Saturday, April 28, 2012

9. Meager Initial Attempts at a Logo

Engineers aren't often known for their artistic abilities, but here are a few meager attempts at logos.

The one above is what I have added as the background of the blog. If you are reading on a wide enough screen, it might be visible. If you're reading it on a Smartphone or iPad, you may only see edges or none of it at all.

The one below is the one that I added as a profile picture for now for the Facebook (which has a misspelling in the address due to creating the Facebook page on my iPad) and Twitter profiles.
I will gladly accept other ideas and suggestions for some better logos. Just leave a comment down below or send an email to Entreprenuclear "At gee mail dot com" (typed as of course).

For some better examples of artistic ability relating to Nuclear Energy, go check out Pop Atomic or go read about this rather fascinating individual, James Acord, (also, a very interesting article about him here).

Thursday, April 26, 2012

8. Entreprenuclear View of PBS's "Electric Nation"

Here are my initial, shooting-from-the-hip thoughts on the program.

Only 4 and a half minutes for nuclear? Really? Nuclear provides 20% of America's electricity and it only got around 8% or 9% of this program's air time?

At one point, the program stated that Watts Bar Unit 2 is the only nuclear plant under construction, which is no longer true as of the past few months, with the approval of the combined Construction and Operating Licenses (COLs) for 4 AP1000's, 2 each at Vogtle in Georgia and VC Summer in South Carolina. They even showed site preparation work at Vogtle about a minute or two after stating that no new plants had been ordered since the 70's. Were Vogtle Units 3 & 4 not ordered, but work somehow magically got started there? Hello?

The recently announced changes to the schedule for completing Watts Bar Unit 2 were not included in the program either., but that is understandable since it was only made public a few weeks ago.

There was no mention of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in the initial nuclear power section, a market segment which I will be discussing in "shallow depth" in the near future.

Had I been telling the story, I would have expounded a lot more on the reasons the first nuclear build-out didn't meet President Nixon's 1974 projection that America could have 1,000 reactors by the beginning of the 21st century (which would have been fully possible without breaking any laws of physics).  Pure obstructionism, combined with approaching of electricity market saturation/slowed demand growth rates (see Note below) and combined with interest rates shooting up above 20% played considerably bigger roles in not meeting that projection than safety concerns did.  Here is a link explaining it further.  Stating that it was safety concerns is a lazy cop-out that fails to consider the whole situation, but this did admittedly all occur long before my birth.

Aside: People using the word safety in regards to nuclear power, with nothing close to any further explanation for how something specifically relates to nuclear safety is becoming more and more a pet peeve of mine with each successive 4-1 NRC Commission vote. /End Aside

In summary 

My expectations were met for the opening segment, which did do a good job of stating just how vital electricity is to modern day American life.  On the negative ledger though, for almost every other energy source that the program covered besides nuclear, some forward-looking attributes were the main things featured.  For natural gas, fracking shale was featured.  For wind, the fancy simulations of America's wind "resources" was shown.  For solar, a church was featured.  In the coverage of nuclear power, however, the very mild folly of the first nuclear era's over-exuberance was mentioned while barely a smidgen of the really forward-moving aspects of nuclear power were featured outside of the short clip of site preparation work at Vogtle.

The way things were presented in this particular program is a prime example of precisely the information and optimism void in regards to the use of Peaceful Atomic Energy that Entreprenuclear is here to play a small role in filling.

Note: People didn't generally need more and more refrigerators, air conditioners, and other appliances after getting their first ones in the 50's, 60's, and early 70's. Therefore, electricity load growth projections from that era turned out to be unsustainable.  What would a person do with a 3rd washer and dryer?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

7. A Short TV Programming Note

At 10 pm, April 25th, "Electric Nation" aired on PBS. This program included a very short tour of Watts Bar Nuclear Plant's Unit 1.  I believe this link will allow watching the program online in the future, but it was having technical difficulties at the time I copied and pasted the address.  Here is a preview.

I have not gotten to preview the episode or anything and cannot vouch for its content, but my unverified assumption is that it will at the very least help point out just how important electricity is and how useful it is.

We far too often take electricity for granted. This Friday (4/27) marks the first anniversary of the record-breaking string of tornados that swept through portions of the Southeastern U.S. (which is where I happen to reside). That series of storms provided an unpleasant reminder of how important electricity is to our modern, first-world way of life here in America.

So, if you aren't busy tomorrow night, take the time to be educated a little by watching the special on PBS. Or if you're rather busy like me, record it on your DVR of choice to watch later. Hopefully the program will be devoid of any significant political slants.

Oh, and a solid rule of thumb, always be sure to check your local listings.  The program could re-air sometime, or it may be placed online, in which case I will add a link to this posting.

