Skip to main content

The Nuclear Cluster

CNC-Logo-Color-JPG The Small Business Administration recently awarded 10 contracts (out of 173 entries) to the winners in its Innovative Economies initiative, a pilot program to:

support small business’ participation in regional economic “clusters” – collaborations between small businesses, the public sector, economic development and other organizations.

Here’s what SBA Administrator Karen Mills says about the program.

“Maximizing a region’s economic assets is one of the best ways to create long term job growth, and that’s what SBA’s new Innovative Economies pilot initiative is doing,” Mills said.

Well, we’ll see if it does that, but it’s a laudable goal. We note it here due to one of the winners.

South Carolina’s Council on Competitiveness (New Carolina), an organization that works to increase South Carolina’s competitiveness by developing industry clusters, has been awarded one of 10 “Innovative Economies” contracts … for its Carolinas’ Nuclear Cluster initiative.

And here’s what that is all about:

Under the SBA contract, which totals about $600,000, New Carolina will identify gaps in the nuclear supply chain, determine which small businesses can fill the gaps, and connect those businesses with opportunities. In addition, New Carolina will identify technologies being developed at the state’s colleges and universities and work to commercialize them through start-up companies. The ultimate goal is to establish a network of suppliers in South Carolina that can serve the nuclear industry worldwide.

That is ambitious. That last part – about commercializing new technologies – very often leads to tears, as investors are skittish about supporting ideas that may not, in the end, scale well or achieve their goals generally – and not just in nuclear energy, but any industry. It’s easy to imagine many transformational technologies lying on the roadside of innovation having been hit by the reality of finance. So if New Carolina finds a way around the problem – well, that would be worth another award.

---

Naturally, New Carolina has a web page. This link goes to the nuclear energy page. Here is how it describes nuclear energy out in its neck of the woods:

The Carolinas are a hub of nuclear expertise, supplying more than 11% of the nation’s nuclear power production, and we can build on that tradition. As the need for electricity increases, our solid energy expertise can provide the Carolinas with environmentally-friendly, safe and plentiful power. In fact, talented Carolinians can help develop energy infrastructure around the globe.

And here is a reprint of a story that touts the nuclear cluster:

What does the nuclear industry in the Carolinas have in common with the upstate city of Spartanburg, SC? Among other things, it employs approximately the same number of people as live in the Hub City: some 37,000. And with projections for expansion of the global nuclear energy market from US$50 billion to $300 billion in the next 15 years, that number could more than double.

The original story is here. (Now you can impress your friends who did not know that Spartanburg is the Hub City). The story might be understating the hiring potential, especially if New Carolina creates or brings to the state a stack of nuclear suppliers – a bigger stack, as it has already been quite busy.

I’m not quite sure if the companies involved are literally clustered in a small area or spread throughout the state, clustered more metaphorically. Whichever, it represents a boon to the state and a bit of perspicacity on SBA’s part to recognize the value of what New Carolina is doing.

---

The field of nuclear clustering has become strongly influenced by the physics of radioactive beam facilities and by the excitement that clustering may have an important impact on the structure of nuclei at the neutron drip-line. It was clear that since Nara the field had progressed substantially and that new themes had emerged and others had crystallized.

This subject might be worth a post of its own, but for now, wrong nuclear cluster.

Nice logo.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

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…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…