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900 Ton Containment Vessel Bottom Head Installed At Vogtle 3 123

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the awe-inspiring-scale dept.
Yesterday, Georgia Power announced that they successfully lifted the first part of the Vogtle Unit 3 containment vessel into place. From World Nuclear News: "The component — measuring almost 40 meters wide, 12 meters tall and weighing over 900 tons — was assembled on-site from pre-fabricated steel plates. The cradle for the containment vessel was put in place on the unit's nuclear island in April. The completed bottom head was raised by a heavy lift derrick and placed on the cradle on 1 June, Georgia Power announced." Georgia Power has a pretty cool gallery of high resolution construction photos (the bottom head is the background on my XBMC machine). Below the fold there is a video of the crane moving the bottom head into place.

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900 Ton Containment Vessel Bottom Head Installed At Vogtle 3

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  • by Richy_T (111409) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @12:50PM (#43915769) Homepage

    No idea.

    • Re:Nuclear Wessel? (Score:5, Informative)

      by flayzernax (1060680) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @12:56PM (#43915833)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogtle_Electric_Generating_Plant#Units_3_and_4 [wikipedia.org]

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AP1000 [wikipedia.org]

      http://www.ap1000.westinghousenuclear.com/ [westinghousenuclear.com]

      I'm glad their going ahead with this design. Hopefully it's good. I live on the same geographic sub unit. Though I won't benefit from this probably because the energy produced there is never coming this way.

      It is not the perfect design perhaps. But its updated compared to the ones people were raving about in the 60's and 70's.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by interval1066 (668936)
        Yeah, you've thoughtfully provided links, that's great and all, and I will look at them; even so, I'm in the camp that's going "Wtf...?" Its a little like dropping an alien life form in the middle of your aunt & uncle's living room and you and your friends all nodding to each other going "Yeah, it all makes sense now..." and "I thought they'd look like that...", meanwhile your poor aunt and uncle are staring at the thing and going "What the hell are they talking about...?"
        • I was being a bit of a smart Alic because I knew what the article was about. Sorry =) I honestly didn't expect much mods and figured other people would put forth much more informative responses. Which they eventually did.

      • As usual, the cheapest and most unsafe design legally allowed will be built. The AP1000 sell sheet brags about the tremendous cost savings incurred by eliminating expensive safety features due to a simpler, better design. GE touted the costs savings of the thinner, less expensive containment vessels in their BWRs (as used at Fukushima) back in the day on the same basis.

        Yet, also as usual, it still can't be done profitably without massive taxpayer assistance in the form of loan guarantees, liability limita

        • by taiwanjohn (103839) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @03:29PM (#43917189)

          We probably could build safe reactors

          Yes, we can build safe reactors, just not water-cooled reactors. Fission reactions are "just getting warmed up" by the time water starts boiling. That is a bad combination. This is why water-cooled reactors have to operate at 100+ atmospheres of pressure. Just taking water out of the equation makes fission several orders of magnitude simpler and safer to use.

          That's why we should be working on new designs based on molten salt cooling, such as LFTR [wikipedia.org]. Of course we aren't doing that because too many corporations with deep pockets and long tentacles prevent Congress from funding the research. But not to worry... China has a multi-billion-dollar program underway with a thousand PhD's working on it. So eventually we'll be able to buy the reactors from them.

          Still, it would be a shame to have to buy from them, when they're just commercializing technology that we (the USA) invented 50~60 years ago.

          • Or gas cooled. Those work pretty well, too.

          • by Solandri (704621) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @05:21PM (#43918253)

            Yes, we can build safe reactors, just not water-cooled reactors. Fission reactions are "just getting warmed up" by the time water starts boiling. That is a bad combination. This is why water-cooled reactors have to operate at 100+ atmospheres of pressure. Just taking water out of the equation makes fission several orders of magnitude simpler and safer to use.

            That's why we should be working on new designs based on molten salt cooling

            Water is a popular cooling medium because its specific heat is higher than just about anything else [engineeringtoolbox.com]. If you want to transport a large amount of heat energy from one place to another, heated water is about the best way to do it.

            The fact that water vaporizes when overheated or depressurized is a safety mechanism too. When water vaporizes, it absorbs nearly 7x as much energy as it takes to heat water from room temperature to boiling (2260 kJ/kg vs 4.19 kJ/kg*C). Or nearly 2x the energy it takes to heat water from room temperature to the operating temp of a pressurized water reactor [mit.edu]. So a leak or depressurization of the water automatically and instantly results in cooling.

