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Jul 21, 2021

The US Army tried portable nuclear power at remote bases 60 years ago – it didn’t go well

Posted by in category: nuclear energy

Part of a portable nuclear power plant arrives at Camp Century in 1960. Bettmann Archive/Getty ImagesIn a tunnel 40 feet beneath the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, a Geiger counter screamed. It was 1964, the height of the Cold War. U.S. soldiers in the tunnel, 800 miles from the North Pole, were dismantling the Army’s first portable nuclear reactor. Commanding Officer Joseph Franklin grabbed the radiation detector, ordered his men out and did a quick survey before retreating from the reactor.

Jul 19, 2021

Armed guards protect tons of nuclear waste that Maine can’t get rid of

Posted by in categories: climatology, government, nuclear energy, sustainability

The canisters can’t stay on the 11-acre storage site on Bailey Peninsula in Wiscasset forever. And the specter of climate change and ocean level rise adds urgency to the hunt for a solution.


That’s a problem because the waste — 1400 spent nuclear fuel rods housed in 60 cement and steel canisters, plus four canisters of irradiated steel removed from the nuclear reactor when it was taken down — is safe for now, but can’t stay in Wiscasset forever.

The situation in Wiscasset underscores a thorny issue facing more than 100 communities across the U.S.: close to a hundred thousand tons of nuclear waste that has no place to go.

Continue reading “Armed guards protect tons of nuclear waste that Maine can’t get rid of” »

Jul 19, 2021

China unveils design for first waterless nuclear reactor

Posted by in categories: chemistry, engineering, nuclear energy, solar power, space travel, sustainability

CHINA’S NEW THORIUM-BASED NUCLEAR REACTOR is well situated for being adopted for Space applications.

China is slowly but steadily positioning itself to leap ahead of the US Space program. It is doing this without pomp and fanfare, and without the idea of a “space race,” simply based upon what it requires for its future.

1) Recent noteworthy progress on molten salt thorium reactors could be a key component of future Chinese space-worthiness. Originally designed by the USA’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960’s, they were planned to be used for nuclear powered strategic bomber planes, before the nuclear submarine concept became adopted as more feasible. They were chosen because they can be miniaturized to the size of an aircraft. By the same token, they could conceivably be used in advanced atmospheric or space propulsion.

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Jul 14, 2021

China launches first commercial onshore small reactor project

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, transportation

SMRs are cheaper and quicker to build than traditional reactors, and can also be deployed in remote regions and on ships and aircraft. Their “modular” format means they can be shipped by container from the factory and installed relatively quickly on any proposed site.


SHANGHAI, July 13 (Reuters) — China has started construction of the first commercial onshore nuclear project using its homegrown “Linglong One” small modular reactor (SMR) design, the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) said on Tuesday, about four years later than planned.

CNNC originally aimed to start building the project at the Changjiang nuclear reactor complex on the island province of Hainan in 2017, but it has been subject to regulatory delays.

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Jul 14, 2021

Nuclear-powered spacecrafts? NASA taps Blue Origin, GE to try it

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, space travel

NASA and the US Department of Energy awarded three $5m contracts to produce reactor-design concepts for trips to Mars.

Jul 14, 2021

“Nuclear Batteries” Offer a New Approach to Carbon-Free Energy

Posted by in categories: climatology, military, nuclear energy, robotics/AI, sustainability

Jacopo Buongiorno and others say factory-built microreactors trucked to usage sites could be a safe, efficient option for decarbonizing electricity systems.

We may be on the brink of a new paradigm for nuclear power, a group of nuclear specialists suggested recently in The Bridge, the journal of the National Academy of Engineering. Much as large, expensive, and centralized computers gave way to the widely distributed PCs of today, a new generation of relatively tiny and inexpensive factory-built reactors, designed for autonomous plug-and-play operation similar to plugging in an oversized battery, is on the horizon, they say.

These proposed systems could provide heat for industrial processes or electricity for a military base or a neighborhood, run unattended for five to 10 years, and then be trucked back to the factory for refurbishment. The authors — Jacopo Buongiorno, MIT’s TEPCO Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering; Robert Frida, a founder of GenH; Steven Aumeier of the Idaho National Laboratory; and Kevin Chilton, retired commander of the U.S. Strategic Command — have dubbed these small power plants “nuclear batteries.” Because of their simplicity of operation, they could play a significant role in decarbonizing the world’s electricity systems to avert catastrophic climate change, the researchers say. MIT News asked Buongiorno to describe his group’s proposal.

Jul 13, 2021

Russia Proposes Nuclear Power Plant on Mars

Posted by in categories: alien life, nuclear energy

Case in point, a subsidiary of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency is now proposing a nuclear power station on Mars, intended to power a future Russian base on the Red Planet, state-run news agency Sputnik reports.

The Arsenal Design Bureau, the subsidiary, is recommending using the same technologies destined for Zeus, a proposed interplanetary space tug, to power a nuclear reactor on the Martian surface as well.

The massive space tug is designed to make use of a nuclear-powered electric propulsion system to deliver payloads throughout the solar system. Earlier this year, Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin suggested that Zeus could also visit other planets, including Jupiter, to search for alien life. Russia is hoping to begin flight-testing it starting around 2030.

Jul 7, 2021

New clues to why there’s so little antimatter in the universe

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, particle physics

Imagine a dust particle in a storm cloud, and you can get an idea of a neutron’s insignificance compared to the magnitude of the molecule it inhabits.

But just as a dust mote might affect a cloud’s track, a can influence the energy of its molecule despite being less than one-millionth its size. And now physicists at MIT and elsewhere have successfully measured a neutron’s tiny effect in a radioactive molecule.

The team has developed a new technique to produce and study short-lived radioactive molecules with neutron numbers they can precisely control. They hand-picked several isotopes of the same molecule, each with one more neutron than the next. When they measured each molecule’s energy, they were able to detect small, nearly imperceptible changes of the nuclear size, due to the effect of a single neutron.

Jul 5, 2021

Inside the Impossible Dream of the Nuclear-Powered 1958 Ford Nucleon

Posted by in categories: engineering, nuclear energy, transportation

In 1958, Ford showed the world a car like it had never seen before, one powered by a small nuclear reactor. The Ford Nucleon, as it was christened, was envisioned as a car capable of driving more than 5000 miles between fueling stops, appealing to a postwar fixation with convenience that has dominated American consumerism since. Like some other midcentury nuclear fantasies, though, the Nucleon never came to fruition, in part due to engineering problems we still struggle with to this day.

Before we examine why the Nucleon could never be, let’s get a better grasp of the car itself, starting with its utterly comical dimensions. Ford’s press materials envisaged the Nucleon stretching 200.3 inches long and 77.4 wide, making it as long as the new Ford Maverick compact pickup, but slightly wider. Its roof was said to measure just 41.4 inches high, making it less than an inch taller than the legendarily low-slung Ford GT40.

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Jun 30, 2021

Startup Wants to Build Tiny Nuclear Reactors That Run Off Nuclear Waste

Posted by in categories: economics, nuclear energy

Experts are excited by the concept of microreactors because nuclear facilities have historically relied on economies of scale — a paradigm this tech could reverse.

“Microreactors promise to turn this paradigm on its head by approaching cost competitiveness through technological learning,” Alex Gilbert from the nuclear power think tank Nuclear Innovation Alliance, told CNBC.

Oklo’s “fast reactor” plant uses energy from already-spent nuclear reactor fuel, technology that has been around since the 1950s, according to CNBC.

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