Monday, December 01, 2008

Nuclear Blog Highlights During Thanksgiving Week

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving last Thursday, at least those who celebrated! :-) For me, I was out all last week with the family enjoying the sun's radiation in hometown Phoenix, AZ. Of course, after unplugging from the internet for quite a few days, I found my Google Reader was +1,000 and that I'd missed out on some great discussions and debates. For those who were out as well, here's my wrap-up of what went on:

David Walters has generated quite the discussion at DailyKos about the UK's latest report that found new renewables are more expensive than new nuclear.

Charles Barton's blog, Nuclear Green, turns one-year-old this coming Friday. Congratulations!

Dr. James Hansen, "best known for his research in the field of climatology" wrote an eight page paper to President-elect Obama (pdf) on how we can reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Nuclear power was mentioned as one of the five mitigation technologies that can make a difference. Of course, Joseph Romm disagreed with parts of Hansen's paper (nuclear being one part) in which Sovietologist set Romm straight.

Rod Adams at Atomic Insights shared his thoughts on Thomas Friedman's latest book Hot, Flat and Crowded. He also got the comments rolling on the over-hype of Hyperion's mini-reactors.

(I know it's not nuclear-related but I feel it's worth mentioning.) Over at Knowledge Problem, Michael Giberson wrote an interesting analysis on how the abundance of wind capacity has supposedly caused power prices to fall negative at times in West Texas ("suppliers are paying ERCOT to take their power"). He thinks wind's production tax credit has something to do with it.

And Dan Yurman at Idaho Samizdat explains that an "expansion of federal loan guarantees [for new nuclear plants] could create 100,000 jobs."

There's my wrap-up. If I missed anything, let me know.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's not surprising that Rod Adams would say Hyperion's small reactor design is "overhyped." He's been trying to market his own small reactor design for many years. Doesn't mean he's wrong, of course, but it's useful information for context and should have been mentioned.

Anonymous said...

So what feed do you have in your google reader David?

Sovietologist said...

I've been really enthusiastic about Hyperion, but the company really needs to explain how it's going to get the HPM licensed. The fuel qualification issue that came up in the discussion thread to Rod's post must be addressed somehow, and I can imagine ways that Hyperion can do so--but they must start talking about these nuts-and-bolts technical issues if they expect to be taken seriously. I certainly hope they do so, as I think the hydride fuel concept has a lot of potential.

Another Comment said...

Hyperion is claiming that it will deliver a demonstration reactor in 5 years. There is no way that any regulatory authority in the world is going to license a reactor design that relies on hydriding/dehydriding of fuel to perform a fundamental safety function, without previous irradiation testing and PIE of fuel. Testing of fuel must occur in a test reactor like the ATR, but there exists no evidence that any fuel testing is planned (certainly the 2013 schedule for a demonstration reactor precludes such a test program).

Dehydriding fuel fast enough to respond to reactor transients requires that the fuel be in the form of finely dispersed particles or a more complex porous structure with interconnected porosity, so there is a very large amount of surface area and diffusion can occur over small distances in the solid fuel.

Nature hates structures with very high surface area. Under high temperatures, temperature gradients, and irradiation, nature causes mass transfer that will cut off interconnected porosity and reduce surface area. Perhaps Hyperion fuel would be well behaved, but no nuclear safety authority should believe this, or is likely to, absent an extensive fuel irradiation test program.

Most of Hyperion's credibility is coming from its extensive advertisement of its linkage to Los Alamos National Laboratory. Rightly or wrongly, LANL's reputation will suffer if the Hyperion concept crashes when faced with the legitimate realities of reactor safety regulation.

David Bradish said...

So what feed do you have in your google reader David?

I have about 60 different subscriptions. I keep up with everyone on our blog roll, anti-nuclear blogs, and several general interest sites. I also have a couple of feeds set up that search blogs and the news for nuclear energy and nuclear power. Blog names include Instapundit, FuturePundit, Gristmill, DailyKos, Freakonomics, NAM, Next Big Future, The Oil Drum, Treehugger, The Foundry and the WSJ's Environmental Blog to name a few. What feeds do you recommend?