Friday, April 20, 2012

6. Entreprenuclear-Related News

Westinghouse is now making some significant progress in placing themselves firmly into the middle of the SMR competition. (Here's their page.)

Dan Yurman has posted about this over at the ANS Nuclear Cafe.

Will Davis posted about it over at Atomic Power News.

That makes 3 separate sites that should have now been identified for initial implementations of various SMR designs: Clinch River in East Tennessee for B&W's mPower, Callaway in Missouri for the Westinghouse SMR, and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina as a possible SMR Park housing each of the Gen4 Module, the NuScale SMR, and the Holtec SMR.

Additionally, these design efforts have some backing from major players in the EPC world.  The Holtec SMR effort is being assisted by Shaw.  B&W's mPower is receiving design help from Bechtel.  NuScale is partially owned by Fluor.

Let this serve as proof.  Nuclear Entrepreneurs do exist.

Also, private investments in Peaceful Nuclear Energy do exist. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

5. Why Nuclear?

What an excellent question: "Why Nuclear?"
The answer for me really boils down to 2 primary points, each of which with numerous sub-points.

1. Existing, operational nuclear power plants are amazing.

- Nuclear energy has immense energy density. Only a handful of truckloads of fuel needs to be delivered every 18-24 months to provide electrical power for upwards of half a million people per operating unit.

- Nuclear energy's total costs have already all been internalized, with no emissions of CO2, NOx, SO2, Mercury, or particulates. "Spent" fuel storage has been shown to be safe. Ultimate "spent" fuel storage costs have been funded via the nuclear waste fund ($0.001/kW-hr generated). Decommissioning funds are in place for when plants cease to operate far off in the future.

- Nuclear power has a stellar safety record.

2. Currently operating commercial nuclear power plants merely scratch the surface of what is physically possible.

- Nuclear power plants will be able to provide energy in more sectors of the energy market than merely base load electricity in the future, while still continuously operating at full capacity other than either forced or re-fueling outages.

- Future nuclear power plants will utilize a greater portion of their potential fuel, possibly approaching 100% utilization rather than less than 5% presently.

- Greater fuel utilization ensures less waste to be dispositioned. If utilization gets to near 100%, the time scale that that the waste is required to be isolated will be immensely decreased.

- Advancements in nuclear energy could potentially allow a solution that would render a geologic repository (such as Yucca Mountain) a non-necessity, even for the already-generated "spent" (partially-used) commercial nuclear fuel.

- Nuclear energy's capital costs are not inherently as expensive as they have been portrayed to be. In numerous cases, they have been increased due to flat out obstructionism.

- Modularization and the NRC's new method of licensing present a promising means of avoiding the historical cost increases that many people (wrongly) think are inherent to nuclear power plants.

- Nuclear energy represents technological progress.

- Nuclear energy enables the possibility of a much less oppressive future overall.

- Nuclear energy can allow future necessary energy transitions to be more gradual, rather than being abrupt and likely destructive resulting from resource scarcity.

- Peaceful nuclear energy is legitimately scalable to power the whole world, for a long, long time and help make the world a more peaceful long as it is actually allowed to make progress.

Viva Nuclear Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurs!!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

4. 100th Nuclear Blog Carnival

The launch of Entrprenuclear was featured in the 100th Nuclear Blog Carnival, published Saturday. 
The writer of Entreprenuclear is proud to have shared the 100th Carnival as an introductory venue with the just-launched Nuclear Literacy Project.  This endeavor aimed to improve the general public's understanding of nuclear power via innovative means fits in perfectly as an example of what Entreprenuclear is here to champion.

Here is a link:
100th Nuclear Blog Carnival @ Will Davis's Atomic Power Review

Other Carnivals:
103rd - at Yes Vermont Yankee
102nd - at Next Big Future
101st - at ANS Nuclear Cafe
100th - at Will Davis's Atomic Power Review
99th - at NEI's Nuclear Notes
98th - at Dan Yurman's (1st Entreprenuclear Commenter) Idaho Samizdat
97th - at Brian Wang's Next Big Future
96th - at the ANS Nuclear Cafe
95th - at Atomic Power Review (One Year after Fukushima Edition)
94th - at NEI's Nuclear Notes
93rd - at Next Big Future
92nd - at the ANS Nuclear Cafe
91st  - at Yes Vermont Yankee
90th - at Atomic Power Review
89th - at Idaho Samizdat
88th - at Next Big Future
87th - at the ANS Nuclear Cafe
86th - at NEI's Nuclear Notes  --- (First of 2012)
85th - at Yes Vermont Yankee  --- (Last of 2011)
84th - at Atomic Power Review
83rd - at the ANS Nuclear Cafe
82nd - was sort of at Nuclear Clean Air Energy
81st - at Idaho Samizdat
80th - at Next Big Future

More past Carnivals will be added to this posting with future edits, allowing this to act as a Nuclear Blog Carnival directory.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

3. "Entreprenuke" Bio

I am presently employed as a Mechanical Engineer. For 3.25 years now, I have worked in nuclear power plant design. This was my first full-time job after completing 19 years of formal education. At some point early on during this opening of my career, I developed what some would consider a strange (and certainly nerdy) hobby of reading blogs related to nuclear energy. I had long before that developed a keen interest in reading about energy-related issues in general. A particular favorite nuclear blog of mine is Atomic Insights. I will be adding links to some of my favorite nuclear blogs in the near future.

