Saturday, October 13, 2012

24. 126th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

When I was asked earlier this week if I would be interested in hosting the Nuclear Blog Carnival, I was more than happy to Volunteer for the task. I didn't realize it at that moment, but the 126th Blog Carnival marks exactly 6 months (Friday the 13th, April 2012) since I finally started up the blog. The impetus for me to finally launch was to have a submission included in the 100th Carnival.  I consider it an honor to have been asked to host. 

Enough intro, here we go with the past week's best Nuclear Postings:


Brian Wang at Next Big Future brings some news regarding Chinese nuclear expansion, including that China is on track for 27(!!!) new plants being completed by 2015. I am sure witnessing the placing of a Reactor Dome in person would be quite a site to behold, and would easily trump seeing a crane move a Moisture Seperator Reheater (the "other" MSR besides Molten Salt Reactors).

ii1. From Things Worse Than Nuclear Power

In light of the national debates and elections, our current post (as of today) is the second in a 3-part series focusing on federal interventions in energy market, including subsidies, loan guarantees, tax preferences, R&D, and even lobbying.  Part 1, published the day of the first Presidential debate, called out issues which became headlines in the debate, including the loan guarantees to companies like Solyndra! 

1. 2 entries from musician and pro-nuclear power advocate Rick Maltese's blog Deregulate the Atom.

Summary: This is a re-posting of Facebook discussion about the fossil fuel industry's interference with the progress of nuclear energy. Robert Steinhaus makes a long comment about The Energy Reorganization Act of 1974. Rod Adams comments back. It demonstrates how government policy shifts can have a crippling effect.

 A Letter to the Newest Federal Liberal Candidate – Justin Trudeau 
Summary: Another letter added to my growing collection of reaching out to people of 

influence to spread the pro-nuclear word. In this case I appeal to their willingness 
to educate themselves about nuclear.

2. From Leslie Corrice's The Hiroshima Syndrome, these 2 entries can be found on the same page:

October 10 Commentary...
"Antinuke Peter Bradford speaks with forked tongue
In a Wall Street Journal debate on nuclear energy viability, Peter Bradford takes the 
antinuclear side using time-worn rhetoric and making misleading statements, some of which are outright fabrications. Bradford's bombast literally demands this rational rebuttal.
(See Entreprenuclear post number 22 for additional Bradford debunking)
October 12......
No “Melt-throughs” at Fukushima Daiichi?  
Tepco has posted the results of the first water sample taken inside the unit #1 Primary Containment Vessel (PCV) at Fukushima Daiichi. We find results that come as more than a bit of a surprise. Given the differences with respect to the chemical make-up of the interior and exterior waters relative to the unit #1 PCV, and the fact that the highest radiation level inside the PCV is essentially parallel to the bottom head of the RPV (in today’s first update), I now believe it is possible that none of the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi experienced catastrophic RPV “melt-through”.


3. From Rod Adams' blog Atomic Insights

Theo Simon and George Monbiot – Rational discussion about nuclear energy development

During the past week or so, Rod Adams has been spending quite a bit of time following a discussion about nuclear energy between Theo Simon and George Monbiot. It is a deeply philosophical engagement between two literate and concerned people who view nuclear energy through different lenses and have, so far, reached different conclusions about its value and potential for growth.

Rod provides a third perspective and hopes that the development of smaller reactors may encourage additional deep thinking.


4. From the ANS Nuclear Cafe:

Howard Shaffer with a very interesting history of the founding of the anti-nuclear energy movement -- as told last week at UMass Amherst by two of the very persons who helped to found it, Anna Gyorgy and Lionel Delevingne.

Margaret Harding is blogging from the American Nuclear Society-sponsored Indo–US Nuclear Safety Summit in Mumbai, India.  Her notes on the discussions of regulatory issues, emergency risk assessment, international trade relations, economy, politics...

Check ANS Nuclear Cafe for Harding's
continuing updates on news, and views, and traveler's tales, from the


5. From the Yes, Vermont Yankee blog

Meredith Angwin revisits her area of technical expertise: PWR steam generators.  In "San Onofre Thoughts and Future. I told you so", Angwin quotes some of her earlier posts on the subject. She predicted the plant would be derated but start again. Plant opponents make endless negative predictions, and are all over the airwaves if even one of them comes true.  Angwin decided to trumpet her positive prediction this time. 

6. From Nuclear Diner:

Russia Plans to Raise Two Nuclear Submarine Reactors from Sea Floor

The Russian Defense Ministry is planning to raise and scrap two sunken nuclear submarines in the northern Barents and Kara seas. Susan Voss considers the reactors in those submarines and the hazards they may or may not pose. She also looks at Project Azorian, a 1968 CIA attempt to raise a sunken Soviet nuclear submarine.

7. From Will Davis's Atomic Power Review

Toshiba buys out Shaw
Although Will Davis is quite busy this week with a convention, he submits the press release from Toshiba on the put option Shaw has exercised on its Westinghouse stake (as well as links to other related stories) and invites readers to examine the very last line of the press release closely.


8. A posting from Jim Conca published by Forbes


9. William Tucker talks about the tragedy of Radiation Phobia at Nuclear Town Hall

10. Gail Marcus at Nuke Power Talk

At Nuke Power Talk, Gail Marcus discusses a recent article pointing out that the strong and positive link between the effectiveness of emergency response measures taken during the floods in Cedar Rapids in 2008 and the emergency response preparedness at the Duane Arnold nuclear power plant nearby. She also recalls a previous incident in which the emergency response preparations at another nuclear power plant proved to be very applicable and helpful for handling the emergency response for a chemical spill.  While communities should not depend on their nuclear neighbors to for emergency situations, the reality is that the more specific and stringent requirements imposed for nuclear power plants are a powerful spur to assuring that the necessary plans for an emergency are developed and maintained. 

And that concludes this week's Carnival entries.  Now, I will reveal the latest Entreprenuclear logo (actually created by a friend for me, not by me).  
(Disclaimer: My everyday attire does not consist of a Tie)

Friday, October 12, 2012

23. 10/11/12 One Day Late

So, yesterday was 10/11/12, October 11th 2012. "Why is that significant?", you ask. Just look at it - 10/11/12.

