The Nuclear Power Thread

  • #976
russ_watters
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I for one am greatly for the use of nuclear plants. As it does release radiation, it is a very small amount. The amount of radiation from eating bananas in a year is 100x more radiation than what someone would receive living less than 50 miles from an active nuclear plant.

Along with that the dangers of a plant are very small when you really take into consideration how long plants have been active and that there is 440 some reactors in the world. As you mentioned, yes, nuclear plants do set radiation out and due to the vastly diverse locations the radiation does affect most people, the amount of radiation that people get just from the background sources such as the natural levels and cosmic rays makes up half of the radiation they receive in a year and almost 30,000x the amount of radiation that one receives from the nuclear plants.

I do understand your concern but I think that the efficiency and benefits outweigh the risks taking into account that the Chernobyl accident was also caused by misinformed employees.
Welcome to PF!

It appears you are responding to a specific person, but didn't say who. Note, this is a very long and old thread.
 
  • #977
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Swedish utilities urge decision on final disposal of waste
https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Swedish-utilities-urge-decision-on-final-disposal
Ringhals AB and Forsmarks Kraftgrupp AB each issued an Urgent Market Message (UUM) to the Nord Pool power exchange yesterday morning about the potential risk of Ringhals units 3 and 4 and Forsmark units 1, 2 and 3 being unable to restart following scheduled outages - in 2024 (F2), 2025 (R3-4, F3), and 2028 (F1) - because of a lack of storage space for used nuclear fuel.

"The Swedish management model for used nuclear fuel hinges on us being able to send the used fuel for intermediate storage as soon as it is possible to do so," Björn Linde, the CEO of Ringhals AB and Forsmark Kraftgrupp, told World Nuclear News.

In the US, the DOE is supposed to take the fuel and place it in a final repository. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 is a United States federal law which established a comprehensive national program for the safe, permanent disposal of highly radioactive wastes. Well that hasn't happened.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Waste_Policy_Act
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Waste_Policy_Act#Yucca_Mountain

https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/papers/2009/P7278.pdf

https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/edg/media/nwpa_2004.pdf

As a result, utilities have had to placed spent/used fuel into dry storage on-site as they fill the spent fuel pools, and they had to sue the federal government (DOE) in order to recover the costs associated with the procurement of dry storage casks and supporting infrastructure.
 
  • #978
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Dominion Energy's Surry units receive operating license extensions from 60 to 80 years!
https://www.virginiabusiness.com/ar...ear-power-plant-licenses-extended-to-2052-53/
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has extended Dominion Energy's operating licenses for Units 1 and 2 at its Surry nuclear power plant in Virginia until 2052 and 2053, respectively. A previous license extension granted in 2003 allowed the two reactors to operate until 2032 and 2033.

Edit/update:
From WNN: The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved an application by Dominion Energy's Virginia subsidiary for a 20-year extension to the operating licences of the twin-unit Surry nuclear power plant. This will enable the two 838 MWe pressurised water reactors to operate until 2052 and 2053, respectively. Surry is the third nuclear power station to receive a subsequent licence renewal from 60 to 80 years from the NRC, following Florida Power & Light's Turkey Point units 3 and 4 and Exelon Generation's Peach Bottom units 2 and 3. The NRC is reviewing a similar application for Dominion’s two North Anna units and for NextEra’s Point Beach 1&2. Before all these, the NRC had renewed the licences for 94 reactors, taking them to 60 years of operational life.
https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Surry-units-cleared-for-80-year-operation

https://www.world-nuclear.org/infor...profiles/countries-t-z/usa-nuclear-power.aspx
The original 40-year licences were always intended to be renewed in 20-year increments, as the 40-year period was more to do with amortisation of capital rather than implying that reactors were designed for only that operational lifespan. It was also a conservative measure, and experience since has identified life-limiting factors and addressed them. The NRC is now considering applications for the extension of operating licences beyond 60 out to 80 years, with its subsequent licence renewal (SLR) programme. As of January 2021:
  • Reactors approved (to 80 years): Turkey Point 3&4, Peach Bottom 2&3.
  • Reactors under review: Surry 1&2, North Anna 1&2, Point Beach 1&2.
  • Reactors expected to apply: Oconee 1, 2&3, Brunswick 1&2, Catawba 1&2, H.B. Robinson, Harris, McGuire 1&2.
 
