Difference between revisions of "Nuclear Energy"

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== Fission ==
 
== Fission ==
  
Uranium has several isotopes, all of which are unstable, making it (weakly) radioactive. (See [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium Wikipedia] for details.) The most commonly found isotopes are Uranium 238 and a smaller concentration (less than three-quarters of a percent) of Uranium 235. The latter is "fissile": it has a certain probability of spontaneously splitting up into smaller atoms, releasing neutrons in the process, and its splitting up ("fission") can be triggered by it being hit by a neutron, releasing yet more neutrons which can split more U-235 atoms, in a chain reaction. The reaction also releases a lot of energy (gram for gram, 1.5 million times as much as burning coal).
+
[[File:Nuclear fission.svg|thumb|right|upright=0.7|How a neutron splits a Uranium-235 atom producing more neutrons|alt=A diagram showing a chain transformation of uranium-235 to uranium-236 to barium-141 and krypton-92]]
  
[[File:Nuclear fission.svg|thumb|left|upright=0.7|How a neutron splits a Uranium-235 atom producing more neutrons|alt=A diagram showing a chain transformation of uranium-235 to uranium-236 to barium-141 and krypton-92]]
+
Uranium has several isotopes, all of which are unstable, making it (weakly) radioactive. (See [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium Wikipedia] for details.) The most commonly found isotopes are Uranium 238 and a smaller concentration (less than three-quarters of a percent) of Uranium 235. The latter is "fissile": it has a certain probability of spontaneously splitting up into smaller atoms, releasing neutrons in the process, and its splitting up ("fission") can be triggered by it being hit by a neutron, releasing yet more neutrons which can split more U-235 atoms, in a chain reaction. The reaction also releases a lot of energy (1.5 million times as much as burning the same weight of coal).
  
 
Plutonium-239 is another fissile isotope. It doesn't occur naturally but can be produced when neutrons hit Uranium-238 atoms. Isotopes like U-238 and Thorium-232 are known as "fertile" because they can transmute into fissile isotopes (Pu-239 and U-233, respectively) when hit by neutrons.
 
Plutonium-239 is another fissile isotope. It doesn't occur naturally but can be produced when neutrons hit Uranium-238 atoms. Isotopes like U-238 and Thorium-232 are known as "fertile" because they can transmute into fissile isotopes (Pu-239 and U-233, respectively) when hit by neutrons.
 +
 +
{{Clear}}
  
 
=== Fast, moderate and thermal ===
 
=== Fast, moderate and thermal ===
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* Fuel: Uranium, Plutonium, Thorium etc
 
* Fuel: Uranium, Plutonium, Thorium etc
* Solid or molten fuel
+
** Uranium: natural or enriched (and how much)
 +
** Fuel: solid or molten
 
* Fast or slow (thermal) spectrum neutrons
 
* Fast or slow (thermal) spectrum neutrons
** Moderator (in thermal reactors): regular (light) water, heavy water, graphite etc
+
** (For Thermal reactors): Moderator: regular (light) water, heavy water, graphite etc
 
* Heat transfer/coolant medium: gas or liquid
 
* Heat transfer/coolant medium: gas or liquid
 
** Heat transfer gas: Helium, CO2 etc
 
** Heat transfer gas: Helium, CO2 etc
 
** Heat transfer liquid: light or heavy water, liquid metal: sodium, lead, mixture etc, molten salt: fluoride, chloride, mixture etc
 
** Heat transfer liquid: light or heavy water, liquid metal: sodium, lead, mixture etc, molten salt: fluoride, chloride, mixture etc
 +
* Purpose/product: experimental, research, isotopes, electricity, heat etc
 
and, last but not least:
 
and, last but not least:
 
* whether they are a paper (or academic) reactor or a real (practical) one.
 
* whether they are a paper (or academic) reactor or a real (practical) one.
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: ''On the other hand a practical reactor can be distinguished by the following characteristics: (1) It is being built now. (2) It is behind schedule. (3) It requires an immense amount of development on apparently trivial items. (4) It is very expensive. (5) It takes a long time to build because of its engineering development problems. (6) It is large. (7) It is heavy. (8) It is complicated.''
 
: ''On the other hand a practical reactor can be distinguished by the following characteristics: (1) It is being built now. (2) It is behind schedule. (3) It requires an immense amount of development on apparently trivial items. (4) It is very expensive. (5) It takes a long time to build because of its engineering development problems. (6) It is large. (7) It is heavy. (8) It is complicated.''
  
== Reactor history ==
+
== Real Reactors ==
  
 
Probably the simplest reactors, and certainly the earliest - by almost 2 billion years -- were those at Oklo, in Gabon in West Africa.
 
Probably the simplest reactors, and certainly the earliest - by almost 2 billion years -- were those at Oklo, in Gabon in West Africa.
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In our classification (above) the Oklo reactors were solid Uranium fuelled, thermal spectrum using light water as moderator and heat transfer medium (and Real).
 
In our classification (above) the Oklo reactors were solid Uranium fuelled, thermal spectrum using light water as moderator and heat transfer medium (and Real).
 +
 +
{{Clear}}
  
 
=== Man-made reactors ===
 
=== Man-made reactors ===
 +
 +
The earliest artificial reactor was the [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Pile-1 Chicago Pile] experimental reactor, built as part of the WW2 Manhattan Project to build an atomic bomb.  It used about 50 tonnes of Uranium, with graphite as a moderator, and produced half a watt of power.
 +
 +
==== Pressurised and Boiling Water reactors ====
 +
 +
After WW2 in the United States the first use of nuclear reactors was as propulsion for submarines, allowing them to stay submerged for days or weeks at a time and to cross oceans without surfacing, unlike earlier diesel-electric designs which had limited range and duration while submerged.
 +
 +
The [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Nautilus_(SSN-571) USS Nautilus] was the first nuclear powered submarine, launched in 1954. It used a [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pressurized_water_reactor Pressurised Water Reactor]. PWRs were used at the US' first commercial power station at [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shippingport_Atomic_Power_Station Shippingport] (which also later housed a Thorium-fuelled [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breeder_reactor#Thermal_breeder_reactor thermal breeder reactor]).
 +
 +
Pressurised Water Reactors are widely used in the USA, France, Germany, Russia, China, South Korea and many other countries, as well as in military submarines and aircraft carriers, and icebreakers.
 +
 +
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling_water_reactor Boiling Water Reactors] are similar to PWRs but have a simpler heat transfer/cooling system. They are widely used in Japan, including in the Fukushima Daiichi reactors which suffered [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Daiichi_nuclear_disaster meltdowns] after being hit by the tsunami generated by the [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_T%C5%8Dhoku_earthquake_and_tsunami 2011 Tohoku earthquake].
 +
 +
PWRs and BWRs are solid, low-enriched-Uranium fuelled, thermal spectrum using light water as moderator and heat transfer medium, designed to produce electricity.
 +
 +
==== Magnox and AGRs ====
 +
After the war Britain built gas-cooled graphite-moderated pile reactors using un-enriched ("natural") Uranium, at [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windscale_Piles Windscale] (one of which suffered a near-catastrophic [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windscale_fire fire] in 1957). These led to the design of Britain's [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnox Magnox] reactor, which was used in the first commercial-scale power reactor in the world at [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sellafield#Calder_Hall_power_station Calder Hall] (at what is now called the Sellafield nuclear plant).
 +
 +
Magnox reactors are solid, natural Uranium fuelled, thermal spectrum using graphite as moderator and CO2 as heat transfer medium, designed to produce plutonium as well as electricity.
 +
 +
The [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Gas-cooled_Reactor Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor] is a development of the Magnox intended to be better at producing electricity whilst dropping the function of producing plutonium.
 +
 +
AGRs are solid, low-enriched-Uranium fuelled, thermal spectrum using graphite as moderator and CO2 as heat transfer medium, designed to produce electricity.
 +
 +
==== CANDU ====
 +
 +
The [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CANDU_reactor Canada Deuterium Uranium] reactor is a pressurised water design using [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heavy_water heavy water] as moderator and heat transfer medium to generate electricity. The basic CANDU design uses natural Uranium.
 +
 +
----
 +
See also:
  
 
[http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2015/12/08/nuclear-power-reactor-technology-1950-1953-part-1/ Nuclear Power Reactor Technology, 1950-1953 (Part 1)]
 
[http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2015/12/08/nuclear-power-reactor-technology-1950-1953-part-1/ Nuclear Power Reactor Technology, 1950-1953 (Part 1)]

Revision as of 17:43, 8 October 2019


We get energy from coal, oil, gas, wood and other plant matter, and hydrogen etc, by reacting their chemical molecules with Oxygen (usually), to produce heat (or in the case of fuel cells, electricity).

