Nuclear power

  • Georgia’s Plant Vogtle may determine future of nuclear energy

    Analysts say that the future of the U.S. nuclear industry, and of nuclear power generation in the United States, will largely depend on the success of two reactors, called Vogtle 3 and 4, at the Alvin Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia. For the nuclear industry, the Plant Vogtle project and another project in South Carolina may be the last hope of what many analysts consider to be a dying energy source.

  • Understanding next-generation nuclear fuel

    The long search for the location of a rare element within nuclear fuel particles has ended. Researchers have finally pinpointed where silver congregates inside irradiated particles of a new type of nuclear fuel. The finding will help scientists better understand how select fission products such as silver can escape from tristructural isotropic (TRISO) fuel. This specialized fuel could run high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) that have numerous enhanced safety features.

  • California’s San Onofre nuclear power plant retired due to safety concerns

    Southern California Edison (SCE) has decided it will retire the San Onofre nuclear power plant located on the California coast. The decision comes after officials debated for over a year whether the twin reactors could be safely restarted. The power plant is located in a populated area, with millions living near it.

  • Fukushima-derived radioactivity in seafood poses minimal health risks

    Researchers find that the likely doses of radioactivity ingested by humans consuming fish contaminated by radioactive radiation escaping from the debilitated Fukushima reactors fish, are comparable to, or less than, the radiological dosages associated with other commonly consumed foods, many medical treatments, air travel, and other background sources.

  • A “cauldron of events” has brought the nuclear industry to a halt

    Until two years ago, people talked of a nuclear energy renaissance. Now the talk is about nuclear malaise. The Fukushima scare, the emergence of alternative energy sources as a result of fracking, and the lack of action on climate change – which means that limits on fossil fuels are not coming any time soon – have, in the words of one experts, brought the nuclear industry to a halt.

  • Reducing the volume of nuclear waste

    The nuclear industry seeks to minimize the volume of nuclear waste by extracting the radioactive elements from spent fuel.This relies on exploiting differences in the chemical bonding of uranium. Scientists have found that in some circumstances the bonding may be surprisingly similar, an important discovery which is going to be important in the amelioration of nuclear waste clean-up and devising new atom-efficient catalytic cycles.

  • U.S., South Korea delay nuclear fuel deal

    The president of South Korea, Park Geun-Hye, has been campaigning to get the United States to lift the ban on South Korea from enriching uranium and processing spent nuclear fuel. The ban was part of a 1972 treaty, which was set to expire next March. A deal appeared to be on the way at some point this year, but officials from both countries said the deadline would be extended to 2016. What did not help the negotiations were statements by some South Korean officials that the country should build its own nuclear weapons reather than rely on U.S. nuclear umbrella.

  • Energy Department to invest in used nuclear fuel storage research

    As part of its efforts to develop an effective strategy for the safe and secure storage and management of used nuclear fuel, the Energy Department the other day announced a new dry storage research and development project. In the Energy Department’s budget request presented last week, the department requested $60 million for nuclear waste research and development.

  • Former NRC chairman: all 104 U.S. nuclear reactors suffer from “irreparable” safety issues

    According to former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) chairman Gregory Jaczko, all 104 nuclear reactors in the United States currently have irreparable safety issues and should be shut down and replaced. Jaczko was the NRC chairman from 2009 through 2012.

  • Critics: Fukushima-influenced U.S. nuclear accident response procedures are flawed

    The U.S. government is using the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan two years ago as a model for rewriting its plans on how to respond to radiation contamination — emphasizing long-term cleanup and return of residents to affected areas instead of emergency response. Critics say this is a mistake.

  • Nuclear fusion could power a rocket to take humans to Mars

    NASA estimates a round-trip human expedition to Mars would take more than four years using current technology. The sheer amount of chemical rocket fuel needed in space would be extremely expensive — the launch costs alone would be more than $12 billion. Now, astronauts could be a step closer to our nearest planetary neighbor through a manipulation of nuclear fusion, the same energy that powers the sun and stars.

  • U.S. nuclear industry faces a wave of nuclear power station retirements

    A wave of U.S. nuclear power station retirements is on the horizon. The typical design life of a nuclear power plant is 40 years. There are 104 nuclear power plants in the United States, and their average age is 34 years — only a few years short of, and fast approaching, their design life. Almost 30 U.S. commercial and research reactors already have started decommissioning. A $400 million is regarded as the bargain basement price tag for cleaning up a single reactor.

  • U.K. outlines its long-term nuclear future

    Over the next two decades it is forecast that, globally, there will be £930 billion investment in building new reactors and £250 billion in decommissioning those that are coming off line. The nuclear new build program in the United Kingdom alone could generate up to 40,000 jobs in the sector at its peak. Government publishes industrial strategy to enable the UK to seize the opportunities for economic growth in the nuclear industry.

  • Day of the nuclear battery nears

    Experts in nuclear physics have helped develop research toward a “nuclear battery,” which could revolutionize the concept of portable power by packing in up to a million times more energy compared to a conventional battery.

  • Instead of a renaissance, U.S. nuclear energy industry is facing tough times

    Five years ago, U.S. nuclear industry executives and energy industry analysts talked about an American nuclear renaissance, with up to twenty new reactors to be added to the nation’s stock. Things are very different today, however, and the U.S. nuclear energy industry, rather than expanding, is fighting to hold on.