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Monday, 8 August 2011

Talks on “System engineering initiative” at UNITEN


Basically, the talks are about exposing students with engineering background, not specifically nuclear engineering on nuclear technology, nuclear plant etc. It is done by developing a system which offers coursework in terms of job (real job, you are making income) in the nuclear industries. The task would be defined by the industry member while supervised by lecturers with a group of students participating in solving the problems. This system is proven to benefits all that are involved.






The talk lasted about one hour and gave a very beneficial knowledge for everyone participating.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

malaysia toward nuclear as energy sources



Malaysia has experienced strong economic growth in the last decades. Energy has been a key input to the development and growth of the country. Taking into account the growing energy consumption and domestic energy supply constraints, Malaysia has set sustainable development and diversification of energy sources. Malaysia faces complex choices as it looks to expand it energy mix to ensure its energy security. The electricity demand of Malaysia will increase by 4.7% per year over the outlook period, to reach 274 TWh in 2030.

The per capita electricity demand is projected to be double to 7571 kWh/person in 2030.
The electricity generation mixture consists of gas, coal and hydro-power as the major contributor and a few from oil as well as renewable source like biomass, solar and wind. The generation of electricity from fossil fuels is not just facing the depletion and escalation of prices, but also is a major and growing contributor of pollutants such as CO2, NOX, SO2 for global warming. Meanwhile most renewable sources are either not in full scale commercial capacity or had a significant consequence to the environment. Various environmental, cost and fossil fuel depletion issues have lead most nations including Malaysia, to re-look on the possibility of using nuclear as an energy source in the future as nuclear power plants have much longer lifespan and cleaner source of energy, vis-a-via fossil fuel plants.




Article from Berita Harian, May 26,2009, (pg 25)

NPP safety


First we are going to look into the structure itself, where it will be built. Basically NPP will be built at much more deeper level below the land compared to other structures. The main reason behind this move is too minimise the seismic vibration caused by earthquakes. Whenever there is a presence strong earth quake, the NPP opeartion will be SCRAMed ( will be shutdown immediately ASAP). But at the first stage of selecting place for NPPs, we would look for areas which not prone to earthquekes. This explains, the extra safety measures that a NPP pose in order to overcome problems related to earthquakes. Picture below depicts the earthquake safety measures at a NPP.


Secondly, we would look into the most afraid form of attack, which is the plane crash. Eventhough, we believe one would not make such attack upon a NPP because it will somehow reflect to them back but we don't know how human changes. So let's get prepared for such attack. Talking about plane crashes, in order to fully convert the force of plane at certain speed, it need larger medium. Let's compare the size of Empire State Building and a NPP. Empire State Building collapsed due to its larger size where it absorbed the energy from the planes, while NPP has smaller size and it would not absorbs much energy and the containment wall is strong enough to withstand a plane crash onto it. Here is a link where you can find the facts about it.http://www.nei.org/newsandevents/aircraftcrashbreach/

Thirdly, we would look into the cooling towers and also the tertiary water pump system. Basically, they are made for one main function. Which is to cool the water vapor from turbine and feed it into the reactor. At colling tower, these vapors are condensed at normal temperature in a open space, where it might appear like dangerous gases coming out from the cooling tower. well, actually they are just water vapors.....
If there is no presence of cooling tower, the vapor will be cooled at nearby sea or river. But, the question is will the heat liberated to the nearby sea or river will threaten the living organism there? for example, if the heat from the NPP gives rise to the sea water temperature, it will kill the microorganism which is the food source for fishes. But research shows that, heat exchanged from the NPP will not harm underwater creatures.





Friday, 5 August 2011

US new nuclear build before 2012


Southern Company is expecting to begin full construction of two reactors at the end of this year, having been given a licensing schedule by the nuclear safety regulators. 

Significant site work is already underway for Vogtle 3 and 4, near Waynesboro, Georgia, including some related to safety taking place under a limited authorization. The official start of construction of a nuclear power plant comes with the first pouring of concrete related to nuclear safety, but this will have to wait a few more months, Southern said yesterday. Company head Thomas Fanning said that he 'could see the finish line from here' as the licensing process moves into its final stages.

Vogtle 3, March 2011 (Southern)
Retaining walls show where Vogtle 3 will stand. Pipes for coolant are being laid on the right, and in the distance stands the module assembly building (Image: Southern)


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has told Southern it will be ready to issue a Final Safety Evaluation Report this month, and that the public hearing process on that would take until around the end of 2011. The result should be a combined Construction and Operating Licence that will authorise full scale construction, commissioning and operation - subject of course to ongoing checks by the NRC.

The new AP1000 units from Westignhouse will sit alongside two other pressurized water reactors from the same vendor built in the 1980s.

