Sunday, August 01, 2010

Carnival of Nuclear Energy # 12

Dan Yurman at Idaho Samizdat: Nuke Notes is hosting the 12th Blog Carnival of Nuclear Energy. Dan looks at 9 recent articles from the top nuclear bloggers -- making it easier for all of us to keep up with the nuclear action. Here's a brief excerpt:
Next Big Future
Brian Wang has two interesting reports. First, he writes that “stealth nuclear fusion company” Tri-alpha Energy has raised another $50 million.
Also, Brian won his bet to predict global uranium production in 2009. Now he offers some new predictions with a longer time frame. Check out his predictions for Kazakhstan uranium production for 2010 to 2015. And the new 2010, 2011 Kazakhstan uranium production bets with Dittmar.
Cheryl Rofer tackles the estimates in a report by the New York Times, and its source Robert Alvarez, about the amount of plutonium buried in nuclear wastes at Hanford. As Ricky Ricardo said famously to Lucy Ball, “Someone’s got some explaining to do.”
Atomic Insights
Is solar energy now cheaper than nuclear energy? I don’t think so and neither does Rod Adams who cautions readers not to be gullible over a report in the New York Times that relies on questionable data. Adams says the newspaper should have been more thorough in its fact checking before reporting on the study.
Nuclear Green

Charles Barton writes it is becoming increasingly likely that a small Generation IV nuclear plant will find its way onto the grounds of a coal fired power plant near you soon.
_Visit the 12thNukeCarny to see the rest.

Extra item of note: Charles Barton takes another look at the "Big Lots" nuclear reactor. The Big Lots reactor is a relatively low cost liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR) nuclear reactor built "cheap but safe." By designing the reactor to run at lower temperature, it can be built with cheaper materials. By using the reactor as a "load following" or "peak demand" reactor, the wear and tear should be less, and the unit should last longer. Read Charles' description to get a better idea of what he is talking about.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commissioners would have a heart attack just thinking about it, but most intelligent analysts will see a lot of things in Charles' idea to like.

Extra Special Bonus: Nuclear Reactor Renaissance, an IEEE Spectrum article looks at some of the new reactor designs which will help bring about an age of safer, more abundant, cleaner nuclear energy in the near future.
First, there are the new light-water reactors, which aren't radically different from what's out there right now but add better safety features. Then there are the small modular reactors that produce less than 300 megawatts but can be scaled up. Need more power? Just add more modules to your plant. Finally, there are the really-out-there designs, known in the industry as Generation IV.
The article looks at likely example reactors for each of the three classes mentioned in the quote above.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world is likely to jump into the nuclear renaissance before the US, due to the powerful influence of anti-nuclear faux environmental groups and ideologues well situated within the US government and within the US legal and judicial communities. Political activists can tie up a multi-billion dollar power plant project in judicial proceedings for so long that finance, legal, and other costs can destroy the project before it has a fair chance to get started.

Small modular reactor projects should be cheaper, quicker, easier, and more numerous, which will make it more difficult for the lefty-Luddites to stop them. But that assumes that the US NRC and other government agencies will give SMRs a chance to begin with.



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