Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

Major Energy and Environmental News and Commentary affecting the Nuclear Industry.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Is Our Nuclear Stockpile Safe? Questions For The Head of Global Strike Command


Photo: Crews at Malmstrom Air Force Base fit a dummy nuclear warhead onto a missile. (Photo by Jonothan Targovnick)

Questions For Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz, Head Of Global Strike Command -- Popular Mechanics

In 2011, nuclear weapons will take center stage of defense negotiations as the United States Senate debates the ratification of the New START treaty with Russia. The treaty will reduce the amount of warheads in the U.S. and Russian arsenals. But the nukes aren't going anywhere. In April the Obama administration released a Nuclear Posture Review, the third since the end of the Cold War, that says—somewhat in contrast to the president's oft-repeated desire to "work toward a world without nuclear weapons"—that U.S. policy is to retain its nuclear triad of bombers, ICBMs and submarine-launched missiles. "As long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States will sustain safe, secure and effective nuclear forces," it states. The security of those weapons has been questioned after an incident in late October knocked out communications between an underground launch center and the ICBMs. PM recently sat down at the Pentagon with Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz, the commander of Global Strike Command, to discuss the state of America's nuclear arsenal, from the treaty tables to the missile silos.

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It Will Take 131 Years To Replace Oil, And We've Only Got 10 Dian L. Chu, Economic Forecasts & Opinions

It seems the panic time for both green enthusiasts and peak oil pundits.
According to a new paper by two researchers at the University of California – Davis, it would take 131 years for replacement of gasoline and diesel given the current pace of research and development; however, world's oil could run dry almost a century before that.
The research was published on Nov. 8 at Environmental Science & Technology, which is based on the theory that market expectations are good predictors reflected in prices of publicly traded securities.
By incorporating market expectations into the model, the authors, Nataliya Malyshkina and Deb Niemeier, indicated that based on their calculation, the peak of oil production could occur between 2010 and 2030, before renewable replacement technologies become viable at around 2140.
The estimates not only delayed the alternative energy timeline, but also pushed up the peak oil deadline. The researchers suggest some previous estimates that pegged year 2040 as the time frame when alternatives would start to replace oil, could be “overly optimistic".
As I pointed out before, despite the excitement and hype surrounding a future of clean energy, a majority of the current technology simply does not make economic sense for regular consumers and lack the infrastructure for a mass deployment….even with government subsidies, tax breaks, and outright mandates.
In addition, the supply chain of renewable technologies is not as green as people might think. Most alternative technologies rely on rare earths for efficiency. However, the radioactive waste produced by rare earths mining process makes oil sands look like a green energy. This overlooked (or ignored) fact just now received some attention due to the sudden shortage caused by China’s embargo and export quotas on rare earths.
Another case in point – In China, the city of Jiuquan in Gansu province needs to build 9.2 gigawatts of new coal-fired generating capacity as backup power of the 12.7 gigawatts wind turbines due to be installed by 2015.  So more wind farm would need more coal-fired power plants, with little or possibly no carbon reduction.
Capitalism means the investment naturally flows to the more profitable proposition....and vice versa. With more data and information becoming available, not much could go unnoticed by the markets, particularly in a relatively new sector such as renewable energy. And this harsh reality is clearly reflected in this new study.
Now, in its latest long term outlook, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that oil demand, prices and dependence on OPEC all set to continue rising through 2035, and that global oil supplies near their peak in 2035 as China, India and other emerging economies keep on trucking.
So the world needs to come to a common understanding that
  1. The alternative energy is not mature enough to replace fossil sources any time soon. 
  2. Energy security means a diversified and balanced portfolio inclusive of every bit of resource, fossil as well as renewables, just to meet the projected demand.
  3. Real "green" energy is easier said than done. 
Furthermore, the increased rare earths dependency, and the latest food vs. fuel debate when the food industry slapped a law suit against the EPA over E15 ethanol serve as examples illustrating that implementing policies without thorough planning and research often times has unintended and nasty consequences. (In this E15 case, the EAP is an easy mark with one in eight Americans on food stamps.)
That requires a balanced and unbiased government policy to guide exploration and development of technologies to unlock the new fossil fuel reserves, expanding the R&Ds of emerging technologies, while effectively practicing and promoting energy efficiency and conservation.
Otherwise, we may literally witness $300 a barrel oil before the electric vehicle even makes one percent market penetration, and unfortunately there's no easy fix.
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North Korea Is Building Light - Water Reactor: Report

