Skip to main content

Gifts for the Winter Solstice

AP1000-cutaway2012 promises to be an extremely consequential year for American nuclear energy. In the grand tradition of sneak previews, the first news to hit made 2011:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Thursday approved the amended design for the Westinghouse AP1000, a reactor that several power companies intend to use for building the first new U.S. nuclear plants in decades.

“The design provides enhanced safety margins through use of simplified, inherent, passive, or other innovative safety and security functions, and also has been assessed to ensure it could withstand damage from an aircraft impact without significant release of radioactive materials,” NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said in a statement.

And that means this in – we hope – the early part of next year:

The certification brings Southern Company subsidiary Southern Nuclear one step closer to receiving the first Combined Construction and Operating License (COL) for a U.S. nuclear plant.

"This is another key milestone for the Vogtle project and the nation's nuclear renaissance," said Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning. "The NRC's action confirms the AP1000 design is safe and meets all regulatory requirements. The commission now has all of the technical information needed to issue the Vogtle COL.

Rapidly followed by this:

Once the AP1000 certification is complete, we expect the COL to be issued in short order for the … Summer project [in South Carolina]. Once the COL are issued, we'll begin a significant ramp-up in work ….

This is from the Shaw Group’s earnings call on December 21, so they were a day early. I captured the Summer part, but Shaw is working on Vogtle, too.

It’s like a gift, isn’t it?

---

And now a completely different kind of gift, from our friends at Russia’s Rosatom (click for larger):

Куц-Посейдон

Yes, they’ve taken some of their more athletic and beauteous workers – from the Siberian Chemical Combine, a used fuel reprocessing plant - and posed them after statues of Greek gods and goddesses for a calendar – at least, I think they’re workers. World Nuclear News doesn’t make this clear and neither does the Rosatom blog.

But – it’s fun to imagine that’s who they are – and why not? Russian nuclear facilities often tout the athletic achievements of their workers and this tilts that interest in another direction – toward beef- and cheesecake, true, but Rosatom also does a beauty pageant. It’s a cultural thing.

The statues – in the lower left of the photos - are mostly naked but the workers are at least as clothed as Poseidon there, so decide for yourself how safe-for-work this is before clicking through.

I wonder if this sort of thing is common throughout Russian industrial spheres.

The AP1000.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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…

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 …

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…