Sunday, May 29, 2011

54th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Blogs

There is more going on in the world of nuclear energy than the Fukushima crisis

EBR 1 chalkboard_thumb[3]This week there is continuing news from Fukushima, but there are also a diverse set of posts on nuclear energy topics.

If you want to hear the voice of the nuclear renaissance, the Carnival of Nuclear Energy Blogs is where to find it. Contrary to what the anti-nuclear crowd would like you to believe, the wheels have not come off the renaissance.

(Image: The first known nuclear energy blog post is chalk talk at EBR-1 in Idaho on December 21, 1951. Image courtesy Argonne National Laboratory)

Past editions of the Carnival have been hosted at NEI Nuclear Notes, ANS Nuclear Cafe, CoolHandNuke, NuclearGreen, as well as several other popular nuclear energy blogs.

If you have a pro-nuclear energy blog, and would like to host an edition of the carnival, please contact Brian Wang at Next Big Future to get on the rotation. This is a great collaborative effort that deserves your support. Please post a Tweet, a Facebook entry, or a link on your Web site or blog to support the carnival.

PopAtomic Studios

bellefontecolorfield Suzy Hobbs is on the road and one of her stops is the Duke Energy McGuire Nuclear Station in North Caroline which provides 2,200 MW of carbon emission free electricity to the region. (Image of TVA at Bellefonte courtesy PopAtomic Studios)

Hobbs writes, “"In the media most of the news about nuclear pertains to upset citizens and community conflicts.

So this is a story about a nuclear station with a great communications team, responsible employees, a well managed reactor, all situated in an affluent and lovely community. It probably won’t make any headlines, but represents something much closer to the reality for most of the American nuclear energy fleet and their respective communities."

Atomic Insights
Rod Adams asks whether major “environmental” groups paid to help oil and gas interests make more money?

Adams writes, “Though full of many sincere and hard working people who are trying to make the world a cleaner and more human friendly place, I believe that most of the really big and well-funded non-profit organizations that claim to be working for the environment are really cleverly conceived profit centers for the establishment. This post includes a quote dialog explaining the theory in more detail.”

ANS Nuclear Cafe
Dr. Ulrich Decher analyzes wind, solar, and hydro in the Pacific Northwest and California and asks: What is the “good thing” of having so much wind on the Bonneville Power Administration grid? What will be the outcome of California's renewable energy portfolio goal given the intermittency of wind power?

Deregulating the Atom

Rick Maltease writes, “I must admit the title was inspired as a call to the right political thinkers but also a call to action to recognize that supporting nuclear energy is supporting the common good. I would even go so far as to say it is Christian. But I don't mention that specific point in the post.”

Next Big Future
Thorium license plateA nuclear fuel company, Thorenco LLC, presented a small transportable 40-megawatt-thermal at the third annual Thorium Energy conference. The Thorium converter reactor for multiple uses: producing electricity (15 megawatts), burning up high-level actinides from spent fuel, and producing low-cost, high-temperature steam (or process industrial heat).

(Image: Thorium license plate courtesy of Robert Hargraves)

Kirk Sorensen announced his new Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor company Flibe Energy at the third annual Thorium Energy conference. Kirk has not disclosed details of funding for Flibe Energy (which is named for the mixture of lithium fluoride (LiF) and beryllium fluoride (BeF2) that is proposed, in molten-salt form as a coolant for LFTRs)

A Teledyne Brown executive attending the conference said that they are “fully supportive of Flibe Energy.” Kirk also pointed out that, in addition to (and likely preceding) the product of commercial power, LFTRs offer several other revenue streams: in particular supply radioisotopes for medical applications. The only reactor producing medical radioisotopes in North America is due to shut down in the next three years.

FlibeEnergy’s ambitious development program aims for first demonstration criticality in June 2015.

Nuclear Green
At NuclearGreen Charles Barton has highlights of the (slides > Thorium Alliance Conference )which took place in Washington, DC, this week . An interesting observation is that the first commercial thorium fueled reactor could be an SMR for military applications.

Barton writes, "At the moment, according to one speaker, there are too many competing SMR designs, and many other obstacles to the emergence of of commercial SMRs, but the DoD could emerge as a leader in SMR development. There are clearly national security issues in play, both in terms of energy input into military operations, and in terms of the economic implications of energy technology."

