Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Canada, Westinghouse and A Fusion Follow-Up


Westinghouse previews a forum taking place today in Toronto called The Future of Nuclear. Westinghouse has no reactors in Canada and isn’t trying to sell any in its press release, which does include some interesting tidbits:
"With 55 per cent of Ontario's energy being generated by nuclear, and given the province's commitment to clean-air sources of energy, nuclear cannot be ignored as a vital part of Ontario's energy mix," says Ron Lewis, vice president, Nuclear Power Plant Business and Project Development, Westinghouse Electric Company.
That 55 percent figure is new  - it’s a little higher than I’ve seen before - and I’m not enough up on Canadian energy markets to know how much of that is exported to Ontario’s neighbors. That said, Ontario is the only province to aggressively pursue nuclear energy, with five facilities housing 20 reactors. Quebec and New Brunswick have 2 and 1 reactors respectively, with Quebec’s retired. When we looked at Canadian nuclear energy previously, it seemed the other provinces were pretty dim on nuclear energy and not particularly well informed as to its benefits.

All Canadian reactors are home grown CANDUs.The DU stands for Deuterium Uranium and hints at the use of deuterium (heavy water, actually, or deuterium oxide) to moderate the nuclear reaction, a unique feature of this design. I poked around the Candu web site and found the company is moving right along:
One of the unique features of CANDU reactor design is its ability to use alternative fuels such as recovered uranium (RU) from the reprocessing of used light water reactor fuel, low-enriched uranium (LEU) and plutonium (Pu) mixed oxide, thorium and actinides, in addition to the conventional natural uranium. Candu is currently working with China to further develop thorium as an alternative fuel source.
So, for this forum, Westinghouse is more focused on touting the benefits of nuclear energy, priming the pump for the siting of new reactors and perhaps – just maybe – one or more of those will be AP1000s. We’ll see. In the meantime:
"Canada has spent more than a generation developing nuclear energy, dating back to the 1950s right here in Ontario. The Province has an industrial base that depends on further build-out. On balance, nuclear is the best choice for jobs and the environment. The alternative is a move to high-cost electricity generation and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, which are unavoidable if nuclear is not a part of Ontario's future energy mix," Lewis says.
Indeed.
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Since we had a little fun with fusion and the National ignition Facility’s project related to it last week, it’s only fair to pass along this news from the BBC:
The BBC understands that during an experiment in late September, the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel - the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world.
The story goes on to make the point that the goal is to make a lot more energy than is used, but out of negative numbers? Very good news for the fusion profusion crowd.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For a deeper dive on what's happening in Canada, we suggest Canadian Energy Issues, written by the tireless Stephen Aplin.

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