Friday, 30 September 2011

Bill Gates investing more on nuclear energy

Whether this idea will work or not, it is great that someone is willing to put the money required to do the research required for it! without such investments and research no progress could be made: "The outside of the travelling-wave reactor will be similar to today's reactors, but the inside is radically different. A conventional nuclear reactor depends on enriched uranium to generate its heat and electricity, but the travelling-wave reactor uses only a small amount of highly enriched uranium (U-235) to kickstart fission and a slow-moving chain-wave reaction. Two parallel waves of fission then move about a centimetre a year, splitting uranium atoms of the spent nuclear fuel (reprocessed uranium) or unenriched uranium (depleted uranium, U-238) packed into the core, in a process that first creates plutonium-239 and then consumes it. This reaction should be much more efficient than a conventional reactor and, in theory, can be sustained for decades." Read more:

What now that Germany dims nuclear power plants?

What now that Germany dims nuclear power plants? really bad news in terms of climate change "Even if Germany succeeds in producing the electricity it needs, “the nuclear moratorium is very bad news in terms of climate policy,” Mr. Varro said. “We are not far from losing that battle, and losing nuclear makes that unnecessarily difficult.”" read more:, also to satisfy the required power they are buying power generated by nuclear in neighboruring countries!!! "Set in the lush, rolling Bohemian hills of the Czech Republic, the twin reactors of the Soviet-designed Temelín nuclear power plant lie just 44 miles from the German border. Since last spring, when Chancellor Angela Merkel began shutting down Germany’s nuclear reactors, Temelín has stepped up supplies of electricity to Bavaria, where big German manufacturers including BMW, Audi, and Siemens (SI) have factories.
There’s a double paradox here. Germany says its future will be nuclear-free. For the present, though, it’s nuclear not-so-free, relying more than ever on electricity from atomic-powered neighbors. What’s more, the Germans have been turning off their reactors because they don’t want a Fukushima-style meltdown spewing radiation across their country. Yet the Temelín reactors, which are in good shape, are close enough to the border to rain down radiation on Germany should a serious accident occur." read more:

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Is aecl sale "The dumbest in history"?

Is aecl sale "The dumbest in history"? NDP MP Nathan Cullen thinks so, Read more: 'The government, as part of its decision to privatize the Candu division of AECL, is facing a $59 million restructuring charge and "$93 million in adjustments to revenue and costs resulting from AECL's subcontract agreement with Candu Energy Inc.," the newly created subsidiary company of SNC-Lavalin.
Federal spending on the sold nuclear reactor division includes cash to "further commercial operations' progress on life extension reactor projects" that will be factored into future royalties paid back to the government.
Under the terms of the sale of the commercial division, the government and AECL must provide up to $75 million in support toward the completion of the Enhanced Candu Reactor development program.
The sale - which was announced in June and is to close by Friday - likely will also see more than 800 people lose their jobs. SNC-Lavalin has committed to hiring about 1,200 of AECL's commercial operations staff, which totals about 2,025." AT least with the sale behind us finally, the focus could now be put back to research in nuclear science and technology and what Canada needs to be able to continue with that, i.e. a new research reactor...

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

What about Canada?

And now you ask what about Canada especially considering that its only major neutron source is the aging NRU, could be that Saskatchewan will be the scientific centre of Canada with its already operating light source, add a new research reactor, and the sky will be the limit! It is remarkable that Saskatchewan has realized the opportunity and initiated its commitment... This is the link to the video of the announcement for a New Centre for Research in Nuclear Medicine and Materials at the University of Saskatchewan back in March: "The University of Saskatchewan will receive $30 million in funding over the next seven years to establish a centre for the study of nuclear medicine and science.
"In the early 1950s, scientists at the University of Saskatchewan pioneered the use of cobalt 60 for cancer treatment," Premier Wall said. "Today we are taking another important step in re-capturing that international leadership position in nuclear medicine and expanding it to include research in materials science and small reactor design."
The province's $30 million investment in nuclear research builds on January's announcement of $12 million in funding from the federal and provincial governments to build a new linear accelerator and support research into the production medical isotopes at the Canadian Light Source."