November 12th of next year will be similar, as will December 13th in 2014 (which will be a Saturday, not a Friday).

Unless I approach Guinness-level long-life status, 12/13/14 will be the last nerdily cool date like yesterday that I will see during my lifetime. Do you know what actually will still be alive and running when January 2nd, 2103 (01/02/03) rolls around?

1. Many of the Small Modular Reactor designs being designed today that will start up in the early 2020's could very possibly still be safely operating 80 years later.

2. The AP1000's to-be-built in Florida in Levy County and at Turkey Point to start up in the early-to-mid 2020's could quite possibly be safely operated for 80 years too, with proper operation and maintenance.

If I could have my way planning out the energy future of America, the primary threat to not having those plants operating the next time calendars read 01/02/03 will be nothing approaching safety issues, though. What I hope the main threat is, is that we have nuclear power plants that are simply miles better economically (making far more efficient use of our naturally occurring and already-produced fissile resources), and in terms of safety, that 80-100 year old technology simply won't be able to compete.

We have our work cut out for us, but the future can be bright, and it doesn't absolutely require energy austerity by any means.

Viva Abundant Energy

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

22. Debunking Antis (Peter Bradford) - The Weight of Lies

You may or may not have known it yet, but the Wall Street Journal has been conducting an online poll regarding the question "Should the World Increase Its Reliance on Nuclear Energy?". (Helpful Hint: click on the 1st entry of these search results, the WSJ gives access to things when accessed via Google search results). The poll has been up for at least several days, and I am not sure how much longer it will be up. If you have read any of the posts here, or met me in person, you could probably guess that my answer would be a resounding "HECK YES!! and faster than what we've done during any point in my lifetime (which began in the mid-80's)".

Within the past few days, commentary from Mark Lynas on the "pro-nuclear" side and from Peter Bradford on the "anti-nuclear" has been added. Mark Lynas is a British environmentalist and has relatively recently come to the realization that increasing the usage of nuclear power is an imperative for the world to have a successful future. Peter Bradford was a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Commissioner from 1977 to 1982. He has since made a bit of a career for himself as an anti-nuclear activist.

I will let Mark's words stand on their own (although I make zero claims of possessing climate change expertise).

In this post, however, I will break down Mr. Bradford's editorial, add some corrections and/or things he omitted, and add in a video of a song from my favorite musicians, the chorus of which makes me think of anti-nuclear folks almost every single time I hear it. My strong speculation is that almost anyone who would wish to get in touch with Mark Lynas would have an opportunity, by simply Tweeting him. I imagine/speculate Mr. Bradford is much tougher to get in touch with (and I will leave it to the reader to guess how that sways my idea of the overall integrity of each man).

1. My assertion regarding ease of getting in touch (despite an Atlantic amount of distance) has been proven true in under 12 hours.
2. Check out Leslie Corrice's commentary on Bradford's writing over at his Hiroshima Syndrome site.

The Breakdown/Analysis/DeBunking:

Bradford starts off with a straw man argument comparing the utilization of nuclear power to using caviar to fight world hunger. This is not even close to a comparable comparison on a cost basis. Additionally, many of the costs associated with nuclear construction have been concocted precisely by the actions of anti-nuclear activists combined with the timing of extreme inflation rates within the U.S. (see: this chapter of a free online book written by Bernard Cohen).

Bradford goes on to make the claim that the full impact on people's health from Fukushima won't be known for years, if ever (cue cheesy, scary sound effect). I disagree. The majority of the region around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant following the Great East Japan Earthquake has had radiation levels far below those that cause harm to humans and far below the naturally-occurring levels of quite a few places around the world that experience no negative health effects. The over-exaggeration of potential negative health effects is, from my viewpoint, highly immoral in that it has caused actual harm while preventing no real harm.  I agree with Mr. Bradford that people not being able to return to their homes is a tragedy, but I actually realize that it is efforts of people like Mr. Bradford himself that are the biggest impediment to those people being allowed to return home, rather than trivial amounts of radiation that could be easily managed/worked around.   Next

Pete B., what do 1970's advertisements have to do with anything regarding the present discussion? The Shah was basically a puppet ruler put in place by the U.S. government, who was overthrown by the people of Iran. U.S. over-extension in Iran in 1953 is a major contributor to the Iran situation today. Bringing that up has ZERO relevance to today's nuclear power discussion.  Next

"If the next nuclear-power-related catastrophe is a bomb........." - Yet another fallacy. Nuclear power and nuclear weapons are not a "Like-for-Like" equivalent, Pete. The bomb pre-dated nuclear power. Diverting fissile material from a nuclear power plant to create a bomb would be a far-far-from-optimum way to obtain nuclear weapons. Find another straw man.  Next

"Of course new reactor designs are safer." Thanks, for admitting that, Pete. Maybe we can actually get somewhere with this discussion. "However, safety depends on more than design." I agree completely, Pete. Operations are highly important. I mean, Technical Specifications specifying the minimum requirements of plant OPERATION make up an integral portion of a plant's OPERATING license granted by the Commission you were once a part of (a fact you have utterly milked in your activities subsequent to 1982). Oh, you didn't mention that operations and maintenance also ensure safety. I'll grant that you simply forgot that.  Next

"A world more reliant on nuclear power would involve many plants in countries that have little experience with nuclear energy.........."  Mr. Bradford, to suggest that these countries wouldn't be completely willing, able, and eager to learn all the things that they would need to know to properly build, maintain, and operate nuclear power plants screams of an air of arrogance on your part. People are capable of learning, particularly if the reward will enhance their society's well-being.  Next

Expense - I covered this above   Next

Quoting John Rowe - See the Rod Adams collection on John Rowe. I will summarize for you. The way Exelon is currently structured and positioned, they have basically no incentive to build new plants as extra capacity would merely hurt the profit margin of their existing TWENTY-TWO CASH COW plants.
(Lengthy Disclosure: I have been intending to purchase Exelon stock for months now, and at under $36/share, I need to do it soon particularly with the possibility of a normal amount coldness this winter leading to considerably increased natural gas demand and somewhat increased natural gas price which equals increased profit margins for Exelon's TWENTY-TWO already-built, operating nuclear plants). Next

Then, Peter Bradford goes into full-on, Tea Party market-based capitalism-mode, which I doubt he would do for ANY other topic. I admit that there is a severe disconnect between "pure" free-market capitalism and the utility industry as a whole. There are rather complex and diverse market structures involved (including the U.S. Government Corporation that is the Tennessee Valley Authority). This disconnect is not reason to abandon nuclear power, it is a reason to figure out methods of properly figuring out how to plan for, pay for, and build nuclear power plants.