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  • #979
Astronuc
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"The Swedish management model for used nuclear fuel hinges on us being able to send the used fuel for intermediate storage as soon as it is possible to do so," Björn Linde, the CEO of Ringhals AB and Forsmark Kraftgrupp, told World Nuclear News.

07 May 2021 (WNN) - Work starts on first disposal tunnel at Finnish repository
https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/First-disposal-tunnel-under-construction-at-Finnis
Excavation of the first final disposal tunnel has started at the Onkalo underground used nuclear fuel repository near Olkiluoto, Finnish radioactive waste management company Posiva Oy announced today. The repository - the first in the world for used fuel - is expected to begin operations in the mid-2020s.
Hint. Hint!
 
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  • #980
Astronuc
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I missed some news in April, so I'm catching up.

https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/DOE-project-supports-microreactor-deployment
21 April 2021 - The US Department of Energy (DOE) is planning to build a microreactor to help researchers and end-users understand how microreactors can integrate with other technologies. The Microreactor Applications Research Validation and EvaLuation (MARVEL) liquid-metal cooled microreactor could be operational within three years.

The MARVEL design is primarily based on existing technology and will be built using off-the-shelf components allowing for faster construction, DOE has said. It will encompass a 100 kW thermal fission reactor, based on the SNAP-10A design which was developed in the 1960s as a 45 kWt thermal nuclear fission reactor for use in space missions. The sodium-cooled reactor, with natural circulation cooling, will have an operating temperature of 500-550°C and will be fuelled by high-assay low-enriched uranium from available research materials. It will use Stirling engines to transfer energy from the core to make electricity.
The focus on Stirling engines is interesting. The article does not discuss the expected electrical output, although an article published through ANS suggests 20 kWe, which is confirmed by the INL presentation below (gehinj-w15-hv.pdf). The temperature range would be useful for research on materials for some of the Gen-IV reactors. The power level (100 kWt) is rather low. In contrast, the Jules Horowitz Reactor (JHR) materials test reactor has a thermal output of 100 MW.

https://www.ans.org/news/article-25...emonstrate-remote-operation-on-a-micro-scale/
https://ric.nrc.gov/docs/abstracts/gehinj-w15-hv.pdf
http://www-rjh.cea.fr/general-description.html

But then again, MARVEL is a 'micro-reactor'.
https://www.energy.gov/ne/articles/new-marvel-project-aims-supercharge-microreactor-deployment

01 April 2021 - Scientists at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) DIII-D National Fusion Facility have released a new concept for a compact fusion reactor design they say can help define the technology necessary for commercial fusion power. The Compact Advanced Tokamak (CAT) concept enables a higher-performance, self-sustaining configuration that holds energy more efficiently, allowing it to be built at a reduced scale and cost.

The CAT concept is described in an article published on 19 March in the journal Nuclear Fusion, and was developed from first-of-a-kind reactor simulations. The physics-based approach combines theory developed at the General Atomics (GA)-operated DIII-D facility with computing by Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists using the Cori supercomputer at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, and is based on development and testing of the underlying physics concepts on DIII-D.
Nuclear Fusion article - https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1741-4326/abe4af

09 April 2021 - TAE Technologies, the California, USA-based fusion energy technology company, has announced that its proprietary beam-driven field-reversed configuration (FRC) plasma generator has produced stable plasma at over 50 million degrees Celsius. The milestone has helped the company raise USD280 million in additional funding.

Norman - TAE's USD150 million National Laboratory-scale device named after company founder, the late Norman Rostoker - was unveiled in May 2017 and reached first plasma in June of that year. The device achieved the latest milestone as part of a "well-choreographed sequence of campaigns" consisting of over 25,000 fully-integrated fusion reactor core experiments. These experiments were optimised with the most advanced computing processes available, including machine learning from an ongoing collaboration with Google (which produced the Optometrist Algorithm) and processing power from the US Department of Energy's INCITE programme that leverages exascale-level computing.