So far, Westinghouse and its partner Shaw have cleared and excavated the twin-unit site, installing a materials warehouse and a covered module assembly building. Sections of the containment vessel bottom head have already been delivered for at least one of the units.

Two concrete batch plants are in operation with at least ten mixing trucks available to move the concrete around the site. Large sections of concrete pipework are being laid out for cooling water circulation and foundations are in place for the heavy-lift derrick crane that each unit will need. Retaining walls mark out the future locations of the two nuclear islands.

Southern expects the construction workforce to peak at 3500 before the reactors start operation in 2016 and 2017. After that 800 staff will be required for operation, in addition to the 900 that already work at units 1 and 2.


Thursday, 4 August 2011

WNA Weekly Digests

4 August 2011
UK nuclear reactor plans move forward

In July the UK parliament approved the six National Policy Statements (NPS) for energy infrastructure, including the draft Nuclear NPS, confirming selection of eight nuclear sites and introducing planning reforms to allow plant construction to be expedited. Then NNB Generation (EDF Energy 80%, Centrica 20%) submitted an application to the UK Health and Safety Executive's Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) for a nuclear site license for two Areva EPRs at Hinkley Point C. ONR said it expects to spend about 18 months assessing the company's "suitability, capability and competence to install, operate and decommission a nuclear facility." Local government simultaneously gave permission to prepare the site.
WNN 29/7/11. UK



US nuclear waste Commission draft recommendations
The high-level Blue Ribbon Commission on nuclear waste set up by President Obama following his political veto of the Yucca Mountain project has issued a draft report which recommends a substantial revision of how the USA manages commercial used fuel. Despite the failure of the US political system to deliver a timely high-level waste repository and the resulting shortage of storage space at US nuclear plants, the Commission says that nuclear waste management is not an insurmountable problem: "We know what we have to do, we know we have to do it, and we even know how to do it." A major recommendation was that the nuclear waste program be moved out of the Department of Energy to an independent, government-chartered organization subject to financial, technical and regulatory oversight by Congress and appropriate government agencies. The $24 billion in the Nuclear Waste Fund would be transferred to the new outfit, and future waste fee payments by nuclear utility customers would be protected from being treated as a federal slush fund. Congress created the Fund to rationalise the disposal of utility spent fuel, and it is built up at 0.1 c/kWh of nuclear-generated power, about $700 million per year.

Implementing Commission recommendations will require changes to the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act (amended in 1987 to designate Yucca Mountain as the sole repository site) and to other legislation. The Commission highlights several areas for prompt action to "get the waste management program back on track" even before legislative action. These include "efforts to develop one or more geologic disposal facilities” and “prompt efforts to develop one or more consolidated interim storage facilities” to give some flexibility in addressing the country’s used nuclear fuel storage issue. It suggests encouraging expressions of interest from potentially suitable host communities - a consent-based approach to repositories and interim storage facilities. It was uncertain about the merits of technologies to reprocess and recycle used fuel, and suggests deferring commitment to that. However, there does need to be sustained public- and private-sector support for R&D of advanced reactor and fuel cycle technologies. Finally, the USA should take an active role in international efforts to address safety, waste management, non-proliferation and security. The final report is due in January, after public feedback.
WNN 1/8/11. US policy, http://www.brc.gov/

UK to close MOX plant
Following the Fukushima accident, the UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has reassessed the prospects for the Sellafield MOX Plant and decided to close it as soon as practicable. This leaves about 15 tonnes of reactor-grade plutonium owned by the Japanese utilities at Sellafield awaiting incorporation into about 270 tonnes of MOX fuel, which may now be done in France or Japan.
WNN 3/8/11 UK

Second UK waste shipment to Japan
From 1970, some 7000 tonnes of Japan's used fuel has been reprocessed in France and UK. All the vitrified high-level wastes from this are being returned to Japan for disposal. Twelve shipments from France over 1995-2007 are being followed by about eleven from UK under the Vitrified Residue Returns program. The second shipment was dispatched this week, comprising three 130-tonne casks holding 76 canisters, each about 500kg, in a special-purpose ship.
WNN 2/8/11. Japanese waste and MOX shipments

Other papers updated on the WNA Public Information Service (see WNA web site):
Reactor Table, Fukushima accident, India, South Korea, US fuel cycle