Nuclear energy is produced by the splitting or combining of atoms themselves. The combining of atoms is fusion and is the subject of experiment and development, but the technology is probably decades away from producing useful amounts of energy.

The splitting of atoms is fission and is the basis of our current nuclear power stations.

Another process in which atoms split is the spontaneous decay of radioactive isotopes, including some of the Carbon and Potassium atoms in our bodies (and in bananas). The heat generated by radioactive decay (of Plutonium) is used to power some spacecraft including the Voyagers and the Curiosity Mars rover.

Fission

A diagram showing a chain transformation of uranium-235 to uranium-236 to barium-141 and krypton-92
How a neutron splits a Uranium-235 atom producing more neutrons

Uranium has several isotopes, all of which are unstable, making it (weakly) radioactive. (See Wikipedia for details.) The most commonly found isotopes are Uranium 238 and a smaller concentration (less than three-quarters of a percent) of Uranium 235. The latter is "fissile": it has a certain probability of spontaneously splitting up into smaller atoms, releasing neutrons in the process, and its splitting up ("fission") can be triggered by it being hit by a neutron, releasing yet more neutrons which can split more U-235 atoms, in a chain reaction. The reaction also releases a lot of energy (1.5 million times as much as burning the same weight of coal).

Plutonium-239 is another fissile isotope. It doesn't occur naturally but can be produced when neutrons hit Uranium-238 atoms. Isotopes like U-238 and Thorium-232 are known as "fertile" because they can transmute into fissile isotopes (Pu-239 and U-233, respectively) when hit by neutrons.

Fast, moderate and thermal

When a Uranium-235 atom splits, the neutrons it releases travel fast, and they are far less likely to make another U-235 atom split than slower-moving neutrons would do. In a mass of concentrated U-235 (such as in an atom bomb) there can be enough neutrons making atoms split and releasing more neutrons etc for a chain reaction to occur, but with less concentrated Uranium (containing less of the U-235 isotope mixed with more of the non-fissile U-238) nothing will happen. (This is why ordinary nuclear reactor fuel can't be used to make a bomb.)

However if some of the neutrons emitted by splitting U-235 atoms are slowed down before hitting other atoms they are about 1,000 times more likely to make them split and sustain a chain reaction. Slower neutrons are called "thermal" and the slowing-down process is called "moderating". Water and graphite are good at slowing down neutrons so most nuclear reactors use either water (which can also be used to transfer heat) or graphite as moderators.

Breeders and Burners

Fast neutrons can be captured by various atoms and turn them into other isotopes. This process can burn up radioactive isotopes (such as those in the spent fuel of conventional reactors) which are hard to dispose of, and by the process of "neutron activation" it can turn fertile isotopes such as U-238 into fissile ones such as Plutonium-239. The latter process is called "breeding" and is designed to occur in "fast breeder" reactors, although it also happens in conventional ("thermal spectrum") ones.

Types of Reactors

There are many sorts of fission reactors which have been tried, and a huge variety which have been proposed, and it may help to divide them by important characteristics:

  • Fuel: Uranium, Plutonium, Thorium etc
    • Uranium: natural or enriched (and how much)
    • Fuel: solid or molten
  • Fast or slow (thermal) spectrum neutrons
    • (For Thermal reactors): Moderator: regular (light) water, heavy water, graphite etc
  • Heat transfer/coolant medium: gas or liquid
    • Heat transfer gas: Helium, CO2 etc
    • Heat transfer liquid: light or heavy water, liquid metal: sodium, lead, mixture etc, molten salt: fluoride, chloride, mixture etc
  • Purpose/product: experimental, research, isotopes, electricity, heat etc

and, last but not least:

  • whether they are a paper (or academic) reactor or a real (practical) one.

Paper v. Real reactors

US Admiral Hyman Rickover, who brought nuclear reactors for the navy and civilian power stations to reality, observed that:

An academic reactor or reactor plant almost always has the following basic characteristics: (1) It is simple. (2) It is small. (3) It is cheap. (4) It is light. (5) It can be built very quickly. (6) It is very flexible in purpose. (7) Very little development will be required. It will use off-the-shelf components. (8) The reactor is in the study phase. It is not being built now.
On the other hand a practical reactor can be distinguished by the following characteristics: (1) It is being built now. (2) It is behind schedule. (3) It requires an immense amount of development on apparently trivial items. (4) It is very expensive. (5) It takes a long time to build because of its engineering development problems. (6) It is large. (7) It is heavy. (8) It is complicated.

Real Reactors

Probably the simplest reactors, and certainly the earliest - by almost 2 billion years -- were those at Oklo, in Gabon in West Africa.

The geology of the Oklo reactors:
(1) reactor zones
(2) Sandstone
(3) Uranium ore layer
(4) Granite

These comprised veins of rock rich in Uranium ore, into which water permeated. The water acted as a moderator, slowing neutrons released by spontaneous fission and creating a chain reaction. The reaction released heat which boiled the water off until the reaction stopped, until the rocks cooled and water returned to start the reaction again. It is estimated that the reactors ran for hundreds of thousands of years, until the U-235 in the rocks had been burned up too much to sustain further activity.

The same thing could not happen now. Uranium-235 has a half life of about 700 million years compared to 4.5 billion years (the same as the age of the Earth) for U-238, so whilst natural Uranium now contains only about 0.7% U-235, at the time of the Oklo reactors the concentration was around 3%, which is similar to that used in present-day light-water reactors and sufficient to sustain reactions.

The Oklo reactors probably produced less than 100kW of heat, compared to several GW in modern man-made reactors (about one-third of which gets converted to electricity).

In our classification (above) the Oklo reactors were solid Uranium fuelled, thermal spectrum using light water as moderator and heat transfer medium (and Real).

Man-made reactors

The earliest artificial reactor was the Chicago Pile experimental reactor, built as part of the WW2 Manhattan Project to build an atomic bomb. It used about 50 tonnes of Uranium, with graphite as a moderator, and produced half a watt of power.

Pressurised and Boiling Water reactors

After WW2 in the United States the first use of nuclear reactors was as propulsion for submarines, allowing them to stay submerged for days or weeks at a time and to cross oceans without surfacing, unlike earlier diesel-electric designs which had limited range and duration while submerged.

The USS Nautilus was the first nuclear powered submarine, launched in 1954. It used a Pressurised Water Reactor. PWRs were used at the US' first commercial power station at Shippingport (which also later housed a Thorium-fuelled thermal breeder reactor).

Pressurised Water Reactors are widely used in the USA, France, Germany, Russia, China, South Korea and many other countries, as well as in military submarines and aircraft carriers, and icebreakers.

Boiling Water Reactors are similar to PWRs but have a simpler heat transfer/cooling system. They are widely used in Japan, including in the Fukushima Daiichi reactors which suffered meltdowns after being hit by the tsunami generated by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.

PWRs and BWRs are solid, low-enriched-Uranium fuelled, thermal spectrum using light water as moderator and heat transfer medium, designed to produce electricity.

Magnox and AGRs

After the war Britain built gas-cooled graphite-moderated pile reactors using un-enriched ("natural") Uranium, at Windscale (one of which suffered a near-catastrophic fire in 1957). These led to the design of Britain's Magnox reactor, which was used in the first commercial-scale power reactor in the world at Calder Hall (at what is now called the Sellafield nuclear plant).

Magnox reactors are solid, natural Uranium fuelled, thermal spectrum using graphite as moderator and CO2 as heat transfer medium, designed to produce plutonium as well as electricity.

The Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor is a development of the Magnox intended to be better at producing electricity whilst dropping the function of producing plutonium.

AGRs are solid, low-enriched-Uranium fuelled, thermal spectrum using graphite as moderator and CO2 as heat transfer medium, designed to produce electricity.

CANDU

The Canada Deuterium Uranium reactor is a pressurised water design using heavy water as moderator and heat transfer medium to generate electricity. The basic CANDU design uses natural Uranium.


