October 12, 2016

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 329

1. Neutron Bytes - Dan Yurman, U.S. Navy Sets Plans to Upgrade Idaho Spent Fuel Facility

The Naval Reactors facility needs a new wet storage facility to cool off spent fuel from its nuclear propulsion program.

The Navy and U.S. Department of Energy want to build a $1.6 billion facility at a nuclear site in eastern Idaho that would handle fuel waste from the nation’s fleet of nuclear-powered warships through at least 2060.

The new facility would be built at the Energy Department’s 890-square-mile Idaho National Laboratory, the nation’s primary lab for commercial nuclear energy research.

The Navy’s plan is sure to set off a significant response from anti-nuclear groups and two ex-governors who have stridently opposed any new spent nuclear fuel, from any source, being brought to the state.

2. Nextbigfuture - Update on the Liquid Fluoride Thorium reactor projects.

The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor is a type of Molten Salt Reactor. Molten Salt Reactors are Generation IV nuclear fission reactors that use molten salt as either the primary reactor coolant or as the fuel itself; they trace their origin to a series of experiments directed by Alvin Weinberg at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the ‘50s and ‘60s. The LFTR is differentiated from other variants of the MSR by the fact that it runs on thorium rather than uranium, thorium being an element that is fertile rather than fissile, and which will transmute to fissile uranium-233 upon exposure to neutrons.

China and the USA (Flibe Energy) are working to develop LFTR reactors.

3. Nextbigfuture - China's nuclear energy production increased over 20% in August and the World added 9 new nuclaer reactors in 2016 to reach 450 operational reactors.

Most of Japans reactors are still shutdown

4. Nextbigfuture - Canada and China have agreed to form a new joint venture to develop to market and construct the Advanced Fuel Candu Reactor (AFCR) in China. The deal was signed by Canada's SNC-Lavalin, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and Shanghai Electric. The reactor reuses used fuel from light water reactors.

The joint venture company is expected to be registered in mid-2017. This would be followed by the formation of two design centres - one in Canada and the other in China - to complete the AFCR technology. SNC-Lavalin said this could lead to the construction of the world's first two ACFR units in China and "possible subsequent builds in China and around the world".

The AFCR is described as "a 700 MW Class Generation III reactor based on the highly successful Candu 6 and Enhanced Candu 6 (EC6) reactors with a number of adaptations to meet the latest Canadian and international standards." The reactor features a heavy-water moderator and heavy-water coolant in a pressure tube design and can use both recycled uranium and thorium as fuel. Candu reactors can be refueled online.

Units 1 and 2 of the Qinshan Phase III nuclear power plant in China use the Candu 6 pressurized heavy water reactor technology, with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) being the main contractor of the project on a turnkey basis.

The Candu 6 reactors should be modified to become full AFCRs.

The AFCR efficiently uses RU (recycled Uranium) from the spent fuel of LWR (light water reactors)

Current CANDU reactors, as a result of favorable reactor core physics characteristics and on-power fuelling, use approximately 30% less natural uranium per each kilowatt-hour of electricity as compared to PWR designs.

5. Nextbigfuture - International Tokomak Fusion project head says cost estimates now at a realistic 18 to 22 billion Euro which means past lowball estimates were lies or wild guesses.

6. Nextbigfuture - Blockchain technology has been slow to gain adoption in non-financial contexts, but it could turn out to have invaluable military applications. DARPA, the storied research unit of the US Department of Defense, is currently funding efforts to find out if blockchains could help secure highly sensitive data, with potential applications for everything from nuclear weapons to military satellites.

The case for using a blockchain boils down to a concept in computer security known as “information integrity.”

This September, DARPA, which stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (the agency helped create the internet, among other things), awarded a $1.8 million contract to a computer security firm called Galois. The firm’s assignment is to formally verify—a sort of computer-code audit, using mathematics—a particular type of blockchain tech supplied by a company called Guardtime. Formal verification is one way to build nearly unhackable code, and it’s a big part of DARPA’s approach to security.

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