            The large volumetric change when water vaporizes is also ideal for driving a generator. Volume change = mechanical work, which is easily captured by a turbine. Without a volume change, you're left trying to capture energy via an inefficient and bulky Stirling engine.

            So yeah molten salt reactors have a lot going for them. But the use of water for cooling isn't because of some grand conspiracy. Water is just an extremely good medium for cooling and converting thermal energy into mechanical work, and was the obvious choice when reactors were being designed ~50 years ago.

            • by Kaenneth (82978)

              What about combining the two? Molten Salt closer to the reactor/radiation, cycling to heat water, which then drives the turbines?

              • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                by Anonymous Coward

                A great idea as long as you can guarantee the heat exchanger with molten salt on one side and hot water on the other side never let the two mix - because when they do, it asplodes.

                • by Anonymous Coward

                  Then use molten lead like submarines. I'll take flash steam event over a 100ATM pressure vessel detonation any day of the week. Did I mention that molten lead has too high of a boiling point to ever suffer from the supercritical steam problem which caused Three Mile Island and Fukashima to burp Xeon? If you don't boil the coolant, you don't have to worry about the fuel rods oxidizing and your Corium problem disappears. SCRAM the reactor and the latent heat will passively convection cool and safely thermally

              • That is how it works. The turbines are always steam driven.

            • I don't know how bad stirling engines are now (I thought we had some with at least the efficiency of combustion. Or thermal accoustic engines, or myriad other ways of extracting energy. It seems like a matter of: Water + Turbines is an age old and well developed technology that requires very little R&D. The parts are cheap and out of patent. And we know it works and its fairly efficient and has very few unknowns.

              But that does not eliminate other methods as being safer or in fact more efficient once deve

          • we should be working on new designs based on molten salt cooling, such as LFTR [wikipedia.org]. Of course we aren't doing that because too many corporations with deep pockets and long tentacles prevent Congress from funding the research.

            Nice conspiracy theory, but it's in an electric utility's self-interest to use safer, more efficient designs. I suppose the coal-mining industry would be opposed to safer, more efficient fission. Are those the "deep-pocketed corporations" you're referring to?

        • by Artifakt (700173) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @04:17PM (#43917541)

          One of the big reasons they won't be profitable without state sponsorship is the military applications of enriched Uranium. The US made Energy a whole cabinet level entity chiefly because of nuclear prolifieration issues. Any effort by the far right in the US to "drown government in a bathtub" runs into the problem of how you can have a tiny federal government with a multi-billion dollar Dept. of Energy.
                    ( As a small proof of these statements, the total budget for DOE 2014 is a tad over 26 Billion dollars, and the portion of it that is for dealing with weapons and prolifieration related activities is the largest single section of that total at just over 11 billion.)

                                                                                                  http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2013/04/f0/FY14_DOE_Budget_Highlights_Final.pdf [energy.gov]

            (If readers want to cut to the chase, try the table on page 19). Interested people may note that the costs of all kinds of energy generation and of environmental activities are grouped together as one section, but they still come out smaller even lumped together, than the 'blowing things up and stopping other people from doing the same back at us' section does. Scientific research is smaller yet, only about a sixth of the budget. Then there's the question, how much of that environmental clean up and scientific research is actually to support the military parts of DoE activites and maybe ought to show up as another cost of war and proliferation?

                  Those costs are going to be incurred so long as the US runs a Nuclear Navy, has H-bombs in its arsenal, and wants to stop various 'rogue nations and state sponsored action groups' from getting their hands on the resulting materials. Stop all civilian energy research (of all kinds, not just nuclear) and all civilian nuclear power plants cold, and you still have that 11 billion, plus its share of general administration costs, internal safety inspections, workforce health compliance, and such. The complex legal procedures for civilian nuclear involve taking fees that are supposed to help offset other DoE costs, then giving more back in exchange, more that is paid for by common taxation, so that it is very hard to say just how much of the grants actually go to the civil corporations and how much of them involves using the corps as a pass through to transfer money back to the military side.
                        No other power generation technology faces this problem. We don't have to worry about the costs of military prolifieration of, say, wind or hydro technologies. But, what will happen if we start having to pay to prevent dirty coal projects in other countries? What if, for example, the US starts taking Kyoto seriously and wants to really cut coal prolifieration? About the only options we would have (short of just stopping all those nations from building enough powerplants of any sorts to keep their people alive), would be to let some of them develop nuclear plants. Those costs would then again be counted as part of our nuclear power costs. In other words, A large part of the cost of reducing other nations dirty coal emissions and greenhouse gasses would show up in the US budget as a nuclear proliferation control cost, even if the US completely stopped building or running all civilian nuclear plants on its own soil. Our economic system isn't just built to reward dangerous cost cutting, it is built to push costs that are only tangentially related to nuclear power into counting as 'Nuclear power' costs. That alone means Nukes will never be economically viable without taxation, but it's an artifact of the way we do the budget.

