Fighting for the Next Inch

September 5, 2013, 1:57PMANS Nuclear CafePeter Shaw

I had an interesting conversation with some colleagues last night. We were talking about our jobs, and it turned out that some of them were considering moving on to new prospects outside of the nuclear industry. After digging in to the reasons why, the sentiment seemed to come down to "It feels like we're running as hard as we can only to gain inches every day."

Inherent and engineered safety: Did Weinberg predict today's reactors a quarter century ago?

March 28, 2013, 1:57PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Following the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident on March 28, 1979, it seemed to many as if a slowing nuclear energy industry in the United States had been dealt a death blow. It had not, but the public's confidence was shaken, and this blow to public opinion built upon a decade's worth of intensive, focused anti-nuclear effort on the part of a number of large well-funded special interest groups.

Update and Perspective on Small Modular Reactor Development

March 21, 2013, 6:00AMANS Nuclear CafeJim Hopf

The US Department of Energy has a $452 million program to share development and licensing costs for selected small modular reactor (SMR) designs. The DOE's goal is to have an operating SMR by ~2022. Last November, the DOE awarded the first grant to the B&W mPowerTM reactor. In more recent news, the DOE has decided to issue a follow-on solicitation to enter a similar cost-sharing agreement with one or more other SMR vendors (and their SMR designs). The status of development and licensing for several SMR designs are summarized below.

Fukushima Two Years Later

March 7, 2013, 2:58PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

At about a quarter to three in the afternoon on March 11, 2011, a gigantic and unprecedented earthquake struck just over 110 miles off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture in Japan. The quake was followed, just over 40 minutes later, by the first of several rounds of tsunami, which inundated enormous areas and eradicated entire towns and villages. Over 19,000 people were killed or are still missing, and over 6,000 survivors were injured.

Responding to System Demand

February 14, 2013, 3:30PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

Significant discussions have occurred recently on various internet venues about "load following"-that is, the capability of a generating source to adjust its power output to match variable demands. There is a myth spreading that nuclear power plants cannot load follow, and today's ever-changing discussion about low-GHG generating sources demands that this myth be dispelled.

ANS Nuclear Cafe Matinee: DUFF Space Nuclear Reactor Prototype

November 30, 2012, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A joint Department of Energy and NASA team has demonstrated a simple, robust fission reactor prototype [note: see Comments for more accurate and complete description] intended for development for future space exploration missions. The DUFF (Demonstration Using Flattop Fissions) experiment represents the first demonstration in the United State-since 1965-of a space nuclear reactor system to produce electricity.

ANS to host ICAPP 2012 at annual conference

June 11, 2012, 12:45PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The American Nuclear Society's Annual Conference, to be held June 24-28 in Chicago, Ill., will feature an embedded International Congress on Advances in Nuclear Power Plants (ICAPP 2012), ANS President Eric Loewen announced. "This international conference brings together nuclear leaders from around the world to share best practices and advance international understanding of the latest advances in nuclear power plants," said Loewen.

Nuclear Matinee: Sustainable energy choices for the 21st century

March 30, 2012, 6:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

This video takes the stance that climate change and sustainability of the global human enterprise are two of the most critical issues of the 21st century. If we are to tackle these problems effectively, we need to make prudent, evidence-based choices about energy. This is the story told in this short animated video-the first to be featured in the ANS Nuclear Cafe "Friday Matinee" series.