Archive: Nuclear


Defeating Concrete Reinforcing Steel Corrosion

Four concrete cooling towers at a coal-fired electrical generation plant exhibited reinforcing steel corrosion that was causing concrete deterioration. This case study follows the repairs to those towers—how the corrosion control solution was selected, how repairs were made, and how follow-up tests found the repairs to be effective three years later.


Holtec, Westinghouse Roll Out Small Modular Reactor Designs

As the Daiichi nuclear crisis has governments around the world reconsidering their nuclear-heavy energy plans and scrutinizing the safety of existing reactors and third-generation designs, several developers are touting the merits of small modular reactors (SMRs).


TEPCO: Most Fuel at Daiichi 1 Melted

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) in May discovered—after calibrating water gauges—that the water level in the reactor pressure vessel of Unit 1 at the quake- and tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant may have dropped to such low levels that the fuel was completely uncovered. This caused almost all the fuel pellets to melt and fall to the bottom of the vessel at a relatively early stage in the accident—roughly 15 hours after the March 11 earthquake that killed an estimated 28,000.

Germany to Shut Down All Nuclear Reactors

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel at the end of May officially endorsed a plan to shut down all 17 of the nation’s nuclear power plants by 2022. The decision, which gives the power-intensive nation just over a decade to find new sources of power for 23% of its energy needs, has had reverberations all over the world, though the future of nuclear—through growth in developing nations—continues to look sturdy.


Spain: A Renewable Kingdom

Spain has served as both exemplar and scapegoat when it comes to renewable energy policy. Though power policy must necessarily accommodate specific national resources and goals, Spain’s experience as an early and eager adopter of renewable energy technologies and subsidies is a cautionary tale of how the best intentions can have unintended consequences.


Germany Considers Accelerated Nuclear Exit on Fukushima Worries

In the wake of the devastating nuclear crisis afflicting the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, Germany has embarked on an abrupt shift away from nuclear power, shutting down eight reactors for safety checks and ditching concerted efforts to keep nuclear power plants open in the long term. In mid-April, Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters that leaders of Germany’s 16 states all want to “exit nuclear energy as soon as possible and make the switch to supplying via renewable energy.” The policy reversal has incited ardent opposition from the energy sector and industry.


Recovery Efforts Continue at Fukushima Daiichi

In April, Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency provisionally raised the accident rating for three reactors at the crippled six-unit Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture to Level 7—making it a “major accident” and putting it on par with the 1986 Chernobyl accident in the Ukraine. Recovery efforts continue at the nuclear plant with workers […]


Chernobyl: Twenty-Five Years of Wormwood

Twenty-five years ago last month, engineers and technicians were running low-power tests at the 1,000-MW Reactor No. 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant outside Kiev. They quickly, inexplicably, lost control of the light-water-cooled, graphite-moderated reactor. In an instant, the critical chain reaction flared out of control. The plant exploded like a small, dirty bomb, the graphite caught fire, and the worst catastrophe in civilian nuclear power was under way.


China’s Five-Year Plan Is Heavy on Non-Fossil Generation

The People’s Republic of China’s Congress approved a much-anticipated draft of the country’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011–2015) on March 14. Along with key objectives that included boosting its gross domestic product (GDP) by 7% annually on average, the country for the first time in a five-year plan established targets to tackle climate change. It plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 17% from 2010 levels by 2015 and to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 16% from 2010 levels by 2015.


The Battle to Stabilize Daiichi

Weeks after a massive magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent 14-meter-high tsunami devastated Fukushima Prefecture in northeastern Japan, workers from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) were still struggling to regain control of four severely damaged reactors at the six-unit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.