Aside: I initially plan to remain a degree of anonymity posting here, so I am blogging under the name EntrepreNuke. I have also started twitter and facebook accounts. The twitter account is simple enough, @entreprenuclear, and the Facebook page is too, Feel free to go follow and/or like, respectively. End Aside

For my formal education, I completed both a B.S. and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA. The Masters degrees were completed as a dual degree program, with a focus on product development. Near the completion of the program, I got to be part of a team participating in a competition/challenge involving pitching a product to venture capitalists (my team shared the runner up spot). That experience sparked my pre-existing entrepreneurial spirit. I allowed that spirit to delude me for a time, thinking I could possibly be an entrepreneur directly out of school. With that delusion, I delayed beginning full-time employment for about 6 months after completing my final project for my Masters program.

When my funds were nearly fully depleted, I finally came to grips with needing a real job, and was fortunate to find one.

I never have fully shaken that entrepreneurial spirit. Since I have gained a fair amount of actual experience relating to nuclear power in addition to gleaning additional knowledge from reading blogs and trying to keep up with industry-related developments, this blog seems to be an appropriate endeavor. I have recognized that an entrepreneurial spirit and Peaceful Atomic Energy are far from mutually exclusive (despite a challenging regulatory structure) and that this pair of things (entrepreneurs and nuclear) need to be combined more and more if this world in the future is going to have any hope of having energy availability on the scale needed to prevent many considerably undesirable outcomes.

I think I actually came up with the name more than 18 months ago and have been intending to begin this blog since about that time. With the 100th Nuclear Blog Carnival coming up this weekend, trying to be included in that was the final push I needed to overcome procrastination and get this thing started.

I hope everyone has a wonderful remainder of your weekend.

Friday, April 13, 2012

2. Nuclear Innovation and Entrepreneurship Sectors/Opportunities Directory

The following outline is meant to be a somewhat comprehensive and living document, pointing to areas where innovation and entrepreneurship are either already occurring, are about to occur, or where future opportunities exist. The outline is currently at its earliest stages, with additional future updates necessary. These are not necessarily rank-ordered, as of now.

Please include proposed additions in the comments section along with a link, as I know I have missed some other exciting opportunities.

1. Intrapreneurship at existing plants/within existing organizations - not at the expense of safety
a. Improved processes in general
b. Improved employee training/mentoring/knowledge transfer (particularly “tribal” knowledge)
c. Improved construction techniques/procedures - modularity
d. Improved schedule assurance (thus reduced financial risk)
e. Improved design techniques/procedures
f. Improved incentivization (employee retention)
- Not losing any more generations of a potential nuclear workforce

2. Regional Energy Initiatives
- Oak Ridge Energy Corridor

3. New Entrepreneurial Ventures
a. new reactor designs
- Westinghouse’s SMR (?)
Gen IV
- Gen4Power Module (formerly Hyperion)
- LFTR or Fuji or other Thorium-fueled Molten Salt Reactors - Flibe Energy
-TWR Terrapower (funded partially by Bill Gates)

b. improvements in other aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle
- Better, cleaner, and safer mining techniques
- Already much less impact than some other forms of mining
- More efficient enrichment
- Better centrifuges (for peaceful uses, sorry Iran)
- Laser enrichment (SILEX/GE-H)
- Improvements in fuel for existing plants
- Higher burnup capabilities
- Possibly breeding some Th with very minor modifications to existing LWRs
- Improvements to be made by CASL
- Allowing High Fuel burnups (SAFELY)
- Demonstrating the safety of further uprates
- Demonstrating the acceptability of further license extensions (beyond 60 years)
- Applying aspects of CASL to designs beyond LWRs

4. Innovative financing
a. SMRs aren’t “bet-the-company” propositions
- smaller utilities could have nuclear plants
c. Collaboration between competing designs to share development costs for some components?
- Innovative Power Generation components/systems
- Specialized pumps, valves, etc. that could be used for different designs

5. New markets/products - beyond just baseload electricity (which is, honestly, mostly saturated)
a. intermediate and peaking electricity
b. transportation fuels
- Carbonaceous initially, but eventually non-carbon fuels
c. Useful isotopes
- Cancer treatments, RTGs

6. Innovative Regulations
a. Incorporating new knowledge - from CASL and numerous on-going studies
b. Incorporating findings from the SOARCA
c. Incorporating lessons learned from Fukushima Daichi
- and continuing to implement previous lessons

This will be a tough one, and is a primary reason why many people would think that Entrepreneurship and Nuclear might be mutually exclusive.

