11 results for month: 05/2006


A Chronology of Nuclear History (with an emphasis on fluid-fueled reactors)

1829Jons Berzelius discovers a new element, thorium, in samples sent to him by the Reverend Hans Esmark. Thorium will later be found to be somewhat abundant in the Earth's crust.1896Henri Becquerel discovers that pitchblende, an ore containing uranium, causes a photographic plate to darken.1897J.J. Thomson discovers the first subatomic particle, the negatively-charged electron. This is the first indication that atoms have internal structure. He later proposes the “plum-pudding” model of the atom, with electrons dispersed in diffuse positive matter. This simplistic model explains why atoms can have no net charge even though they are composed of ...

Meeting and Talking about our Energy Future

For several weeks now, I have been part of an informal group of individuals interested in the prospects of thorium power for the future. Most of these folks have been up in Ohio, connected with NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland State University, and Battelle. A few have been at some of the DOE national labs, such as Oak Ridge and INL. And then there’s me down in Alabama.We’ve been getting together by phone telecon and discussing what must be done to help the nation, and perhaps the world, achieve the secure energy future we all so desperately desire. This work hasn’t necessarily been part of our jobs, but it certainly has been congruent ...

Principles of Energy Conversion

Thermodynamics was one of my favorite subjects in school--it was elegant, compelling, and instructive about so many aspects of life. But one thing it was not was intuitive. In fact, thermodynamics can make predictions that sound downright nutty to someone who's never heard them before. But one of the beauties of the subject is that once you learn it, you see examples all around you in daily life.Thermodynamics is also a very important subject for those of us who want to make electricity from nuclear energy, and for the consumers of electricity out there who want to understand how their electricity is generated.There are two basic laws of thermody...

Simplifying the Development of a Reprocessing System for an LFTR

Chemical reprocessing of nuclear fuel is at the basis of a closed nuclear cycle. We don't think about it too much in the United States because we just don't reprocess nuclear fuel! Hence, our spent fuel builds up and people wring their hands about the "unsolved problem of nuclear waste". In other countries, like France and Japan, where spent fuel is reprocessed, things aren't too much better. Because thanks to the fact that you can't sustain the "burning" of natural uranium in thermal-spectrum reactors, separated fuel can only get you so far. But they stockpile it waiting for the glorious day of liquid-metal fast breeder reactors that the nuclear ...

McCain supports nuclear energy…

One of my favorite folks, Senator John McCain, is clearly a supporter of nuclear energy. I'm very glad to hear it. One of the (many) drawbacks of today's uranium-fueled, water-cooled reactors is that they depend on a great deal of cooling water for heat rejection. This limits their use in Western states that have scarce water resources. The three-unit Palo Verde plant in Phoenix uses some careful measures to conserve water.But by using highly-efficient, closed-cycle helium gas turbines for power conversion, we could envision direct heat rejection to air, which would remove the constraint of needing to locate the plant near large water supplies. ...

Introduction and Basic Principles of Energy Sustainability

Introduction and Basic Principles of Energy Sustainability The generation and use of energy is central to the maintenance of organization. Life itself is a state of organization maintained by the continual use of sources of energy. Human civilization has reached the state it has by the widespread use of energy, and for the large fraction of the world that aspires to a higher standard of living, more energy will be required for them to achieve it. Therefore, I embrace the idea that we need energy, and probably need much more of it than we currently have. We should never waste energy, and should always seek to use energy efficiently as possible and ...

Introduction and Basic Principles of Energy

Introduction and Basic Principles of Energy The generation and use of energy is central to the maintenance of organization. Life itself is a state of organization maintained by the continual use of sources of energy. Human civilization has reached the state it has by the widespread use of energy, and for the large fraction of the world that aspires to a higher standard of living, more energy will be required for them to meet it. Therefore, I embrace the idea that we need energy, and probably need much more of it than we currently have. We should never waste energy, and should always seek to use energy efficiently as possible and practical, but ...

The Safety and Stability Advantages of a Liquid-Fluoride Reactor in the Space Environment

Perhaps the single most important safety aspect of a nuclear reactor is the temperature coefficient of reactivity. This value describes how the reactor will react to an increase or a decrease in reactor temperature. If the coefficient is positive, then an increase in core temperature will cause an increase in reactivity, which will lead the reactor to generate more power, which will increase power more, and so forth until the reactor is destroyed. If the reactor has a negative temperature coefficient, on the other hand, an increase in power will lead to a reduction in core reactivity, which will generate less power, and core temperatures will ...

The Safety and Stability Advantages
of a LFTR in the Space Environment

The Safety and Stability Advantages of a (LFTR) Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor in the Space Environment Perhaps the single most important safety aspect of a nuclear reactor is the temperature coefficient of reactivity. This value describes how the reactor will react to an increase or a decrease in reactor temperature. If the coefficient is positive, then an increase in core temperature will cause an increase in reactivity, which will lead the reactor to generate more power, which will increase power more, and so forth until the reactor is destroyed. If the reactor has a negative temperature coefficient, on the other hand, an increase in power ...

LDS Church wants nuclear waste disposal "options"

On Thursday, the LDS Church announced its opposition to a planned temporary nuclear waste storage facility in the west desert of Utah. Furthermore, they called on "the federal government to harness the technological and creative power of the country to develop options for the disposal of nuclear waste."This is significant because due to delays in the opening of Yucca Mountain, utilities had contracted with the Goshute Indian tribe of Utah to site high-level nuclear waste (spent fuel rods) on Goshute land (in Skull Valley). The utilities saw it as an opportunity to get their spent fuel away from their reactors and a lot closer to Yucca. The Goshutes ...