In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, countries like Germany and Switzerland have decided that nuclear energy isn’t worth the risk. The Tennessee Valley Authority apparently isn’t so skittish. The TVA has inked a letter of intent with nuke-maker Babcock & Wilcox to build six small, modular reactors near Clinch River, Tenn., the first time such small, distributed reactors have been tapped for commercial power generation.
A wee particle accelerator in the English countryside could be a harbinger of a safer, cleaner future of energy. Specifically, nuclear energy, but not the type that has wrought havoc in Japan and controversy throughout Europe and the U.S. It would be based on thorium, a radioactive element that is much more abundant, and much more safe, than traditional sources of nuclear power.
Don't think that just because Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant isn't spawning the same number of headlines it was two weeks ago that things are getting any better. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and those seems to be exactly the kinds of measures Tokyo Electric is taking at its stricken facility. Kyodo News reports that starting tomorrow, a remotely controlled robot will begin hosing debris at the site with a water-soluble resin in an untested effort to keep radioactive particles in place.
The University of New Mexico discovered a treasure trove of old cutaway schematics of nuclear reactors, dating back as much as 50 years, in the pages of Nuclear Engineering International. If you're interested in nuclear power (or how stuff works) and are looking for some art to hang on your walls, we've got you covered.
As nations around the world rush to reconsider their nuclear plans, nuclear experts look toward a future of smaller, safer reactors designed to greatly reduce the likelihood of a Fukushima-sized catastrophe
At this time last week, the Nuclear Renaissance was in full swing. Plans were moving forward to use the $36 billion in loan guarantees for new reactors in President Obama's 2012 budget. China was approving reactor stations at a steady pace, and nations across Europe were considering new nuclear sites of their own. Seven days later, the push toward more and better nuclear power has come to a full stop, as the crisis at Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi power station threatens to unravel into the worst nuclear disaster in history.
But amid a strong, worldwide nuclear backlash, it's important to remember that the next generation of nuclear reactors are designed to prevent exactly what went wrong at the 40-year-old Fukushima Daiichi plant. Which is good, because according to the experts, a future weaned from fossil fuels will include nuclear power whether we like it or not. Here's what that future may look like.
The aerial water bombardment of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facilities began in earnest late yesterday after being deemed too risky earlier in the week. The strategy--previously untested as far as we know--is aimed at cooling the reactor cores and spent fuel rod storage pools, but it's highly unclear whether it's doing any good.
Several of Japan's nuclear power plants, especially the Fukushima Naiishi plant in northeastern Japan, are experiencing serious problems in the wake of Friday's earthquake and tsunami. If you've been following the news, you've seen some pretty alarming stuff going on at this plant--terms like "explosion," "partial meltdown," "evacuation," and "radiation exposure." With details sparse from the chaotic scene, here's what you need to know to understand and make sense of the news unfolding in Japan.
If the typical beach vacation – the one where you spend several days on the beach reading bad fiction and soaking up sun – has lost its allure, the Ukraine would like to make a suggestion: come soak up radiation and some real human drama at Chernobyl, the site of the worst nuclear disaster in history.
Nuclear-powered civilian ships could be powerful enough to smash through Arctic ice on their own, potentially using the Northeast Passage to travel from Asia to Europe and reducing time and carbon emissions for international shipping lines.
Nuclear propulsion might therefore be a cheaper option for ships on long voyages, the Register reports.
Particle accelerators, which are not renowned for their real-world applications, could in fact be used to produce energy, according to a 34-year-old research paper that resurfaced this week.
It's not exactly intuitive -- accelerators require plenty of power to work -- but one of the founders of Fermilab wrote in 1976 that they could produce more energy than they use, because they're extremely good at fissioning atoms.