TOKYO (Reuters) - North Korea is building an experimental light-water reactor at its Yongbyon nuclear facility, Kyodo news reported on Saturday, citing Siegfried Hecker, former chief of the Los Alomos National Laboratory.
Hecker told reporters in Beijing that he was informed of the construction by North Korea and the output of the reactor was on a scale of 25 to 30 megawatts, according to the report.
Hecker recently visited North Korea, the report said.
He also said that the construction has just begun and it would take several years to complete it.
North Korea has tried to secure a light-water reactor for a number of years, claiming such a project would be for peaceful energy purposes.
The type of reactor is considered relatively proliferation-resistant, meaning it is unlikely to be diverted for an arms programme.
A 1994 deal between North Korea and the United States was intended to provide the destitute state with two 1,000-megawatt light-water reactors built by an international consortium, but the agreement fell apart in 2006 after the North was accused of pursuing a nuclear arms programme.
Analysts are skeptical of North Korea's ability to build a light-water reactor indigenously, because it requires key components that only advanced nuclear states such as the United States can provide.
North Korea froze its Yongbyon nuclear site under a 2005 deal with five regional powers in return for aid, but is reported to have restarted activities there recently as the six-way disarmament process remains stalled for two years.
A five-megawatt graphite-moderated reactor at Yongbyon has produced arms-grade plutonium that officials and experts believe the North used to build several nuclear bombs.
(Reporting by Junko Fujita; Additional reporting by Jack Kim in Seoul; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

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Iran readies missile defense system?

TEHRAN, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Tehran plans to test a domestic version of the Russian-made S-300 missile defense system, an Iranian military official declared.
Russia pulled back on a deal to sell the S-300 system to Iran, citing recent U.N. sanctions on Tehran regarding its nuclear program. However, following a visit by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in October, Moscow opted to sell Venezuela its S-300 anti-aircraft missile system.
Tehran wanted the system to protect its nuclear installations from a possible aerial attack by the Israelis, who bombed an Iraqi nuclear facility in the 1980s. Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said there were no plans to find an alternative supplier now that the Russian deal had fallen through. More at:

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Mullen Makes Military’s Case for START Ratification By Jim Garamone American Forces Press Service


PALO ALTO, Calif., Nov. 12, 2010 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today delivered the military argument for Senate ratification of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and talked about the future of deterrence.
Speaking at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said “the stars may have aligned” to pass the new START pact the United States negotiated with Russia.
“Deterrence today is tougher and more complex. More than one nation can now reach out and touch us with nuclear missiles,” Mullen said to a star-studded audience that included former secretaries of state George Shultz, Condoleezza Rice and Henry Kissinger, and former Defense Secretary William J. Perry. “Americans are potential targets of terrorism wherever they travel, and regional instability in several places around the globe could easily erupt into large-scale conflict.
“Yet, we have done precious little spadework to advance the theory of deterrence,” he continued, noting the lack of serious discussion on deterrence since the end of the Cold War. “It is as if we all breathed a collective sigh of relief when the Soviet Union collapsed and said to ourselves, ‘Well, I guess we don't need to worry about that anymore.’ We were wrong. The demands of deterrence evolve.”
The new treaty will help with the discussion, Mullen said, and the time is right. The stars are aligning for passage, he added.
“A flood of Soviet troops into Afghanistan dissolved support for SALT II in the United States, whereas the fall of the Berlin Wall and later the Soviet Union may well have hastened the signing and ratification of START,” Mullen said. “Today, we lack a similar treaty with Russia. In fact, we haven’t had one for almost a year now. But the arms buildup in the aftermath of SALT II’s disintegration highlights the necessity for some sort of understanding, some sort of verifiable reduction and monitoring regime.”
It is in the interest of both the United States and Russia to ratify this treaty, the chairman told the audience. From the military aspect, the new START treaty “allows us to retain a strong and flexible American nuclear deterrent,” Mullen said.
“It strengthens openness and transparency in our relationship with Russia,” he added.
The treaty also demonstrates America’s commitment to nuclear arms reductions, Mullen said. “I am convinced that New START - permitting us as it does 1,550 aggregate warheads and the freedom to create our own force posture within that limit – leaves us with more than enough nuclear deterrent capability for the world we live in,” he explained.
Mullen said he’s convinced the treaty preserves the nuclear triad and retains U.S. flexibility to continue deploying conventional global strike capabilities.
“I am also convinced that the verification regime is as stringent as it is transparent, and borne of more than 15 years of lessons learned under the original START treaty,” he said.
The new treaty provides for 18 inspections annually, and for sharing data concerning the numbers, locations and technical characteristics of systems subject to the treaty, the admiral noted.
“In other words, we’ll know a lot more about Russian systems and intentions than we do right now,” he said. “And as I have said many times, in many different contexts, in this fast-paced, flatter world of ours, information, and the trust it engenders, is every bit as much a deterrent as any weapon we deploy.”
Because he worries about “what I don’t know and what I can’t see,” Mullen said, the treaty’s inspection provisions are critical.
“So, I believe, and the rest of the military leadership in this country believes, that this treaty is essential to our future security,” said the chairman told the audience. “I believe it enhances and ensures that security. And I hope the Senate will ratify it quickly.”