TAE said Norman nearly doubled its intended goals over an 18-month testing regime and has now demonstrated consistent performance of reaching 50+ million degrees Celsius, replicated over many hundreds of testing cycles - all in a compact machine that has very attractive economics when scaled up to a full power plant. With this most recent milestone, TAE has now unlocked the 'hot enough' conditions needed to scale to a reactor level performance.

TAE's approach to fusion combines advanced accelerator and plasma physics, and uses abundant, non-radioactive hydrogenboron (p-B11) as a fuel source.
If they can get the p-B11 cycle working, that would be a game changer!
Some of the capital will be used to begin development of a demonstration facility, called Copernicus, that will operate well in excess of 100 million degrees Celsius to simulate net energy production from the conventional Deuterium-Tritium (D-T) fuel cycle. Copernicus will provide opportunities for TAE to license its technology for D-T fusion, while scaling to its ultimate goal utilising p-B11.
 
  • #981
Dale
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The article does not discuss the expected electrical output, although an article published through ANS suggests 20 kWe, which is confirmed by the INL presentation below (gehinj-w15-hv.pdf).
I can’t see the legal/regulatory issues ever making a 20 kW nuclear power plant viable
 
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  • #982
Astronuc
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I can’t see the legal/regulatory issues ever making a 20 kW nuclear power plant viable
The 100 kWt (20 kWe) is a demonstration module. I would expect micro-reactors to be larger, and perhaps be used to district heating, as well as electricity. I don't know how such a plant would be scaled up with Stirling engines. An efficiency of 20% is rather poor.

It may be more of economics as it relates to design to meet legal/regulatory (safety) requirements.
https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML2004/ML20044E249.pdf (February 5, 2020)
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is working to have an effective and efficient mission readiness for reactors that differ considerably from those currently licensed. Micro-reactors, that is, reactors that have a thermal power of no more than tens of megawatts, are one class of these advanced reactors. This report is to articulate the technical and regulatory issues that will need to be addressed for NRC to have the ability to review licensing applications for micro-reactors. Many of the issues center around the fact that a) these reactors may be operated remotely and/or semi-autonomously and b) it will be difficult to analyze risk from new, unique, technologies. Initial thoughts are given on how probabilistic methods could be used to determine risk and how the current approach for reviewing non-power reactors could be useful for micro-reactors.
My bold for emphasis.

https://gain.inl.gov/MicroreactorProgramTechnicalReports/Document-INL-EXT-19-55257.pdf
Key Regulatory Issues in Nuclear Microreactor Transport and Siting, INL/EXT-19-55257, September 2019

SECY-20-0093, POLICY AND LICENSING CONSIDERATIONS RELATED TO MICRO-REACTORS, October 6, 2020
https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML2012/ML20129J985.pdf

SECY-20-0093, Enclosure 1, Technical, Licensing, and Potential Policy Issues for Micro-Reactors
https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML2025/ML20254A365.pdf

The NRC has to give them serious consideration, IF there are interested parties willing to put up some support. Micro-reactors have been under consideration for several years, and I understand that the intent is to provide a power source to remote locations.

Nuclear Energy Institute, "Micro-Reactor Regulatory Issues," November 13, 2019
https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1931/ML19319C497.pdf


IF at least one of the fusion concepts is viable, especially if it based on the aneutronic p-B11 reaction, then a lot of current nuclear technology could be short-lived. Then again, an industry devoted to p-B11, will be highly dependent on available B11.

https://www.usgs.gov/centers/nmic/boron-statistics-and-information

According to Statista, "As of 2020, Turkey had the largest reserves of boron globally. Turkey has an estimated 1.1 billion metric tons of boron in reserves. The United States and Russia shared the second highest boron reserves with just 40 million metric tons."
https://www.statista.com/statistics/264982/world-boron-reserves-by-major-countries/

Contrast the boron resources with uranium resources.
https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/pre...seeable-future-say-nea-and-iaea-in-new-report
The world's conventional identified uranium resources amounted to 8 070 400 tonnes of uranium metal (tU) as of 1 January 2019. These represent all reasonably assured and inferred uranium resources that could be recovered at market prices ranging from 40 to 260 USD/KgU (equivalent to 15 to 100 USD/lb U3O8).
https://www.world-nuclear.org/infor...ycle/uranium-resources/supply-of-uranium.aspx

I know of a program to extract U from seawater, among other programs.
 
