Iran Atomic Agency Says It Thwarted Attack on a Facility

The attack was said to have been carried out by a small drone against a manufacturing center used in the production of centrifuges.

#arms-control-and-limitation-and-disarmament, #espionage-and-intelligence-services, #fakhrizadeh-mohsen, #iran, #israel, #nuclear-energy, #pompeo-mike, #presidential-election-of-2020


China Denies Radiation Leak at Nuclear Reactor, Admits Fuel Rod Damage

Several of the reactor’s more than 60,000 fuel rods have been damaged, prompting regulators to reassess the levels of radioactive gases around them.

#accidents-and-safety, #china, #framatome, #france, #nuclear-energy, #radiation, #taishan-china


French Companies Admit Problems at Nuclear Plant in China

One of the companies said there had been a buildup of gases at the heart of a reactor. They say the plant is still safe.

#cgn, #china, #france, #guangdong-province-china, #hong-kong, #nuclear-energy, #radiation


Should America Go Nuclear?

It’s carbon-free, but has a history of disasters. Investing more in nuclear power can help get us to carbon-neutral by 2050. But is it worth it?

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #nuclear-energy, #nuclear-regulatory-commission, #nuclear-wastes, #wind-power


A Difficult Diplomatic Triangle

A nuclear deal with Iran is central to President Biden’s foreign policy. So why did one of the United States’ closest allies apparently just try to blow it up?

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #iran, #israel, #nuclear-energy, #nuclear-weapons, #obama-barack, #united-states, #united-states-international-relations


Iran’s Push to Enrich Uranium Amid Nuclear Talks: What to Know

A highly purified form of uranium is needed to make an atomic bomb, but the main point of Tehran’s action may be to give it leverage in nuclear talks.

#arms-control-and-limitation-and-disarmament, #international-atomic-energy-agency, #iran, #natanz-iran, #nuclear-energy, #nuclear-weapons, #rouhani-hassan, #uranium


Japan’s Plan for Fukushima Wastewater Meets a Wall of Mistrust in Asia

The government in Tokyo says criticism of its intention to release treated water into the ocean is unscientific. South Korea has called the proposal “utterly intolerable.”

#fukushima-japan, #international-relations, #japan-earthquake-and-tsunami-2011, #nuclear-energy, #radiation, #water


Fukushima Wastewater Will Be Released Into the Ocean, Japan Says

The government says the plan is the best way to dispose of water used to prevent the ruined nuclear plant’s damaged reactor cores from melting.

#fukushima-japan, #fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-power-plant-japan, #japan-earthquake-and-tsunami-2011, #nuclear-energy, #oceans-and-seas, #radiation, #suga-yoshihide, #tokyo-electric-power-co


Indian Point Is Shutting Down. That Means More Fossil Fuel.

When the Indian Point nuclear power plant shuts, its lost output will be filled primarily by generators that burn fuels that contribute to climate change.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #buchanan-ny, #cuomo-andrew-m, #electric-light-and-power, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #indian-point-nuclear-power-plant-ny, #new-york-city, #new-york-independent-system-operator-nyiso, #nuclear-energy, #shutdowns-institutional, #solar-energy, #wind-power


Claiming a landmark in fusion energy, TAE Technologies sees commercialization by 2030

In a small industrial park located nearly halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, one company is claiming to have hit a milestone in the development of a new technology for generating power from nuclear fusion.

The twenty year old fusion energy technology developer TAE Technologies said its reactors could be operating at commercial scale by the end of the decade, thanks to its newfound ability to produce stable plasma at temperatures over 50 million degrees (nearly twice as hot as the sun), .

The promise of fusion energy, a near limitless energy source with few emissions and no carbon footprint, has been ten years out for the nearly seventy years since humanity first harnessed the power of nuclear energy.  But a slew of companies including TAE, General Fusion, Commonwealth Fusion Systems and a host of others across North America and around the world are making rapid advancements that look to bring the technology from the realm of science fiction into the real world.

For TAE Technologies, the achievement serves as a validation of the life’s work of Norman Rostoker, one of the company’s co-founders who had devoted his life to fusion energy research and died before he could see the company he helped create reach its latest milestone.

“This is an incredibly rewarding milestone and an apt tribute to the vision of my late mentor, Norman Rostoker,” said TAE’s current chief executive officer, Michl Binderbauer, in a statement announcing the company’s achievement. “Norman and I wrote a paper in the 1990s theorizing that a certain plasma dominated by highly energetic particles should become increasingly better confined and stable as temperatures increase. We have now been able to demonstrate this plasma behavior with overwhelming evidence. It is a powerful validation of our work over the last three decades, and a very critical milestone for TAE that proves the laws of physics are on our side.”