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Obama pledges $4 billion more for nuke complex in bid to pass START, sources say

In a last-minute bid to save a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, the Obama administration has offered to spend $4 billion more over five years on the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, congressional sources said Friday.
President Obama has made passage of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, one of his top priorities for the lame-duck session starting next week. Officials worry that the pact could face long delays, or even fail, if it is put off until next year, when the Democrats' Senate majority will shrink.
Republicans have conditioned their support for the treaty on a big budget increase to fix up the country's aging weapons-production facilities.
Administration officials went to Capitol Hill on Friday and said the White House was prepared to add $4.1 billion for nuclear facilities, according to one congressional aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks were private. That is on top of a $10 billion increase the administration had already promised over the next decade .More at:
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An Uncertain Nuclear Countdown By MATTHEW L. WALD

The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon, Vt., on the banks of the Connecticut River.Associated Press The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon, Vt., on the banks of the Connecticut River.
Green: Business
If the clock is ticking on the lifetime of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, when will it actually close?
As I write in Friday’s Times, Entergy, which bought the plant in 2002, is looking for a buyer because the state Legislature has refused to give the company permission to run it after Vermont Yankee’s initial 40-year license expires in March 2012. (What is more, one of its top opponents in the Legislature was elected governor on Tuesday.)
But if the Legislature does not relent, it may not last even that long.
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Debate on Nuclear Fuel Cask Safety

A panel of judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments late last week whether Pacific Gas and Electric needed to conduct environmental analysis on the vulnerability of spent nuclear fuel casks stored at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plan. Attorneys for Mothers for Peace argued that such analysis was required and demanded access to security documents long deemed top secret to ensure that proper analysis has been conducted and that proper safeguards have been taken. In 2002, Pacific Gas & Electric was granted permission to be begin storing spent fuel rods that have been accumulating at Diablo Canyon—because no final repository for such nuclear wastes exists in the United States—in giant concrete cased steel lined caskets. Mothers for Peace has insisted that these storage tasks would be easy pickings to any terrorist with an airplane. PG&E officials have insisted the casks are built to withstand a direct hit by a plane. They’ve also argued against allowing anyone without high level government security clearance to examine whatever internal precautions they’ve taken for such terrorist eventualities.
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Korea Becomes World’s Leading Nuclear Power Plant Exporter


South Korea, U.S. to Discuss Extended Deterrence from GSN Daily News

The United States and South Korea are set to hold talks before year's end on issues tied to extended nuclear deterrence and a ballistic missile shield, the Asahi Shimbun reported today (see GSN, April 21).
The discussions would fall under the Extended Deterrence Policy Committee that Seoul and Washington "agreed to institutionalize" in October, according to a joint statement. Senior-level South Korean and U.S. defense officials are expected to determine the group's format and issues it would address.
South Korean defense insiders said their government would begin by requesting that the two nations swap intelligence tied to North Korea's nuclear arms work (see GSN, Nov. 11). The South would also like to talk about potential North Korean nuclear proliferation and how to react if attacked with various kinds of nuclear strikes, the sources said.
While Washington has stated its nuclear umbrella covers Japan and South Korea, concrete military details about what that would mean in the event of a nuclear assault have not yet been laid out (see GSN, Oct. 12). The United States has held off on providing specifics over worries that such information could anger China and give Pyongyang further grounds to continue its nuclear weapons work.
Seoul, though, has been urging talks about the nuclear umbrella to address public worries regarding the ramifications of future drawdowns of U.S. soldiers stationed on the Korean Peninsula.
The Obama administration might now be willing to provide these deterrence specifics because Washington "may have become worried that if it did not make a virtual guarantee of its nuclear umbrella, (South Korea) might have decided to embark on its own nuclear weapons development," a South Korean source said (Yoshihiro Makino, Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 12).
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India, U.S. Could Collaborate on WMD Defense from GSN Daily News

