustration courtesy CNEA

News came out this week that the first concrete had been poured at the construction site for the world's first small modular reactor (SMR) project-and it wasn't for a Generation mPower SMR at the former Clinch River site, or for a SMART SMR (which was the first type in the world to receive governmental design certification) at a site in South Korea.

The Atlantic Generating Station

Recent announcements and news stories about a Russian project to build a floating and essentially portable nuclear power plant have been variously tabbed with the heading "new." The idea of a floating, mobile nuclear plant (which is not self-propelled and not a ship) is indeed not new-the nuclear barge STURGIS, itself a converted Liberty Ship, served as a power source for the Panama Canal for many years, beginning back in 1967. The new Russian plants bring extra excitement because they are classed, properly, in the now-popular small modular reactor plant category, having been based on true seagoing designs. This, of course, hints at the fact that their output will not approach that of any of the large, conventional nuclear plants familiar today.

Nuclear Matinee: Virtual Tour of a Nuclear Reactor in Second Life

Today the ANS Nuclear Cafe Matinee takes viewers on a virtual tour of an EPR nuclear power plant, in the virtual world of Second LifeEPR (European Pressurized Reactor or Evolutionary Pressurized Reactor) is a relatively new design, third-generation nuclear reactor, with units under construction in Finland, France, and China.

Starting a new nuclear construction industry is hard work

Construction at Vogtle units 3 and 4 and VC Summer units 2 and 3 is not going as well as many nuclear advocates would like. I'm not surprised, but neither are most people who have been involved in complex construction and technology projects that involve a lot of moving parts and numerous interested parties. Nothing that happens at those projects will change my mind that atomic fission is a superior way to produce heat and boil water. There is little chance that events at those individual projects will convince me that there is something fundamentally wrong with the advanced passive reactor plant design.

Ballot initiative to close California’s nuclear plants

There's not much new happening in DC right at the moment, so this month I'll discuss something that's going on in the state of California. That is, a proposed ballot initiative to shut the two remaining nuclear power plants-the two-unit Diablo Canyon and the two-unit San Onofre-in the state.

Nuclear News and the new year

GE-Hitachi proposes to burn U.K. plutonium stockpile

"I&C" in Nuclear News

The December issue of Nuclear News magazine, which contains a special section on instrumentation and control, is available in hard copy and electronically for American Nuclear Society members (must enter ANS user name and password in Member Center). The special section contains the following stories:

A Study in Nuclear Success, A Review of “Nuclear Silk Road: The ‘Koreanization’ of Nuclear Power Technology”

As part of the team that supported the startup of Yonggwang-3 and -4 (South Korea's first nuclear units, built in a technology transfer program with Combustion Engineering), I thought it long overdue to see a book that chronicled South Korea's journey from an impoverished nation to one of the world's leading players in the nuclear industry (e.g., South Korea has 21 operating reactors versus Germany's 17).

Loewen leads U.S. nuclear energy mission to India

ANS President Eric Loewen speaking at press conference in Mumbai, India, 9/28/11

A high-powered nuclear energy delegation from the United States, led by American Nuclear Society President Eric Loewen, is visiting India this week to participate in the Indo-U.S. Nuclear Energy Safety Summit being held here on September 30.