Rostoker’s legacy lives on inside TAE through the company’s technology platform, called, appropriately, “Norman”. In the last 18 months that technology has demonstrated consistent performance, reaching over 50 million degrees in several hundred test cycles.

Six years ago, the company had proved that its reactor design could sustain plasma indefinitely — meaning that once the switch is flipped on a reaction, that fusion reaction can continue indefinitely. Now, the company said, it has achieved the necessary temperatures to make its reactors commercially viable.

It’s with these milestones behind it that TAE was able to raise an additional $280 million in financing, bringing its total up to $880 million and making it one of the best financed private nuclear fusion endeavors in the world.

“The Norman milestone gives us a high degree of confidence that our unique approach brings fusion within grasp technologically and, more important, economically,” Binderbauer said. “As we shift out of the scientific validation phase into engineering commercial-scale solutions for both our fusion and power management technologies, TAE will become a significant contributor in modernizing the entire energy grid.”

The company isn’t generating energy yet, and won’t for the foreseeable future. The next goal for the company, according to Binderbauer, is to develop the technology to the point where it can create the conditions necessary for making energy from a fusion reaction.

“The energy is super tiny. It’s immaterial. It’s a needle in the haystack,” Binderbauer said. “In terms of its energy discernability, we can use it for diagnostics.”

TAE Technologies Michl Binderbauer standing next to the company’s novel fusion reactor. Image Credit: TAE Technologies

Follow the sun

It took $150 million and five iterations for TAE Technologies to get to Norman, its national laboratory scale fusion device. The company said it conducted over 25,000 fully-integrated fusion reactor core experiments, optimized using machine learning programs developed in collaboration with Google and processing power from the Department of Energy’s INCITE program, which leverages exascale-level computing, TAE Technologies said.

The new machine was first fired up in the summer of 2017. Before it could even be constructed TAE Technologies went through a decade of experimentation to even begin approaching the construction of a physical prototype. By 2008, the first construction began on integrated experiments to make a plasma core and infuse it with some energetic particles. The feeder technology and beams alone cost $100 million, Binderbauer said. Then the company needed to develop other technologies like vacuum conditioning. Power control mechanisms also needed to be put in place to ensure that the company’s 3 megawatt power supply could be stored in enough containment systems to power a 750 megawatt energy reaction.

Finally, machine learning capabilities needed to be tapped from companies like Google and compute power from the Department of Energy had to be harnessed to manage computations that could take what had been the theorems that defined Rostoker’s life’s work, and prove that they could be made real.

“By the time Norman became an operating machine we had four generations of devices preceding it. Out of those there were two fully integrated ones and two generations of incremental machines that could do some of it but not all of it.”

Fusion energy’s burning problems

While fusion has a lot of promise as a zero-carbon source of energy, it’s not without some serious limitations, as Andy Jassby, the former principal physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab noted in a 2017 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists article.

Jassby wrote:

Earth-bound fusion reactors that burn neutron-rich isotopes have byproducts that are anything but harmless: Energetic neutron streams comprise 80 percent of the fusion energy output of deuterium-tritium reactions and 35 percent of deuterium-deuterium reactions.

Now, an energy source consisting of 80 percent energetic neutron streams may be the perfect neutron source, but it’s truly bizarre that it would ever be hailed as the ideal electrical energy source. In fact, these neutron streams lead directly to four regrettable problems with nuclear energy: radiation damage to structures; radioactive waste; the need for biological shielding; and the potential for the production of weapons-grade plutonium 239—thus adding to the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation, not lessening it, as fusion proponents would have it.

In addition, if fusion reactors are indeed feasible—as assumed here—they would share some of the other serious problems that plague fission reactors, including tritium release, daunting coolant demands, and high operating costs. There will also be additional drawbacks that are unique to fusion devices: the use of a fuel (tritium) that is not found in nature and must be replenished by the reactor itself; and unavoidable on-site power drains that drastically reduce the electric power available for sale.

TAE Technologies is aware of the problems, according to a spokesperson for the firm, and the company has noted the issues Jassby raised in its product development, the spokesperson said.