See also:

Nuclear Power Reactor Technology, 1950-1953 (Part 1)

Why did the US abandon a lead in reactor design? Cheryl Rofer; Physics Today; 7 Aug 2015

Sometime in the late 1960s, a great shakeup occurred in nuclear reactor research. [T]he Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory at that time ... was suddenly dissolved. ... The key player was Milton Shaw, who directed the Atomic Energy Commission’s (AEC) Reactor Development and Testing Division (RDTD) at that time. Shaw refocused the US civil nuclear program toward a single goal of the liquid-metal fast breeder reactor, making a number of strategic mistakes that have had long-term safety consequences for the industry.

Reactor Types

Nuclear Reactor Wikipedia

Nuclear power IET

An introduction to nuclear power technologies
A wide range of nuclear issues, ranging from the use of nuclear power in the UK, decommissioning of nuclear power stations, the nuclear fuel cycle, a glossary of nuclear terms, and the decay rate of Uranium238.

Nuclear reactor types IET

Introduction to the various types of nuclear reactors worldwide and information on prototype designs
Many different reactor systems have been proposed and some of these have been developed to prototype and commercial scale. Six types of reactor (Magnox, AGR, PWR, BWR, CANDU and RBMK) have emerged as the designs used to produce commercial electricity around the world. A further reactor type, the so-called fast reactor, has been developed to full-scale demonstration stage. These various reactor types will now be described, together with current developments and some prototype designs.

What is a nuclear reactor? Overview of common reactor types

What is a fission reactor a fission reactor and how does it fission reactor and how does it work? and how does it work? Sense About Science

Summary of predominantly UK sold-fuel reactor types

Generation II reactor Wikipedia

From comments by Matt Fuller on an Energy Matters post:

Thorium has gained a lot of publicity in the past few years. It shows some promise, but is possibly overhyped. Fission reactors currently come in two flavours, thermal-neutron-spectrum (most of them) and fast-neutron-spectrum (only a few left in the world, all in Russia as far as I know.) Thermal spectrum reactors have fissile U235 (about 5%) mixed with non-fissile U238. As they “burn” the U235, some of the U238 is converted to fissile plutonium Pu239 and also burned. However, less fissile fuel is created then burned and eventually the fuel rods need changing. Fast-spectrum reactors can actually create more Pu239 than the U235 they use up, and so are known as “fast breeders”. A fast breeder can therefore eventually burn ALL its uranium by converting it into plutonium.
Thorium is not in fact fissile. It’s strength is that it can be converted to fissile U233 in a thermal spectrum reactor. You can in fact mix some thorium into conventional fuel rods in pressurised water reactors and it will be converted and burned. This works better in heavy-water type reactors such as Canada’s CANDU, and the Indian reactors are also heavy-water types.
In theory then, you can run a thermal-spectrum reactor with thorium and a little fissile U235 (or U233, or Pu239) to start off, and ALL the thorium will eventually be converted and burned. Nothing’s quite so simple though: whether using uranium in a fast-spectrum breeder, or thorium in a thermal-spectrum breeder, you have to make sure you don’t end up with too much fissile material in your reactor, and you have to get rid of all the fission-product “ashes” or they’ll build up and interfere with the reaction. That means you have to be continuously cycling and reprocessing the fuel, which is messy and hazardous.

and

Thorium has also been publicised alongside an entirely different design of reactor, the Molten salt reactor. Instead of having your fuel as solid oxide pellets sealed in zirconium tubes, you have your fuel as a molten salt. This has some advantages – gaseous fission products bubble out and can be captured, operating temperature is higher, can run at atmospheric pressure, volatile fission products are chemically bound, meltdown is no longer a failure mode. Molten salt reactors don’t have to use thorium though, and so far only experimental reactors have ever been run. The Netherlands experiment is not a molten salt reactor. Instead they are irradiating a molten salt in a conventional research reactor to see how it responds. The Indian reactor, as already mentioned, is a heavy-water reactor that can use thorium.

Types of Nuclear Reactors Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

Nuclear reactors serve three general purposes. Civilian reactors are used to generate energy for electricity and sometimes also steam for district heating; military reactors create materials that can be used in nuclear weapons; and research reactors are used to develop weapons or energy production technology, for training purposes, for nuclear physics experimentation, and for producing radio-isotopes for medicine and research. The chemical composition of the fuel, the type of coolant, and other details important to reactor operation depend on reactor design. Most designs have some flexibility as to the type of fuel that can be used. Some reactors are dual-purpose in that they are used for civilian power and military materials production. The two tables below give information about civilian and military reactors.

Classification of Reactors according to Neutron Flux Spectrum NuclearPower.net

From the physics point of view, the main differences among reactor types arise from differences in their neutron energy spectra. In fact, the basic classification of nuclear reactors is based upon the average energy of the neutrons which cause the bulk of the fissions in the reactor core. From this point of view nuclear reactors are divided into two categories:
Thermal Reactors. Almost all of the current reactors which have been built to date use thermal neutrons to sustain the chain reaction. These reactors contain neutron moderator that slows neutrons from fission until their kinetic energy is more or less in thermal equilibrium with the atoms (E < 1 eV) in the system.
Fast Neutron Reactors. Fast reactors contains no neutron moderator and use less-moderating primary coolants, because they use fast neutrons (E > 1 keV), to cause fission in their fuel.

What is Called Nuclear Waste is Mostly Unused Fuel for Molten Salt and Fast Reactors Brian Wang; Next Big Future; 14 Jun 2019

About 20 fast neutron reactors (FNR) have already been operating, some since the 1950s, and some supplying electricity commercially. Over 400 reactor-years of operating experience has been accumulated. Fast reactors more deliberately use the uranium-238 as well as the fissile U-235 isotope used in most reactors. If they are designed to produce more plutonium than the uranium and plutonium they consume, they are called fast breeder reactors (FBRs). But many designs are net consumers of fissile material including plutonium.* Fast neutron reactors also can burn long-lived actinides which are recovered from used fuel out of ordinary reactors.
Uranium 235 is naturally fissile. Easily fissioned with low energy neutrons.
Uranium-235 fissions with low-energy thermal neutrons because the binding energy resulting from the absorption of a neutron is greater than the critical energy required for fission; therefore uranium-235 is a fissile material. Uranium-238 is a fissionable material but not a fissile material.
A fast neutron is a free neutron with a kinetic energy level close to 1 MeV (100 TJ/kg), hence a speed of 14,000 km/s, or higher. They are named fast neutrons to distinguish them from lower-energy thermal neutrons, and high-energy neutrons produced in cosmic showers or accelerators.

Fast Neutron Reactors World Nuclear Association; ~ 2015? updated Apr 2019

encyclopedic discussion of fast reactors

Generation IV Nuclear Reactors World Nuclear Association; updated May 2019

Generation IV International Forum

The Generation IV International Forum (GIF) is a co-operative international endeavour which was set up to carry out the research and development needed to establish the feasibility and performance capabilities of the next generation nuclear energy systems.

