Skip to main content

Popular Mechanics Weighs and Measures

Popular Mechanics has assembled a package of articles discussing the technical aspects of new nuclear technologies. The lead article is called The Next Atomic Age: Can Safe Nuclear Power Work for America? and is exceptionally well researched. Here's a taster to give you a sense of the contents:

Though the pebble-bed reactor is promising, other Gen IV designs have distinct advantages, too. Three of the six under consideration are fast neutron reactors; the term refers to the high speed of the neutrons ricocheting around the reactor core when there is no moderator to slow them down. When fast neutrons collide with fuel particles, they can actually generate more fuel than they burn. Such breeder reactors were developed in the late 1940s, but remained more expensive than other designs. These reactors have more appeal today because they also can burn up the longest-lived radioactive isotopes in their fuel, producing waste that stays dangerous for hundreds of years instead of hundreds of thousands.

Very Popular Mechanics - a cool, neutral style that help make complex technology understandable to a broad audience.

But there's a lot more.

Patrick Moore, Chair and Chief Scientist of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. debates Anna Aurilio, Legislative Director of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, with Moore, of course, taking the affirmative position. Aurilio's first comment:

Nuclear energy is too expensive, too dangerous and too polluting. And, despite claims from industry, it's not necessary either for our future electricity needs or to meet the very real challenge of global warming.

It just makes you want to holler - these particular tropes are tired, inaccurate and verging on the willfully ignorant. Moore should have little trouble here.

There is also a podcast on the topic you can listen to on the site or download for some nuclear iPod goodness.

By all means, take a look at the whole package. Even the reader comments are entertaining (and very pro-nuclear). Impressive.

Comments

Anonymous said…
FYI, this month's issue of Discover magazine has an article on nuclear power by Gwyneth Cravens.

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…