You can't decide you want a nuclear power plant one day and start getting power from it the next. If you could, a "pure" free-market capitalistic approach would show, unequivocally, in the long term that nuclear power is the most cost-effective energy source.

Now the Music:

And now for a song from my present favorite musicians. These guys are my favorite in large part because I have 2 brothers (one of whom actually called in the middle of me writing out this sentence), but also because these guys are extremely talented and put tons of ENERGY and emotion into their songs.

"How does this song apply to anti-nuclear activists?" you might ask. The chorus starts off with a slightly obvious statement "The weight of lies will bring you down", but the part that always made me think of anti-nuclear folks was the end of the chorus, "so when you run make sure you run; to something and not always from; cause lies don't need an aeroplane, to chase you down". 

The anti-nuclear movement is a move away from technological progress. I see no way to argue against that. Turning away from peaceful atomic energy would be a step backward for humanity, and would lead to enhanced energy scarcity in a time when increased energy abundance is needed to minimize physical human suffering. Bill Gates understands the situation, thus he has helped fund TerraPower

Thus, I say we (the World) should run TO increased reliance on Nuclear Power, so vote YES in the Wall Street Journal poll while it is still open.

/An Aside
Also, a link that was shared this evening on Facebook titled "5 Biggest News Stories that Left out the Most Important Part".  

#1 on the list: The "Fukushima 50" Sacrificed Their Lives to Prevent Disaster (also, They're All Still Alive)

Friday, September 28, 2012

21. Official Entreprenuclear Thanks to Rod Adams

I have said it before, but I will re-iterate it again, this blog wouldn't exist if Rod Adams didn't publish Atomic Insights. I might not even be the hard-core pro-nuclear person that I am today if not for Rod's blog. I might be a money-hungry, greedy, rent-seeking, future-mortgaging purveyor of something far less valuable to society than the ABUNDANT, CLEAN ENERGY that peaceful nuclear power provides (already!).

Some would call Rod or I propagandists or worse, but the simple fact is that we recognize that future generations DESERVE to (and CAN, w/ nuclear) have access to the levels of energy that have been enjoyed by those of us in the period from around 1970 until today. We have been lucky enough to enjoy the wonders of modern electric appliances which save time that would otherwise have to be spent washing clothes or dishes or engaging in some task requiring inordinately more man-power than is needed with the use of electric tools. We get to enjoy HVAC (the topic of most of my senior design project for my Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering) which has allowed all sorts of people to enjoy living in places such as Texas, Arizona, or the American Southeast that were practically unbearable places to live prior to electricity-powered refrigeration cycles.

Without increasing Peaceful Nuclear Energy's overall primary energy market share up to 15-20% by 2040 from its present level of roughly 4.88% (see page 41 of this and divide 599.3 MTOe for nuclear by 12,274.6 MTOe total), this world (our only presently livable one) will be less pleasant to live in than today and in quite a few ways. Constrained fossil fuel resources are already either directly fought over, or the security of their transport necessitates protection by the NUCLEAR-POWERED U.S. Navy (especially the submarines and the 11 aircraft carriers) patrolling the Strait of Hormuz. Conflict over these limited resources will almost certainly increase with added imbalances between available supply and inevitable demand.

Despite all the claimed wonders of fracking for natural gas and the possibility (which has already been demonstrated in North Dakota) that some lessons learned from that practice can be translated to petroleum extraction,  there is still going to be FAR AND AWAY insufficient petroleum to satisfy the demand sure to be present from both the already-developed and the quickly-developing world (particularly the BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India, and China). China and India by themselves will soon have 2.5 BILLION people that would love to have even 25% the level of access to energy that the mere 300 million-ish Americans (even the lowliest of us) enjoys. Can anyone make anything close to a rational argument that Americans should have any more right to access to energy than Chinese or Indian people (please, don't even try).

The math is simple. Nuclear energy is a necessity. Without sufficient access to economical sources of energy, technological progression is virtually an impossibility. No technologically progression equals one of only 2 possibilities:
1. Declining in overall quality of life as the human race
2. Major reductions of human population (morally reprehensible, as far as I am concerned) .

Another morally reprehensible side of the nuclear power debate is all of the disingenuous people who grossly exaggerate the risk of their fantasized nuclear power plant accidents (which are generally detached from the realities of the laws of physics). Such people do mankind a major disservice. One of the worst of this kind is "Dr." Helen Caldicott. I put Dr. in parentheses in her case due to my strong suspicion that she has not actually treated a patient as a physician maybe anytime within my lifetime (spanning from the mid-1980's until today). I did happen to see the following funny meme of a picture of her today though.

And in case you are curious, Rod, your plug gave my site traffic a bump of about 550 views above the recent baseline level with me never finding time to post. Around 600 total views in under 20 hours thanks to the plug is not too bad. I still wish my check for having this blog would come in (tongue-in-cheek).

Monday, September 10, 2012

20. Congrats to Entergy and Grand Gulf on the Uprate

From the grapevine, I have heard that Grand Gulf Unit 1 within the past 48 hours has achieved its new 100% power output of greater than 1,440 MWe Net. Way to go to everyone that was involved in that project.
I am disappointed that Entergy hasn't put out any kind of press release related to this impressive achievement. If I am not mistaken, this places Grand Gulf neck-and-neck with Sweden's Oskarshamn Unit 3 as the 2 HIGHEST capacity operational nuclear power units in the ENTIRE WORLD. Is that not worthy of at least 1 little press release bragging about such an accomplishment?