China Spallation Neutron Source

As far as new neutron sources are concerned, let's not forget the China Spallation Neutron Source currently under construction: ... and that is in addition to the Chinese research reactor already started up and with neutron instruments being currently built:

The European Spallation Source (ESS)

The European Spallation Source (ESS) will be a world-leading centre for materials research with neutrons and will host the world’s most powerful neutron source when commissioned in 2025: ... and it will be in addition to 12 or so already existing neutron sources in Europe ( Also it was recently announced that the ESS and ILL (Institut Laue-Langevin) are initiating an extensive collaboration for research and development activities within neutron science, another major step towards maintaining a significant role for Europe in neutron science well beyond 2025 (,c9166154).

ILL continues with its commitment to maintain its position as one of the world's leading neutron centres

ILL continues with its commitment to maintain its position as one of the world's leading neutron centres even though it is turning 40 years old this year (not much younger than NRU which is 54 years old)... here is an interview with the ILL's director about these plans: to access the audio you need to register to the, it is free: "In this audio interview, ILL's scientific director Andrew Harrison explains how the lab is in the middle of a major upgrade that aims to maintain its position as one of the world's leading neutron centres.
This effort is particularly important now that construction of the European Spallation Source (ESS) in Sweden is set to get under way. The ESS is an accelerator-based facility that will offer a wide range of researchers, from biologists to engineers, neutron beams that are not available at ILL. However, Harrison insists that ILL will not become a white elephant when the ESS comes online in 2025 and explains how the two facilities will in fact complement each other.
Indeed, physicists at ILL have plenty of experience of working with other major science facilities because Grenoble is also home to the European Synchrotron Radiation Source (ESRF) and several other major research institutes. Harrison explains how this brings the best science and scientists to ILL and continues to encourage the development of other facilities in Grenoble.
The recent trend towards accelerator-based neutron sources, such as the ESS, is, however, leading to a fall in the number of research reactors worldwide, which is a concern to the medical community as it could threaten the supply of medical isotopes. Nevertheless, Harrison has some good news for medical physicists because, as he explains, the ILL has several pilot projects to look at how it could produce isotopes – particularly those that are not easily made elsewhere. Harrison also discusses how ILL is working with a commercial isotope supplier to work out how the institute's high flux reactor could serve the medical community."

Monday, 26 September 2011

What is the number of deaths per TWh by energy source?

What is the number of deaths per TWh by energy source? Here is a nice and interactive chart at the IBM research website Many Eyes ( allowing you to compare the number of deaths measured per terawatt hour (TWH) attributed to each of the main sources of energy worldwide: coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, and biomass as well as the proportion that each contribute to global energy production... data is from a variety of resources including World Health Organization (more info could be found here it is not surprising coal is the most lethal energy source largely due to its particulate emissions... by comparison nuclear is doing quite well (the data already includes the deaths attributable to Chernobyl)... and this is while the data does not include the effects of global warming due to the use of coal, oil etc, so the numbers for these sources could be even higher...

Nuclear power can play a role in the exploitation of Canada's oilsands resources???

hmmm... nuclear power can play a role in the exploitation of Canada's oilsands resources??? why not go all nuclear so no oilsands will be needed in the first place??? I guess for any power consumption is better than not using it... "The head of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. says there's still hope that nuclear power can be used in the oilsands - but the vice-chairman of the company that built Canada's newest oilsands mine says it's not a priority.
"I think nuclear has a role to play in the exploitation of Canada's oilsands resources," said AECL president and chief executive Hugh MacDiarmid during a presentation at the Global Business Forum." read more:

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Did Nobel Laureate, Hermann Muller knowingly suppress evidence on radiation effects in 1946???