  • by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @12:56PM (#43915823)

    Am I supposed to know what they are talking about here? Where is this going? Why? What is a bottom head used for? Vogtle Unit 3?? I feel like Lord Helmet in Spaceballs shouting "WHO??" in confusion just before his mask falls.

    • Re:Bottom head? (Score:4, Informative)

      by cheesybagel (670288) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @12:58PM (#43915855)

      Unit 3 means it is the third reactor in the power plant. Vogtle is the name of the power plant (probably the name of the place it is located in). Apparently there are already 2 units installed there with Generation II reactors and they are now in the process of construction another two units with Generation III reactors of the Westinghouse AP1000 design.

      • Re:Bottom head? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by firewrought (36952) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @01:39PM (#43916227)

        Unit 3 means it is the third reactor in the power plant. Vogtle is the name of the power plant (probably the name of the place it is located in). Apparently there are already 2 units installed there with Generation II reactors and they are now in the process of construction another two units with Generation III reactors of the Westinghouse AP1000 design.

        Vogtle was President/Chairman of Southern Company, Georgia Power's parent company. (Southern tends to name most of their plants after company bigwigs.) Apparently, he was a real POW who inspired [wikipedia.org] the motorcycle dude in The Great Escape.

      • Unit 3 means it is the third reactor in the power plant.

        I managed to guess that but what I really don't understand is why building a nuclear power station is really news worthy. We've had nuclear power for quite a while and, as far as I can tell, this isn't even a new type of reactor just a different design using established technology.

        • by Dishevel (1105119)

          what I really don't understand is why building a nuclear power station is really news worthy.

          You will understand why it is news worthy once figure out how long it has been since the last bit of "New" nuclear power was built.

          • You will understand why it is news worthy once figure out how long it has been since the last bit of "New" nuclear power was built.

            1995 - not that long ago, at least in the UK.

        • Well it is a Generation III nuclear power plant. It still uses LWR (liquid water reactor) technology like the old Generation II nuclear power plants but it uses passive safety systems instead of pumps to ensure the core is cooled down in an emergency. AFAIK there has been no new nuclear power plant construction in the US since the 1980s and this is the first new reactor being built since then. The AP1000 design hasn't been built before in the US although there are some plants in construction in China.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The bottom head goes under the top head.

      Sheesh.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It's a blerry summary. There's a nice wikipedia link in the first line, and it goes to the relevant section of the page, and a decent article about the whole thing. Stop wanting to be spoon-fed every little factoid and become an independent thinker.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Am I supposed to know what they are talking about here?

      No. Play with your gadgets and go back to sleep. The story is about power generation. Nothing you need to worry yourself about.

      Wind and solar, wind and solar, wind and solar...

    • I have to agree, Slashdot articles is getting more and more cryptic and the editing is non existent! Not even the smallest attempt at explaining what is being referenced. It's a summary for a reason, you should only need to Google if you want more information, not to find out what the hell it's talking about! Maybe that's part of the fun?

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      Am I supposed to know what they are talking about here? Where is this going? Why? What is a bottom head used for? Vogtle Unit 3?? I feel like Lord Helmet in Spaceballs shouting "WHO??" in confusion just before his mask falls.

      This is a story about an energy plant installing a single piece of metal into a hole in the ground. Somehow, we are in awe that this took place. The fact that it is foundation for the first Nuclear reactor built by a private electric utility company in about 35 years might have something to do with it.

    • Am I supposed to know what they are talking about here? Where is this going? Why? What is a bottom head used for? Vogtle Unit 3??

      Yes you should know, it was used as the background on his XBMC machine, duh!

  • What? Where? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @01:05PM (#43915915) Homepage

    Yesterday, Georgia Power announced that they successfully lifted the first part of the Vogtle Unit 3 containment vessel into place.

    Ah, good. What? This is presumably something to do with nuclear power - as it's come from Nuclear World News - but are they building a reactor or a waste site?

    Is this Georgia, the U.S. state? Or Georgia the country, perhaps? Or is it actually somewhere completely unrelated to anywhere called Georgia, but where the company called Georgia Power just happen to be working?

    When I was a rugrat, "bottom head" was just something I called my brother when he was being mean.