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  • #983
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Question: Could you use green energy to enrich uranium for reactor use? Sometimes wind mills will produce excess energy at night due to low consumption and high winds.
 
  • #984
russ_watters
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Question: Could you use green energy to enrich uranium for reactor use? Sometimes wind mills will produce excess energy at night due to low consumption and high winds.
You can use any electricity that's on the grid; even baseload nuclear energy that isn't easy to throttle.
 
  • #985
russ_watters
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I can’t see the legal/regulatory issues ever making a 20 kW nuclear power plant viable

The 100 kWt (20 kWe) is a demonstration module. I would expect micro-reactors to be larger, and perhaps be used to district heating, as well as electricity.
Well, I'll go a step further and/or clarify: I think modular construction has significant benefits for improving the existing large plant paradigm, but that's it. The legal/regulatory issues make site selection one of the biggest hurdles in plant construction, and building more small plants makes the problem worse, not better. The security issues and costs would be worse with small plants as well.

The benefit I see to small reactors is that it may be able to rapidly mass produce them in a factory, which could shorten construction and economic payback timelines. The "plant" would then be mostly electrical infrastructure, and once that's completed you could start lining/piling-up the modular reactors one at a time, connect and commission them and start generating power (and more importantly, income) faster.
 
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  • #986
Dale
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I think modular construction has significant benefits for improving the existing large plant paradigm
That is a good point. Standardization and cross training would be easier, and site design would be simplified.
 
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  • #987
Astronuc
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Well, I'll go a step further and/or clarify: I think modular construction has significant benefits for improving the existing large plant paradigm, but that's it. The legal/regulatory issues make site selection one of the biggest hurdles in plant construction, and building more small plants makes the problem worse, not better. The security issues and costs would be worse with small plants as well.

The benefit I see to small reactors is that it may be able to rapidly mass produce them in a factory, which could shorten construction and economic payback timelines. The "plant" would then be mostly electrical infrastructure, and once that's completed you could start lining/piling-up the modular reactors one at a time, connect and commission them and start generating power (and more importantly, income) faster.
Yes. According to the NuScale paradigm, there are two (or three) principal objectives.

1. Build a system that is inherently safe, such that is requires a much smaller plant site (and emergency preparedness zone).

2. Build a lower cost containment system by requiring less construction material than the typical Gen-3/3+ LWRs. In the NuScale system, it will be important to demonstrate that a failure of one unit will not propagate to the other units. I believe that has been done, but I have not kept up with developments for some years now.

3. Provide modular reactor units and get each up and running in order to being generating revenue ASAP.

4. If at all possible, build on existing sites already approved for an NPP, or on sites of existing fossil generation (e.g., retired coal plants), which would utilize existing infrastructure to connect to the grid.

For non-LWR systems, some are proposing a fuel system and reactor systems that will retain fission products in the event of a severe accident. Such a system requires demonstration, which I understand will be underway soon.
 
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  • #988
Astronuc
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On the subject of modular reactors based on advanced concepts, i.e., modular Gen4 types, Ultra Safe Nuclear Co. is offering their Micro Modular Reactor (MMR™) system to deliver safe, clean, and cost-effective electricity and heat to remote mines, industry, and communities. Canada is interested for power at remote sites which have high costs associated with fuel delivery for local generation plants (often using diesel generation).
https://usnc.com/mmr-energy-system/

USNC states, "The buried reactor core consists of hexagonal graphite blocks containing stacks of Ultra Safe’s FCM™ fuel pellets. The MMR™ reactor core has a low power density and a high heat capacity resulting in very slow and predictable temperature changes."
https://usnc.com/fcm-fuel/

USNC also has a space reactor program for nuclear propulsion, and power systems for Lunar and Mars bases.
https://usnc.com/space

My guess is that General Atomics (GA) or BWXT would be involved in the fuel manufacture.
 
  • #989
etudiant
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Although the economic benefits of a small reactor appear compelling, the regulators are certainly also conscious that suicide squads are now an established aspect of terrorism.
It will be a challenge to design an effective and yet terrorism resistant SMR.
 
