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Power Technology

NRC Approves New Nuclear Reactor Design 299

hrvatska writes "The NY Times has an article about the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval of the design of Westinghouse's AP1000 reactor for the U.S., clearing the way for two American utilities to continue the construction of projects in South Carolina and Georgia. The last time a nuclear power plant in the U.S. entered service was 1996. The AP1000 was discussed on Slashdot a few years ago."
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NRC Approves New Nuclear Reactor Design

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  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @09:43PM (#38467422)
    It is not a new design, it's just the newest of the old designs (1980s via Toshiba in Japan) that haven't had a single reactor commissioned yet. The first AP1000 is due to start running in the next year or two. Things move slowly in civilian nuclear power so it's just about the first design to take the lessons from Chenobyl into consideration.
    We wouldn't even have this level of civilian nuclear technology if it hadn't been bought off the Japanese. For some reason the US Nuclear Lobby mostly descended to the level of mere rent seekers in the 1980s so the only hope for advancement there is small startups based on military technology or input from overseas.
  • Re:Progress (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 22, 2011 @10:26PM (#38467636)

    SUPO was an aqueous solution reactor tested at los alomos some time ago, although not for very long. it appeared to be self stabilizing, the closer it got to critical, the more bubbles were formed in the solution, which caused it to move further from critical.

  • Re:Progress (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Friday December 23, 2011 @01:48AM (#38468562)

    What I always wondered is why "spent" fuel (really an exotic blend of lighter, but still strongly radioactive materials that cannot sustain catalyzed fission) is glass cast, then buried.

    The stuff has a half like of 10 million years? Sounds like a fantastic core for an RTG to me.

    Make the glass cast waste able to be extracted from the RTG enclosure by making it modular, so that the core can be retained while the shell is disposed of/replaced when it wears out. The shell would be radically less raiological, and useful energy could be passively extracted from the spent waste, potentially for centuries.

    But that would make sense. A large battery of rtgs in a warehouse could power a small city for pennies.

    No. Instead we spend billions on fossil fuel instead.

  • Re:Progress (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Friday December 23, 2011 @02:11AM (#38468686)
    the passive system of the Ap1000 also depends on someone topping off the water tank within 72 hours of primary coolant failure. if that doesn't happen, guess what happens?
  • Re:Progress (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Friday December 23, 2011 @02:15AM (#38468720)
    most spent fuel is in storage, pool or cask. It actually *can* sustain fission under the right conditions, and breed more fuel as it does so. That's why we should *not* make long term storage for it, but instead burn "spent fuel" in truly advanced reactors, which will have the benefit of turning it into waste with mere decades rather than millenia of needed isolation time.
  • Re:Progress (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday December 23, 2011 @05:59AM (#38469598)

    That is fear mongering if I've ever seen it. Keeping water topped up is amongst the simplest things that can be done in an emergency. Even more so when you have 3 days to plan it.

    I was working at a refinery when they pulled a heat exchanger out and the isolation valve was completely stuffed. Cooling water was pissing out the side and the level in the cooling tower was dropping fast. The first thing the operator did was open up a fire monitor and aim it at the cooling tower to re-fill the basin. That was done within 3 minutes. A call was placed to the local fire brigade as well incase the fire monitor couldn't keep up the flowrate (which in this case it just managed to do).

    That was a 3 minute response time. I wonder what you could come up with in 3 days if you really needed to. The important thing about this is that it's simple and there's no engineering involved.

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984