The Capacity Factor
The Australian blog "Capacity Factor" has an excellent summary of the passive cooling features of the proposed design for the NuScale Small Modular Reactor (SMR). It uses passive safety features. The concept is to put SMRs in very large, atmospheric-pressure water pools. Large enough that they can reject decay heat indefinitely by boiling away into the atmosphere.

Atomic Power Review
Will Davis at Atomic Power review continues to publish technical updates on the status of the reactors at Fukushima and TEPCo's recovery efforts. The latest is a dust suppression program to prevent wind from transporting radioactive debris off site.

Nuke Power Talk

time to marketAt Nuke Power Talk, Gail Marcus notes that Scientific American, which has a pattern of publishing dour doubts about the future of nuclear energy, has published a more balanced review of the current state of the nuclear renaissance in the U.S. It includes reports on Southern's Vogtle site and work at TVA to complete Watts Bar.

In the past some editors at SciAm have predicted a time to market for new reactors in unflattering terms. However, something has changed.

Marcus writes, "While all the information in the two articles will be well known to most readers of this blog, I always find it interesting to know what other people are reading, and I was pleased to see this very fair and balanced article in the pages of a publication that is read by a broad spectrum of scientists and engineers."

NEI Nuclear Notes
NEI Nuclear Notes writes about the illogical drive by the State of Vermont to close the Vermont Yankee reactor. NEI's blogger says this amounts to the state wanting to shoot itself in the foot. This folk saying comes from the American wild west of the 19th century when handguns were widely carried as side arms.

NEI's blogger writes, "Vermont is bound and determined to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear energy facility over a leakage of tritium last year that harmed no one - at all. While the leak should not have occurred, the cause of it was located and sealed and no one inside or outside the plant was harmed by it."

According to an NEI Fact Sheet, nearly three-quarters of the electricity used in Vermont comes from the reactor. How will they keep the lights on if the legislature and its new governor prevail in closing the facility next year?

Yes Vermont Yankee

In this post, Meredith Angwin of Yes Vermont Yankee examines the deal that Green Mountain Power made to buy some nuclear-generated power from Seabrook. She concludes that, yes, this will help Vermont if Vermont Yankee is forced to shut down, but it is not nearly enough electricity to fill the looming gap in the local power supply.

Areva North America Next Energy Blog

StevenChu_at_G8The Blog likes an interview U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu (right) did with National Public Radio on May 26th

When asked about what the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor means for nuclear energy in the United States, Sec. Chu replied,

“I still believe that nuclear power should be part of the energy mix of the 21st century.”

He stressed how the many important lessons learned from Japan will be integrated into U.S. reactors, adopted by the industry, and that new nuclear power plants will be even safer.

The interview also hit upon the approach for used fuel management in the United States. Discussing how Yucca Mountain, the proposed long-term storage site, is now off the table Secretary Chu pointed to the forthcoming recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on developing a strategy going forward.

Importantly, Secretary Chu noted that the focus is on used nuclear fuel which, he said is not necessarily a waste, and that he would like to see technologies developed to utilize these materials.

Idaho Samizdat

At Idaho Samizdat, Dan Yurman comments on an OP ED by Gregory Jaczko, Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission published at the Huffington Post on May 26. In it Jaczko responds to claims made in a New York Times article which portrayed the NRC as a toothless regulator in bed with the industry.

The New York Times article can only be described as a shameful departure from the standards of ethics and fairness the newspaper claims to uphold. Federal regulatory agencies usually just roll over when newspapers swat them with articles like this one.

Yurman writes, "In his OP ED at the Huffington Post the NRC Chairman seems to have found some backbone standing up for the broad principles of nuclear safety rather than rolling with the tactics of political expediency which he has been accused of doing over Yucca Mountain. That’s a step in the right direction."

The NRC may not have liked that assessment very much. Jaczko is widely perceived as a political tool of Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who’s only objective regarding his former aide’s tenure at the NRC is to keep Yucca Mountain bottled up. That’s a problem for the NRC and the nuclear industry.

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