  28 July 2011 

 Reactor pressure vessel arrives at Sanmen in China
The reactor pressure vessel has been delivered for unit 1 of the Sanmen AP1000 nuclear power plant in eastern China, the world's first of the third-generation Westinghouse plants under construction. It was made by Doosan Heavy Industries in South Korea, using some forgings from China First Heavy Industries, which will be making the full pressure vessel for unit 2 under progressive localisation plans. Doosan will also make the first pressure vessel for the Haiyang power plant, while that for unit 2 will be made in China by Shanghai Electric Group Corporation. Doosan will complete the vessel head for Sanmen 1 next month, and that for unit 2 will be made by Shandong Nuclear Power Equipment Manufacturing Co. China's heavy engineering manufacturing capacity is emerging as the largest in the world.
WNN 27/7/11. China NP

Japan faces prospect of electricity shortages
With government indecision on what safety checks are required on which reactors and when, Japan is facing significant constraints on electricity supplies as reactors shut down for refueling or annual checks are prevented from restarting. Looking ahead to 2012 the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has estimated that power generation costs would rise by over JPY 3 trillion ($37 billion) per year, an equivalent of about 0.7 percent of gross domestic product, if utilities had to replace nuclear energy with thermal power generation. METI's 2010 electricity supply plan showed nuclear capacity growing by 13 GWe by 2019, and the share of supply growing from 2007's depressed 262 TWh (25.4%) to about 455 TWh (41%) in 2019. This is now in some doubt with government equivocation and public fears.
WNN 25/7/11. Japan

European Union radioactive waste rationalised
After a decade of dissent, the European Union has adopted a directive for the disposal of used nuclear fuel and radioactive wastes which requires member countries to develop national waste management plans for European Commission review by 2015. The plans must include firm timetables for the construction of disposal facilities, descriptions of needed implementation activities, cost assessments, and financing schemes. Safety standards promulgated by the IAEA will become legally binding within the EU policy framework.

The directive allows two or more member nations to develop joint waste disposal facilities and allows transport of used fuel and radioactive wastes within the EU. Exports outside the EU will only be possible to countries that already have a repository in operation that meets IAEA standards. For overseas reprocessing, ultimate wastes must be returned to the originating EU country. The directive acknowledges that no country currently operates such a repository and projects that a minimum of 40 years would be required procedurally to develop one. Plans are expected to use a stepped approach to geologic disposal based on the voluntary involvement of potential host communities. Two routes are acknowledged: one to dispose of used nuclear fuel as waste; the other to reprocess the fuel and recycle the uranium and plutonium while disposing of the remaining 3% or so as high-level waste.

The directive is expected to become effective in August 2011, and national governments, which retain ultimate responsibility for wastes, will have two years to bring their own nuclear waste legislation into line with it. There are 143 nuclear plants generating used fuel in 14 of the EU’s 27 member nations. The remaining countries have radioactive waste requiring disposal that has been produced by research, medicine and industry.
WNN 19/7/11. Radioactive waste management

Other papers updated on the WNA Public Information Service (see WNA web site):
Africa, China FC, France, India, Namibia, Nuclear radiation 


 21 July 2011 

 EdF's Flamanville schedule slips further
Electricite de France (EdF) has again revised the completion time of the Flamanville EPR nuclear plant from early 2014 to 2016 due to re-evaluation of civil engineering works and to take into account interruptions during the first half of the year. It was originally expected on line in mid 2012. EdF is architect engineer of the project, and Areva is supplying the actual reactor. There have been problem coordinating the nine main subcontractors, and EdF hopes the new schedule will progress "the construction of the Flamanville EPR continues under optimized conditions." The cost is now put at EUR 6 billion, compared with EUR 4 billion overnight cost at the end of 2008 and EUR 5 billion estimated a year ago.
WNN 21/7/11. France

India starts construction of new reactor
First concrete has been poured for unit 7 at Rajasthan nuclear power plant at Rawatbhata. This will be an indigenous 700 MWe unit, the third of four authorised in 2009.
WNN 18/7/11. India

China's fast reactor connected to grid
On schedule, the China Experimental Fast Reactor (65 MWt) has been connected to the grid at 40% of power (8 MWe net). It will ramp up to full 20 MWe power in December. It started up at the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE) near Beijing in July 2010, having been built by Russia's OKBM Afrikantov in collaboration with other Russian entities.
WNN 21/7/11. China fuel cycle

Tepco meets initial goal in controlling Fukushima reactors
With ongoing nitrogen injection in all three reactors, and cooling by recycled water from the new treatment plant, Tepco by mid July had achieved its initial targets. The treatment plant is operating at 80% of capacity, and steadily reducing the build-up of contaminated water, some of it being the original tsunami inflow. Installing new atmospheric heat exchangers on those cooling circuits is the next goal, which will bring them to 'cold shutdown'. These heat exchangers have already been installed on two of the spent fuel pond circuits.
WNN 13 & 20/7/11. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/11071905-e.html