An Indian scientific delegation is set to discuss with U.S. counterparts how the elimination of some U.S. restrictions on high-tech trade with the South Asian nation could enable new collaborative work on technologies for countering chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, the Hindustan Times reported today (see GSN, Nov. 8).
President Obama last week announced the United States would ease some controls on exports of sensitive technology to India, regulations originally put in place in response to the South Asian nation's 1998 nuclear tests.
The development of anti-WMD technology was one potential area in which the sides might now pool their scientific resources, said W. Selvamurthy, a chief controller at India's Defense Research and Development Organization.
Selvamurthy is expected to lead the team of Indian scientists in discussions with U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency specialists, as well as in an upcoming meeting in Orlando, Florida, to address WMD defense and response planning.
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Nuclear Winter: Nuclear War would be an Unprecedented Human Catastrophe - by Carl Sagan - 2010-11-09

Nuclear Winter: Nuclear War would be an Unprecedented Human Catastrophe
- by Carl Sagan - 2010-11-09
Even small nuclear wars can have devastating climatic effects...

Nuclear power capacity to rise (China Daily) Updated: 2010-11-04 15:57


China's National Development and Reform Commission Says new nuclear capacity target is 112 Gigawatts for 2020


OWENS: Wind doesn't blow hard enough Green energy requires nuclear-power plants, too

In its quest for a "green" future, the Obama administration proposes to rely on wind power to generate 20 percent of U.S. electrical power by 2030. There are a number of problems with this proposal.
First, the European experience illustrates that the hidden costs of wind-power generation require massive subsidies that are borne by taxpayers. Second, wind power is unsuitable for meeting "base load" power demand (as opposed to helping to meet peak power demand).
Third, as Texas has discovered, the cost of transmitting electricity from windy areas to the urban areas that constitute the bulk of electricity demand are staggering. Finally, as Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican and a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has observed, the Obama plan would require the construction of 186,000 1.5-megawatt, 50-story wind turbines occupying an area the size of West Virginia, as well as 19,000 miles of transmission lines.
There is a better "green" option: nuclear power. The requirement for energy diversity and clean air would seem to support expansion of nuclear-generated electricity. Indeed, nuclear power accounts for about 70 percent of the nation's carbon-free electricity generation, and is the only base-load energy source that can make a decisive contribution toward reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
Nuclear energy is also efficient and safe. The efficiency of nuclear power has improved by 36 percent since 1990, the equivalent of adding more than 231 1,000-megawatt power plants. France gets 75 percent of its electrical power from nuclear energy. As for safety, data compiled by the World Association of Nuclear Operators indicates that all of the key indicators of nuclear plant performance - from unplanned reactor shutdowns to radiation exposure - have shown high levels of safety at U.S. nuclear power plants during the past decade.
However, the United States has not ordered a new nuclear plant since 1979 or begun construction of a new reactor for 30 years. And the recent decision by Constellation Energy to terminate the Calvert Cliffs project in Maryland for lack of loan guarantees and the fate of two Texas nuclear projects stalled for the same reason bodes ill for the prospects of a revival of nuclear power.
Ironically, oil-producing countries in the Middle East and beyond are turning to nuclear power. It seems clear that this trend is influenced by their desire to export oil and gas rather than burning it in power plants, but perhaps they foresee reduced Western demand owing to probable carbon-mitigation measures. Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are considering going nuclear. The United Arab Emirates already has. So while plans are underway in the Middle East for construction of as many as 15 nuclear plants by 2015, the United States remains idle on the nuclear power front.
Much of the opposition to the expansion of nuclear power comes from environmentalists, who logically ought to embrace a carbon-free means of generating electric power. But not only have environmental activists obstructed the construction of new nuclear-power plants, they also have opposed renewing the licenses of nuclear-power plants currently in operation.
But government policy and economics also play a role in retarding the expansion of nuclear power. The U.S. government can improve the prospects for this carbon-free method of producing electricity by increasing its level of support to include changing the formula for loan guarantees; by turning the nuclear-waste program over to a quasi-government corporation; and by providing incentives for the construction of factory-built small modular reactors that can be fabricated at a fraction of the cost of large nuclear plants.
For economic and environmental reasons, we can't turn our backs on nuclear power.
Story Continues →