    • Re:What? Where? (Score:5, Informative)

      by malakai (136531) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @01:15PM (#43916021) Journal

      The key points missing from this summary is that this is the first Generation III+ reactor being built in the US. The only reason it was allowed to be built was it's an existing site, and had already planned reactor 3 and 4. There's still a general no build moratorium on new reactor sites in the US.

      This is the AP1000 which is sort of the "So you want to run a nuclear reactor, For Dummies" type of reactor.

      They are very difficult to break. Even if operators do nothing, the reactor will go through a set of procedures ( at times with explosive bolts) to disable the reaction and cool for 72 hours. After that, a helicopter will need to drop water on the top of the tank to keep the gravity well fed.

      See more info here on wiki [wikipedia.org].

      • Still sounds like too many active systems involved though.

        Totally passive reactors seem like the only safe way to do it.

      • The key points missing from this summary ...

        Yes, but the key points included in the summary are that OP uses it as the background for his XBMC machine! Shouldn't everyone know that?!

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        > There's still a general no build moratorium on new reactor sites in the US

        Not true. And more are on the way.

        The NRC has moved to a combined license to construct and operate which makes the developer(s) spend quite a bit more money up front, but there is no moratorium on new nukes. For more info check out the NRC website: http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-reactors/col.html

      • by Creepy (93888)

        Yep - with the US abandoning all (government funded) research on Gen IV reactors based on whacko-liberal "facts" over a decade ago (some only applied to Gen II reactors, let alone Gen III or higher, and thank you John Kerry for your ignorance when presenting these) and continuing to use 1950s technology (Gen II reactors), I had my doubts we'd ever build another reactor in the US. I can't say the AP1000 is my favorite of the Gen III+ models, as it seems to cut a lot of corners, it is still probably safer tha

        • by nojayuk (567177)

          I believe the ban on commercial reprocessing in the US was lifted by Reagan. However it costs a lot to reprocess spent fuel and currently mined uranium is ridiculously cheap so it's not cost-effective by itself. The reduction in waste volume and hence the cost of storage can help defray some of the differential -- the US has something like 700,000 tonnes of unprocessed spent fuel in storage whereas France which has reprocessed most of its commercial nuclear spent fuel has only a few thousand tonnes of high-

        • by mhotchin (791085)

          The ban on reprocessing is I think less about it being stolen from a US plant, and more about "since the US doesn't do it they can steamroll others into not doing it" - actors like North Korea, for example, or even Japan. Proliferation, rather than security.

          That said, I still think the ban is stupid - if we don't trust somebody with a reprocessing plant, why do we trust them not to do it anyway?

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        This is the AP1000 which is sort of the "So you want to run a nuclear reactor, For Dummies" type of reactor.

        This is the problem with the way reactors are run. You need experts who really understand how it works and how to deal with problems on site at all times. You can design all the safety features you want in, but if something you didn't plan for happens you don't want dummies trying to deal with it.

        The other problem with the AP1000 design is the same one that affected Fukushima. When there is a failure sensors and indicators sometimes fail. You then have a bunch of people in the dark (literally) and without t

      • by tp1024 (2409684)

        You won't need a helicopter. There is a water pipe at the bottom, where you only need to plug in a fire pump to pump water up to the roof of the building and you're done. No high-pressure shenganians required to cool this one.

    • Re:What? Where? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Antipater (2053064) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @01:19PM (#43916051)

      The Vogtle [wikipedia.org] complex is a group of nuclear reactors in Georgia, the US state, at the border with South Carolina. There are 2 older-generation plants operating there already (1.2GW capacity each), and Georgia Power is building two more using Westinghouse's AP1000 design. These are the first new nuclear power plants built in the US since Three Mile Island.

      The bottom head is, more or less, the reactor's "floor".

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Unit means reactor. Vogtle is a nuclear power site in the state of GA.

      How a post that "Help, I am ignorant and unwilling to google" got modded up I will never know.

      • How a post that "Help, I am ignorant and unwilling to google" got modded up I will never know.

        Perhaps because most people think you shouldn't have to head to another website to even glean the most basic understanding of what a summary about or where the events detailed are taking place. Having to infer which field of science the summary relates to based on the title of the source is pretty poor, too.

    • they just put little crumbs of fuel rods in your power bill each month. if you have been saving them unpaid, you can probably shake each envelope out into a cereal bowl, and have a really awesome science project that kills all your competition.

    • Interestingly, I knew exactly where this is and was able to generate the missing info from the context, only because I grew up about 60 miles from this plant. When I was a kid I'd climb on top of a giant hill in south Augusta, GA, and on a clear day you could see the cooling towers from the power plant off in the distance.

