SMRs

Cheaper and smaller alternative is emerging if activity from British entrepreneurs and academics is anything to judge by – the small “modular” nuclear reactor, or SMR. Mini reactors are nothing new – they have been installed in nuclear submarines since the 1950s, and Rolls-Royce produced them for the Royal Navy for decades. An SMR is defined as producing 300MWe – just 10 per cent of what Hinkley Point C should provide. SMRs are defined as reactor systems that are comparatively small, compact and entirely factory built. As a result, SMRs can be placed underground or underwater and moved for decommissioning. They employ “passive” safety systems that do not require human intervention – therefore fewer staff – and use a relatively small amount of nuclear material. There are a number of different SMR designs. Tony Roulstone, course director at Cambridge Nuclear Energy Centre, believes a production line operation could fulfil the promise of continuous improvements, of more efficient designs over the years, and the real prize of being manufactured in the UK. By contrast, the earlier trend for buying renewable systems – wind turbines and solar cells – resulted in a huge import bill with around £3bn alone paid out under David Cameron’s administration to big firms such as Siemens and DONG Energy. And renewables are not always as “green” as its promoters claim. Large wind turbine blades made of fibre-reinforced polymer for example are impossible, or simply too expensive, to recycle, according to German research organisation Fraunhofer IWU. Yet time is not on our side. About half of the UK’s electricity capacity is due to be decommissioned by 2030. This month, a forthright report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) recommended that the UK “should focus on developing Small Modular Reactors, including at Trawsfynydd in Wales, to secure the country’s future nuclear industry post-Brexit”. Trawsfynydd is the site of the UK’s only nuclear power plant not built on the coast. This twin-Magnox station, closed in 1991, is instead on the shores of an artificial lake and is capable of cooling a 700MW reactor.

The Register 24th May 2017 read more »

Posted: 25 May 2017

Hualong One

China’s first pilot nuclear power project using Hualong One technology, a domestically-developed third generation reactor design, will soon take shape with its containment dome expected to be installed within the next two days. Yu Peigen, deputy general manager of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), told a press conference Wednesday that its No. 5 unit in Fuqing, southeast China’s Fujian Province, was ready for the dome installation, slated for Thursday or Friday. A hemispherical dome, 340 tonnes in weight and 16.8 meters in diameter, will be installed by crane on the reactor featuring Hualong One design, according to Yang Ming, a member of the project management.

China.org 25th May 2017 read more »

Posted: 25 May 2017

Nuclear Research

Dipali Raniga, senior energy and environment policy adviser at the EEF, made a statement on the recent House of Lords Science & Technology Committee report on nuclear research and technology. She said: “This report rightly recognises the need for the Government to set out a decisive future for the civil nuclear industry post-election, and recognises the role that nuclear research and technology can play in the UK in the coming years and decades. “There are already opportunities available such as developing a UK Small Modular Reactors programme which, if designed well and delivered expeditiously, could deliver across the ‘Industrial Strategy Pillars’ as set out in the Green Paper earlier this year. “It would also contribute to delivering cost-competitive low-carbon energy, together with UK industrial opportunities in the supply chain, skills development and university research in the energy sector and beyond.”

Machinery Market 13th May 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 May 2017

SMRs

The UK should focus on developing small modular reactors (SMRs) to secure its nuclear industry after the country’s exit from the European Union, according to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). In its report Leaving the EU, the Euratom Treaty Part 2: A Framework for the Future, issued on 5 May, IMechE says SMRs could “present the UK with key export opportunities and return the country to the international nuclear reactor supply arena”. In the document, which follows the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee report into the risks to the nuclear industry posed by Brexit, IMechE has outlined “possible pathways” the UK government could take to leaving the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) regarding key issues such as safeguarding, Nuclear Cooperation Agreements, research and development, and regulation. It also recommends the UK develops its own ‘safeguarding office’, to ensure the country conforms to international rules on safety and non-proliferation. It adds, however, the UK should remain an associate member of Euratom for the specific purpose of R&D.

World Nuclear News 8th May 2017 read more »

Posted: 9 May 2017

SMRs

The UK should focus on developing Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), including at Trawsfynydd in Wales, to secure the country’s future nuclear industry post Brexit according to a new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Following the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee report into the risks to the nuclear industry posed by Brexit, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers has outlined possible pathways the UK Government could take to leaving the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) regarding key issues such as safeguarding, Nuclear Co-operation Agreements, Research and Development (R&D) and regulation. The ‘Leaving the EU, the Euratom Treaty Part 2: A Framework for the Future’ report says SMRs could present the UK with key export opportunities and return the country to the international nuclear reactor supply arena. The Institution is also calling for the UK to develop its own Safeguarding Office, to ensure the country conforms to international rules on safety and non-proliferation, but says the UK should remain an associate member of Euratom for the specific purpose of R&D.

Process Control & Technology 8th May 2017 read more »

Posted: 8 May 2017

SMRs

Small modular reactors (SMRs) could help secure the UK’s nuclear industry after the country leaves the EU. That’s according to a new report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, which says the technology could present the UK with key export opportunities if a competition was organised to allow projects to reach demonstration and commercialisation. It recommends the UK Government commits to long term nuclear research and development programmes, including a pathway for SMRs. It suggests the existing nuclear licensed site at Trawsfynydd in North Wales would be well suited as a potential location for an SMR facility.The institute adds the UK should remain an associate member of Euratom to continue scientific progress in the sector.