Nuclear Plants Increase Reliability By LYNN E. WEAVER

Have you noticed that the lead energy source in the effort to halt climate change is not natural gas, but rather nuclear power? That's the case not just in America but also in much of the rest of the world. It's one of the most positive environmental developments around.
Nuclear power accounts for about 20 percent of U.S. electricity production but more than 70 percent of the nation's carbon-free power. Though natural gas has 60 percent less carbon than coal, and is highly regarded as a clean-energy source for fuel switching, the fact is that natural gas power plants load the atmosphere with huge amounts of carbon dioxide. Nuclear power plants, by contrast, don't pollute the air or emit any carbon dioxide.
Nuclear power's environmental edge over competing energy sources is the key to understanding its continuing importance in the United States and in the world. Although there hasn't been a groundbreaking for a new U.S. nuclear plant since 1974, nuclear power still has the same share of the nation's total electricity production that it had more than 20 years ago. And it managed to hold on even as the demand for electricity continued to grow.
What made this remarkable achievement possible are two things:
The greatly improved performance of nuclear plants is reflected by the jump in the average capacity factor of U.S. reactors from 60 percent in 1980 to 90 percent over the past decade.
Florida's five reactors - Crystal River, and the twin units at both St. Lucie and Turkey Point - over the past three years have generated electricity about 90 percent of the time, avoiding the emission of 19 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2009 alone. More at: http://www.theledger.com/article/20101112/COLUMNISTS/11125003/1001/business?p=1&tc=pg

GE to work with India for cost-effective nuclear energy

Global Energy major General Electric Hitachi(GEH) said it remains committed to working with India to help it realise the tremendous potential of clean, safe and cost-effective nuclear energy. Congratulating Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama, senior vice president of nuclear plant projects at the GE unit, Daniel L Roderick, told PTI, "We appreciate the efforts of both governments (America and India) to establish a basis for civil nuclear cooperation and the path forward set forth in the joint statement." "GEH is committed to working with India to help it realise the tremendous potential of clean, safe and cost-effective nuclear energy," Roderick said. Meanwhile, veteran US nuclear businessmen are of the opinion that negotiations with GEH and Westinghouse-Toshiba will now begin in earnest.
"Both GEH and Westinghouse tried their best to go for a 'perfect deal'(change the Indian Civil Liability Law) before Obama's India visit, but now they know that it did not happen and will not happen," they said.
"With that grounded reality they will try to get the next best closure with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)," they said adding eventually the deal will be made but it may take at least two years looking at the negotiations with the French company AREVA.
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Honing the new nuclear energy narrative By Craig Piercy and Corey McDaniel

Thursday, November 11, 2010

IAEA and ICTP Opens Nuclear Energy Management School

Nuclear power is being considered as a clean energy option by ever more countries. Currently, the IAEA is involved in projects dealing with the introduction of nuclear power in 58 of the Agency’s 151 Member States. The Agency projects that within the next twenty years, as many as 25 countries will be operating their first nuclear power plants.
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UAE Missile Deal Worth 140 Million Announced from Military Space News, Nuclear Weapons, Missile Defense

http://www.spacewar.com/reports/UAE_Missile_Deal_Worth_140_Million_Announced_999.htmlWashington DC (SPX) Nov 11, 2010
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress November 3 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of the United Arab Emirates of 100 Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) and 60 Low Cost Reduced-Range Practice Rockets (LCRRPR), as well as associated equipment, training and logistical support for a total package worth approximately $140 million.
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Charles Forsberg's views on Generation IV nuclear costs from The Nuclear Green Revolution by Charles Barton

ORNL MSR development work focused almost exclusively on MSBRs, although Ed Bettis's reactor design shop did design some deep burn MSR converters. The AEC was interested in breeder reactors, so the ORNL focus was on the development of a MSBR, rather than on possibly simpler converters. During the 1960's the cost of Light Water Reactors (LWRs) was believed to be low. Indeed by the time the dramatic reactor cost inflation of the 1970's had taken place, the MSR was no longer in the picture, and thus its potential for competing with the LWR on costs never became a topic for discussion. ORNL designers during the early 1970's had concluded that the cost of the MSBR was competitive with the cost of LWRs, but no attempt had been made to compare the cost of a MSR converter, to LWR costs.
In retrospective the failure to view the MSR as a potential replacement to the LWR, was an unfortunate product of faulty assumptions based on incomplete information. The incomplete information pertained to Light Water Reactor costs, and the faulty assumptions had to do with the desirability of the LWR as a competitor of coal fired power plants. As it turned out the LWR was by the early 1980's at a definite cost disadvantage compared to coal fired power plants, and was widely seen by the public as suffering from disadvantages with respect to the environment, and human health and safety. In retrospective the health and safety issues appear to have been largely solved by 1980. The Three Mile Island accident showed that even a major reactor accident would produce no casualties or environmental costs. Thus Three Mile Island demonstrated that the health, safety and environmental protection approaches philosophy adopted by American reactor manufacturers was sound. However, the technology protecting health, safety and the environmental came at a considerable monetary cost, a cost which was to cripple prospects for further growth of the nuclear industry for over a generation.

In the meantime Molten Salt Reactor technology languished, although a small group of ORNL staff members and a similarly small group of MSR international fans sought to revive interest in Molten Salt Nuclear technology.