Further US reactor licence extension
PSEG Nuclear's Hope Creek reactor (1210 MWe net) in New Jersey has received a 20-year licence extension from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, taking it to 2046. The unit is a similar BWR design to Fukushima Daiichi unit 6 and the four Daini reactors. This takes the total US life extensions to 71, out of 104 power reactors.
WNN 21/7/11. USA

Russia adopts radioactive waste legislation
After 19 months consideration and many amendments, Russia's new Radioactive Waste Management law is in place. It establishes a legal framework for radioactive waste management, provides for a national radwaste management system meeting the requirements of the Joint Convention on the Safe Management of Spent Nuclear Fuel and on the Safe Management of Radioactive Waste ratified by Russia in 2006. Rosatom and the national operator for management of radwaste - RosRAO - will be responsible for coordination and execution of works associated with radwaste management, notably its disposal. The law establishes time limits for interim radwaste storage and volume limits for waste generators, and defines how they should bring wastes in condition suitable for disposal and transfer it to the national operator along with payment of disposal charges. Import and export of radwaste is prohibited, and the law bans building new facilities for disposal of liquid radioactive waste in geological formations. Russia has used deep-well injection for low- and intermediate-level wastes for many years, Seversk being the main site of such. Further legislation on used fuel and high-level wastes is envisaged.
WNN 15/7/11. Russia fuel cycle

Other papers updated on the WNA Public Information Service (see WNA web site):
Ukraine, UK
 
  14 July 2011 

 Lithuania chooses investment and technology partner
After inviting both GE Hitachi and Westinghouse to make proposals, the Lithuanian government has selected GE Hitachi as strategic investor in its Visaginas nuclear power project. Lithuania's partners in the project, Estonia, Latvia and Poland participated in the evaluation to determine which of the two proposals was "most economically advantageous." Visaginas will replace the power lost by closure of the next-door Ignalina plant due to EU accession requirements. GE Hitachi expects to build a single 1300 MWe Advanced Boiling Water Reactor, several of which are operating and under construction in Japan and Taiwan. This is expected to operate from 2020, by which time several major new transmission links should be complete, supplementing those east to Russia. The main one is to Poland, another is to Sweden, though both Lithuania and Russia (building its Baltic plant in Kaliningrad) see Germany as the major power market.
WNN 14/7/11. Lithuania

US task force submits 90-day report on Fukushima implications
The senior task force appointed by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to conduct "a methodical and systematic review" of the NRC's processes and regulations has submitted its first report, suggesting how both plant safety and the regulatory system might be improved in the light of lessons from Fukushima. The Task Force developed a comprehensive set of 12 recommendations for improving nuclear power plant safety, through improving preparedness for major accidents and ensuring that back-up power was more reliable. It noted that US plants are less vulnerable in these respects, "therefore, continued operation and continued licensing activities do not pose an imminent risk to public health and safety." The report pointed to the "patchwork of regulatory requirements and other safety initiatives" which had evolved over the decades and which could be improved and made more consistent. Enhancing power and cooling back-up provisions was recommended, along with hardened vents for older reactors similar to those at Fukushima.
WNN 14/7/11. USA

UK sets out low-carbon power incentives
The UK government has issued a new Energy Market Reform white paper with profound implications for directing the estimated £110 billion investment in electricity infrastructure required by 2020. Its four main proposals are: a carbon floor price; feed-in-tariffs with a 'contract for difference' to stabilise financial returns from low-carbon generation; an Emissions Performance Standard to prohibit the construction of high-carbon generation; and mechanisms to ensure the provision of sufficient generating capacity nationwide. The carbon floor price has long been seen as fundamental to the economics of new UK nuclear power, with the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) not producing high enough prices to steer markets towards low-carbon power. The UK government will ensure the price is a minimum of £16 per tonne CO2 from 2013, with this set to rise steadily to £30 per tonne in 2020 and accelerating to £70 per tonne in 2030.

Feed-in tariffs (FIT) are now relatively common in several countries, giving large low-carbon producers a predictable return per kWh over a set period regardless of market prices. The contract for difference means that if the market price is lower that the agreed strike price, the government pays that difference per kWh, if the market is above the strike price the generator pays the government. They are long-term contracts which can be capped regarding quantity of power, but normally aren't. The idea is that the carbon floor price will drive the market towards any FIT or strike price level applied to clean sources, while removing exposure to gas price volatility. The Emissions Performance Standard is a 'regulatory backstop' to the other measures, setting 450 g/kWh CO2 as a limit under which new fossil-fuel plants must operate. This will allow gas but not coal without carbon capture & storage. Measures to ensure sufficient generating capacity remain to be worked out later in the year, but are likely to involve payments for dispatchable capacity. The FIT will replace the UK Renewables Obligation which requires retailers to buy a certain proportion of power from renewable sources, excluding nuclear.
WNN 13/7/11. UK

Saturday, 30 July 2011

10 Benefits of Nuclear Energy

Nuclear energy proponents are constantly put in the defensive mode when speaking or writing about nuclear energy.  I thought it's long overdue to come up with a short list of benefits from nuclear energy, not all entirely from nuclear power, that enhance our lives and enable technology that would otherwise never be possible. Some of these benefits require more explanation than I'm prepared to write so I will provide links to sources for more thorough coverage where necessary.