When I heard that Grand Gulf had finally ramped all the way up, I had the thought that that might have put them into the top spot worldwide, since no EPRs have come online quite yet. I looked over this list from wikipedia, and Oskarshamn 3 was the only one that jumped out at me as being in the same ballpark. If I am mistaken, someone please let me know in the comments.

Here is an article about some lessons learned related to Oskarshamn's uprate project.

If you achieved something that was right at being #1 in the world, wouldn't you be inclined to brag about it a little?

Friday, August 10, 2012

19. Three Different Nuclear Topics

1. Mihama anniversary (2004)
Prior to today, I had never heard of the August 9, 2004 event at Mihama Unit 3 in Kansai Province in Japan. If I were a Flow Accelerated Corrosion (FAC) specialist, I probably would have. The really short (I refrain from saying condensed) story is that a condensate pipe was not being tested regularly enough, the wall thinned, and the pipe ruptured while workers were in the vicinity. Very sadly, this event took the lives of some 5 workers.

I normally like to remain upbeat and positive on this blog, but I am bringing up this event for a specific reason. A few nights ago (8/7/12), I simply retweeted an article about communities loving living near nuclear power plants (my Twitter). That retweet ended up causing an anti-nuclear Twit(?) to tweet that I was spreading propaganda and peddling deception. I bring up the Mihama anniversary simply to show that the nuclear power industry is actually rather transparent, and actively shares lessons learned. Click on the link I included at the top of this post to find plenty of information and lessons learned about the Mihama incident (and learn more about FAC, if you so desire).

Alternatively, the anti-nuclear Twitterer never did fulfill what I thought was a polite request either for a link or simply for a search term so that I could try to learn something about their claim of having lived near a nuclear plant that experienced a catastrophic failure. Without any further information, I have no place to even begin a search to find out more about some past mistakes to be sure to avoid.

Who's the one peddling the deception? There was no hiding of the deaths and injuries of those unfortunate workers at Mihama Unit 3, and there is also no hiding of any negative health effects resulting from radiation from Fukushima Daiichi.

The fear of radiation has significantly greater negative health effects (contributing to something around 761 deaths) than the low doses of radiation that could be received from the Fukushima incident itself (zero deaths so far, and none in the future that will be distinguishable from the cancer rates from all other factors). Also, I highly recommend this article about anti-nuclear advocates peddling excessive and unwarranted fear of low level radiation. Anti-nuclear advocates have done far more harm than they have ever prevented, both to economies by way of decreased nuclear power production and to the environment via the resulting higher levels of fossil fuel use.

Putting on my optimist hat, this claiming of victory is probably actually premature. I think this ruling will end up applying sufficient pressure to finally stop the perpetual kicking of the can down the road on the nuclear “waste” issue, finally resolving this perceived issue. The spent fuel issue has, in reality, been a hurdle to building new nuclear power generation. Once an actual decision is made on fulfilling the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA), at least a slight uptick in interest in new nuclear builds in America should follow. 

The  NWPA states that the Department of Energy (DOE) is to take custody of spend nuclear fuel. Rather than the DOE simply being a charitable organization, the idea was that the funding for the DOE's handling of the Spent Nuclear Fuel was to be paid for via a very meager tax on each kilowatt-hour of nuclear power that has been sold over a number of years. If I remember correctly, something in the neighborhood of $25 BILLION has so far been collected for this purpose. 

In reality, nuclear waste from power generation isn’t actually a problem. The high level waste that is the crux of the issue is PARTIALLY spent nuclear fuel. This spent (and future) fuel is in solid form (with some gaseous fission products embedded within the solid fuel rods). Solid wastes are easy to contain since solids, by definition, do not flow. The ash ponds at the Kingston Fossil Plant, alternatively, were in basically a slurry form. Other fossil fuel waste products are mostly in gaseous form and are freely dumped to the atmosphere as part of NORMAL OPERATION. Containing these is very difficult. Many estimates have placed the toll of these coal plant emissions in the neighborhood of 25,000 premature deaths per year, just in the U.S. (for everyday operation of the facilities).

Here is a further explanation on the decision, from the NRC's official blog.

3. Ben Heard Aussie Nuclear Debate
I highly recommend listening to this 9 and a half minute introduction to a debate held recently in Australia. I hope to find time in the near future, between my active role in adding actual new nuclear power generation, to be able to listen to the entire debate.

Rod Adams had a nice write-up about this debate at his blog.

I apologize for my lack of recent posting, and will try to do a better job of writing up some thoughts on a more regular basis. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

18. Energy Independence Day, via Nuclear Power

Today is July 4th, 2012, a day better known as Independence Day for those of us in the U.S.A. (Happy 236th, America!), not to be confused with the classic Will Smith film.

Aside: I missed a great opportunity to complete dork out and tie last year's 235th birthday of America in somehow with the only naturally-occurring fissile isotope being Uranium-235. So sad. /End Aside

               This                                                            This            

America's Independence Day celebrates America declaring independence from England with the July 4, 1776 signing of the Declaration of Independence and becoming a sovereign nation. Being recognized as a nation did not happen overnight, of course, as the American Revolutionary War was waged up until 1782 and the Treaties of Paris and Versailles were signed on September 3, 1783 (I need to research whether that date relates to the celebration of Labor Day in America.).  Dan Yurman actually took a break from blogging about nuclear things and instead posted relating to this holiday at his blog Idaho Samizdat.

In keeping with (or really still only starting) a tradition, I thought I would publish a post today that is at least somewhat holiday-themed, like I did prior to beginning my own blog as a guest author on MLK, Jr. day over at Atomic Insights and like on Memorial Day here at Entreprenuclear. I'll try to continue beginning the tradition with this post.