Did Nobel Laureate, Hermann Muller (, knowingly suppress evidence on radiation effects in 1946 concluding there is no safe level of radiation exposure???!!! a new study suggests yes, Calabrese adds, "This isn't an academic debate, it's really practical, because all of our rules about chemical and low-level radiation are based on the premises that Muller and the National Academy of Sciences' (NAS) committee adopted at that time. Now, after all these years, it's very hard when people have been frightened to death by this dogma to persuade them that we don't need to be scared by certain low-dose exposures."' read more to decide for yourselves: ... see also: ... and

Nuclear and isotopic techniques play a vital role in water irrigation in places with extreme dry conditions

Incredible!!! nuclear and isotopic techniques play a vital role in water irrigation in places with extreme dry conditions!!! "Agriculture is the largest global consumer of water -- accounting for around 70% of the freshwater drawn from lakes, waterways and aquifers around the world.
The IAEA is operating projects in Kenya that use nuclear and isotopic techniques to inform farmers how to use their scarce water resources efficiently for both rain fed and irrigated agriculture.
One project is supporting the use of "drip irrigation" a cost-effective technique that can reduce water use by 50 per cent, compared to other forms of irrigation. A Maasai community on the Tanzanian border is also benefiting from the IAEA project which is helping them to grow healthy crops using very little water in extreme dry conditions." see the full video:
... also check out this video related to the use of nuclear techniques in locating safe sources of water... "In 1993, Bangladesh found its main source of fresh water was contaminated with natural arsenic, resulting in a public health threat impacting millions of people. In cooperation with the World Bank, the IAEA used isotope hydrology techniques to help the country to find safe drinking water. By using nuclear techniques, Bangladesh was able to demonstrate that isotope hydrology could effectively and affordably help to locate identify safe sources of water. This film demonstrates some of the effects of arsenic poisoning in these villages and its successful resolution."

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Wind farm health risks

Well, the wind farms for electricity production may not be as environmentally friendly as claimed by their proponents, this article deals with noise and vibrations (let's not forget the potential hazard for the birds local to the area), read more to decide for yourselves:

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

ILL sets a new record for ultracold neutrons in the world using liquid 4He

ILL sets a new record for ultracold neutrons in the world using liquid 4He: "Neutrons were discovered nearly a century ago, but still hold a few secrets. For example, a lone neutron can transform into other subatomic particles - a proton, an electron and an electron antineutrino - but efforts to measure just how long this decay takes have come up with different numbers.
Such decay times are fundamental in the "Standard Model" of physics, which aims to describe in detail how matter as we now know it came to be in the earliest moments of the Universe's history, and also shed light on the fusion happening for example in stars.
The Standard Model also suggests that despite having no net charge, there is a small separation of charges within neutrons that would give them what is known as an electric dipole moment - a kind of electric north and south pole. However, experiments have until now been too inexact to measure it." ... and so the new approach uses liquid 4He: "It uses superfluid helium-4 at a temperature of -269C - just four degrees above absolute zero - to slow the neutrons down, taming them toward the 55-per-cubic-centimetre benchmark." Read more:

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The reactor at the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble turns 40 years old

The reactor at the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble turns 40 years old this winter, here is a great write up about one of first neutron experiments performed there by the person who performed the experiments at that time, read more: "Though our soap films were only a few molecules thick and invisible to the naked eye, we could still bounce neutrons off them with ease because we used heavy soap, where the hydrogen atoms had been replaced by the chunkier deuterium isotope.
I would sleep next to my experiment as multicoloured neutron detectors glided across marble tanzboden ('dance floors'), all to a background thrum of cooling pumps and fans. At different angles the number of neutrons reflected off the film gently rose and fell. These ripples revealed the thickness in the same way that a rainbow of colours reflect the different thicknesses of an oil slick on water.
In one fell swoop we had revealed the neutron's paradoxical character - a particle that behaves like a wave - and measured the thickness of a film one hundredth of a millionth of a metre across." :

Sunday, 18 September 2011

How clean is the electricity you use?

How clean is the electricity you use? here is a great website (US Environmental Protection Agency) if you live in the US, just type your zip code and it compare the sources of electricity in your region compared to the national average: ... also this website is a great resource for coal-fired power plant emissions including an article discussing the radioactive pollution ( as well as other toxic substances released by burning of coal: ...if you live in Ontario, this website gives a live account of where Ontario's electricity come from (at this moment 9:04am Sept. 18, 2011 it is 76% nuclear):

Friday, 16 September 2011

Where does the world go after Fukushima?