Many people react when I tell them I am a pro-nuclear Democrat.  They often say something about nuclear energy that I consider cliché by now like "what about the waste?" or "nuclear is dangerous, why are you for that?".  This list is for them so they can explore the benefits of nuclear energy and discover that many of the most influential supporters of nuclear energy are indeed very liberal. Liberals are labeled as haters of nuclear energy especially by conservatives. This isn't true, of course, but more importantly as liberals, by the very definition of the term, we ought to be keeping an open mind to new ideas, ideas that sometimes necessitate tolerance while your comfort zone catches up the new information you may be processing.  Many people think they know a thing or two about nuclear energy; I thought I did. Researching, taking a college course, and studying nuclear energy over the years made me realize that what I thought I knew was nothing more than second-hand ignorance. If there is one thing a liberal minded person doesn't want to be; it is intentionally ignorant.  Thus is my challenge to all those who have dismissed nuclear energy in the past without much consideration to perform at least the mental exercise of understanding its benefits.Nuclear advocates ought to promote its benefits first and explain away the profit seeking and ego fulfilling detractors secondly. The nuclear advocacy community should be on a continuous mission to educate the public about the benefits of fission.  Some people don't want this education to spread. Fossil fuel companies and renewable energy advocates fear nuclear energy, not because of any physical threat it poses, but for the financial threat it poses to them.  From the 70's-80's, nuclear energy did quite a good job at indirectly eliminating almost all oil-fired electricity generation in the United States, only to have that largely supplanted by natural gas in the 1990's.  Nonetheless, nuclear fission proved that it could kick out a very significant fossil competitor out of the electricity market within 15 years. It did this in spite of all the hurtles of poor project management, cost over-runs, regulatory challenges, and some serious bruising of its public image.  In contrast, renewable energy has been given break after break with subsidies, incentives, grants and still hasn't managed to make a significant penetration into the market. A lot of people play the blame game as to why renewables haven't made a significant impact or they will define the terms so broadly to make the claim otherwise.  The reality is that dilute forms of energy require extremely large energy gathering apparatuses and thus the laws of physics can be very unkind to the laws of economics. Just so you know, I think renewables are fine in certain applications, but many harbor unrealistic expectations for what they can ultimately accomplish.Fission energy can certainly meet up to any what's-in-it-for-me challenge. In these grim economic times, people have good reasons to be skeptical. But I believe that nuclear energy, discovered and developed in the United States of America, can deliver these benefits if given the support and opportunity to do so. It will be a struggle, there will be growing and changing pains but ultimately we will be reinventing the energy civilization as we know it. So like David Letterman does, let's start at 10 and work our way down.

10.  Nuclear energy does not emit greenhouse gases.
In this time of urgency for clean energy, this is the first reason why many have converted their support to fission power. While all sources of energy emit some greenhouse gases during some part of their life cycle, nuclear emits ZERO during the generation of electricity.  Nuclear is a powerhouse when it comes to this performance aspect - 73% of our clean electricity comes from nuclear which holds only 10% of the total generating capacity. Within 10 years nuclear fission went from generating very little power in 1966 to meeting the same output of hydro generation in 1976.  In the next 11 years to 1987, nuclear doubled its output.  I think we could do considerably better development now than in the 70-80's period.  Much has been learned and developed since then in nuclear energy and the supporting technologies that were not even available during the initial growth period of nuclear energy.

9.  Nuclear energy creates high paying jobs that will stay in America.
Electricity factories stay put. The workers cannot be shipped overseas.  Many sleepy rural towns have grown into thriving prosperous communities all because of their local nuclear power plant.  There becomes a positive economic ripple effect in the surrounding area as demand for everyday goods and services increases. Nuclear workers are paid very well with some engineers earning over $90,000 per year.  As more high skilled workers move into an area this will often attract other high technology types of businesses.  The surrounding community will be in a better position to attract these new businesses with increased tax revenues from the nuclear plant as well.  The citizens of these communities can take great pride in contributing vast quantities of clean energy and being part of the global warming solution.  