Existing Nuclear

IPCC

Nuclear Power IPCC Working Group III: Mitigation

  • Present Situation
  • Nuclear Economics
  • Waste Disposal

SR15 Chapter 4 IPCC

4.3.1.3 Nuclear Energy
Many scenarios in Chapter 2 and in AR5 (Bruckner et al., 2014) project an increase in the use of nuclear
power, while others project a decrease. The increase can be realised through existing mature nuclear
technologies or new options (generation III/IV reactors, breeder reactors, new uranium and thorium fuel
cycles, small reactors or nuclear cogeneration).
Even though historically scalability and speed of scaling of nuclear plants have been high in many nations,
such rates are currently not achieved anymore. In the 1960s and 1970s, France implemented a programme to
rapidly get 80% of its power from nuclear in about 25 years (IAEA, 2018), but the current time-lag between
the decision date and the commissioning of plants is observed to be 10-19 years (Lovins et al., 2018). The
current deployment pace of nuclear energy is constrained by social acceptability in many countries due to
concerns over risks of accidents and radioactive waste management (Bruckner et al., 2014). Though
comparative risk assessment shows health risks are low per unit of electricity production (Hirschberg et al.,
2016), and land requirement is lower than that of other power sources (Cheng and Hammond, 2017), the
political processes triggered by societal concerns depend on the country-specific means of managing the
political debates around technological choices and their environmental impacts (Gregory et al., 1993). Such
differences in perception (Kim and Chung, 2017) explain why the 2011 Fukushima incident resulted in a
confirmation or acceleration of phasing out nuclear energy in five countries (Roh, 2017) while 30 other
countries have continued using nuclear energy, amongst which 13 are building new nuclear capacity
including China, India and the United Kingdom (IAEA, 2017; Yuan et al., 2017).
Costs of nuclear power have increased over time in some developed nations, principally due to market
conditions where increased investment risks of high-capital expenditure technologies have become significant.
‘Learning by doing’ processes often failed to compensate for this trend because they were slowed down by the
absence of standardisation and series effects (Grubler, 2010). What are and have been the costs of nuclear
power is debated in the literature (Lovering et al., 2016; Koomey et al., 2017). Countries with liberalised
markets that continue to develop nuclear employ de-risking instruments through long-term contracts with
guaranteed sale prices (Finon and Roques, 2013). For instance, the United Kingdom works with public
guarantees covering part of the upfront investment costs of newly planned nuclear capacity. This dynamic
differs in countries such as China and South Korea, where monopolistic conditions in the electric system allow
for reducing investment risks, deploying series effects and enhancing the engineering capacities of users due
to stable relations between the security authorities and builders (Schneider et al., 2017).
The safety of nuclear plants depends upon the public authorities of each country. However, because
accidents affect worldwide public acceptance of this industry, questions have been raised about the risk of
economic and political pressures weakening the safety of the plants (Finon, 2013; Budnitz, 2016). This raises
the issue of international governance of civil nuclear risks and reinforced international cooperation involving
governments, companies and engineering (Walker and Lönnroth, 1983; Thomas, 1988; Finon, 2013), based 
on the experience of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

IEA

Nuclear IEA

Nuclear fission is a mature technology that has been in use for more than 50 years. The latest designs for nuclear power plants build on this experience to offer enhanced safety and performance, and are ready for wider deployment over the next few years. There is great potential for new developments in nuclear energy technology to enhance nuclear’s role in a sustainable energy future. Nevertheless, important barriers to a rapid expansion of nuclear energy remain. Governments need to set clear and consistent policies on nuclear to encourage private sector investment. Gaining greater public acceptance will also be key, and this will be helped by early implementation of plans for geological disposal of radioactive waste, as well as continued safe and effective operation of nuclear plants.

ROADMAP OVERVIEW AND ROLE OF NUCLEAR IN IEA SCENARIOS Cecilia Tam; IEA; 2014

slideshow

Technology Roadmap: Nuclear Energy

Since the release in 2010 of Technology Roadmap: Nuclear Energy (IEA/NEA, 2010), a number of events have had a significant impact on the global energy sector and on the outlook for nuclear energy. They include the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (NPP) accident in March 2011, the global financial and economic crises that hit many industrialised countries during the period 2008-10 and failings in both electricity and CO2 markets. Despite these additional challenges, nuclear energy still remains a proven low-carbon source of base-load electricity, and many countries have reaffirmed the importance of nuclear energy within their countries’ energy strategies.
To achieve the goal of limiting global temperature increases to just 2 degrees Celsius (°C) by the end of the century, a halving of global energy-related emissions by 2050 will be needed. A wide range of low-carbon energy technologies will be needed to support this transition, including nuclear energy.

Technology Roadmap - Nuclear Energy IEA; 2015

Current trends in energy supply and use are unsustainable. Without decisive action, energy related emissions of carbon dioxide will nearly double by 2050 and increased fossil energy demand will heighten concerns over the security of supplies. We can change our current path, but this will take an energy revolution in which low carbon energy technologies will have a crucial role to play. Energy efficiency, many types of renewable energy, carbon capture and storage, nuclear power and new transport technologies will all require widespread deployment if we are to sharply reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Economics *

Time To Build

Historical construction costs of global nuclear power reactors Jessica R.Lovering et al; Energy Policy; Apr 2016

The existing literature on the construction costs of nuclear power reactors has focused almost exclusively on trends in construction costs in only two countries, the United States and France, and during two decades, the 1970s and 1980s. These analyses, Koomey and Hultman (2007); Grubler (2010), and Escobar-Rangel and Lévêque (2015), study only 26% of reactors built globally between 1960 and 2010, providing an incomplete picture of the economic evolution of nuclear power construction. This study curates historical reactor-specific overnight construction cost (OCC) data that broaden the scope of study substantially, covering the full cost history for 349 reactors in the US, France, Canada, West Germany, Japan, India, and South Korea, encompassing 58% of all reactors built globally. We find that trends in costs have varied significantly in magnitude and in structure by era, country, and experience. In contrast to the rapid cost escalation that characterized nuclear construction in the United States, we find evidence of much milder cost escalation in many countries, including absolute cost declines in some countries and specific eras. Our new findings suggest that there is no inherent cost escalation trend associated with nuclear technology.


How long does it take to build a nuclear power plant? Euan Mearns; Energy Matters; 27 Jul 2016

374 out of 441 reactors were built in 10 or less than 10 years. There is a tail of 15% that have taken longer to build.
18 reactors were completed in 3 years! 12 of those in Japan, 3 in the USA, 2 in Russia and 1 in Switzerland. These are a mixture of boiling water and pressurised water reactors.
The mean construction time of 441 reactors in use today was 7.5 years.

How long does it take to build a nuclear power plant? A non-parametric event history approach with P-splines Paul W.Thurner et al; Energy Policy; July 2014

Governments deciding to use nuclear energy as part of their country׳s energy mix are faced with long-term planning efforts and huge investments. As nuclear power plants constitute one of the socially and politically most contested technologies, the question arises, which time horizons companies as well as politicians have to consider for the accomplishment and grid-connection of individual and whole fleets of reactors. Unfortunately, there are no large-N studies investigating the time for completion of such large-scale projects. For the first time, we statistically explain the duration of the construction of all initiated nuclear plant projects so far. Based on the International Atomic Energy׳s comprehensive Power Reactor Information System (PRIS) we assess the impact of demographic, economic, and political preconditions of a country, at the same time accounting for different types of reactor technologies. To account for non-linear relationships, we apply non-parametric survival models with P-splines. A main result of our analysis is that time of connection to grid increases over the years indicating increased societal sensibilities, respect for higher security standards, and increased project complexities. The Harrisburg and the Chernobyl disaster did not induce a separate additional delaying effect.

technology

This New Fuel could make nuclear power safer and cheaper Richard Martin; MIT Technology Review; 31st Mar 2016

Lightbridge has developed a metallic fuel for nuclear reactors that it claims will tackle some of the industry’s biggest challenges, but safety questions remain

MOX

MOX Battle: Mixed Oxide Nuclear Fuel Raises Safety Questions John Matson; Scientific American; 25 Mar 2011

One of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi reactors contains a blend of uranium and plutonium fuel that may soon find use in the U.S. Does it pose more risks than standard uranium fuel?

US

"Nuclear Power as a Solution to Climate Change: Why the Public Discussion is Such a Mess" Karen Street

Can our need for a carbon-free future override our fears of nuclear energy? Debbie Carlson; The Guardian; 12 Sep 2016

Unlike coal and natural gas plants that emit carbon emissions while producing electricity, nuclear generates none. So why aren’t more states getting onboard?

Tritium Radioactive leaks found at 75% of US nuke sites

Indian Point

Indian Point nuclear plant called "disaster waiting to happen" CBS News

New York's Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant Is Leaking, But You Shouldn't Freak Out Gizmodo

Working for Natural Gas Interests, Former Cuomo Aides Lobbied to Kill Indian Point Nuclear Plant Environmental Progress; 6 Jan 2017

Environmental Progress (EP) has learned that two top former aides to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo worked with a major Cuomo campaign contributor, the natural gas company Competitive Power Ventures, to close Indian Point nuclear plant.
The New York Times reported today that Indian Point's operator had agreed to close the plant, bowing to intense pressure from Cuomo.
Mention of the episode is an a federal criminal indictment filed by Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, on September 22, 2016.
"Based on my review of publicly available documents and my interviews of witnesses," wrote the US attorney, "including employees of [Competitive Power Ventures], the importance of the [CPV Valley Energy Center] to the State depended at least in part, on whether [Indian Point] was going to be shut down."
The indictment suggests that Competitive Power Ventures and the Cuomo administration both recognized that if Indian Point were taken off line, it would be replaced by natural gas, not imported hydro and wind, as an anonymous source told the New York Times.