Energy Independence has been lauded as a goal since probably long before my birth. Independence from the volatility of the global crude oil market was the main factor that sparked France to convert their electricity supply to mostly nuclear (80-ish%) in the mid-1970's.  For a really quick look at how that has turned out price-wise for French electricity consumers, look at the chart in this link from World Nuclear News.  As mentioned in Sunday's posting, electricity (as well as other forms of dispatchable, non-human-powered energy) is a vital need once people become used to using it.  Depending too much on outside nations to supply the primary sources of that vital energy can get otherwise sovereign nation's into sticky situations.  Energy really is the Master Resource/the Ultimate Resource.  

With sufficient energy, other resources are attainable, whether via trade or recycling of other materials or some other means.  Julian Simon's theory of basically unconstrained resources that I linked in the above paragraph could actually become nearly practical if Peaceful Nuclear Energy is allowed and encouraged to reach its full potential in the future.

A Few Recent Energy Independence/Nuclear Case Studies

Germany is currently on the verge of increasing their reliance on Russia to provide their energy (via the Nordstream pipeline through the Baltic Sea).  Time will tell how wise this combination of moves to shut down their nuclear fleet (by 2022) and rely more on Russian natural gas will turn out, but my guess is not well.  Already, an aluminum producer (see: energy-intensive industry) has been unable to survive with Germany's recent availability of economic energy.  Also, within the past few days, it has been announced that an Airbus assembly facility is being placed in Alabama, a state which just happens to have rather low electricity rates, and guess what, FIVE nuclear power plants that are major contributing factors to those low rates (3 Units at Browns Ferry and 2 Units at Farley).  
Aside: I happened to ride in an Airbus plane twice within the past week, and it was a nice experience.  /End Aside

How does nuclear power relate so directly to energy independence?  That is a good question, glad you asked.  Nuclear fuel is extremely energy dense in comparison to any other useful fuels, with about ten million times as much energy released per fissioned atom as per combusted hydrocarbon molecule (link here).  From this superior energy density, it is possible to only need new fuel shipments once every 18-24 months for present plants and for those shipments to fit on just a handful of trucks. Those capabilities provide a significant level of independence.

Additionally, many countries within the world have more than adequate supplies of either fissile or fertile materials that will someday be suitable as reactor fuel at least in Gen IV reactors, if not suitable for the commercially operating reactors of today.  I dare say that any nation in the world that acts with civility in international matters and makes the necessary capital investment in building Peaceful Nuclear Power Plants will have zero issues with obtaining adequate supplies of nuclear reactor fuels at an economic price so long as they maintain their manner of sufficient civility, regardless of the level of thorium and/or uranium that those nations were blessed with.  Once Generation IV reactors are ready for widespread deployment, nuclear fuels will not be a constrained resource for quite some time.

For several specific examples of countries that are developing their nuclear industries the right way, let's consider the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabian plans to build fleets of nuclear reactors.  These countries have made this decision to give themselves the independence to not rely solely on their bequeathments of fossil fuels to provide electrical power for their nations.  This will give those countries the opportunity to sell some (or all) of the hydrocarbons that they would have otherwise burned to generate electricity on the potentially very lucrative international markets.  As the article I linked relating to Saudi Arabia mentioned, "why burn domestic crude that can be bought for $4.50/barrel when you could sell it on the open market for $125/barrel" (which was about what the price was when the article was written).  The decision by these countries has been a wise one, and will pay off for them throughout the 60-80 year lifetimes for the plants that they will soon commence building.

While I am sure Iranians would argue that these nations have foregone a degree of independence by not developing indigenous enrichment capabilities, the security of availability of reasonably-priced nuclear fuels for Saudi Arabia and the UAE will never be in doubt so long as those countries continue to act as grown ups in the international political arena.

From where I am sitting, Peaceful Nuclear Energy is by far the only feasible path to long-term Energy Independence for any nation.  Getting to that point of true, sustainable Energy Independence does, and will continue to, require that a nation acts with civility on the world's stage.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

17. Friendly Reminder: Electricity is Vital

The topic for this post had been born yesterday after seeing a few posts on a football message, complaining about the power being out and mentioning the local utility.  The topic hit home harder after seeing a Facebook post from my mother pleading for help for my grandparents and aunt and uncle who are without power and may remain so for an unknown amount of time, up to several weeks.  I hate that I am about 15 hours away from them and don't feel like I can do much of anything to help.  They actually own 2 generators as a backup for when they lose power, but they are both presently out of commission.  Purchasing electrical generators in the region where they live is presently not a possibility.  A tractor trailer carrying generators overturned earlier this morning on I-77.  My grandparents use a well for their drinking water, so having access to electricity is quite vital. 

Things are so bad that President Obama has declared an emergency in West Virginia.  Additional problems within my grandparents' area include the fact that gas station pumps require electricity to pump gasoline.  I heard that lines are about 2 hours long to get fuel at one station that actually had a backup generator.  Also, credit/debit card machines require electricity, so some of the establishments that have been able to remain open are presently only able to accept cash.  Luckily, hospitals generally have reliable backup sources of power. 

In checking Twitter last night as I ate some BBQ (my favorite "food group"), I saw about 4 or 5 Tweets from Entergy wishing safety to their workers headed up to help restore power within the AEP service territory, but I didn't think too much about it again until seeing the plea from my mother.  If I'm not mistaken, this outage is also affecting people in the town where Atomic Insights author Rod Adams lives, Lynchburg, VA.  I have yet to get a reply from tweeting Rod, but perhaps he is simply doing something else rather than disconnected due to lack of power.

The theme of this posting is not to say anything bad about American Electric Power for only generating 6% of their electricity via nuclear (although they should strongly consider increasing that percentage in the future).  My point here is to simply re-state just how vital electricity is to modern American life and to encourage people not to take it for granted and to realize that providing electricity is neither a trivial nor simple task.  These outages are due to storms affecting transmission assets rather than inadequacy of generation assets, but in other areas within the U.S., utilities ARE actually calling on customers to cut down on usage to help out (and prevent potential outages).