“All the callouts to tritium is exactly why TAE has been focused on pB-11 as its feedstock from the very beginning (early 90’s).  TAE will reach D-T conditions as a natural stepping stone to pB-11, cause it cooks at ‘only’ 100M c, whereas pB-11 is upwards of 1M c,” the spokesperson wrote in a response. “It would seem like a much harder accomplishment to then scale to 1M, but what this milestone proves is the ‘Scaling law’ for the kind of fusion TAE is generating – in an FRC (the linear design of “Norman”, unlike the donut Tokamaks) the hotter the plasma, the more stable it becomes. It’s the opposite of a [Tokamak].  The milestone gives them scientific confidence they can increase temps beyond DT to pB11 and realize fusion with boron — cheap, aneutronic, abundant — the ideal terrestrial feedstock (let’s not get into mining the moon for helium-3!).”

As for power concerns, the TAE fusion reactor can convert a 2MW grid feed into 750MW shots on the machine without taking down Orange County’s grid (and needing to prove it to SCE), and scale power demand in microseconds to mold and course-correct plasmas in real-time, the spokesperson wrote.

In fact, TAE is going to spin off its power management technology into a separate business focused on peak shaving, energy storage and battery management on the grid and in electric vehicles.

A “safer” fusion technology?

The Hydrogen-Boron, or p-B11, fuel cycle is, according to the company, the most abundant fuel source on earth, and will be the ultimate feedstock for TAE Technologies’ reactor, according to the company. But initially, TAE, like most of the other companies currently developing fusion technologies will be working with Deuterium-Tritium as its fuel source.

The demonstration facility “Copernicus” which will be built using some of the new capital the company has announced raising, will start off on the D-T fuel cycle and eventually make the switch. Over time, TAE hopes to license the D-T technology while building up to its ultimate goal.

Funding the company’s “money by milestone” approach are some fo the world’s wealthiest families, firms, and companies. Vulcan, Venrock, NEA, Wellcome Trust, Google, and the Kuwait Investment Authority are all backers. So too, are the family offices of Addison Fischer, Art Samberg, and Charls Schwab.

“TAE is providing the miracles the 21st century needs,” said Addison Fischer, TAE Board Director and longtime investor who has been involved with conservation and environmental issues for decades. Fischer also founded VeriSign and is a pioneer in defining and implementing security technology underlying modern electronic commerce. “TAE’s most recent funding positions the company to undertake their penultimate step in implementing sustainable aneutronic nuclear fusion and power management solutions that will benefit the planet.”

#department-of-energy, #energy, #energy-storage, #fusion-power, #google, #los-angeles, #nea, #nuclear-energy, #nuclear-fusion, #san-diego, #tc, #venrock, #verisign, #vulcan


The Iran Nuclear Talks Explained

Talks in Vienna starting Tuesday will try to bring both the United States and Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. It won’t be easy.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #defense-and-military-forces, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #europe, #european-union, #international-relations, #iran, #khamenei-ali, #nuclear-energy, #obama-barack, #politics-and-government, #rouhani-hassan, #terrorism, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-international-relations, #uranium, #zarif-mohammad-javad


The Mayor’s House Was Firebombed. The Message: Keep Our Town Nuclear-Free.

A furor in an ailing Japanese fishing outpost shows the deep anxiety that remains in the country 10 years after the Fukushima disaster.

#fukushima-japan, #fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-power-plant-japan, #hokkaido-japan, #japan-earthquake-and-tsunami-2011, #nuclear-energy, #nuclear-wastes, #radiation


Fukushima Photos: 10 Years Later

Ten years after a devastating earthquake and tsunami led to a nuclear meltdown in northern Japan, residents are readjusting to places that feel familiar and hostile at once.

#disasters-and-emergencies, #fukushima-japan, #fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-power-plant-japan, #japan, #japan-earthquake-and-tsunami-2011, #nuclear-energy, #photography


Iran Curbs Nuclear Inspectors, but Appears to Leave Space for a Deal

The new limits appeared to be lighter than the country had threatened, giving Western nations three months to see if they can revive the 2015 nuclear agreement.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #grossi-rafael, #international-atomic-energy-agency, #nuclear-energy, #nuclear-weapons, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government, #zarif-mohammad-javad


Texas Crisis Exposes a Nation’s Vulnerability to Climate Change

Continent-spanning storms triggered blackouts in Oklahoma and Mississippi, halted one third of U.S. oil production and disrupted vaccinations in 20 states.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #disasters-and-emergencies, #drought, #electric-light-and-power, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #hurricanes-and-tropical-storms, #nuclear-energy, #power-failures-and-blackouts, #roads-and-traffic, #texas, #united-states, #waste-materials-and-disposal, #water-pollution


Powerful Earthquake Strikes Japan

The epicenter of the quake was off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, the site of a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 that killed thousands and caused meltdowns at a nuclear plant.

