Carnival of nuclear energy 270

1. Forbes – Plutonium Propels Spacecraft To A Close Encounter With Pluto

Having the same namesake as the planet it helped to explore, the radionuclide plutonium-238 powered NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto on Tuesday, visiting the last planet in our Solar System proper. Pu-238 will now take the spacecraft out into the Kuiper Belt where thousands of small planets slowly circle the Sun. The mission was possible only because Pu-238 generates continuous power out where solar energy is too weak, chemical energy is too heavy, and batteries and fuel cells are too short-lived to be of use.

2. Neutron Bytes, Dan Yurman – DOE Sharpens the Budget Axe for South Carolina MOX Plant

What has the Department of Energy has going, from MOX plant supporters, and its critics, is an uproar over two wildly different estimates of what it will take to complete the plant. Earlier this year DOE commissioned an independent assessment by the California based Aerospace Corp. which came to the conclusion that it would take another $30 billion to complete the project, on top of the $4.5 billion spent so far.

CBI-Areva, the contractor building the MOX plant has cried “foul” saying the cost to finish the plant, which is about two-thirds complete, is just a 10th of that number or $3.3 billion and it says the job can be done in about five years.

CBI-Areva says that the Aerospace Corp. report grossly overstates schedule risks and costs. It hired its own independent assessment firm, High Bridge Associates, who wrote a report that came to startlingly different findings.

3. Yes Vermont Yankee – Vermont’s Energy Plan Basically Unworkable

Vermont Energy Plan is basically unworkable. This is shown by three charts by the agency which is preparing the plan.

4. Nextbigfuture – A new ‘ultra pure’ nickel alloy has been used to create a reactor vessel, which Rosatom says could potentially last 120 years.

Reactors that could last 120 years would have better economics than reactors with shorter lives.
Also, a reactor vessel that lasted 120 years could enable the economics for retrofitting existing powerplants for long life retrofit.

Around the world a range of advanced reactor designs offer 60 year lives as standard, with this commonly expected to be extendable to 80 or 100 years. This represents a substantial improvement on the benchmark of 50-60 years for current reactors, which were usually licensed for an arbitrary 30 or 40 years when they were constructed in the second wave of nuclear build.

5. Nextbigfuture – India has a largely indigenous nuclear power program and expects to have 14,600 MWe of nuclear capacity on line by 2020. It aims to supply 25% of electricity from nuclear power by 2050.

Kudankulam is the country’s first large nuclear power plant, comprising two VVER-1000 (V-412) reactors, under a Russian-financed $3 billion contract and built as part of a bilateral agreement between India and Russia signed back in 1988. The units were originally scheduled to begin commercial operation in December 2007 and December 2008 respectively. Kudankulam 2 was just completed.

6. Nextbigfuture – South Africa will launch its nuclear power procurement process at end of this month and select a strategic partner or partners by the end of the current financial year

The government’s electricity plan, which the ministry said is “a mixed energy agenda” that puts nuclear power at 23% (9600 MWe) of South Africa’s energy sources by 2030. In accordance with this plan, the first reactor will be commissioned by 2023.