Skip to main content

The Infrastructure of the Renaissance

AC_Logo_v2_176w_188t If nuclear energy is going to push forward to a true international renaissance, it’s not enough to apply for licenses and and clear some land for new plants. An entire infrastructure has to be exist to support them – now, of course, there is such an infrastructure, since plants have been puttering along for a long while and need replacement parts, a supply of uranium and so on. But a marked increase in plant construction and operation promises a shockwave of new activity in associated industries and suppliers.

Take a look at this article from Smart Money, which offers advice(which we do not recommend you follow without a lot of additional research – you really could find that your next home is your car) on where your investment dollars might flow in the nuclear sphere. This caught our eye:

Nuclear plants also need fuel, of course, and tight supplies of enriched uranium should benefit USEC, one of only four commercial uranium processors in the world.

So true, and what about USEC? Well, they’ve put together a nice set of pages about what they’re calling The American Centrifuge, a next generation technology – they’ve got a logo for it and everything. Interestingly, one of USEC’s selling points revolves around rebuilding the nuclear industrial base:

America stands to gain significant economic benefits by investing in a reinvigorated nuclear industrial manufacturing base. More than one million jobs could be created in the United States if American companies capture a significant share of the growing global nuclear energy market, according to the American Council on Global Nuclear Competitiveness. USEC and its American Centrifuge manufacturers have taken the first step in this national nuclear industrial resurgence.

We should note that, with infrastructure much in the news as a means of spurring the economy through massive investment, virtually any company with a viable project is going to put their best foot forward. USEC may be overselling a touch, but they’re not wrong. The U.S., at least lately, has been aggressively competing with Russia and France in the international nuclear marketplace and the U.S. itself badly needs these kinds of projects. The coming stress on investment may well benefit USEC but also any nuclear-tilted company with viable manufacturing capabilities.

Even in its niche, however, USEC isn’t without competition, as this story from last week demonstrates:

A unit of France's Areva Group on Tuesday applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for permission to build a $2 billion uranium enrichment plant in Idaho, the company said.

Areva Enrichment Services, based in Bethesda, Maryland, last May announced plans to build the Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility 18 miles from Idaho Falls. The plant, which will be near a federally run lab where nuclear energy work has been done for more than 50 years, is to open in 2014.

And AREVA calls theirs a  “newer-technology uranium enrichment plant.” We wonder if they have a logo for it like USEC.

The American Centrifuge logo. Nuclear companies certainly like swirly things.

Comments

Anonymous said…
USEC is a HORRIBLE investment IMO. The Urenco plant already well into construction is a more advanced process then USECs Paducah plant. And I don't see any way they will raise funds for their own new plant when there is already enough enrichment capacity in the world under construction. USEC is a fish in a rapidly shrinking pond, they will likely no longer exist 10 years from now. It will be impossible to run their gaseous diffusion plant with electricity prices rising and their plant using 10X as much energy as the new plants.

Popular posts from this blog

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.


Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…