8.  Nuclear energy is a vital component of our high technology economy.
Think nuclear is only good for generating electricity? Think again.  While a power generating facility is its own industry segment, other applications of nuclear technology can be thought of as close cousins that often require research type reactors in their supply chain.  Doctors use medical isotopes made in reactors to save lives everyday by detecting and treating disease.  Smoke alarms save lives and property everyday.  Food is made safe to eat by irradiation. Products and materials are sterilized. Nuclear technology is also used in mining and the aerospace industries.  Invasive insects can be eradicated using sterile insect technique.  There are other applications in security, academic and research applications to name a few more. For an interesting lecture on more diverse nuclear applications check out this video at MIT World.

7.  Nuclear energy is the most cost effective way to reduce CO2 emissions.
Here's a quote from NEI's website: "Nuclear plants are the lowest-cost producer of baseload electricity. The average production cost of 1.87 cents per kilowatt-hour includes the costs of operating and maintaining the plant, purchasing fuel and paying for the management of used fuel."  The current fleet of reactors in the USA produces enough clean energy every year that is equivalent to removing all the exhaust from our vehicles. Other impartial sources confirm similar low costs. Uvdiv at the Capacity Factor blog compiled a chart of different sources here.  Though production costs are different from life cycle costs figures, the bottom line is the same - nuclear is very cost effective and that's including all the externalizations.  This becomes more clear in conjunction with benefit #10.

6.  Nuclear energy provides affordable electricity.

While this is almost the same as benefit #7, the bill you pay is often what matters most and not its CO2 reductions. A person has little choice to no choice regarding the source of the electricity generated to their home or workplace.  To choose emission free energy, a person might choose solar and/or wind but these choices are limited in application and expensive. Because nuclear fuel is so dense it can withstand a lot of volatility without affecting overall costs very much. Prices are predominately dictated by fuel costs in the world of fossil fuels. In the nuclear realm, costs are focused on salaries and relatively small amounts on fuel.


5.  Nuclear energy is safe.
Commercial nuclear energy in the United States has zero deaths on its record. It can never blow up like a nuclear bomb. As for other accidental deaths due to radiation contamination, one could go back as far as the 1920's when workers who painted radium tinted paint onto watch dials for glow in the dark luminescence.  The Three Mile Island accident harmed no one and can be considered a success because the plant did what it was designed to do: contain and isolate any nuclear materials from the biosphere in case of an accident. It was an expensive lesson as the reactor was lost for good but the remaining reactor is safely operating today. With over 50 years of operation and thousands of reactor years of operation, the industry prides itself on an excellent safety record.  Radioactivity is a well understood form of energy and is easily controlled with simple principles of shielding, time and distance. Yes there have been other types of accidents but still no one has been harmed from commercial nuclear power operation in the United States. 

4.  Nuclear energy is sustainable for millions of years.
Some people may be under the impression that uranium is a rare metal.  It's not.  It's about as common as copper or tin and 40 times more common than silver. All nuclear reactors do some degree of "breeding", making new fissionable fuel, Plutonium-239, from the fertile fuel of Uranium-238 in addition to using slightly enriched uranium.  The power yield from this rises steadily to around 30% of the output as the fuel bundles remain critical in the reactor.  Reprocessing or recycling of the fuel elements can extend the life of the fuel a few times over.  Much greater fission fuel production can take place with breeder type reactors.  Thorium can also be used as fertile fuel in the LFTR reactor.  With a reactor such as LFTR with Thorium, it would be possible to power all of the Earth for millions of years.  In the meantime, there is plenty of uranium resources to supply many hundreds of new conventional light water reactors for many years to come. Uranium may also be extracted from seawater, though it is not economical to do so at this time.

3. Nuclear technology is flexible for many different applications.

Nuclear energy is but one facet of nuclear technology.  Special isotopes created in reactors can be used in aerospace, manufacturing, security, medicine and agriculture.  Without nuclear medicine many 100's of thousands of people would not be alive today.  Doctors depend on a steady supply of fresh special isotopes to do their work and save lives.  Recently the supply of these isotopes from Canada has become threatened. Food irradiation prevents contamination. Many products are sterilized in manufacturing with irradiation.  Deep space satellites that use a radioactive heat source help scientists discover new things about our universe. Nuclear energy can desalinate water.  Nuclear energy can power large ocean vessels.  Cleanly produced electricity from nuclear could power plasma arc waste disposal plants to keep our environment clean.  Nuclear fuel gets hot and stays hot for years, thereby allowing for a wide variety of reactor designs for different applications. We cannot afford to let our expertise fall behind in any of these areas if America wants to be a strong contributor to the 21st century global economy.