Providing sufficient and reliable electricity requires a great deal of planning and investment in infrastructure.  I am greatly annoyed by people complaining about possibly having to pay a bit for Construction Work In-Progress (CWIP) on their electrical bills.  Do those people not realize that their electricity doesn't simply magically appear?  I am also annoyed by people suggesting that reducing energy usage is a worthy goal.  Increasing access to non-human sources of energy has very likely been the greatest contributor to increasing people's freedom within the past several centuries.  I would find it difficult to be convinced that reversing that trend would be anything other than amoral.

There are hundreds of thousands of people without power at the moment within the region stretching from the U.S. midwest through the mid-Atlantic.  While that is especially sad because so many aspects of people's lives within those regions have become reliant on access to reliable electrical power, how much more sad is the situation for the approximately 2 billion people in the world that basically never have access to electrical power?

Now that I am pretty well settled into my new location and job, I should be able to post more regularly.

8:00 pm Eastern update:
Rod Adams is indeed without power.  My other friend who lives near Lynchburg (but about 25 miles away) had his power restored by about 7:30 pm yesterday.  My uncle took one of the broken generators to a lawn mower repairman, who was able to get it running, so they should have some power by now.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

16. It Has Been Too Long

Apologies to anyone who may have ventured here to Entreprenuclear within the past few weeks, only to be disappointed that there have been no new posts. I have just gotten decently settled in for a new job assignment a considerable distance away from what I know as home. Now that I am settled nicely, posts should resume a decent frequency.

I am going to write this post quickly since I am about to drive somewhere, so I apologize that there probably won't be any pretty (nor random) pictures.

What I am up to lately:
Work-wise, I am getting up to speed on my new assignment and should soon be making some nice contributions to increasing the nuclear generating capacity within the U.S. (this should be considered a good thing for all U.S. energy consumers, regardless of their geographic location).

"Leisure-wise", with my new assignment and location (not knowing people and thus having a mostly empty social calendar for now), I have more time to be reading 2 books in parallel (which I think might be a rather appropriate way to read them). If you on the links, you'll arrive at the Amazon site's listing for each

(which tells the story of how the idea of utilizing thorium in a Molten Salt Reactor has been resurrected from near-total obscurity, to now being widely discussed globally, a random review)
(which as the subtitle states, tells the story of the Integral Fast Reactor; Brave New Climate Post about it)

I apologize. Apparently I lied about the lack of pictures, it is funny how a blog just starts to flow once you actually sit down to write it.

(Digression about e-books vs. physical books)
I got the Kindle version of Super Fuel, and it looks like it will be the first book I will actually finish reading on an electronic reading device. I might have done the same for Plentiful Energy, but no electronic version was available, and yes, that might be a reflection on the relative electronic/Internet credentials of the group of advocates/story-tellers for each reactor type. The fact that recent knowledge of thorium in a molten salt reactor (an MSR, not to be confused with a Moisture Separator Reheater) is primarily a result of Kirk Sorensen's and Charles Barton's blogging efforts makes it seem appropriate that of the 2 books, the thorium one would be the one with a Kindle version. I have found myself many times wanting to make notes in the margins while reading "Plentiful Energy" (yes, my "Abundant Energy, Yes Please" logo, if it is worthy of being called a logo, was inspired by this title) and I don't feel that carrying my iPad down to the beach would be too safe, so there is something to be said for an actual physical, paper pages-containing book. At some point, I may go back through and make some physical notes and blog about them here.  (/END digression).

I am still pretty early on in Super Fuel, but I have already gotten to parts about people that I feel like I know, like Kirk Sorensen, Charles Barton, and Dr. Robert Hargraves who have greatly contributed to the spread of knowledge about the possibilities of utilizing thorium in a molten salt reactor. That has been pretty neat. I am a bit further along in reading Plentiful Energy. This book does a great job of explaining the positive attributes of the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR), however, it has a massive blind spot in never mentioning thorium at all. That was likely intentional, and it might be better, as it doesn't actively encourage any types of fratricide amongst pro-nuclear/abundant energy proponents. I have at times tried to quell a few of those (rather cordial) disagreements, utilizing my middle child instincts (or actually, those are probably more developed skills than instincts).

As I said above, once a blog starts flowing it starts flowing, so I am actually going to stop typing now and I will save my post about a legitimately practical method of harnessing fusion energy and of my displeasure at the roughly 10-to-1 discrepancy for U.S. government spending on dismantling/destroying nuclear capabilities compared to improving, enhancing, and expanding nuclear capabilities for another day.

Happy Flag Day, everyone in the U.S.

Monday, May 28, 2012

15. Proliferating Abundance; Memorial Day and the Atom; and Iran

I. Proliferating Abundance

The overarching goal here at Entreprenuclear is to push towards increasing energy abundance for the people of the world, via Peaceful Atomic Energy.  Some might question my usage of the term "proliferate" due to the subject of its most common usage, but I decided to use it anyway.

In general, people who have their needs met are considerably less likely to seek out a fight than those who have unmet needs.  Some people might wish to argue that point (which was prefaced by "in general"), but I doubt the arguments would contain much logic nor be very convincing.  There are people in this world who would either seek out an argument or a fight solely for the sake of engaging in an argument or fight.

So, what have I started rambling about here?  Basically, the following should be more or less true:

MORE access to Peaceful Atomic Energy to MORE people across the world will lead to MORE needs met and LESS conflict.

With access to adequate supplies of energy, virtually any other physical needs can be feasibly met.  Some people even refer to energy as the "Master Resource", and rightfully so in my opinion.  In terms of long-term supply, nuclear energy far surpasses the capabilities of any other energy source that has been demonstrated to date from what I can tell.  Fissile and fertile nuclear fuel unconstrained by bad actors (generically speaking) should be capable of providing energy needs for the global population (approaching about 9 billion people by around 2050).

My goal is to see more and more people's needs being met, so that they have less and less justification to engage in combat.

II. Memorial Day and the Atom

In the U.S.A., Memorial Day is a great time to remember those that have given their lives to allow America as a nation to have a level of freedom that is likely unmatched in human history.  America's level of freedom has allowed for almost innumerable innovations that have advanced the way people can live their lives.  Some of these advances have directly contributed to ending slavery and to lessening gender inequalities within the developed world.  While we (America, that is) have many times squandered the advantages granted by that freedom, it would be difficult to argue against America's freedom being a GREAT thing from an overall vantage point.