#earthquakes, #fukushima-japan, #japan, #japan-earthquake-and-tsunami-2011, #nuclear-energy


To Cut Emissions to Zero, U.S. Needs to Make Big Changes in Next 10 Years

New research details major infrastructure work — including immense construction projects — that would need to start right away to achieve Biden’s goal of zero emissions by 2050.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #batteries, #environment, #fuel-efficiency, #fuel-emissions-transportation, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #nuclear-energy, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #wind-power


Satellite Images Show Construction at Natanz Iranian Nuclear Site

In July, an explosion rocked a key Iranian nuclear facility. Iran called it sabotage and vowed to rebuild a destroyed building underground. Iran is now turning that promise into a reality, new satellite images show.

#fakhrizadeh-mohsen, #international-atomic-energy-agency, #iran, #natanz-iran, #nuclear-energy, #uranium


A Scorched Earth Strategy on Iran

The assassination of a top nuclear scientist isn’t about stopping a bomb — it’s about preventing diplomacy. Joe Biden doesn’t have to let it work.

#assassinations-and-attempted-assassinations, #europe, #iran, #nuclear-energy, #nuclear-weapons, #politics-and-government, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government


First major modular nuclear project having difficulty retaining backers

NuScale's reactor-in-a-can.

Enlarge / NuScale’s reactor-in-a-can. (credit: NuScale)

Earlier this year, the US took a major step that could potentially change the economics of nuclear power: it approved a design for a small, modular nuclear reactor from a company called NuScale. These small reactors are intended to overcome the economic problems that have ground the construction of large nuclear plants to a near halt. While each only produces a fraction of the power possible with a large plant, the modular design allows for mass production and a design that requires less external safety support.

But safety approval is just an early step in the process of building a plant. And the leading proposal for the first NuScale plant is running into the same problem as traditional designs: finances.

The proposal, called the Carbon Free Power Project, would be a cluster of a dozen NuScale reactors based at Idaho National Lab but run by Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, or UAMPS. With all 12 operating, the plant would produce 720 MW of power. But UAMPS is selling it as a way to offer the flexibility needed to complement variable renewable power. Typically, a nuclear plant is either producing or not, but the modular design allows the Carbon Free Power Project to shut individual reactors off if demand is low.

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#energy, #nuclear-energy, #science, #small-modular-reactors


Japan’s New Leader Sets Ambitious Goal of Carbon Neutrality by 2050

The announcement, coming weeks after a similar pledge by China, will require a major overhaul of the infrastructure in Japan, which remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

#carbon-dioxide, #coal, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #japan, #nuclear-energy, #suga-yoshihide


Japan’s New Leader Sets Goal of Being Carbon Neutral by 2050

The announcement, coming weeks after a similar pledge by China, will require a major overhaul of the infrastructure in Japan, which remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

#carbon-dioxide, #coal, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #japan, #nuclear-energy, #suga-yoshihide


Japanese Government Is Ordered to Pay Damages Over Fukushima Disaster

The Sendai High Court said the state and the plant’s operator must pay $9.5 million to survivors of the 2011 nuclear accident. They have until mid-October to appeal to the country’s Supreme Court.

#fukushima-japan, #fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-power-plant-japan, #japan, #japan-earthquake-and-tsunami-2011, #nuclear-energy, #politics-and-government, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #tokyo-electric-power-co


First modular nuclear reactor design certified in the US

NuScale's reactor-in-a-can.

Enlarge / NuScale’s reactor-in-a-can. (credit: NuScale)

One hope buoying nuclear energy advocates has been the promise of “small modular reactor” designs. By dividing a nuclear facility into an array of smaller reactors, they can largely be manufactured in a factory and then dropped into place, saving us from having to build a complex, possibly one-of-a-kind behemoth on site. That could be a big deal for nuclear’s persistent financial problems, while also enabling some design features that further improve safety.

On Friday, the first small modular reactor received a design certification from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, meaning that it meets safety requirements and could be chosen by future projects seeking licensing and approval.

The design comes from NuScale, a company birthed from research at Oregon State University that has received some substantial Department of Energy funding. It’s a 76-foot tall, 15-foot wide steel cylinder (23 meters by 5 meters) capable of producing 50 megawatts of electricity. (The company also has a 60-megawatt iteration teed up.) They envision a plant employing up to 12 of these reactors in a large pool like those used in current nuclear plants.

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#nuclear-energy, #science


Hurricane Laura Passed, but Disaster Still Looms for Texas

We survived Hurricane Laura, but the Gulf Coast needs better surge protections for the next one.