It was only after the beginning of the 21st century that the use of Molten Salt coolants began to be seen as a low cost alternative Generation IV approach to nuclear power. This view emerged from Charles Forsberg one of the ORNL MSR old hands. Forsberg's view appears to have been that breeder technology was an encumbrance on Molten Salt development, and that a marriage of technology used for gas cooled reactors and molten salt based coolants had many attractive features. While the development of Molten Salt Reactor technology had largely stood still for a generation, the development of gas cooled reactors had advanced, and that technology was ready for implementation. Yet Gas cooled reactors suffered from a technical flaw, that would lead to high costs. Gasses are relatively unsatisfactory reactor coolants, especially when compared to liquid coolants like water, sodium, of molten salts. As a consequence, a lot of gas is required to cool a reactor core, and consequently the core must be large. This means a lot of material will go into gas cooled reactor construction compared to reactor power output. Liquid salts used in the Molten Salt Reactor are excellent coolants. What Forsberg noticed that aside from the size differences, there were a lot of structural similarities between Molten Salt Reactors and Gas Cooled Reactors. Both reactor types featured a coolant flowing through a graphite nuclear core. The graphite provided both core structure and neutron moderation.

The largest difference between the Gas Cooled Reactor and the Molten Salt Reactor was
the placement of the nuclear fuel. In the gas cooled reactor the fuel was embedded in the graphite, while in the MSR, the fuel (U-233, U-235. or Pu-239) was mixed with the molten salt coolant. The classic MSR was useful for a nuclear economy that assumed a limited or expensive uranium supply. Uranium and possibly thorium mixed with the MSR carrier salts, could be easily processed along with their nuclear byproducts. Processing uranium or thorium embedded in core graphite, while not impossible, was potentially more complicated. Forsberg's view only made since if nuclear breeding would be unnecessary for the next century or so. As it turned out this is Forsberg's view. Thus Forsberg concluded that it was not only possible to build a hybrid reactor using already mature Molten Salt and graphite embedded fuel technologies. Not only was it possible, but the resulting reactor, the Advanced High Temperature Reactor (AHTR) was very attractive. Forsberg did not directly compare the AHTR to the LWR but he did offer comparisons between the AHTR and other Generation IV reactor types. Forsberg compared variants of the AHTR with two other Generation IV reactor designs, an IFR, the General Electric sodium-cooled S-PRISM, and the gas cooled General Atomic Modular High-Temperature Reactor (GT-MHR). Forsberg argued that the AHTR would cost between 55% and 49% of the cost of the S-PRISM, and 61% and 53% of the GT-MHR.

Foorsberg noted that several factors would would contribute to the lower AHtR cost:
• Higher efficiency. The higher temperature implies higher efficiency (~50% vs 42%). This results in lower costs per kilowatt (electric) because of the smaller power conversion equipment, cooling systems to reject heat from the power cycle, and smaller decay-heat-removal systems.
• Passive decay heat removal. The higher AHTR temperatures, combined with the high-temperature fuel, enable the development of passive safety systems for large reactors. Passive safety systems have the potential for lower costs.
• Reduced containment requirements. The molten salt coolant avoids the potential for steam−sodium interactions, absorbs radionuclides that escape the fuel, and eliminates highly energetic accidents, all of which lower containment requirements.
• Reduced equipment sizes. Volumetric heat capacities for molten salts are several times larger than those for sodium. This reduces the size of pipes, valves, and heat exchangers per unit of energy transferred.
• Transparent coolant. Unlike liquid metals, molten salts are transparent. This simplifies maintenance and inspection of the primary system with significant cost advantages.
it should be noted that Forsberg's thinking did not extend to the potential cost savings advantages of small modular reactors. But Per Peterson was shortly to refine Forsberg's analysis in a number of respects, and his findings. in my next post I intend to review Peterson's analysis.

It should be noted, however, that Forsberg's cost estimates are far too low. Thus it is not the cost estimate but the relationship between reactor costs for different nuclear technologies. It should be noted that TVA rebuilt its Browns Ferry unit 1 reactor between 2002 and 2007 at a cost of $1.9 billion, $1720 per kW, that is higher than Forsberg's estimate of new Generation IV reactor costs. Despite these difficulties, it would appear that Forsberg's hybrid reactor offered a promising rout to lower nuclear power costs.
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Venezuela puts nuclear over oil from World Nuclear News by Warwick Pipe

Kiriyenko, Chavez and Medvedev, October 2010Venezuela expects a nuclear reactor to save it $1 billion per year by increasing the amount of oil it exports, but a lot of work remains to realise the promise of nuclear cooperation with Russia.