Many have written about how usage of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki greatly reduced the overall loss of both American and Japanese lives by being a primary factor in bringing a prompt end to World War II (along with coinciding closely with the Soviet invasion of Manchuria).
Here is an example.  And from a blog that popped up via a Google search.

Thus, Japan's prompt surrender, resulting in large part from the massive force of the atomic bomb, caused a much smaller number of Americans to need to be remembered on Memorial Day since 1945 than if utilizing the atom had not been achieved (perhaps even my very own paternal grandfather who was able to return to America later on in the fall of 1945; these 2 "Stars and Stripes" issues were his).  

Prompt Surrender

But moving forward to the future, Peaceful Atomic Energy should have a much, much greater impact than any threats of nuclear war on reducing the number of people who will need to be Memorialized (worldwide) for giving their lives in defending their nation's freedom.

III. Iran

How does Iran fit into this discussion?  Well, Iran is presently engaged in a nuclear program.  I say simply nuclear program because the whole crux of the issue with Iran is that there are major questions regarding whether Iran truly wishes solely to develop Peaceful Atomic Energy, which is fully commendable in my opinion,  or whether they are additionally covertly developing Nuclear Weapons capabilities which could be actually be palatable, if only Iran were a more mature actor overall as a sovereign nation.  Iran's present immaturity is likely partially attributable to international interventions within their country (including the United States squandering our advantages at times in the past) particularly over the last 60 years (which happens to coincide with the Nuclear Era; see also 1953).

With a lower degree of international intervention over the past 60 years, it would have been entirely possible that Iran would be acting mature enough today that them possessing their own nuclear armament would not cause a great number of nations around the world to have extreme heartburn.  As it is, however, the fact that Uranium enriched to 27% (above 20% is when Uranium begins to be classified as "highly enriched") was found last week in Iran is quite troublesome.

I would love to see Iran forego what they see as their right to enrich Uranium and to sign on to some long-term international nuclear fuel supply deals (with enrichment services provided by countries with existing well-proven capabilities), possibly with the chance to revisit whether they can enrich their own uranium several decades down the road (20-30 years) if they can prove themselves to be an adequately mature actor on the international scene.  I doubt that will be the outcome of the presently ongoing negotiations, but it is what I would prefer to see.

Loosely concluding this 3 section posting, I would like to see Peaceful Atomic Energy be used in increasing amounts around the world to lessen the resource constraints that are being faced at present and that will be exacerbated even further in the future.  This should allow more people's needs to be met and to have less of a reason to engage in conflict for dwindling resources.

Friday, May 25, 2012

14. Some NRC Talk - from an Entreprenuclear Perspective

Big news in the U.S. Nuclear industry this week (other than the Nuclear Energy Assembly in Charlotte) has centered around the announced resignation of Gregory Jaczko as Chairman of the NRC, along with the announcement today that Blue Ribbon Commission Member Allison MacFarlane is President Obama's selected replacement (pending Senate confirmation, of course).  These stories have been and will continue to be covered extensively all over the place (see the following links), so I doubt I could add much of anything to that part of the discussion.

I have not yet fully read all of these links yet, so I cannot vouch for all of them. They should be solid reads, however.

Jaczko Blog Coverage:
Rod Adams take is that it is good news
Reactions gathered at the ANS Nuclear Cafe
Will Davis's coverage at Atomic Power Review

Other Jaczko Coverage:
James Conca article in Forbes (I highly recommend his recent articles on Forbes.)**

Entreprenuclear View:

In the course of reading about Jaczko's resignation and some speculation about his potential replacement (prior to Ms. MacFarlane being announced on 5/24), I happened to come across the NRC's top level Organizational Chart.  Every single position is filled......except for one.  That vacant position is for Director of the Office of New Reactors.  Of all the positions to not be filled, REALLY?  As the writer of a blog titled Entreprenuclear and as a citizen of the United States of America (where nuclear power was born), that seems almost unacceptable to me.  It definitely does not engender thoughts that the NRC is positioned at present to license New Reactor designs, to even allow innovation to occur.

NRC Org Chart, dated May 14, 2012

Who will be leading the group to license the 2 SMRs that are being jointly funded by the DOE (by up to $452 Million per design) and the Reactor's design firms?

MacFarlane Blog Coverage:
ANS Nuclear Cafe
Steve Skutnik at Neutron Economy

Other MacFarlane Coverage:
ReutersWashington PostMIT's Technology Review (not about NRC appointment), Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) Statement, Business Week, Wall Street Journal (to read full article, Google the article title), and New York Times

** I wish Kirk Sorensen could have cloned himself to have enough time to have both maintained his series at Forbes and founded an innovative nuclear reactor design Startup.  Focusing on the startup certainly should take precedence in his case though.  Tying this all almost together, it is very interesting that Kirk's startup Flibe Energy has felt it necessary to take the route of going after an initial customer that is not subject to the NRC's licensing processes.

Kirk also found a snippet from the proceedings of the Blue Ribbon Commission where Allison MacFarlane showed a keen sense of curiosity in regards to utilizing thorium as a nuclear fuel source.  A transcript of the particular exchange can be found on pages 253-255 of the 479 page .pdf linked here.  A video can be found here, with the particular exchange beginning at about the 29:30 mark.

If you want, you can watch or read for yourself, but the Entreprenuclear take on the exchange is this, the level of inquisitiveness and interest shown by Allison MacFarlane could indicate some decent potential in regards to Ms. MacFarlane potentially being at least somewhat supportive of advancements that could be improvements on the presently utilized commercial Nuclear Fuel Cycle in America.  Her having a background that does not include growing up through the existing nuclear industry and with its infrastructure could help her to be more receptive to newer, and innovative technologies.  That is certainly far from being proven at this point (long before she could even be evaluated by the Senate), but I will choose to hold out some hope for now.