BREAKING: Closure of Indian Point Would Spike Power Emissions 29%, Reversing 14 years of Declines Environmental Progress; 8 Jan 2017

If New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo succeeds in his effort to close Indian Point nuclear power plant, carbon emissions will spike and the state will become more dependent on fossil fuels than it has been since 2000, a new Environmental Progress (EP) analysis finds.
EP finds:
  • New York's dependence on fossil fuels will rise from 44 percent to 56 percent of its electricity mix;
  • New York will lose 23 percent of its clean power;
  • Power sector carbon emissions will skyrocket 29 percent, from 31 to 40 million metric tons;
  • Twice as many emissions will be added as are required to be reduced under EPA's Clean Power Plan.
The replacement power for Indian Point is likely to come mostly from natural gas power plants, not renewables, including the CPV Energy Center, which is at the heart of a federal corruption investigation.
Indian point produces four times more power than all of New York's wind, and 236 times more power than all of New York's solar. New York is uniquely unsuited for solar, where it produces power just 15 percent of the year on average, according to New York's Independent System Operator

Diablo Canyon

Greens target license renewal for Diablo Canyon nuclear plant

Watts Bar

TVA's Watts Bar Unit 2 achieves commercial operation Ed Marcum; Knoxville News Sentinel; 19 Oct 2016

TVA began construction of the Unit 2 reactor in 1973, but stopped in 1985 because power demand had slowed, but costs associated with nuclear plants rose. TVA resumed work on the reactor in 2007 after deciding that it could be completed at a cost of $2.5 billion. However, TVA announced a revised budget and schedule in 2012, when the federal utility determined the project was $1.5 billion to $21 billion over budget and about three years behind schedule.TVA re-estimated that cost at nearly $4.5 billion with commercial operation to begin by June of this year. Since then, TVA managed to keep the project close to the new budget and schedule, although in February, the TVA board authorized an additional $200 million after flood prevention steps required after the Fukushima nuclear plant accident added to the initial cost.

The First U.S. Nuclear Plant In 20 Years Goes Online Zainab Calcuttawala; Oilprice; 19 Oct 2016

Roughly 650,000 homes in Tennessee will be powered by the first nuclear power generator to enter into commercial operation in the United States in 20 years, according to a new report by The Hill. The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar 2 reactor will produce 1,150 megawatts of power, the company’s announcement on Wednesday said. The Nuclear Energy Institute counts Watts Bar 2, which formally connected to Tennessee’s power grid in June, as the 100th nuclear power reactor to operate in the United States.

Vogtle

Multiple milestones for Vogtle 3 and 4 World Nuclear News; 29 Mar 2016

POLICY

Final Clean Power Plan Drops Support For Existing Nuclear Plants Jeff McMahon; Forbes; 3 Aug 2015

Canada

Ontario

See also Energy Mix: Ontario

Report outlines Ontario nuclear refurbishment benefits and risks World Nuclear News; 22 Nov 2017

A new report by Ontario's Financial Accountability Office (FAO) has confirmed the province's plan to refurbish ten nuclear reactors at Bruce and Darlington, and extend the life of six reactors at Pickering will provide the a long-term supply of relatively low-cost, low emissions electricity over the period to 2064.
An Assessment of the Financial Risks of the Nuclear Refurbishment Plan looks at how financial risk would be allocated among ratepayers, the province, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Bruce Power. The FAO estimates the plan will result in nuclear generation supplying a "significant proportion" of Ontario's electricity demand from 2016 to 2064 at an average price of CAD80.7 ($63.3) per MWh, in 2017 Canadian dollars.

France

Fessenheim


Bugey

Finland

Nuclear Power in Finland Wikipedia

Finland Plans Phaseout Of Coal With Nuclear To Help Fill Gap Neutron Bytes; 10 Sep 2017

(NucNet) Finland will introduce legislation in 2018 to phase out coal and increase carbon taxes with additional nuclear capacity from two new reactors.
Riku Huttunen, director-general of Finland’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, told Reuters that the current strategy is to get rid of coal by 2030 and that the process will be started by legislation due next year.
According to the International Energy Agency, Finland is highly dependent on imported fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – with coal producing about 10% of the country’s consumption.
To cope with the gap left by coal, Finland will have to increase the amount of energy produced from other fuel sources, Mr Huttunen was quoted as saying.
Nuclear power could take up the slack as two new reactors – the Olkiluoto-3 EPR and the Russia-supplied Hanhikivi-1– are scheduled to come online in 2018 and 2024.
Finland wants to increase its energy security by relying less on imports. Around 70% of coal is imported from Russia. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Finland’s four existing nuclear units at Olkiluoto and Loviisa accounted for almost 34% of electricity production in 2016.

Belgium

Belgium to give iodine pills to entire population in case of nuclear disaster Jess Staufenberg; Independent; 29 Apr 2016

'We know they don't really have a grip on the terrorist situation in Belgium,' a Green Party MEP has said

Germany

Vattenfall sues Germany over phase-out policy World Nuclear News; 16 Oct 2016

Swedish utility Vattenfall is suing Germany at the Washington-based International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes over the closure of the Brunsbüttel and Krümmel nuclear power plants. The move follows the German government's decision to withdraw from nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident. Vattenfall spokesman Magnus Kryssare declined to confirm German media reports that the Swedish company is seeking €4.7 billion ($6 billion) in damages.

Swedish Utility Suing Germany Over Closure Of Brunsbüttel & Krümmel Nuclear Power Plants Glenn Meyers; Cleantechnica; 17 Oct 2016

China

Nuclear Power in China Wikipedia

Fourth Ningde unit connected to grid World Nuclear News; 31 Mar 2016

Unit 4 at the Ningde nuclear power plant in China's Fujian province has been connected to the electricity grid, China General Nuclear (CGN) announced yesterday. The 1087 MWe CPR-1000 pressurized water reactor was connected to the grid at 11.02pm on 29 March, CGN said. Work on the nuclear island at Ningde 4 officially began in September 2010. The dome of its reactor building was successfully lowered into place in May 2012. Four Chinese-designed CPR-1000 units have been built as Phase I of the Ningde plant, near Fuding city. Work on the first unit started in February 2008, with construction of units 2 and 3 beginning in November 2008 and January 2010, respectively. Unit 1 began commercial operation in April 2013, while unit 2 began supplying electricity to the grid in January 2014. Unit 3 came online in June 2015.

Grid connection for Hongyanhe 4 World Nuclear News; 1 Apr 2016

Unit 4 of the Hongyanhe nuclear power plant in China's Liaoning province today began supplying electricity to the grid. The reactor is expected to enter commercial operation later this year. The 1087 MWe CPR-1000 pressurized water reactor was connected to the grid at 9.52am today, China General Nuclear (CGN) said. Its grid connection came just two days after the connection of unit 4 at CGN's Ningde plant in Fujian province. Construction of Phase I of the Hongyanhe plant, comprising four CPR-1000 pressurized water reactors, began in August 2009. Units 1 and 2 have been in commercial operation since June 2013 and May 2014, respectively, while unit 3 entered commercial operation last August.

The nuclear option Nature (editorial) 4 May 2016

China is vigorously promoting nuclear energy, but its pursuit of reprocessing is misguided.

Hualong One

China Adapted US and European Nuclear Reactor Technology at Four Times Lower Cost Brian Wang; Next Big Future; 30 Apr 2019

China will start operating two new large Hualong nuclear reactors this year and another two next year. Each Hualong nuclear reactor will generate one gigawatt of nuclear power. They were made by adapting third generation US and European nuclear reactor technology designs. CNNC ‘Hualong One’ version will be the main domestic model built with the aim of lowering the price of the reactor to equip the national fleet cheaply while having generation 3 or or 3.5 safety levels.
Target cost in China is $2800-3000/kWe, though recent estimates mention $3500/kW. CGN said in November 2015 that the series construction cost would be CNY 17,000/kWe ($2650/kWe), compared with CNY 13,000/kWe for generation II reactors. This is about four times lower cost than US and European reactors built in the USA. China’s costs have been far lower but China’s build of the Western AP1000 system and the French EPR had cost and time overruns. Hualong was originally planned as a reactor for export but is now a main option in China because of problems on the AP1000 construction.
The CNNC and CGN versions will be very similar but not identical; they will have slightly different safety systems, with CNNC use more passive safety under AP1000 influence with increased containment volume and two active safety trains, and CGN with French influence having three active safety trains.
The Hualong One or HPR1000 has 177 fuel assemblies 3.66 m long, 18-24 month refuelling interval, equilibrium fuel load will be 72 assemblies with 4.45% enriched fuel. It has three coolant loops, double containment and active safety systems with some passive elements, and a 60-year design life. The passive systems are able to operate for 72 hours with a sufficient inventory of storage water and dedicated batteries. The CGN version delivers 3150 MWt, 1150 MWe gross, 1092 MWe net, while CNNC quotes 3050 MWt, 1170 MWe gross, 1090 MWe net. Average burn-up is 45,000 MWd/tU, thermal efficiency 36%. Seismic tolerance is 300 Gal. Instrumentation and control systems will be from Areva-Siemens, but overall 90% will be indigenous components.