Controlling Tactical Nuclear Weapons from CFR.org - The Council on Foreign Relations by Council on Foreign Relations

Micah Zenko argues that controlling U.S. and Russian supplies of tactical nuclear weapons would reduce the potential for nuclear terrorism, decrease the perceived threat to U.S. allies, and maintain momentum toward President Obama's goal of a world without nuclear weapons.
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Nuclear deal between Russia, Australia goes into force


Seoul (AFP) Nov 11, 2010 A nuclear cooperation agreement between Russia and Australia went into force Thursday after their two leaders exchanged notes to ratify the deal. Under the agreement Australia will sell uranium to Russia, against the advice of an Australian parliamentary committee.
Legislators had called for the deal to be blocked unless Russia met a number of conditions, including speeding up reforms to separate civilian and military nuclear plants.
"To open a new page, we have a good event today, an exchange of ratification notes," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard at a meeting before the opening of the G20 summit in Seoul.
The agreement, which allows Australian uranium to be enriched in Russia and used in Russian nuclear reactors, was signed in Sydney in 2007 and ratified by the lower house of Russia's parliament this summer.
It last for 30 years but can remain in force indefinitely if there are no objections from either side.
The agreement means uranium supplied to Russia can be used only for peaceful purposes, must meet International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards and can be used only in facilities agreed by Australia.
A previous agreement signed in 1990 specified that Australian uranium supplied to Russia could be enriched for use by third countries only.
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Major powers against solving nuclear issue: Ahmadinejad


Tehran (AFP) Nov 11, 2010 President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said major powers are against solving the controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear programme, state television reported on its website on Thursday. "In the next few days, the dialogue will commence but our experience shows that they are not seeking to solve the issue," Ahmadinejad said, referring to upcoming talks with six countries over Tehran's nuclear drive.
"From our side the issue has already been solved and we will continue our peaceful nuclear activities. The Western countries are arrogant and do not take others into account."
The talks are aimed at allaying Western concerns that Iran's nuclear programme is masking a weapons drive under the guise of a civilian programme, something Tehran denies.
Iran has proposed the talks be held in Istanbul on November 23 or December 5. Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany agree on Istanbul, but have proposed a date of November 15.
The final date is yet to be fixed.
Ahmadinejad questioned again the mandate of the six powers.
"What is the basis of this group and based on which law it was formed," he asked.
"If it consists of the five UN Security Council members, then what is Germany doing here? We welcome Germany's presence, but then we say that for the reason Germany is in the talks, others should also be in."
Iran has previously said that allies Brazil and Turkey be involved in these talks.
Ahmadinejad also accused the UN atomic watchdog of "giving information" to Iran's arch-foe, the United States.
"Accepting the additional protocol means that all our nuclear activities must be under the supervision of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), which gives information to America," he said.
In February 2006, Iran ceased to apply the additional protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which calls for tougher inspections of nuclear activities of member countries.
On Monday, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano told the UN General Assembly "Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities."
Iran must carry out "full implementation" of IAEA and UN Security Council resolutions, he said.
Iran's deputy ambassador to the UN, Eshagh al-Habib, hit back, saying Amano's claim was "incorrect and misleading."
He called the UN Security Council sanction resolutions "illegal."
Iran is under four sets of UN sanctions for refusing to abandon its uranium enrichment programme, the most controversial part of its nuclear activities.
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Leaking underground CO2 storage could contaminate drinking water

Leaking underground CO2 storage could contaminate drinking water
Leaks from carbon dioxide injected deep underground to help fight climate change could bubble up into drinking water aquifers near the surface, driving up levels of contaminants in the water tenfold or more in some places, according to a study by Duke University scientists. http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-11-leaking-underground-co2-storage-contaminate.html
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What Keeps You Up Late At Night? - For Me, Tonight, It is the Unholy Alliance of Natural Gas, Environmentalists, and Renewable Energy Advocates by Rod Adams


No money, no nukes

No money, no nukes

nuclear_power_plant.gi.top.jpgPlans to build more nuclear power plants are running up against a hard reality: No one wants to pay for them.

N. Korea Linked to Covert Missile, Nuke Trade By: Bill Gertz | The Washington Times

A report by the U.N. Security Council made public Wednesday states that North Korea is linked to covert shipments of banned nuclear technology and missiles to Iran, Syria and Burma.