Energy Live News 5th May 2017 read more »

Ministers must back the development of so-called baby nuclear reactors to secure the future of the UK sector, engineers have claimed. Research and development of Small Modular Reactors could provide the UK with key export opportunities, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers said. IME head of energy Jenifer Baxter said that UK had gone from being the first country to develop a civil nuclear programme to trailing countries like China, France and Canada in development. “This would not only help to meet future energy demand, but also to develop skills, local employment and build future export business,” Baxter said.

City AM 5th May 2017 read more »

Posted: 5 May 2017

SMRs

Commercial interest in the UK’s baby-nuclear plant programme will wane unless ministers announces the initial results of a long-awaited competition to find the best type of reactor, a committee of peers has warned. The House of Lords science and technology select committee in a report on nuclear research, published yesterday (2 May), expresses disappointment that the government has not kept to its stated timetable for the small modular reactor (SMR) competition.

Utility Week 3rd May 2017 read more »

Posted: 4 May 2017

SMRs

The nuclear industry is being damaged by government dithering over plans for “mini” reactors, a House of Lords report has warned. A promised competition to support the development of small modular reactors in Britain has suffered “alarming” delays owing to government indecision, the Lords’ science and technology committee said. The previous Conservative administration gave enthusiastic backing for the reactors, which proponents argue could be cheaper and easier to build than conventional nuclear plants. The competition to “identify the best value SMR design for the UK” was announced in 2015 as part of a £250 million nuclear research and development programme. More than 30 companies, including Rolls-Royce and Nuscale Power, entered the first phase of the competition last year, with results and a road map setting out proposed next steps expe cted last autumn, but neither is yet to materialise. The Lords urged the government to publish “without delay if industrial interest is to be maintained and if commercial opportunities are not to be missed . . . This has had a negative effect on the nuclear sector.” A spokesman for the business department said: “The government recognises the potential of small modular reactors to help to meet our energy and climate change challenges at a lower cost. We will respond to the select committee’s report in due course.”

Times 3rd May 2017 read more »

Lords scold government for lack of progress on small modular reactors plan, warning UK nuclear sector will suffer if firms walk away. The government’s failure to deliver on a multimillion-pound competition to develop mini atomic power stations has hurt the nuclear sector and risks international companies walking away from the UK, a Lords committee has warned. In 2015 the then chancellor George Osborne promised £250m over five years for a nuclear research and development programme, an undisclosed sum of which was for a competition to pave the way for small modular reactors. These reactors are much smaller than conventional nuclear plants with a capacity of less than 300MW – or a 10th of what Hinkley Point C should provide. But the government has failed to even publish results of the first phase of the competition, expected last autumn, which the Lords science and technology committee said was “particularly alarming”. “This has had a negative effect on the nuclear sector in the UK and if the government does not act soon the necessary high level of industrial interest will not be maintained,” they said in a report on Tuesday. The peers urged ministers to publish their plans for small modular reactors (SMRs) without delay, and scolded the government for not showing any urgency to make a decision. A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “The government recognises the potential of small modular reactors to help meet our energy and climate change challenges at a lower cost.” Government officials said earlier this year that one of the attractions of mini nuclear power stations was they fitted with the industrial strategy launched by Theresa May. But Tom Wintle, deputy director at the business department, said they had to provide affordable power. “SMRs will need to deliver energy cost-competitively if they are to play a part in the UK’s future energy mix. As well as securing low-carbon energy, government is also committed to keeping down the cost of that energy for consumers, so there is a key challenge there for the nuclear industry as a whole and for SMRs,” he told an industry conference.

Guardian 2nd May 2017 read more »

Telegraph 2nd May 2017 read more »

Posted: 3 May 2017

SMRs

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is seeking public comment on a draft regulatory basis for new emergency preparedness requirements for small modular reactors (SMRs) and new technologies such as non-light water reactor facilities. A regulatory basis is an early stage in the NRC’s rulemaking process.

World Nuclear News 24th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 25 April 2017

Fusion

Fusion reactors have long been touted as the “perfect” energy source. Proponents claim that when useful commercial fusion reactors are developed, they would produce vast amounts of energy with little radioactive waste, forming little or no plutonium byproducts that could be used for nuclear weapons. These pro-fusion advocates also say that fusion reactors would be incapable of generating the dangerous runaway chain reactions that lead to a meltdown—all drawbacks to the current fission schemes in nuclear power plants. As we move closer to our goal, however, it is time to ask: Is fusion really a “perfect” energy source? After having worked on nuclear fusion experiments for 25 years at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, I began to look at the fusion enterprise more dispassionately in my retirement. I concluded that a fusion reactor would be far from perfect, and in some ways close to the opposite. fusion reactors that burn neutron-rich isotopes have byproducts that are anything but harmless: Energetic neutron streams comprise 80 percent of the fusion energy output of deuterium-tritium reactions and 35 percent of deuterium-deuterium reactions. Now, an energy source consisting of 80 percent energetic neutron streams may be the perfectneutron source, but it’s truly bizarre that it would ever be hailed as the ideal electrical energy source. In fact, these neutron streams lead directly to four regrettable problems with nuclear energy: radiation damage to structures; radioactive waste; the need for biological shielding; and the potential for the production of weapons-grade plutonium 239—thus adding to the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation, not lessening it, as fusion proponents would have it. In addition, if fusion reactors are indeed feasible—as assumed here—they would share some of the other serious problems that plague fission reactors, including tritium release, daunting coolant demands, and high operating costs. There will also be additional drawbacks that are unique to fusion devices: the use of fuel (tritium) that is not found in nature and must be replenished by the reactor itself; and unavoidable on-site power drains that drastically reduce the electric power available for sale.

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 19th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 22 April 2017