2. Nuclear energy is capable of providing greater energy independence.
It is important for all energy sources, not just nuclear, to put the qualifier "greater" before energy independence as striving for 100% energy independence just for the sake of being fully independent doesn't play out well with economic realities.  But to put a big dent in the money transfer for foreign oil, we will have to employ a very smart combination of bio and synthetic fuels, more efficient vehicles, more hybrid vehicles, better batteries, some electric vehicles, less highway congestion and more public transport, offset coal powered electric generation with nuclear generation, some coal to liquids using nuclear process heat, and increased domestic oil production.  In short, there is no easy fast fix but the more coal and gas that we take off the grid, then the more coal and gas will be available to power advanced and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles.  This will take decades but if we do not have a comprehensive plan to de-fossil our electric grid then that will lower the success factor of running cleaner vehicles as well. 

1. Nuclear energy is the densest form of usable energy known.

This is perhaps the least obvious benefit to the lay person but becomes more apparent as one gains a better understanding into the nature of energy. Denser forms of energy prevent energy sprawl.  Very little uranium needs to be mined to last a very long time and the mining footprint for uranium is tiny compared to oil, gas and coal. Dilute forms of energy like photovoltaic panels and wind turbines would require vast surface and land areas with the hope of gaining the same power output from one nuclear power plant.  The intermittency of renewable energy complicates grid reliability.  There are some 1500 coal fired boilers in the United States and it would only take about 200 new nuclear power plants to eliminate all of them.  As I've mentioned before on this blog, I am not against renewable energy but I believe it is a mistake to apply it for massive electricity generation for which it is not well suited.


Thursday, 28 July 2011

Malaysia go for nuclear?

Putrajaya, March 15 - Malaysia is taking note of the Japan nuclear crisis when implementing its plan to build 2 nuclear power plant in future,Deputy Prime Mini Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin said today. He hat while the government is concerned about public safety and is watching developments in Japan, he remained confident that Malaysia would implement what is the best for the country. The deputy prime minister stressed that the government would learn from Japan to ensure public safety.

" I thing it is something which every country in the world is taking note of, what is happening in Japan. there are many things that we can learn but what is important is the safety of the country and the people.  
" In this matter, we have an agency that is responsible and they know what they are doing and we are confident that they will implement what is the best." he told reporters during press conference today.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Peter Chin had also said that "the government will not do it secretly without informing the public". He added that the Malaysia Nuclear Power Corporation had opened a tender to international consultants to conduct a study on the location, suitability and safety of the location, type of technology and public acceptance of the proposal.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Buletin Nuclear Energy~