  • #990
Astronuc
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Although the economic benefits of a small reactor appear compelling, the regulators are certainly also conscious that suicide squads are now an established aspect of terrorism.
It will be a challenge to design an effective and yet terrorism resistant SMR.
The original designs for containment assumed that the US would never be attacked so that the plants would never experience an artillery barrage or bombing by air. Of course, all that change on September 11, 2001.

It is relatively simple to design an appropriate reinforced structure. The details are plant specific and are not disclosed publicly under Safeguards regulations.
 
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  • #991
Astronuc
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Some recent work involved technology developed in the 1950s-1970s.

Westinghouse Astronuclear Laboratory - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westinghouse_Astronuclear_Laboratory

GE had a similar unit, but I can't find the details at the moment. A fellow graduate student took a job their briefly, about 1 year, but left when work stopped due to cancellation of the program.

A little bit of trivia, "The idea for Ansys was first conceived by John Swanson while working at the Westinghouse Astronuclear Laboratory in the 1960s."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansys#Origins
 
  • #992
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@Astronuc I find it hard to believe that the US did not plan for a possible critical infrastructure attack prior to 9/11?

I mean unlike the jihadists the USSR had all kinds of missiles including ICBM's with thermonuclear warheads and I think I can bet my money that at least a dozen were aimed at the largest nuke generating plants.
Well surely no containment could withstand a thermonuke warhead but it should at least withstand a conventional missile with explosives ?
I guess it depends on the type of missile used.
 
  • #993
russ_watters
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@Astronuc I find it hard to believe that the US did not plan for a possible critical infrastructure attack prior to 9/11?
There was this:
https://interestingengineering.com/crashed-jet-nuclear-reactor-test

Well surely no containment could withstand a thermonuke warhead but it should at least withstand a conventional missile with explosives ?
I guess it depends on the type of missile used.
Yeah, protection doesn't need to be absolute, just enough that the attack has to be more extreme than the damage. I live just a few miles from a nuclear plant and if someone blows it up with a nuclear bomb, it won't be fallout from the plant's fuel that kills me.

More likely a state actor attack would go after the electrical distribution, which is unprotected. Different goals.
 
  • #994
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it should at least withstand a conventional missile with explosives ?
Why? Why should the nuclear containment be built to a different standard than any other structure? Say Hoover Dam? or The Astrodome? The NY Stock Exchange?

I'm not denying that a military attack on nuclear power plant could make quite a mess. But so could an attack on any number of other targets. And the containment buildings are already among the most robust of targets, short of underground bunkers like Mt Weather.
 
  • #995
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@Astronuc I find it hard to believe that the US did not plan for a possible critical infrastructure attack prior to 9/11?
They did, but not with a large commercial aircraft. Other, more conventional attacks were considered, and protections were in place. I witnessed these in person.

I mean unlike the jihadists the USSR had all kinds of missiles including ICBM's with thermonuclear warheads and I think I can bet my money that at least a dozen were aimed at the largest nuke generating plants.
Well surely no containment could withstand a thermonuke warhead but it should at least withstand a conventional missile with explosives ?
In most cases, a typical PWR containment would. Fukushima demonstrated some shortcomings in the older containment systems for BWRs. More modern containment systems are more like PWR containment systems.

I guess it depends on the type of missile used.
Of course.

Aircraft are mostly light aluminum alloys with some steel and nickel-bearing alloys. The main concern is the spindle from the aircraft engines. However, that has now been considered. New methodologies and design tools have been put in place, and new plants are even more robust than existing plants.

Outside of containment, the concern would be loss of offsite power (LOOP) and loss of heat sink. That is now considered, and to some extent has been demonstrated with some recent natural disasters.
 
  • #996
Astronuc
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Just some historical material, a bibliography of LITERATURE ON LIGHT WATER REACTOR (LWR) FUEL AND ABSORBER ROD FABRICATION 1960 - 1976. I believe NSA is Nuclear Science Abstracts.

https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/7290655

I remember when some of this stuff was relatively new, and I know and have worked with a number of authors.
 

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