Obviously though, it is not the role of a nuclear safety regulatory organization to be innovative in developing new reactor designs (Aside: Secretary Chu, this is where you should figuratively raise your organization's hand, and stop using inordinate amounts of time and resources, possibly engaging in Vulture Capitalism - see trick above, chasing diffuse solar dreams see: Solyndra  /End Rant-like Aside).  A regulatory organization does have plenty of other processes and other areas that could hold opportunities for value-creating innovations.

It is time for me to stop ranting and get some sleep, so I will save any discussion about reform in regards to the way the NRC is funded for a future posting.  Much more research on that topic will be needed on my part prior to that time anyway.

Not sure why my posts are out of order now.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

13. Comments, Feedback, and Discussion Welcome at Entreprenuclear

Here at Entreprenuclear, feedback will remain welcome and appreciated.

I was glad to receive several comments on the recent "Spent" Fuel Pool/Vault (no, not pole vault) thoughts. Getting feedback is a primary method I plan to use to attain continuous improvement. I am also grateful for the several tweets with links to that post that I came across.
Pole Vaulting

The commenter from Areva made a nice simplifying suggestion for renaming spent fuel pools as "Future Fuel Vaults", or FFVs. Also, a former coworker (and still jokester) made the NON-serious hot tub suggestion, which has almost motivated me to attempt to research what the typical Ph level of a Spent Fuel Pool is.

A further comment in particular along with my past experience in regards to commenting on blogs and reading comments from others, has motivated me to go ahead and establish some guidelines for commenting here at Entreprenuclear.

Guide to Entreprenuclear Commenting:
1. Please be civil (especially if posting anonymously).

2. Do not use profanity (my mother has already read at least one posting here).

3. If you disagree that nuclear power is extremely beneficial and has enormous untapped future potential, please present sound reasoning for your disagreement (imaginary scenarios contrary to physical possibilities may be received particularly poorly).

4. If you are commenting, at least try to add something (entrepreneurship is about ADDING value).

5. Flat out spam will not be tolerated.

6. Please at least read a post before commenting on it (that means you, Kit P.).

This is not related to my commenting policy, but if you haven't yet, go read about this MIT Study.

Happy Wednesday.

May 25th Update: No comments on this post.

Monday, May 14, 2012

12. Spent Fuel Pools? -- More Like Vaults

Initially Posted on May 14th, 2012

Back in the far earlier days of Nuclear Power Plant design, I am afraid that the designers made an inadvertent mistake in naming a vital portion of their plants.

They named the interim storage areas for irradiated fuel assemblies Spent Fuel Pools. Here is a picture of one, I think from Catawba.

Recently, scaremongers have have been trumpeting outlandish imaginary scenarios relating to the Unit 4 Spent Fuel Pool at Fukushima Daiichi.  These postulated scenarios defy the laws of physics, to put things bluntly and simply.

Rod Adams has covered the issue here, and again a few days ago here with the video just below.

Leslie Corrice at Hiroshima Syndrome has also mentioned it.
Dan Yurman has talked about it.
And so has Steve Skutnik (both at his site The Neutron Economy and re-published at The Energy Collective)

UPDATE (May 16th lunchtime):
Will Davis has posted about the absence of the danger at the ANS Nuclear Cafe.
That brings me to the mistake that I think was made during the original design phase in regards to naming a portion of a nuclear power plant, The Spent Fuel Pool.

The term "Pool" very likely puts mental images like this into people's heads.

When you see a kiddie pool, I would bet that strength is far, far down the list of terms that would be associated with such a structure. The fact that mental images of weak structures like this can be so easily recalled is a primary reason that the fables ignoring physics that have been propagated by anti-nuclear activists in regards to Spent Fuel Pools can gain some traction with relative ease.

A more appropriate mental image for the robustness of the design of an actual Spent Fuel Pool could better be conveyed by the term VAULT.
No, not that Vault. Besides, Surge was always considerably better anyway.Non-nuclear digression: Surge was likely the leading edge of the energy drink boom in America, which could be an interesting little business case study for someone. /End digression.  

This type of Vault is more what I was thinking of.
This type of vault conveys the strength that is inherent in the designs of nuclear power plant's spent fuel pools. Also, take a look at this picture of a pad of spent fuel casks (dry storage).
 Pretty Vault-like, huh?

How much more difficult would it have been to cause people to be concerned about the Fukushima Daiichi Spent Fuel Pools if they had been named Vaults from the beginning, rather than merely Pools? My guess is that it would have been a bit more difficult. 

The strength of the design is not the only reason that I think the term "VAULT" is apt for the interim storage locations for what I prefer to call partially-utilized spent fuel assemblies. The second reason is that the remaining energy content in fuel assemblies could potentially be extremely valuable someday. The presently typical "once-through" fuel cycle does not utilize anywhere close to the fuel energy potential of either the material within the fuel itself, nor especially of the mined uranium that the assemblies were made of. The term vault would help to convey that the PARTIALLY Spent Fuel Assemblies possess immense potential future value, possibly enough value to make the contents of the fortified structure pictured below pale in comparison (click on the picture if you don't recognize what it is).

I would like to propose a method of remedying this historical oversight. As part of the mandated spent fuel changes as follow-up to the Fukushima-Daiichi incident, utilities can choose to "upgrade" existing SFPs to "vaults". In most cases, I would guess that this would require little, if any, physical changes, but would be a documentation only change. Perhaps the NEI or NRC might decide to set some standards/requirements for allowing utility to use the term "vault" in regards to a specific pool. Such a validation of the use of this revised terminology could provide a level of robustness, similar to the existing designs of these Spent Fuel Pools.

Making such a change could have a small effect of enhancing the public perception of safety, even if not appreciably increasing safety above the present level (how do you top zero spent fuel-related incidences at commercial plants?).

A further enhancement that I would like to see, but may fit better under the topic of a future post, is revising the "spent" part of the pools' name to "partially used". This would help convey the presence of the remaining energy potential of the fuel assemblies (which very likely would have already been put to use effectively, if not for the Jimmy Carter years).

In summary, the term Vault would convey two primary thoughts:

1. That the enclosed material is secure


2. That the material is still extremely valuable