The 3rd post here at Entreprenuclear will be a brief bio of the author.

1. Entreprenuclear? What’s that?

Entrepreneur + Nuclear

“What does that mean?”, you might ask. If you have a few minutes to read, I would be happy to tell you.

Entreprenuclear is more than simply a convenient amalgamation of two words that both possess a “new”sound. Entreprenuclear is starting off as simply a pro-nuclear,and hopefully insightful and informative, blog. I intend to use Entreprenuclear's corner of the Internet to educate and encourage people in regards to the peaceful use of Atomic (aka Nuclear) Energy,championing value-creating Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Nuclear energy, even it its present state, is downright incredible. To think that several truckloads of fuel delivered to a single unit can provide the electrical power needs for hundreds of thousands of (nearly a million) people for 18-24 straight months at a time is amazing if you actually think about it. Oh, and thinking will be encouraged here at Entreprenuclear.

As incredible as the existing,operating, commercial nuclear power plants are, Peaceful Atomic Energy has not yet come close to reaching its full potential. Present commercial nuclear power plants use LESS THAN 5%of their potential fissile energy (sparing any details of this calculation, for now). Even considering this lack of maturity, fully fabricated nuclear fuel costs approximately one third on a per unit of energy basis ($0.65-0.92/MBtu) of even natural gas which is presently at a 10-12 year low price in North America(dipping below $2.00/MBtu,at the Henry Hub) .

Looking at only those facts, nuclear energy would seem to be ripe for value creating innovation and entrepreneurship,right?

Well many people would likely say no and that nuclear power plants are inherently expensive or that regulations prevent much of any innovation or opportunities for entrepreneurship.

While I would likely agree with those people that building nuclear power plants is far from an easy task and that it does NOT provide short term pay-backs, the long-term benefits of being patient and properly completing a high quality nuclear power plant (NPP) are almost amazing in terms of energy supply security and electricity rate stability. The alleged inherently expensive nature of NPPs and the present structure of nuclear regulation actually probably present the two areas of greatest entrepreneurial need in regards to the use of Peaceful Atomic Energy.

Further education will be necessary on many fronts for a large portion of the advances that Peaceful Atomic Energy is poised to make. I may simply be a nerd (mechanical engineer by schooling), but I think that in some ways, “nuclear people” historically have done themselves a disservice by being far too willing to allow non-”nuclear people” to believe that understanding nuclear fission is beyond their intellectual capabilities. I say that on a basic level, that is patently FALSE. Yes, there are many details that I am also clueless about and that are best learned by earning a difficult BS, MS, or PhD degree, but EVERYONE should strive to have some understanding of the basics of nuclear power production. I plan to make efforts to provide some simplistic explanations here at Entreprenuclear.

Entreprenuclear is here to encourage both present and FUTURE “nuclear people”. Entreprenuclear will try to highlight upcoming advances in nuclear power technologies (attempting to stay relatively agnostic in regards to any particular technology, since advancement is advancement), highlight entrepreneurial news regarding new nuclear ventures, and also promote INTRApreneurship within existing established nuclear energy organizations.  Submissions of examples of EntrepreNuclear or IntrapreNuclear activities will be welcomed here at Entreprenuclear and in some cases could result in a blog entry highlighting the activity (with permission, of course).

The future is what nuclear energy is really about, a future that I am hopeful isn't laced with mandated decreases of utilizing energy, whether mandated by governments or nature via depleted fossil fuel resources.  Decreasing usage of energy would equal decreased economic activity and decreased standards of living, for the whole world, in addition to likely fights for scarce remaining fossil fuel resources. I am hopeful that peaceful atomic energy will be allowed to advance and flourish in the future world that will be inhabited by any children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren that I may someday bring into the world. I previously shared some of these Atomic Dreams this past Martin Luther King Day on Atomic Insights.

Peaceful Atomic Energy is basically still in its first product cycle past prototyping. There are miles of improvements that can be made for the future (not to say that the nuclear plants that are already operating aren't quite incredible), both in regards to new designs and in how currently operating plants are managed, supported, and operated.

The second posting here will list some of the on-going entrepreneurial activities and opportunities within the realm of Peaceful Atomic Energy. 

Constructive, non-spam comments and questions will always be welcome here at Entreprenuclear. I am more than willing to admit that I myself still have much to learn.