#global-warming, #hazardous-and-toxic-substances, #hurricane-laura-2020, #hurricanes-and-tropical-storms, #nuclear-energy, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline


Poor Planning Left California Short of Electricity in a Heat Wave

Scores of power plants were down or operating below their capacity just as hot weather drove up demand.

#california, #california-independent-system-operator, #california-public-utilities-commission, #diablo-canyon-power-plant-calif, #electric-light-and-power, #ivanpah-solar-electric-generating-system, #newsom-gavin, #nuclear-energy, #pacific-gas-and-electric-co, #power-failures-and-blackouts, #shutdowns-institutional, #wildfires


U.S. Examines Whether Saudi Nuclear Program Could Lead to Bomb Effort

Intelligence agencies are scrutinizing whether the kingdom’s work with China to develop nuclear expertise is cover to process uranium and move toward development of a weapon.

#arms-control-and-limitation-and-disarmament, #central-intelligence-agency, #defense-and-military-forces, #espionage-and-intelligence-services, #international-atomic-energy-agency, #mohammed-bin-salman-1985, #national-security-council, #nuclear-energy, #nuclear-nonproliferation-treaty, #nuclear-weapons, #obama-barack, #saudi-arabia, #schiff-adam-b, #state-department, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-international-relations, #uranium


When Utility Money Talks

Corruption scandals in Ohio and Illinois reveal an unsavory underside to the politics of energy.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #bribery-and-kickbacks, #commonwealth-edison, #energy-and-power, #entergy-corporation, #federal-bureau-of-investigation, #firstenergy-corporation, #householder-larry, #illinois, #madigan-michael-j, #nuclear-energy, #ohio, #state-legislatures


U.A.E. Becomes First Arab Nation to Open a Nuclear Power Plant

The launch is raising concerns about the growing number of nuclear programs in the volatile Middle East.

#abu-dhabi-united-arab-emirates, #middle-east, #nahyan-mohamed-bin-zayed-al-1961, #nuclear-energy, #persian-gulf, #saudi-arabia, #united-arab-emirates, #united-states-international-relations


Powerful Ohio Republican Is Arrested in $60 Million Corruption Scheme

The House speaker was connected with a conspiracy to enact a $1.3 billion bailout of an energy company, the F.B.I. said.

#bribery-and-kickbacks, #energy-harbor, #firstenergy-corporation, #householder-larry, #nuclear-energy, #ohio, #politics-and-government, #state-legislatures


Burning Ships in Iran Add to String of Dozens of Explosions and Fires

Iranian officials say that some of the explosions at factories and military facilities, and some forest fires, may have been sabotage but blamed weather and accidents for the others.

#arson, #defense-and-military-forces, #explosions-accidental, #fires-and-firefighters, #iran, #islamic-revolutionary-guards-corps, #natanz-iran, #nuclear-energy, #nuclear-weapons, #sabotage-crime, #tehran-iran, #wildfires


Iran Is Accused of Hiding Suspected Nuclear Activity

The United States and the big European powers came together to declare they had serious concerns about Tehran’s failure to allow inspectors into two locations.

#embargoes-and-sanctions, #hook-brian-h, #international-atomic-energy-agency, #iran, #nuclear-energy, #nuclear-weapons, #state-department, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government, #zarif-mohammad-javad


U.S. to Penalize Work at Iranian Facilities in Latest Blow to Nuclear Accord

International workers will no longer be able to keep a watchful eye on the nuclear programs, risking a layer of security that had sought to ensure Iran could not secretly violate a 2015 deal with world powers.

#embargoes-and-sanctions, #international-atomic-energy-agency, #iran, #iranian-atomic-energy-organization, #nuclear-energy, #nuclear-weapons, #state-department, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government


S. David Freeman, 94, Tireless Advocate for Clean Energy, Dies

A folksy but forceful “Green Cowboy,” he helped shape energy policy in the White House and at local utilities for seven decades.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #deaths-obituaries, #energy-and-power, #freeman-s-david, #global-warming, #nuclear-energy, #tennessee-valley-authority


Coronavirus and the Price of Trump’s Delusions

A cult of personality is no match for a pandemic.

#accidents-and-safety, #azar-alex-m-ii, #bright-rick-a, #chernobyl-ukraine, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #hydroxychloroquine-drug, #midnight-in-chernobyl-the-story-of-the-worlds-greatest-nuclear-disaster-book, #news-and-news-media, #nuclear-energy, #quarantines, #redfield-robert-r, #rumors-and-misinformation, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #ussr-former-soviet-union