      Richmond County kids were always jealous of the Burke County kids, because their high school was so much nicer. It was paid for with nuclear money and was nicknamed "The Mall." (The co
  • Crane (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PcItalian (1835114) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @01:08PM (#43915955)
    Laron helped build the Crane that is lifting that 900 Ton vessel, and I just so happen to work for Laron :)
    • Re:Crane (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Antipater (2053064) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @01:26PM (#43916131)
      /highfive

      As someone who works on cranes myself, I was more interested in the lift than in the actual thing being constructed. Got any specs on that sheerleg? It looks like a monster. My eyes aren't good enough to count the number of falls, but just the boom structure has me ballparking its capacity at what, 2000 tons?

  • I assume this is the outer containment vessel? I had been lead to believe that the containment vessel was made from a single piece by articles like this [bloomberg.com] one. In fact this [ukap1000application.com] pdf from the UK seems to indicate that Japan Steel Works is in fact a supplier for AP1000.

    • by imikem (767509)

      You are probably thinking of the reactor vessel, rather than the containment vessel. The reactor vessels are all currently made by Japan Steel Works as they appear to be the only provider capable of manufacturing the 230 mm steel required for the job.

      Vaguely related subject – I wish we could get a LFTR built to evaluate.

    • by Nit Picker (9292)

      The Bloomberg article has somewhat confused terminology. The forged item they seem to mean is the reactor PRESSURE vessel, which during operation contains the core surrounded by water at approx. 100atm.
      The bottom head belongs to the CONTAINMENT vessel, which in normal operation contains air at near atmospheric pressure, along with the pressure vessel and other components. During an accident, the pressure would rise, but to a much lower pressure than the pressure vessel routinely holds. The idea is that t

    • by TopSpin (753)

      That Bloomberg story is about the reactor pressure vessel [wikipedia.org] or RPV, the part the contains the reactor core. These authors write poorly and got it wrong calling it the "containment vessel."

      This Slashdot story is about the AP-1000 containment vessel, not the RPV. The vessel [world-nuclear-news.org] is 36 meters wide and 65 meters tall. Nothing on Earth can make a single piece of forged steel that large.

      The RPVs specified for the AP-1000 are unusual. RPVs are traditionally welded [nrc.gov].

      Reactor pressure vessels, which contain the nuclear fuel in nuclear power plants, are made of thick steel plates that are welded together.

      RPVs for other common reactor designs such as CAN

  • Doc Brown? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @01:28PM (#43916145)

    "Southern Nuclear lists the capacity as 1,215 MW"

    Now, all they need is a flux capacitor...

  • Okay, maybe I'm just paranoid. Alright, no maybe, I am, I'm really good at it and I get paid ("Is adept at risk identification") to be that way.

    Seriously though, who thought it was a good idea (Don't get me wrong here those pics are awesome) to post anywhere, hi-res photos of the construction of nuclear reactor? Is the NRC asleep at the console?

    • by mhotchin (791085)

      I'm not sure what your concern is - why *not* post such photos?

      If you think that the publication of the photos would be a security concern, then I'd be *way* more concerned that an approved design would have such security concerns. Like crypto, the best security systems are immune to outside inspection. They should work even if the attacker has your blueprints.

  • Imagine how much alternative energy you could have funded with that but noooo, the US got to build more reactors :P
    • Imagine the hundreds of motionless-landscape-ruining windmills that won't be needed now that this will be running in a few years.
  • That is some impressive engineering. One of my cousins is a machinist on the AP1000 factory line, it's a great design except that it's not a fast-breeder. Despite Fukushima, nuclear power continues to be one of our best options, if not the best.

  • Not everybody is following the nuclear news and is familiar to "Vogtle" and whatever it is these people are building.
    As I read the story, I first wondered if it was talking about the new Tchernobil sarcophagus, then maybe something to cover Fukushima, then understood it was some new reactor somewhere and wondered _why_ it was slashdot worthy news (still don't know).
  • I could see them having a big stir fry. They could get into the Guiness record book as the world's largest wok.
  • I was part of the team that went through the punch list to bring Unit 1 at Vogtle on line. I was in almost every room and pipe chase big enough to climb through, went to the bottom of the reactor vessel and looked up the pipes to the 4 coolant pumps prior to fueling, watched the valves on top of the pressurizers get upgraded because they were the ones that failed at 3 Mile Island, supervised the tightening of leaky check valves under the coolant pumps while they were running, amazed that you could get enoug

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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