Taishan

See EPR

Korea

US NRC set to certify APR-1400 reactor design World Nuclear News; 01 May 2019

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has said it will issue a direct final rule certifying the Korean-designed Advanced Power Reactor 1400 (APR-1400). The certification, valid for 15 years, will state that the NRC finds the design fully acceptable for deployment in the USA.
Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) and its subsidiary Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) originally submitted the design to the NRC in September 2013. They then submitted a revised version of its application in December 2014. The NRC completed an acceptance check in March 2015 and ruled that the revised application was sufficiently complete for it to undertake a full design certification review.
The design certification process determines whether a reactor design meets US safety requirements, independent of any specific site or plan to build. It is a required step before a reactor design can be built in the USA, as it can be referenced in construction and operation licence (COL) applications for specific reactor projects.
The NRC announced yesterday that it has completed its review and will issue a rule certifying the APR-1400 design. The rule will become effective 120 days following publication in the Federal Register.
The NRC has already certified five other standard reactor designs: General Electric's Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR); Westinghouse's System 80+, AP600 and AP1000; and, GE's Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor. It is also reviewing applications to certify Mitsubishi's US Advanced Pressurised Water Reactor (US-APWR) and the NuScale small modular reactor. NRC staff are also reviewing an application to renew the ABWR certification.
The APR-1400 is an evolutionary pressurised water reactor with its origins in the CE System 80+ model. Principally designed by Korea Engineering Company (Kopec), it produces 1400 MWe and has a 60-year design life. It supercedes the standardised 995 MWe OPR-1400 design, of which South Korea built 12. The APR-1400 features improvements in operation, safety, maintenance and affordability based on accumulated experience as well as technological development. Design certification by the Korean Institute of Nuclear Safety was awarded in May 2003.
Construction of the first two APR-1400s - as units 3 and 4 of South Korea's Shin Kori plant - began in October 2008 and August 2009, respectively. Unit 3, which was originally scheduled to enter commercial operation at the end of 2013, eventually reached first criticality in December 2015, was connected to the grid in January 2016 and entered commercial operation in December that year. Unit 4 achieved first criticality on 8 April this year, with grid connection on 22 April.
Construction of two further APR-1400 reactors at Shin Kori - units 5 and 6 - began in April 2017 and September 2018, respectively. Unit 5 is scheduled to begin commercial operation in March 2022, with unit 6 following one year later. Two further APR-1400 units are under construction in South Korea as units 1 and 2 of the Shin Hanul site.
A further four APR-1400s are under construction at Barakah in the United Arab Emirates, with the first of those units scheduled to begin operation in 2020.

Japan

Shikoku moves closer to Ikata 3 restart 4 Mar 2016

Japanese institute sees 19 reactor restarts by March 2018 World Nuclear News; 28 Jul 2016

Seven Japanese nuclear power reactors are likely to be in operation by the end of next March and 12 more one year later, according to an estimate by the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ).

India

India budgets to boost nuclear projects 1 Mar 2016

extra 30 billion rupees ($442 million) to boost nuclear power generation projects over the next 15-20 years
India has 21 nuclear power plants in operation, with six under construction, and plans for further construction of both indigenous pressurized heavy water reactors and projects with overseas partners. In April 2015 the government gave its approval in principle for new nuclear plants at ten sites in nine states: indigenous PHWRs at Gorakhpur in Haryana's Fatehabad; Chutka and Bhimpur in Madhya Pradesh; Kaiga in Karnataka; and Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan; and plants with foreign cooperation at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu (VVER); Jaitapur in Maharashtra (EPR); Mithi Virdhi in Gujarat (AP1000); Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh (ESBWR) and Haripur in West Bengal (VVER). Two 600 MWe fast breeder reactors are also proposed at Kalpakkam.
In January, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and French president Francois Hollande said that the two countries are on course to finalize a deal on the construction of six EPR units at Jaitapur by the end of the year. The same month, the Indian cabinet confirmed that commercial negotiations between Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and Westinghouse on the construction of six AP1000 units at Mithi Virdi in India were also on course to be finalized this year.

A future energy giant? India's thorium-based nuclear plans phys.org; 1 Oct 2010

India's secretive nuclear story: A tale of cheers and tears Pallava Bagla; The Economic Times (India); 17 Jul 2016

At India's highly-guarded and walled atomic establishment, there are cheers in southern India, but tears in the western part of the country.
Much to cheer about at Kudankulam, as India's largest nuclear power park situated not far from the tip of India, Kanyakumari, is now operational. The twin 1000 MW atomic reactors have nuclear fission reaction running in them for the first time. The first unit started supplying electricity in 2013 and the second unit which became operational this week and will start feeding electricity to the grid in a few weeks.
At the same time, some 2000 km away, some grief and tears since the indigenously made Kakrapar Atomic Power Station in Gujarat remains shut for nearly four months after a leak in the nuclear island of the reactor forced an emergency shut down of a fully operating plant.

Russia

Russia plans start-up of first Gen-III+ unit this summer World Nuclear News; 30 Mar 2016

ASE Group has announced plans for Russia to connect its first Generation-III+ nuclear power unit to the grid this summer. The first fuel assembly was loaded at unit 1 of the Novovoronezh II nuclear power plant in western Russia on 24 March at 3.28am, while the "active phase" of the loading process began the following day. Novovoronezh 6 is a Generation-III+ VVER 1200/392M pressurised water reactor (PWR) unit with a design net capacity of 1114 MWe. It is the first of two units at Novovoronezh II - the lead project for the deployment of the AES-2006 design incorporating a Gidropress-designed PWR, an evolutionary development from the VVER-1000. Construction of Novovoronezh II units 1 and 2, also known as Novovoronezh units 6 and 7, began in June 2008 and July 2009, respectively. The original Novovoronezh site nearby already hosts three operating reactors and two that are being decommissioned.

Nuclear Power in Russia World Nuclear Association; Oct 2018

  • Russia is moving steadily forward with plans for an expanded role of nuclear energy, including development of new reactor technology.
  • It is committed to closing the fuel cycle, and sees fast reactors as a key to this.
  • Exports of nuclear goods and services are a major Russian policy and economic objective. Over 20 nuclear power reactors are confirmed or planned for export construction. Foreign orders totalled $133 billion in late 2017.
  • Russia is a world leader in fast neutron reactor technology and is consolidating this through its Proryv ('Breakthrough') project.

Switzerland

Poll finds support for nuclear phaseout Urs Geiser; swissinfo.ch; 21 Oct 2016

A proposal to decommission Switzerland’s nuclear power plants by 2029 has the backing of a majority of citizens, according to a survey conducted seven weeks ahead of a nationwide vote. Despite this, pollsters believe the initiative is likely to be defeated on November 27.

UK

Nuclear Power in the United Kingdom Wikipedia

Nuclear Options Euan Mearns; Energy Matters; 4 Aug 2016

With Hinkley Point C and nuclear new-build in the UK very much in the public eye, I have found the range of nuclear options being discussed rather confusing. This post provides an overview of the 6 main reactor designs that are vying for the global market today focussing on the large, >1 GW Generation III reactors. While the post focusses on the UK, the part on generic designs should be of interest to all readers.

