13 June 2011

Carnival of Nuclear Energy #56 at NEI Nuclear Notes

The 56th edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Energy is being hosted at NEI Nuclear Notes. (h/t Brian Wang) Here are some excerpts:
To start, Rod Adams at Atomic Insights has a piece describing what’s happening between the NRC, the AP1000 and Friends of the Earth. According to Rod, the NRC appears to be wavering in its commitment to its own established process because some believe that receiving 14,000 emails on the AP1000 design certification indicates a high level of general public opposition. Rod notes that the emails are mainly from a single group, the FOE, who have professionally opposed nuclear energy for 40 years. The group claims credit for orchestrating nearly every one of those emails as part of a campaign against nuclear energy in general, not against the AP1000 in particular. The FOE sources who have identified the cited "technical issues" have questionable professional backgrounds, long histories of antinuclear activity, and little credibility.
Dan Yurman at Idaho Samizdat discusses the NRC Inspector General’s report on the NRC Chairman’s use of budget guidance on the review of the Yucca Mountain license. According to media summaries of the leaked IG’s review in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, the Chairman issued controversial budget guidance to his staff to stop the work and brushed off complaints from other commissioners about it.
Rick Maltese at Deregulate the Atom pointed out that the NRC should not get all the credit for nuclear energy's decades of safety.
The Institute for Nuclear Power Operations in the US and the World Association of Nuclear Operators deserve a lot of the credit for improvements in safety and other design improvements. They are the Nuclear Industry’s self regulating bodies. And most of the accomplishments were made within the 10 or so years after the Three Mile Island accident. I point this out to set the record straight about who and how the excellent record of safety that has come about in the nuclear industry is not at all understood.
Alan Rominger and Steve Skutnik at Neutron Economy have two posts to mention. Alan explains the connection between the recent idea for "charter cities" where small modular reactors located at the bottom of the ocean can provide sustainable, independent power for such efforts. And Steve explains why he ultimately went from being a physicist to a nuclear engineer. Steve encourages other nuclear professionals and advocates to tell their stories of how they came to be involved in nuclear energy as well (I’m reminded of this example).
Charles Barton at Nuclear Green asks: Why Is Renewable Energy So Expensive, While Molten Salt Reactors will be So Cheap? He finds that an examination of input materials for wind generation systems and solar PV generation is greater than the input materials for an Advanced High Temperature Reactor. The study he cites reveals that the AHTR, a near relative of the Molten Salt Reactor, has big advantages by the little amount of resources needed. MSRs can potentially offer the same material input advantages over renewables, and thus may generate electricity at very competitive costs.
Brian Wang at Next Big Future reports that Lawrenceville Plasma Physics’s (LPP) research team has sorted out several issues on their dense plasma focus fusion project which should enable them to substantially increase power.
_NEI Nuclear Notes
Despite the Obama administration's overarching policy of energy starvation and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's blatant obstructionism, small modular reactors are being developed rapidly -- the B&W reactor being a prime example.
The concept behind mPower, and small modular reactors designed by B&W competitors, is to let electric utilities add nuclear generation in small blocks. While most reactors on the market today generate more than 1,000 megawatts of power, an mPower module would provide 125 megawatts. A utility could order just enough modules to meet its needs, Halfinger said.

“There are places in the world where they need 1,000 megawatts, (but) one size does not fit all,” he said. “A lot of places need 200 megawatts.”

The nuclear industry has been abuzz about small modular reactors. Westinghouse, NuScale Power and Holtec International also are working on modular designs.

Cross-posted to Al Fin Energy

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