Without Vermont Yankee, ISO NE Predicts Possible Transmission Line Melting


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nuclear Energy Development in the 21st Century: Global Scenarios and Regional Trends


China to drive energy surge through 2035: IEA

LONDON: China will drive a surge in world energy demand over the next quarter century, as straining supply enhances OPEC’s oil market share and growing coal use undermines efforts to contain global warming, according to a report.
Chinese demand will jump 75 percent, accounting for more than a third of an increase in energy use that will bring global consumption to 16.7 billion metric tons of oil equivalent by 2035, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts in its annual World Energy Outlook. Oil supplies will be pushed near their peak, thwarting government pledges to limit the increase in global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius.
In its annual World Energy Outlook released, the Paris-based IEA said emerging nations like China will account for most of the surge in demand and that much will depend on the strength of the economic recovery over the next few years.
The agency - the energy arm of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a grouping of the world’s richest nations - forecast that global oil demand will rise to 99 million barrels a day by 2035, some 15 million barrels a day higher than last year.
That’s a slightly slower increase than the 105 million barrels a day by 2030 it forecast last year as the world economy continues to slowly get back on its feet, but IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka said it was no time for policy makers to be complacent.
“Oil market developments and growth in CO2 emissions are my greatest concern,” IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said. “Demand from emerging markets will be strong. There is a lack of united political will to reduce carbon emissions.”
Global oil demand will increase 18 percent to 99 million barrels a day in 2035, from 84 million a day in 2009, the IEA said. The agency lowered its 2035 estimate for oil use by 6 million barrels a day because of government pledges to curtail carbon emissions under the Copenhagen Accord signed last December.
Oil supply, including production of oils not classified as crude, “comes close” to reaching a peak by 2035, driving prices up to $113 a barrel in 2009 terms, from around $86 a barrel today, according to the agency. Supplies of crude alone will not regain the peak of 70 million barrels a day reached in 2006, as output from ageing fields tapers off, it added.
“This price trajectory is not good news for anyone,” Birol said. “Many oil-importing countries are still in a fragile situation. There are already plans for moving away from oil in the transportation sector in many consuming countries. That would not be good news for oil exporters.”
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will account for 50 percent of the world’s oil supply by 2035 while production from outside the group falters, the IEA said. OPEC currently accounts for about 40 percent of global supply. Consumption of natural gas will increase 44 percent to 4.5 trillion cubic meters in 2035, from 3.1 trillion cubic meters in 2008, according to the agency.
The share of nuclear power in the energy mix will rise to 8 percent in 2035, from 6 percent in 2008, while the proportion of renewable resources will grow to 14 percent from 7 percent, the IEA said.
Still, reliance on fossil fuels means that emissions of carbon dioxide will increase 21 percent to 35 billion tons in 2035 from 29 billion tons in 2008, leading to an increase of 3.5 degrees Celsius in world temperature “in the long term,” the agency said.
The agency’s default set of assumptions, called the “New Policies Scenario,” includes government commitments to tackling climate change, such as the Copenhagen Accord.
The IEA also outlined another case, the “450 Scenario,” which details the measures that would be necessary to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million, and limit the increase in global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius.
These measures will require additional spending of $11.6 trillion than under the “New Policies” scenario through 2030, the IEA said. The costs are about $1 trillion more than the agency had estimated last year, to compensate for the shortcomings of existing global climate change policies.
— Agencies __
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U.N. Nuclear Chief Sets Sights on Syria By: Jay Solomon | The Wall Street Journal

The head of the United Nations atomic watchdog said he is open to demanding intrusive new inspections of alleged Syrian nuclear sites, signaling a potential hardening of the international community's position.

chart of the Day: And The Energy Source Of The Future Is...

And The Energy Source Of The Future Is...


As made clear by the International Energy Agency in its new World Energy Outlook, coal production is expected to explode, most notably in China. And bear in mind that this is taking into account a scenario whereby policy measures are implemented to curb its production. Read »

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Division remains on storing nuclear waste But experts at competing meetings agree that a site is still needed

While the state Commission on Nuclear Projects huddled at the Clark County Government Center to continue its opposition of the Yucca Mountain Project, a few miles away on the Strip more than 2,000 nuclear industry leaders, scientists and researchers converged for a conference titled "Nuclear Progress!"
Despite their differences, both sides acknowledge that the nation's high-level radioactive waste eventually will need a permanent disposal site.

Where that place is, when it will be ready and in what form the waste will be are some of the questions that remain a couple months after Congress zeroed out funding for the project and President Barack Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission for America's Nuclear Future began charting a new path forward.
"My opinion as a nuclear engineer is that the findings of that commission will not be much different than previous commissions. We know what the options are," said Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar, incoming chairwoman of the American Nuclear Society's Fuel Cycle and Waste Management Division.
The best option, whether or not it is Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, or some other site in some other state, is deep, geologic disposal, she said.
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