PRISM is an advanced sodium-cooled reactor that simultaneously reduces proliferation concerns by consuming transuranics and weapons-grade plutonium and closes the nuclear fuel cycle. PRISM’s passive safety systems, successfully demonstrated in earlier liquid metal reactor programs, combined with modern design requirements, make PRISM invulnerable to most serious accidents that can affect light water reactors.
Risk, risk management, and the specter of Fukushima ran through the nuclear track at May’s ELECTRIC POWER Conference in Chicago. The reality of risk, driven home by the horrendous events in Japan, was a recurring theme in many presentations, in questions to speakers, and in the conversations among delegates during informal moments.
If you needed additional proof that the power industry is changing, the ELECTRIC POWER keynote and panel discussions over the past few years have provided it—top-of-mind issues have been significantly different each year. For the 2011 keynote speaker and panelists, the challenges of reliability, regulatory compliance, financing, and getting the fuel mix right took center stage. In the wake of Japan’s nuclear crisis, safety also featured prominently.
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.
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).
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’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 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.
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.
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 […]