This is the link to a great conversation discussing the question "where does the world go after Fukushima", with three University of Western Ontario nuclear experts: Jin Jiang, University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering Chair in Control/Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Senior Industrial Research Chair in Nuclear Control and Instrumentation; David Shoesmith, NSERC Chair in Nuclear Waste Management; and J. Clara Wren, NSERC/Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. Industrial Research Chair in Radiation Induced Processes, read more: "Shoesmith: In the face of a media torrent of misleading information, it is extremely difficult to do that which is why it is absolutely essential to have up-front credibility. When incidents happen you will have nothing people can rely on if they do not trust you. There is no argument to be made for secretive management. Careful attention to public relations is essential.
Most people are more sensible than people in the industry or the media give them credit for. They think a lot about the consequences of no energy. They can look at a safety record and see how safe Canadian systems have been for a long time. I don’t see any panic in communities around Canadian nuclear stations. Before this incident, certainly in this province, public opinion was becoming pro-nuclear. People recognize the present need for nuclear generation of electricity. I am not sure what public opinion is now, but I don’t think it has taken a big drop":

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Celebrating the 100 year-old Rutherford model of the atom

Since the Rutherford model of the atom turns 100 years old this year, there are many commemorating websites celebrating this discovery, the link below is a great summary of the different models of the atom how they came about and how more progress was made in simple language:

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Momentum builds for nuclear centre in Saskatchewan

More progress in establishment of the nuclear centre in Saskatchewan, this is so exciting and great news, good for Saskatchewan for this initiative and will to become a leader in nuclear science and technology, read more: "The purpose of the centre is “to place Saskatchewan among the global leaders in nuclear research, development and training,” said Root, who is on secondment from his role as director of the National Research Council’s Canadian Neutron Beam Centre at Chalk River, Ont. “We will get there through investing in partnerships with academia and industry. These partnerships are intended to maximize social and economic benefits.”
The centre will focus in areas that have the potential to make significant contributions to nuclear knowledge, explained Root. These include: nuclear medicine, materials development, safety and practice in nuclear energy systems, and society’s knowledge and understanding of nuclear-related technology."

Atomic Ivan movie

Can't wait to see this film! "projecting an image of modern young scientists; promoting the idea of continuity of skills and culture between generations of nuclear workers; illustrating the true nature of the nuclear industry; and attracting a target audience through modern, topical cinematic language and expression."

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

A site for all things uranium

this is a very good and informative site for all things related to uranium and its usage including: medicine food safety, materials research and of course nuclear power, as well as a few great notes for school teachers:

Microbes generate electricity while cleaning up nuclear waste

This is soooo cool, microbes clean up nuclear waste and not only that while doing it, they produce electricity!!! “Our findings clearly identify nanowires as being the primary catalyst for uranium reduction,” Reguera said. “They are essentially performing nature’s version of electroplating with uranium, effectively immobilizing the radioactive material and preventing it from leaching into groundwater.”
The nanowires also shield Geobacter and allow the bacteria to thrive in a toxic environment," read more: and this is the link to the full publication:

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

smallest atomic displacements observed ever: a major breakthrough in understanding multofeeroic

An incredible discovery and major breakthrough in understanding the behaviour of multiferroics, materials for the next-generation electronic devices: using a novel X-ray technique, atomic displacements in materials are determined with unprecedented accuracy, the technique applied on multiferroic TbMnO3 material unambiguously shows that "the electric polarisation in the multiferroic studied proceeds from the relative displacement of charges of different signs, rather than the transfer of charge from one atom to another." read more:

Monday, 5 September 2011

University education is becoming less and less affordable?

Do you feel university education is becoming less and less affordable in Canada (at least in in Ontario)?, you are not alone, here is a new study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives with some jaw dropping comparison of the costs in 1990 compared to 2011: ... "Over the past two decades, Ontario's system of financing higher education has become more regressive, exploiting already over-stretched families who want to help their children pursue their educational aspirations. In 1990, a middle-income family in Ontario could earn the equivalent of four years of tuition fees in 87 days; it will take 195 days in 2011. The situation is even more dire for low-income families who are looking at the equivalent of two years of income for four years of tuition fees in 2011.
By forcing all but the wealthiest families to play priority roulette, assume still more debt, or make the difficult decision that higher education is too great a financial burden to bear, Ontario is hampering its economic and educational potential, and we are all paying the price." read more in the full document: