Prospect for Nuclear Power Industry in US

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  • #76
Astronuc
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Large forgings, such as pressure vessels, would have to be build at Japan Steel Works, the only shop in the world which is qualified for nuclear grade forgings. ( http://www.jsw.co.jp/en/product/material/steel/index.html )

There are some shops in the US, which could become qualified, if the business picks up.

Ansaldo (Italy) and B&W Canada have made steam generator vessels (for replacement projects in the US), and I believe GE Canada has made pressure vessels.
 
  • #77
Morbius
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edward said:
Are there any companies in the USA who make components for reactors? The last I remember there was a tariff on foreign made components.
edward,

Sure - practically all the components in current US reactors are of US manufacture.

The nuclear components in nuclear-powered US warships - are also US made.
The aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ronald Reagan [CVN-76] was completed a couple years
ago - and currently under construction is the U.S.S. George Herbert Walker Bush
[CVN-77].

However, as Astronuc points out, at the present time; US manufacturers are not
certified to make nuclear grade components. But that's more of a licensing issue
than a capability issue. If a company isn't making components for nuclear power
plants, why would they keep their certification active? But, when there is a market;
they can be re-certified.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 
  • #78
Astronuc
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The Nuclear Option
A threefold expansion of nuclear power could contribute significantly to staving off climate change by avoiding one billion to two billion tons of carbon emissions annually
By John M. Deutch and Ernest J. Moniz
Scientific American, Sept. 2006

Nuclear power supplies a sixth of the world's electricity. Along with hydropower (which supplies slightly more than a sixth), it is the major source of "carbon-free" energy today. The technology suffered growing pains, seared into the public's mind by the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island accidents, but plants have demonstrated remarkable reliability and efficiency recently. The world's ample supply of uranium could fuel a much larger fleet of reactors than exists today throughout their 40- to 50-year life span.

With growing worries about global warming and the associated likelihood that greenhouse gas emissions will be regulated in some fashion, it is not surprising that governments and power providers in the U.S. and elsewhere are increasingly considering building a substantial number of additional nuclear power plants. The fossil-fuel alternatives have their drawbacks. Natural gas is attractive in a carbon-constrained world because it has lower carbon content relative to other fossil fuels and because advanced power plants have low capital costs. But the cost of the electricity produced is very sensitive to natural gas prices, which have become much higher and more volatile in recent years. In contrast, coal prices are relatively low and stable, but coal is the most carbon-intensive source of electricity. The capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide, which will add significantly to the cost, must be demonstrated and introduced on a large scale if coal-powered electricity is to expand significantly without emitting unacceptable quantities of carbon into the atmosphere. These concerns raise doubts about new investments in gas- or coal-powered plants.
Original LWRs were designed for a 40 yr life. Life extension programs are pushing the lifetime to 60 yrs, although that could change dramatically based on the aging of the pressure vessel and primary coolant systems components, primarily the in-core structures.
 
  • #79
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About 16 new reactors between about 10 utilities are in various early processes for building new nuclear plants. I work at one of them. I'm surprised to see how quiet this has been to the rest of the country, but we're definitely going to build.

Look for the first new generation 3+ plants to be online in the 2015 time frame and two ASBWRs (gen 3) to go online at South Texas Project a bit before that.

If you want questions answered from within the industry, fire away.
 
  • #80
Astronuc
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I know that two pressure vessels have been orderd by NRG for the two ABWRs at STP site, but I think the COLs are still pending. A friend in the industry told me about the plans for Amarillo Power to build two ABWRs, piggy-backing on STP's designs.

Developer George Chapman has filed paperwork with a host of agencies on a plan to build a twin-unit, 2,700-megawatt nuclear reactor. His company, Amarillo Power, will have to jump through innumerable hoops to obtain the necessary permits. And as we proceed through the thicket of regulations, it becomes incumbent on everyone - in government and in neighborhoods throughout the Panhandle - to keep a wide open mind.

Then comes the financing of this $6 billion project. Chapman doesn't have that kind of money just lying around, so he'll need help. The Amarillo Economic Development Corp., which uses sales-tax money to spur economic development in the Panhandle, has begun studying whether it wants to get involved with this project.
http://www.amarillo.com/stories/080606/opi_5266689.shtml

Here is a list of new plants under consideration.
http://www.nei.org/documents/New_Nuclear_Plant_Status.pdf [Broken]

Dominion has plans for an ESBWR at North Anna (although I have heard 2 were being considered), Nustart/Entergy has plans for an ESBWR at Grand Gulf, and maybe River Bend (later), and Southern Co (SNOC) has plans for 2 AP1000's at Vogtle site. These seem most likely and are farthest along.

I've heard TXU has plans for several nuclear plants.
 
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  • #81
Astronuc
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Here are various reports on the Gen IV concepts.

http://nuclear.inl.gov/deliverables/

Some IAEA reports and TECDOCs on Fast Reactor Technology and Fuel
http://www.iaea.org/inis/aws/fnss/abstracts/index.html [Broken]
 
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  • #82
Astronuc
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That little matter of waste storage - LLW, HLW and spent fuel.

http://marketplace.publicradio.org/shows/2007/05/04/PM200705045.html [Broken]
 
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  • #83
Morbius
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That little matter of waste storage - LLW, HLW and spent fuel.
Astronuc,

Very timely program / article.

Quoting from the article:

ADAM LEVINE: There's an opportunity to use more than 90 percent of the weight in new fuel.

Recycling / reprocessing reduces the amount of nuclear waste by a large amount. Just
recently we had a poster claiming that recycling / reprocessing creates more waste which
just isn't true. When one can remove 90%+ of the material from the waste stream, there's
no way that "adds" to the waste, regardless of whether your metric is mass or volume.
The anti-nukes persist at trying to propagate that myth.

Then there's the input from the representative of the Natural Resources Defense Council:

PAINE: All the calculations show that recycled fuel is more costly than the most
pessimistic predictions for the future of conventional nuclear fuel.
PAINE: This is the process that was used to separate material for U.S. nuclear weapons.

The USA doesn't need any more Plutonium for nuclear weapons. The USA shutdown
its production reactors decades ago. The USA ceased production of weapons-grade
Plutonium decades ago. The USA has all the Plutonium it needs for weapons. The
experience of the last couple decade of the Cold War was that as new weapons designs
came out; they needed less Plutonium than the current generation. So the USA could
always scavenge any needed Plutonium for new weapons from old weapons that the
new ones would replace. The short of it is that you don't need to be concerned about
the USA making more weapons Plutonium. It doesn't need it; and it doesn't want it.

So why should the USA forgo recycling / reprocessing nuclear waste? The Plutonium
in commercial reactor waste isn't weapons grade; so why would the USA want it for
weapons when the USA has all the weapons Plutonium it wants / needs?

The USA isn't a "proliferation risk" when it comes to reprocessing spent fuel. There's a
concern about OTHER nations reprocessing; but "that ship sailed" back in the the days
of the Carter Administration. The USA decided not to reprocess in order to convince
other nations like Great Britain, France, and Japan not to reprocess. It didn't work.

I wouldn't want reprocessing technology spread to non-nuclear weapons states; where it
could be used by a nascent proliferator. However, just because this technology can be
used for nuclear weapons is no reason that a country like the USA which already has all
the weapons material it needs; should be prevented from using it.

As to Mr. Paine's point about reprocessed fuel being more expensive than virgin fuel;
yes. However, don't we tell people that it's good environmental policy to buy products
that have a high percentage of recycled content, even if it is a bit more expensive?

Don't we tell people that the beneficial environmental effects are WORTH the extra $$$
to have a product that uses recycled material? Mr Paine's group the NRDC makes that
point for consumer products; why does he take issue with it for the nuclear utility industry?

In the long run; I believe the nuclear utility industry would probably be willing to expend
more $$$ for reprocessed fuel because they would take the view that the reduced volume
of waste would be worth the extra $$$ in the long term.

Of course the NRDC is anti-nuclear; and they don't want to see any reduction in the
amount of nuclear waste, or any solution to the nuclear waste problem. Their whole
strategy has been to promote policies to MAXIMIZE the nuclear waste problem in hopes
of using the backlog of waste to shutdown nuclear power in the USA.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 
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  • #84
russ_watters
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When an environmentalist mentions money, people should instantly put their guard up. Environmentalists are supposed to be worried about the environment - if money were all that's important, we'd just build more coal plants.

And the nuclear power-nuclear weapons connection, though valid for countries like North Korea, doesn't make a lot of sense here.

Anyway, a decent story otherwise. At least it was the inverse of the usual story: the story was told from the point of view of the nuclear power professional the floating-head-objector at the end was the "environmentalist". Still, this journalistic technique isn't very good for actually discussing/evaluating the pros and cons.

And I do like the use of the word "recycling" - the public needs to understand that what we have here is environmentalists arguing against recycling - another red-flag that something is amiss. At the same time, it will increase the publc's acceptance of the concept.
 
  • #85
russ_watters
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Of course the NRDC is anti-nuclear; and they don't want to see any reduction in the amount of nuclear waste, or any solution to the nuclear waste problem. Their whole strategy has been to promote policies to MAXIMIZE the nuclear waste problem in hopes of using the backlog of waste to shutdown nuclear power in the USA.
As nefarious as that sounds, I've come to the same conclusion about "environmentalists" tactics. I don't really understand why they hold the positions they do (is it the politics?), but certainly when using tactics like this, it seems they are trying to take down what they oppose by causing the problems they use as a reason to stop what they oppose.
 
  • #86
Morbius
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it seems they are trying to take down what they oppose by causing the problems they use as a reason to stop what they oppose.
Russ,

Yes - it's very circular.

I think part of the problem is that many so-called "environmentalists" have never really
separated nuclear power and nuclear weapons in their minds. [ The main anti-nuclear
group that opposed the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant called themselves,
"Mothers for Peace". It's as if the nuclear power plant was "anti-peace"; a tool for war.]

Although duplicitous, it's a clever tactic. You can have one group that can appear to be
ingenuous; they want nuclear power plants operated in a sustainable fashion; they want
the waste dealt with; and they want the operation to also make economic sense. In
other words; they look like they have valid concerns.

What they don't tell you; is that they are also the ones that are causing the very problems
they complain about by working behind the scenes.

Unfortunately, many believe the way to being environmentally responsible is to promote
policies whereby humans have little, if any; impact on the environment. Dr Patrick Moore
spoke of this in his address to Congress:

http://www.greenspirit.com/logbook.cfm?msid=70

He found that the "environmentalists" in Greenpeace were "anti-human", that they
consider humanity as a "cancer on the Earth". They don't want an environmentally
friendly way for us to have the availability of power and the lifestyle that we've come
to depend on. They want humanity to change to a low-energy, low-impact lifestyle.
Nuclear power enables the opposite without the environmental objections to our
current power generation capabilities. So naturally they are opposed to nuclear power;
it takes away their main issue forcing humanity into the "low-impact" mode.

As Patrick Moore told Congress, "I believe the majority of environmental activists,
including those at Greenpeace, have now become so blinded by their extremism that they
fail to consider the enormous and obvious benefits of harnessing nuclear power to meet
and secure America�s growing energy needs."

Patrick Moore left Greenpeace, because it was taken over by extremists.

Dr. Moore realizes that the majority of our citizenry are not going to take up the "sack-
cloth" in favor of environmentalism. People want to live the way they do now.
Dr. Moore is being pragmatic.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 
  • #87
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Of interesting note is that DoE has contracted the Shaw group and AREVA to down-blend old weapon plutonium with depleted tails and other previously undesirable materials to make MOX (mixed-oxide) fuel for use in commercial reactors. Their facility at Savannah River is under construction, and I had the opportunity to sit through a technology and sales presentation for what they're doing and what they're offering, just this Monday, the 7th. The DoE is willing to foot the bill for much of the analysis work necessary for the commercial plants to use the MOX fuel.

If the fuel reprocessing center goes up at SR as well, then that site is going to become hugely important to the commercial nuclear industry.
 
  • #88
Morbius
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Of interesting note is that DoE has contracted the Shaw group and AREVA to down-blend old weapon plutonium with depleted tails and other previously undesirable materials to make MOX (mixed-oxide) fuel for use in commercial reactors.
Emfuser,

Correct - as I stated above - the Department of Energy has all the Plutonium it needs for
nuclear weapons - and then some. The Dept of Energy and the United States are NOT
interested in getting more Plutonium - and certainly not from commercial power reactors.

As Emfuser points out; the Dept. of Energy is actually trying to rid itself of some of the
Plutonium it does have, so it doesn't have to store the stuff. When you store Plutonium,
you must make sure it is safe and secure from theft - thus making Plutonium much,
much, much more expensive to store than an equivalent volume of steel or some other
non-sensitive material.

If the Dept of Energy is trying to get rid of excess Plutonium, it is certainly NOT going to
be searching for more the in waste stream of commercial power plants. So to argue that
reprocessing by the United States somehow supports nuclear weapons development is
FOOLISH!!

There should be no constraint on nuclear waste reprocessing by the USA on the grounds
that it is a proliferation risk.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 
  • #89
vanesch
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As nefarious as that sounds, I've come to the same conclusion about "environmentalists" tactics. I don't really understand why they hold the positions they do (is it the politics?), but certainly when using tactics like this, it seems they are trying to take down what they oppose by causing the problems they use as a reason to stop what they oppose.
Greens have their historical grassroots in the anti-nuclear movement. In fact - I wasn't aware of this until recently, because there were legislative elections in my country - Belgium which has been one of the countries producing most of its electricity by nuclear power (> 60%), decided in 2003 to "close all nuclear power plants in 2015, or at latest in 2025". This was done because there was a green party in the government coalition. They ideally want to replace them with "solar and wind power", and if necessary with coal power plants.
Then, in their policy statement, they say that they have two main concerns: global warming, and "the nuclear problem", and that they did well on the second one.

In other words, when the green movement is confronted with a choice between a potentially REAL ecological problem, and their historical battle against "all things nuclear", then they do not mind agravating the first in order to be able to push their old agenda.
 
  • #90
Astronuc
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I read an article today that Dominion Generation has placed a contract for the procurement of long-lead components (large forgings) with GE for a new nuclear unit (ESBWR) at North Anna site.
 
  • #91
Astronuc
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Details of U.S.-India Nuclear Pact Unveiled
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12309269

All Things Considered, July 27, 2007 · Without providing many technical details, Washington and New Delhi released a joint statement Friday saying they've completed negotiations on a deal that would open the doors for U.S. and Indian firms to participate in each other's civilian nuclear energy sector — a deal, first announced in 2005, that the Bush administration says is historic.

Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns says negotiators have worked for two years and two days to reach this point — and he believes the deal complies with U.S. law.

"We believe this great historic civil nuclear agreement will become part of a new strategic partnership between our countries," Burns says. "We are ready to build that relationship with India."

The deal has many critics on Capitol Hill and among non-proliferation experts. Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control says the deal sends the wrong message to Iran.

"We tried to stop India from getting the bomb; we failed. India has the bomb; India is still building its missile program, and yet we are ready to treat India as a normal trading partner, basically because we want to make money," Milhollin says.

India never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the Bush administration argues that this deal will bring India into the fold — putting its civilian nuclear facilities under inspection for the first time. Burns says Iran, on the other hand, is an outlaw state that should get a different message from the India deal.

. . . .
This should kick things up a notch.


Interestingly, the US domestic nuclear industry is largely foreign controlled. Westinghouse (including ABB-CE) was sold by the British BNFL to the Japanese Toshiba, and the French control AREVA (formerly B&W's and Exxon's/Siemens's nuclear divisions). GE's nuclear fuel group, GNF, is still US owned, but they are partnered with Hitachi and Toshiba, although with Toshiba's purchase of W, they will most likely withdraw from the partnership with GNF/Hitachi.
 
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  • #92
745
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The Indians have a longterm thorium plan they've been pursuing, and so this new overture by the US seems intended to forestall that plan by offering up the more established and controlled technologies to India.
 

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