Hinkley Point C *

Sellafield

Britain's Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield will show viewers the reality of atomic power Daily Mirror; 23 Jul 2015

Physicist Jim Al-Khalili will present Britain's Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield and aim to tell the story of the country's often controversial nuclear industry

Moorside

See also KEPCO APR1400

First look at new Moorside nuclear plant Andrew Clarke; Times & Star; 27 Apr 2016

This is the first glimpse of what the new £10 billion Moorside nuclear power station could look like. NuGen - the firm behind the plans for Moorside - has published the artist's impression ahead of 28 public events being held across the county to give people the chance to have their say. Plans for the three-reactor site on land next to Sellafield - and its associated accommodation and transport links - are likely to have widespread impacts.

STOP MOORSIDE: "BIGGEST NUCLEAR DEVELOPMENT IN EUROPE" Marianne Birkby; 38 Degrees

NuGen confirms Toshiba commitment to Moorside World Nuclear News; 14 Feb 2017

Toshiba Corp is committed to Moorside despite announcing today it would reduce its exposure to reactor construction projects outside Japan, the head of its UK joint venture, NuGeneration, has said. The Japanese electronics conglomerate reported a net loss of JPY390 billion ($3.4 billion) in the year to March 2017 and said it would book a JPY712.5 billion ($6.3 billion) loss on its US nuclear unit.
NuGen, of which Toshiba owns 60% and France's Engie 40%, plans to build a nuclear power plant of up to 3.8 GWe gross capacity at the site in West Cumbria, using AP1000 nuclear reactor technology provided by Westinghouse. Toshiba, which bought Westinghouse in 2006, warned in December last year that it might have to write off "several billion" dollars because of the purchase in 2015 of US construction firm CB&I Stone & Webster.

Korean energy firm rescues UK's Moorside nuclear power project Adam Vaughan; The Guardian; 6 Dec 2017

A state-owned South Korean energy firm is to take over construction of a troubled nuclear power station planned in north-west England, in a significant boost for the UK government’s nuclear ambitions.
Kepco has been declared the preferred bidder for the NuGeneration consortium, which looked doomed earlier this year after the Japanese owner Toshiba was hit by writedowns and the eventual bankruptcy of its US nuclear subsidiary.

An Overview of the KEPCO APR1400 Euan Mearns / Andy Dawson; Energy Matters; 18 Dec 2017

There have been two major developments in the progress of UK nuclear new build in the last two weeks or so – the announcement that KEPCO is now preferred bidder for the Moorside project in Cumbria, and the completion of the GDA (General Design Approval) process by Hitachi’s UK-ABWR design. It therefore seems a good time to set out a quick review of the key features of each design and specifically any adaptations to UK regulatory requirements. This article covers the KEPCO APR1400 and complements the article on the Chinese Hualong 1 design that was published on 14 November.

Bradwell

See also Hualong One

UK to start approval process for Chinese nuclear reactor at Bradwell Nina Chestney; Reuters; 10 Jan 2017

The British government has asked nuclear regulators to start the process for approving a Chinese-designed reactor for a proposed plant in Britain, expected to be one of the first new plants in decades. General Nuclear Services (GNS), an industrial partnership between French utility EDF and China General Nuclear Power Corporation(CGN), hopes to use the design at a new nuclear station planned to be built in Bradwell, Essex. CGN intends to make a number of investments in Britain's nuclear power sector, most notably the new Hinkley Point C project in southwest England which was approved by the government last September.

Welcome to the UK HPR1000, Generic Design Assessment (GDA) website

China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) and EDF, through their joint venture company General Nuclear System Limited (GNS), commenced the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process for the UK HPR1000 in January 2017.
GNS has been established to act on behalf of the three joint requesting parties (CGN, EDF and General Nuclear International) to implement the Generic Design Assessment of the UK HPR1000 reactor; more information on the each of these companies and the structure of GNS can be found on the About us page. For practical purposes GNS is referred to as the ‘UK HPR1000 GDA Requesting Party’.
In November 2017, the Regulators concluded that the information submitted by GNS during Step 1 is sufficient to allow the start of Step 2. Step 2 formally commenced on 16 November 2017 and is planned to last approximately 12 months. The targeted timescale for the UK HPR1000 GDA process is approximately five years from the start of Step 1.
This website has been set up to publish information on the HPR1000 nuclear reactor design that is currently undergoing assessment by the UK nuclear regulators – the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency. You can find out more information about the process on our GDA process page.
Within this site you will find information on the HPR1000 reactor technology, design, safety and environmental features. You can also access the range of technical documents that will be submitted to the regulators throughout the process in our Documents library.
As part of the GDA process we are now inviting you to comment on the HPR1000 reactor design and the regulatory submissions that we make to the regulators.

Step 2

The Preliminary Safety Report (PSR) was submitted to the regulators as part of Step 2. The PSR sets out a high level overview of the safety case, the environment case and the security claims for the proposed nuclear reactor design.
The main objective of the PSR is to provide sufficient information for the regulators to carry out Step 2 GDA and the scope of the report was agreed with the regulators during Step 1.
The PSR sets the initial structure of the Pre-Construction Safety Report (PCSR) which, through Steps 3 and 4 of the GDA process, will provide the arguments and evidence to substantiate the safety case claims.

China’s “Hualong 1” passes the first stage of the UK GDA process Euan Mearns / Andy Dawson; Energy Matters; 24 Nov 2017

As almost all readers of the blog will be aware, a team of EdF and China General Nuclear (CGN) have proposed the construction of a Chinese designed nuclear station at Bradwell, in Essex. On Thursday of this week, the UK Office of Nuclear Regulation announced that the design proposed for the station -the “HPR1000”, originally known as the “Hualong-1” has successfully completed the first, preparatory stage of the Generic Design Approval (GDA) process. This appears to have been completed on time, or perhaps a few weeks early.
While we shouldn’t over-state the importance of this particular transition – GDA is a four stage process, in which stages 2 & 3 are where the great majority of the detailed evaluation of the design from a safety perspective is undertaken – it is important in that it’s the first point at which the developers have to publish reasonably detailed data on the design. That data is available here.
This piece is intended to give an overview of the design, highlighted particular strengths and weaknesses that may affect the GDA outcome, and giving a comparison against the virtues and vices of the other contenders for UK build.

Wylfa

See also Hitachi ABWR

Plans for major nuclear power station in Wales win green light Adam Vaughan; The Guardian; 14 Dec 2017

The Office for Nuclear Regulation and two other government bodies gave the green light on Thursday for the Japanese reactor design for Horizon Nuclear Power’s plant at Wylfa, marking the end of a five-year regulatory process.
Attention will now turn to financing the Hitachi-backed project on the island of Anglesey, which was the site of Britain’s oldest nuclear plant until it closed two years ago.
During a visit by UK ministers to Japan last December, it emerged that London and Tokyo were considering public financing for Wylfa. This would be a significant break with the UK government’s previous approach.
Hitachi has already spent £2bn on development. Last week the consortium said it needed a financial support package by mid-2018 or it could stop funding development.
Japan’s Toshiba has bowed out of the race to build nuclear plants in the UK, confirming last week that a South Korean nuclear firm had been chosen to buy its venture to build a plant in Cumbria.
If Horizon is successful with Wylfa, it hopes to build a second new nuclear power station at Oldbury in Gloucestershire. The plants will use Hitachi’s advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR), which has been approved for use at Wylfa.
The Welsh plant would have a capacity of 2.7GW, similar to the 3.2GW of the nuclear power station that EDF is building at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Kenya

IAEA approves Kenya nuclear power application 25 Apr 2016

Toshiba Westinghouse

Westinghouse Files for Bankruptcy, in Blow to Nuclear Power DIANE CARDWELL and JONATHAN SOBLE; New York Times; 29 Mar 2017

Westinghouse Electric Company, which helped drive the development of nuclear energy and the electric grid itself, filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday, casting a shadow over the global nuclear industry.
The filing comes as the company’s corporate parent, Toshiba of Japan, scrambles to stanch huge losses stemming from Westinghouse’s troubled nuclear construction projects in the American South.

