Carnival of Nuclear Energy 178

1. At Nuke Power Talk, Gail Marcus adds to the chorus of voices saying that the electricity pricing policies that were put in place to encourage the development of renewable energy sources just don’t make sense. In fact, they are counterproductive, as they are leading to the shutdown of nuclear power plants–and the consequent replacement of that power by fossil fuel sources.

Energy markets “were physically designed by reliability engineers, intellectually designed by economists, and all disputes are resolved by lawyers,” said Robert E. Curry Jr., a former member of the New York State Public Service Commission. “It’s the worst of all possible worlds”.

“Looking at a market in the long run, you want to maintain a diverse portfolio, so you properly mitigate all your risk,” Mr. Mohl of Entergy said. “You don’t want to move to where you’re overly reliant on a single fuel.”

So far, though, that is not a consensus position, and what is likely to replace Vermont Yankee and other aging reactors is power generated by natural gas.

Bill Mohl, the president of wholesale electricity sales at Entergy, said it was a mistake for the market to force decisions about which plants to keep alive or scrap based on the everyday cost of power.

“Their market design is flawed because it doesn’t take a long-term look at the portfolio of assets,” he said. That portfolio should provide long-term grid reliability, and environmental and economic sustainability, he said — all benefits that nuclear power provides.

But nuclear gets no extra money for being carbon-free. It turns out that the cheapest way to achieve reductions in soot, acid rain and smog precursors is shutting down coal plants in favor of natural gas.

2. Yes Vermont Yankee – Uranium exploration and mining: Something a little different

In this post, Meredith Angwin goes back to her grad school roots in mineral chemistry. She shares videos of modern methods of exploring for uranium and up-to-date methods of mining it. It’s worth remembering, every now and again, that uranium ore is a natural part of the earth. The nuclear industry is based on the qualities and bounty of…the earth.

Exploring for Uranium

Mining and Milling Uranium

3. Yes Vermont Yankee- Wind on the grid: Location, Location, Location

Energy from a major wind-farm was not allowed on the New England grid during a hot day of high power demand. Meredith Angwin chronicles the sniping between Governor Peter Shumlin and the dispatchers of ISO-NE about this incident. Basically the grid is all about location and transmission capacity and (sometimes) synchronous condensers. Politicians are all about sound-bytes. This post originated as Angwin’s op-ed in a local paper.

4. ANS Nuclear Cafe: “The Challenge Continues” by Howard Shaffer

The fall in New England brings crispness to the air, beautiful mountainsides covered with leaves turning color, and a spur to activity before the coming winter. The nuclear debate in this region continues to be spurred on as well.

Several recent events, including a high-profile anti-nuclear panel held in New York and Boston, point out the need for nuclear advocates to continue to strive to win the “battle of ideas” in the public political arena.

5. NGNP Alliance: A review of the TRISO Fuel news out of Idaho National Lab. What it means for HTGRs (High Temperature Gas Reactors) and what TRISO fuel really is.

TRISO is a shortened version of TRIstructural-ISOtropic. Say that mouthful a few times in a row and you’ll understand why they nicknamed it TRISO. TRISO fuel is tiny balls of uranium coated with carbon, then silicon carbide, then carbon.

The US has been testing how the fuel will behave in high temperature next generation reactors. This is where INL (Idaho national lab) and ORNL (Oak Ridge National Lab) come in. They put approximately 300,000 TRISO fuel particles into one of their test reactors and irradiated them for 3 years

6. The Hiroshima Syndrome/Fukushima Commentary –
Doomsday Prophecies Precede Fukushima’s Spent Fuel Removal

Ordinarily, spent fuel pool transfers are not considered newsworthy. Not so in Japan. Not so with the 1331 bundles in F. Daiichi’s SFP #4. The international prophets of doom are posting apocalyptic predictions about SFP #4, and the Japanese Press is giving them a wide audience.

7. Atomic Insights – Actinides could disrupt corrupt establishment

Rod Adams agrees with the panel on Democracy Now’s October 8, 2013 episode regarding the often corrupting influence of the thirst for oil and gas related money. However, he’s pretty sure that the interviewers and guests would initially resist a discussion of his proposed treatment for the condition. Rod believes that actinides (uranium, thorium and plutonium) provide us with effective tools that can seriously disrupt the world’s established order. Skilled use of actinide tools can help reverse a trend that Timothy Mitchell calls “de-democratizing”. Compared to oil and gas, successful use of nuclear energy rests more on cooperative, well-trained, independently thinking workers than on militarily enforced control over resources.

Pipeline politics are not an effective means of controlling political behavior when the fuel resources have such dense concentrations of energy that they can be effectively moved using a variety of transport mechanisms, including backpack if necessary.

If breeder reactor technology is in use, a single person carrying 50 pounds of uranium can deliver as much energy as a 50,000 ton tanker full of oil.

8. Deregulate the Atom’s Rick Maltese posted
“Not wanted on the voyage and the Future of Nuclear”

The first Future of Nuclear Conference in Toronto was a success but was met with bad timing from the Ontario governments announcement that they are cancelling plans for two new reactors at the Darlington nuclear plant. I explain how hard it is for members of the nuclear industry to be positive and how we feel like strangers in a strange land with our cries in the wilderness to be heard.

9. Nextbigfuture – China has some carbon exchanges now. They trade carbon permits in seven trial markets. The price is about $7 to 10 per ton of CO2. China will likely add seven pilot carbon pricing systems by 2015. China is expected to add a carbon tax by 2020 and national emissions trading by 2020. These moves will increase the financial incentives for nuclear energy, hydro power, solar and wind power in China.

10. Nextbigfuture – South Korea is seeking new export markets for its nuclear technology. They have submitted an application for design certification of the Advanced Pressurised Reactor-1400 (APR-1400) to the NRC (US Nuclear Regulatory Commission).

Four APR-1400 units are under construction in Korea: two at Shin Kori and two at Shin Hanul. Four further APR-1400 units are planned for Shin Kori and another two at Shin Hanul.

11. Nextbigfuture – There is a novel approach to nuclear fusion that uses two stage lasers. First a laser strips electrons then a second accelerates a proton beam. This achieves 10x higher fusion output than using the laser directly and thousands of times better output than hitting a solid target with a laser.

The study was not designed to attain fusion’s holy grail — ignition, the break-even point at which the energy generated by the fusion process equals that of the input energy required to power the lasers. But leaps in the power and miniaturization of lasers and the simplicity of the two-laser system “makes this scheme practical” as a future power source.

Two stage laser experiment

There are lasers that lasers that fire 100 million times per second with multi-terawatt power.

The laser system could make the John J. Chapman proposed nuclear fusion system more feasible for propulsion and energy generation.

In Chapman’s aneutronic fusion reactor scheme, a commercially available benchtop laser starts the reaction. A beam with energy on the order of 2 x 10^18 watts per square centimeter, pulse frequencies up to 75 megahertz, and wavelengths between 1 and 10 micrometers is aimed at a two-layer, 20-centimeter-diameter target.

12. Forbes James Conca discusses Iran’s Dangerous Nuclear Bluff.

President Obama’s historic phone conversation with Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani sure made the meetings of the U.N. General Assembly exciting. It’s finally calling a very serious bluff – that Iran has a nuclear weapon, or can build one quickly.

This is a very dangerous bluff, indeed. But it has certainly served a purpose. Countries having the bomb never seem to get attacked. But Iran doesn’t have one and is unlikely to ever get one. The only nuclear thing they have that works is a nuclear power program.

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