Should Malaysia go nuclear to meet its future energy demands? That question has been the focus of heated political debate in Malaysia for the past eight years. Mahathir Mohamad, who served as prime minister from 1981 to 2003, was firmly committed to a non-nuclear Malaysia. But since his departure, his successors have made some moves toward nuclear energy production. In December 2010, for example, Peter Chin, the country's energy minister, announced plans to build two 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plants by 2022. A month later, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the establishment of the Malaysian Nuclear Power Corporation, which will lead the planning process.
The Fukushima nuclear accident, however, has raised new doubts about whether Malaysia is ready for nuclear power. Malaysian experts disagree over the need for nuclear power plants, and their potential impact on public safety and the environment. There is little doubt that Malaysia must develop new energy sources to meet its future energy demands without relying on costly foreign imports. But these demands can be met with renewable energy instead.
A history of successful energy policy. In any debate over Malaysian energy policies, three important documents are always used as points of reference. The first was Malaysia's 1979 National Energy Policy, the objective of which was to ensure an adequate, secure, and cost-effective supply of energy -- as well as to promote energy efficiency while discouraging wasteful and unproductive patterns of energy consumption. The second key document was the 1981 four-fuel diversification policy, which was formulated to reduce over-dependence on a single fuel source by developing four types of energy: hydropower, oil, natural gas, and coal. Finally, the third reference point was the five-fuel diversification policy introduced in 2000, which included renewable energy (except hydropower) as a fifth energy source.
These three policies have worked well to fulfill the energy demands of the country, and have received widespread support. But now that nuclear power is being considered as Malaysia's sixth fuel, there is no longer general agreement on energy policy. Three main groups have emerged: one that strongly favors the development of nuclear energy, another that supports nuclear energy but is concerned about safety and environmental effects, and a third group that rejects any moves toward nuclear power in Malaysia.
The need for nuclear. 
Proponents of nuclear power point to the current energy situation in Malaysia as evidence that new energy sources must be developed. Government officials believe that Malaysia's current energy sources will not be sustainable beyond 2020, and that the depletion of the nation's fossil-fuel resources is a threat to national security.
Analysts predict that escalating global oil prices will force Malaysia to become a net oil importer in the years to come. Malaysia uses oil mainly in the transportation sector, and relies on natural gas and coal (along with hydropower) to generate electricity. However, government officials have expressed concern that the cost of coal and gas is likely to soar in the coming decades, as supply fails to keep up with demand. Malaysia's coal imports, which held steady for many years, have grown rapidly in the past two years. Natural gas is currently the largest energy source for the country, but national gas fields may be depleted by 2027, which would leave the country unable to meet petrochemical industry demand and commitments for exports of liquefied natural gas.
Because of these gathering storms, there is no doubt that Malaysia urgently needs new sources of energy to assuage its future energy demands, and nuclear energy seems a very attractive alternative -- particularly since the neighboring countries of Vietnam and Thailand have already announced plans to bring their first nuclear plants online by 2020, and Indonesia intends to construct a plant on Java Island by 2015. Nevertheless, for Malaysia, the prudent management of current energy resources -- to ensure that they are sustainable over the long term -- deserves serious consideration as an alternative to nuclear energy.
The dangers of a nuclear Malaysia. 
Even before the Fukushima accident, anti-nuclear lobbyists in Malaysia raised concerns about the potential for an accident like the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Going nuclear is highly risky for any country, and would be especially problematic for Malaysia -- a nation less capable of coping with a nuclear accident than countries such as Japan and Russia.
The most formidable challenge is how to get rid of nuclear waste that cannot be recycled and therefore would need to be stockpiled. To date, nobody has come up with a method for safely disposing of highly radioactive wastes from nuclear plants.
The radiation cleanup under way in Bukit Merah, in north-central Malaysia, is a cautionary tale. A rare earth refinery there, which contaminated the surrounding area with radioactivity, is blamed for a rash of birth defects, miscarriages, and leukemia cases. Mitsubishi Chemical closed the refinery in 1992 and has buried some radioactive materials inside a nearby hill. This summer the company plans to entomb more than 80,000 steel barrels of radioactive waste in the hill.
Another challenge is how to protect a nuclear power plant from earthquakes, which can damage reactor containment structures and expose the nation to the risk of radiation leaks. Areas around Janda Baik and Bentong, towns in the Malaysian state of Pahang, have experienced minor quakes twice in the past few years. Volcanic eruptions in nearby Indonesia have also shaken some areas, although Malaysia is not located in the Pacific "ring of fire" that is home to most of the world's volcanoes. Malaysia cannot afford to risk building a nuclear plant in an area that could be vulnerable to a volcano or earthquake; the consequences would be too devastating.
A better choice. 
Despite all the criticisms and concerns expressed by the general public as well as by activist groups, the Malaysian government has not been able to provide any assurances that nuclear power will be safe and environmentally friendly. If government officials persist in going nuclear without providing satisfactory assurances, they will likely face unwelcome political repercussions.
Public opposition has intensified since the earthquake and tsunami in Fukushima. Japan is a much more technologically advanced nation than Malaysia, yet it has struggled to cope with the ongoing disaster. Had a similar accident happened in a less developed nation, the crisis may have been even worse.
Malaysia's neighbors have decided to forge ahead with nuclear power. But Malaysian anti-nuclear lobbyists believe that, unlike neighboring countries, Malaysia has plenty of energy reserves -- perhaps as much as a 40-percent margin over consumption, twice the government's estimate -- and will not face any power shortages in the near future. That makes construction of a nuclear reactor completely unnecessary, these lobbyists argue.
Malaysia's power usage is currently about 14,000 megawatts out of a total generating capacity of 23,000 megawatts.The Bakun Dam, nearing completion in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, will add another 2,400 megawatts of capacity. Located on the Balui River, the Bakun Dam will be the tallest concrete-faced rock-fill dam in the world, and the largest Asian dam of any kind outside of China. The plan is to send the electricity through cables crossing the South China Sea to the Malaysian Peninsula, where there is more demand than in Malaysian Borneo. Several other giant dams are also planned for the jungles of Borneo, together adding another 4,600 additional megawatts of generating capacity to the Malaysian portfolio.
Malaysia is also exploring other renewable energy options PDF including biomass, biogas, mini-hydropower systems, solar photovoltaics, and generating electricity from municipal waste. The total generating potential for these renewable resources is more than 9,000 megawatts.
The problem with nuclear energy, compared with all other sources of electricity, is that when things do go wrong, the consequences are far, far worse. Fortunately, Malaysia has safer choices available. By focusing on improvements in efficiency -- and investing in renewable energy sources such as in solar, wind, and hydropower -- Malaysia can continue to meet its growing energy demands well into the future.