How two cutting edge U.S. nuclear projects bankrupted Westinghouse Tom Hals and Emily Flitter; Reuters; 2 May 2017

Westinghouse miscalculated the time it would take, and the possible pitfalls involved, in rolling out its innovative AP1000 nuclear plants, according to a close examination by Reuters of the projects.
Those problems have led to an estimated $13 billion in cost overruns and left in doubt the future of the two plants, the one in Georgia and another in South Carolina.
Overwhelmed by the costs of construction, Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy on March 29, while its corporate parent, Japan's Toshiba Corp, is close to financial ruin [L3N1HI4SD]. It has said that controls at Westinghouse were "insufficient."
The miscalculations underscore the difficulties facing a global industry that aims to build about 160 reactors and is expected to generate around $740 billion in sales of equipment in services in the coming decade, according to nuclear industry trade groups.
The sector's problems extend well beyond Westinghouse. France's Areva is being restructured, in part due to delays and huge cost overruns at a nuclear plant the company is building in Finland.
Even though Westinghouse's approach of pre-fabricated plants was untested, the company offered aggressive estimates of the cost and time it would take to build its AP1000 plants in order to win future business from U.S. utility companies. It also misjudged regulatory hurdles and used a construction company that lacked experience with the rigor and demands of nuclear work, according to state and federal regulators' reports, bankruptcy filings and interviews with current and former employees.

New Nuclear Reactor Technologies *

Nuclear radiation *

Nuclear safety *

Sustainability

Will We Run Out of Uranium? Charles Barton; The Energy Collective; 7 Feb 2010

Barton estimates U reserves and compares with MacKay

Sustaining the Wind Part 3 – Is Uranium Exhaustible? NNadir; Brave New Climate;

U.S. uranium production is near historic low as imports continue to fuel U.S. reactors EIA; 1 Jun 2016

Uranium from seawater

see also Pollution

Uranium From Seawater Could Keep Our Lights On for 13,000 Years Futurism; 23 Apr 2016

The U.S. Department of Energy has developed a more cost-efficient material to harvest uranium from the ocean. This development has experts looking into seawater uranium as a potential energy source. the DOE team has developed new adsorbents that brought the costs of seawater uranium extraction down by three to four times and in just five years. The team created braids of polyethylene fibers that contain amidoxime, a chemical species that binds uranium. Tests show the new material has the ability to hold more than 6 grams of uranium per kilogram of adsorbent in 56 days of submersion in natural seawater.

Advances in extracting uranium from seawater announced in special issue Oak Ridge National Laboratory; 21 Apr 2016

The oceans hold more than four billion tons of uranium—enough to meet global energy needs for the next 10,000 years if only we could capture the element from seawater to fuel nuclear power plants. Major advances in this area have been published by the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.
Uranium from terrestrial sources can last for approximately 100 years, according to Erich Schneider of the University of Texas–Austin

Uranium Extraction from Seawater Takes a Major Step Forward Jennifer Hackett; Scientific American; 1 Jul 2016

Earth’s oceans hold four billion tons of the element used to power nuclear plants
The earth's oceans hold enough uranium to power all the world's major cities for thousands of years—if we can extract it. A project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy is making notable advances in this quest: scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a material that can effectively pull uranium out of seawater. The material builds on work by researchers in Japan and consists of braided polyethylene fibers coated with the chemical amidoxime. In seawater, amidoxime attracts and binds uranium dioxide to the surface of the braids, which can be on the order of 15 centimeters in diameter and run multiple meters in length depending on where they are deployed. Later, an acidic treatment recovers the uranium in the form of uranyl ions, a product that requires processing and enrichment before becoming fuel. The procedure was described in a special report this spring in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.

Nuclear waste

CO2 emissions / LCOE

Life-cycle greenhouse-gas emissions of energy sources wikpedia

surveys various sources

IPCC

2014 IPCC, Global warming potential of selected electricity sources

median 12 g(CO2e)/kWh for nuclear GHG emissions

2011 IPCC aggregated results of the available literature

16g CO2/kWh

2014 IPCC, Global warming potential of selected electricity sources

3.7 - 12 - 110 g/kWh

StormSsmith

Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen: Nuclear energy study Wikipedia

The study was heavily criticized, such as a rebuttal by researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute.[4] With further criticism from Sevior and Flitney who issued the following statement:
We compared the predicted energy cost [using Storm van Leeuwen's study[3]] of Uranium mining and milling for Ranger, Olympic Dam and Rössing to the energy consumption as reported. All are significantly over predicted (5 PJ, 60 PJ and 69 PJ vs 0.8 PJ, 5 PJ and 1 PJ respectively). [...]
The energy consumption is predicted to be so large that is comparable to the energy consumption of a particular sub-section of the economy. In the case of Rössing, the over prediction is larger than the energy consumption of the entire country of Namibia.

J.W.Storm van Leeuwen Life cycle analysis of the nuclear energy system from website Nuclear power insights

Point Refuted a Thousand Times: “Nuclear is not low-carbon” Luke Weston; Energy Reality Project;

The meme that nuclear energy is bad because it has poor whole-of-lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, or poor EROEI, that are not comparable to wind energy, hydroelectricity and other climate-change-friendly energy technologies, but are in fact comparable to greenhouse-gas-intensive fossil fuel combustion is perhaps one of the oldest, most comprehensively debunked PRATT concerning arguments that emerged during the resurgence of public debate in the early 2000s about the importance of nuclear energy.
If you find any anti-nuclear energy activist who makes this claim, and you trace its roots back to the source (in the rare cases where they’re trying to be remotely credible and are actually citing reference material), in 99% of cases you’ll find that this argument originates from exactly the same place: just one pair of authors and their non-peer-reviewed website.
Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen and Phillip Smith’s original essay “Nuclear power – the energy balance“, which is where all this stuff originates from, has never been published in a scientific journal or subjected to any kind of formal peer-review process. In fact, it has only ever been published on the authors’ own website.
Their work has been widely debunked and discredited for many years, with some of the more egregious errors and assumptions discussed here:


Sovacool

Valuing the greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear power: A critical survey Benjamin K. Sovacool; Energy Policy; 2008

MacKay

Sustainable Energy - Without The Hot Air metafaq

I heard it takes more energy to build a nuclear power plant than you ever get back from it... is that true?
No, of course not! Why would France and Finland and Sweden build so many power plants if that were true? They could just use the energy directly. The energy cost of uranium enrichment is described in my book, along with figures for the amount of concrete and steel used in the materials of the power station. The exact figures vary from country to country, but as a ballpark figure the carbon footprint of enrichment, building, decommisioning, and waste management is about 20 grams CO2 per kWh (compare with coal power stations at 1000 g CO2 per kWh) and raw petrol and gas at about 250 grams per kWh. Nuclear power stations produce at least ten times as much energy as it takes to make them, make their fuel, and decommision them.

Lifetime

Nuclear Plants Running For 80 Years Trump Renewables And Gas Conca; Forbes

U.S. Senate Wants To Decrease CO2 By Increasing Nuclear Energy Conca; Forbes

Advanced Nuclear Summit

Decommissioning

Nuclear Decommissioning Wikipedia

UK

Nuclear Provision: explaining the cost of cleaning up Britain's nuclear legacy Nuclear Decommissioning Authority; updated: 1 Sep 2016

document
The 2016 forecast is that future clean-up across the UK will cost around £117 billion spread across the next 120 years or so. This is broadly unchanged from the previous year’s estimate. However, forecasts for work that will be carried over the next century are inevitably uncertain: the future is impossible to predict. It will be a number of years, for example, before many site programmes resolve exactly how the work will be delivered and identify suitable technologies. In recognition of this uncertainty, the NDA publishes a range of estimates that could potentially be realistic. Based on the best data now available, different assumptions could produce figures somewhere between £95 billion and £219 billion.
73.1% Sellafield

UK's nuclear clean-up cost estimate dips to $154 billion World Nuclear News; 15 Jul 2016

Nuclear_Decommissioning_Authority Wikipedia

he Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is a non-departmental public body of the British Department of Energy and Climate Change, formed by the Energy Act 2004. It evolved from the Coal and Nuclear Liabilities Unit of the Department of Trade and Industry. It came into existence during late 2004, and took on its main functions on 1 April 2005. Its purpose is to deliver the decommissioning and clean-up of the UK’s civil nuclear legacy in a safe and cost-effective manner, and where possible to accelerate programmes of work that reduce hazard. The NDA does not directly manage the UK's nuclear sites. It oversees the work through contracts with specially designed companies known as site licence companies. The NDA determines the overall strategy and priorities for managing decommissioning. Although the NDA itself only employs 300 staff, its annual budget is £3.2 billion. The vast majority of the NDA budget is spent through contracts with site licence companies, who also sub contract to other companies which provide special services. The NDA aims to do this by introducing innovation and contractor expertise through a series of competitions similar to the model that has been used in the United States.

Proliferation *

Public perception of nuclear energy*