Friday, 30 March 2012

Request for Expression of Interest (RFEOI) for future of AECL/Chalk River Labs

unfortunately I am unable to post the whole pdf document, but I can post the most important page to show you the format of the document that needs to be submitted. All you need is to indicate which of the facilities there are of interest to you...
new research reactor is item e in 5b ! :)
the submissions are done through merx: ... just search for aecl... 

Request for Expression of Interest (RFEOI) for AECL/Chalk River Labs: submit your ideas directly to the Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver

As you may remember the deadline for the Request for Expression of Interest (RFEOI) for future of AECL/Chalk River Labs by the government is fast approaching! it is in fact April 2... there are still a few days remained and you could make a difference. Here is a link to the local MP's website in which you could directly "send your comments, ideas, responses or any information you would like to share, to Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver before April 2, 2012. All submissions are confidential." ... As the MP says: "this is your chance to be part of the re-structuring process. You can either sit back and let others determine your future, or you can play a part. Share your first-hand knowledge of potential opportunities."... "If you do nothing else except express your confidence in the future of science and technology in Canada’s nuclear industry, you will have played an important part in this process." it is our responsibility to take part in shaping the future of this important national treasure, so please send your ideas/comments as to what you'd like to see happen at CRL ASAP:

CINS submits expression of interest in AECL

CINS submits expression of interest in AECL: "March 30, 2012 - CINS has responded to Natural Resources Canada's consultative process on the restructuring of AECL, known as a Request for Expressions of Interest. The following is a summary of the submission. The document may be downloaded here.
CINS would seek to contribute to an oversight role so as to restore CRL to its proper position as a centre for research in Canada, and to ensure that its unique combination of capabilities is managed for the benefit of all clients, whether they be academic, government or industrial users.
Our members are active users of the Canadian Neutron Beam Centre that is based around the NRU reactor at Chalk River. Our organisation seeks to promote the use of neutron beam research techniques and our members have been involved in research at Chalk River Laboratories almost since the facility was created. We believe that neither Chalk River Laboratories in general, nor Canadian neutron beam research in particular, have a meaningful future without a powerful research reactor on the Chalk River site, and that since NRU is coming to the end of its operational life, it is essential that a new research reactor be built as a matter of great urgency so that an orderly succession can be managed. Furthermore, in order to fully realise the scientific and technical potential of Chalk River Laboratories, a major shift in culture will be needed so that research is identified as a laboratory priority, and external users from academia, government and industry are both welcomed and supported in their research.
The National Research Universal (NRU) reactor and the associated facilities at Chalk River Laboratories represent the largest national investment in research infrastructure in Canada. Despite decades of worldclass contributions to research in all aspects of nuclear science and technology, the site was allowed to decay from the mid-90s and it has become a pale shadow of its former self. With investment in a new research reactor, and active promotion of a new research-centred mission for the laboratory, a revitalised Chalk River Laboratories could regain its position as a world leader in nuclear and neutron-based science and technology and serve a broad range of academic, government and industrial users. It would advance knowledge and contribute to the training of thousands of highly qualified people, both those who work onsite, and the far larger number of people who would visit the laboratories to use the facilities and interact with the teams of local specialists. By re-defining the site's mandate as “research”, Chalk River Laboratories would be in a position to contribute to fields far from nuclear engineering and would support research in energy, environment, health, communications, materials science, fundamental physics and chemistry and manufacturing and process development for the automotive, aerospace and mineral processing sectors. The knowledge gained would both expand Canada's technological base, and also inform government as it seeks to develop science-based policies that support a technology-driven economy, and that both foster and regulate industry in Canada."
this is the link to the full document submitted:

Shunning nuclear power will lead to a warmer world

This is a good read: Shunning nuclear power will lead to a warmer world: ..."A physicist argues that if we allow our overblown and often irrational fears of nuclear energy to block the building of a significant number of new nuclear plants, we will be choosing a far more perilous option: the intensified burning of planet-warming fossil fuels." ... "These blows to the world’s nuclear industry will have severe unintended consequences, most notably because they will inevitably lead to more burning of fossil fuels. Over the past half-century, wherever a nuclear reactor was not built, a coal-fired power plant usually was constructed to supply the necessary electricity. In future decades, the fewer nuclear reactors, the more coal, natural gas, and oil will be consumed. To be sure, there are promising alternatives like wind and solar, and increases in efficiency so that fewer power plants will be needed. Yet realistically these cannot meet the intense demand for rising economic prosperity, especially in China and other developing nations. And while nuclear reactors make me nervous, the consequences of fossil-fuel burning terrify me.
The harm done to human health and the environment by all the nuclear accidents and nuclear waste releases in history is minor compared with the harm caused by the mining and burning of coal, with other fossil fuels not far behind. And there is worse: global warming, caused largely by the emission of heat-trapping gases from fossil fuels. If emissions continue to increase in a “business as usual” fashion — let alone if they increase even faster as reactors are phased out — future generations will suffer as we destabilize the climate system that has supported human civilization for thousands of years. Rising sea levels, droughts in key agricultural regions, and ever-worsening heat waves will threaten people just as the world’s population is projected to expand from 7 billion today to 10 billion by 2100. We will see the impoverishment of some of the ecosystems on which our society depends. While nuclear power offers no magical solution, it could help us avoid the worst."

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Three Mile Island accident

On anniversary of the Three Mile Island accident, here is the link to the PBS documentary chronicling it:

More on whether Canada's federal scientists being 'muzzled'?

There is another article on CBC that discusses the issue of whether Canada's federal scientists being 'muzzled'? ... Well perhaps it is a good time to review the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada that took effect on August 1, 2006 replacing the old one from 2002. Read for yourself and decide whether there is a directive from the government that prevents the scientists to talk to the media, especially note article 19 and 20, also copied below: "19. Media Relations
Journalists and other media representatives play an important role in the democratic process - providing the public with news and information about government, and reporting on the public's views and opinions of government. Institutions must cultivate proactive relations with the media to promote public awareness and understanding of government policies, programs, services and initiatives.
Institutions must operate and respond effectively in a 24-hour media environment. They must be able, on short notice, to reach and inform the media on issues of importance to decision-makers and the public. Institutions engage the media using a variety of communication tools, including news conferences, background or technical briefings, news releases, and audio-video presentations.
Institutions must facilitate information or interview requests from the media, and manage plans and strategies for communicating with the media. Institutions must consult their minister's office when planning media campaigns or strategies that could involve ministerial participation, or when preparing a response to a media enquiry that could have implications for the minister.
Institutions must respect the authority and responsibility of Parliament, whose members are entitled to learn about planned legislative initiatives before information about them is released to the media.
Institutions must ensure the quality and consistency of information services provided to the media in both official languages. Media enquiries, whether by phone, email, letter or in person, must be addressed promptly to accommodate publication deadlines.
Institutions must ensure processes and procedures are in place to assist managers and employees in responding to media calls. Communication specialists responsible for media relations ensure that media requests, particularly for interviews or technical information on specialized subjects, are directed to knowledgeable managers or staff designated to speak as official representatives of their institution. (See Requirement 20 for policy direction on spokespersons.)
20. Spokespersons
Ministers are the principal spokespersons of the Government of Canada. They are supported in this role by appointed aides, including executive assistants, communication directors and press secretaries in ministers' offices, and by the senior management teams of government institutions, which include deputy heads, heads of communications and other officials.
Ministers present and explain government policies, priorities and decisions to the public. Institutions, leaving political matters to the exclusive domain of ministers and their offices, focus their communication activities on issues and matters pertaining to the policies, programs, services and initiatives they administer.
An institution's senior management must designate managers and knowledgeable staff in head offices and in the regions to speak in an official capacity on issues or subjects for which they have responsibility and expertise.
Officials designated to speak on an institution's behalf, including technical or subject-matter experts, must receive instruction, particularly in media relations, to carry out their responsibilities effectively and to ensure the requirements of their institution and this policy are met. (See Requirement 19 for policy direction on media relations.)
Spokespersons, particularly senior managers, are often called upon to represent institutions before parliamentary committees and boards of inquiry. To ensure effective communication that respects official protocol, spokespersons must be familiar with Privy Council Office guidelines on appearing before Parliament and other official bodies.
Spokespersons at all times must respect privacy rights, security needs, matters before the courts, government policy, Cabinet confidences and ministerial responsibility. When speaking as an institution's official representative, they must identify themselves by name and position, speak on the record for public attribution, and confine their remarks to matters of fact concerning the policies, programs, services or initiatives of their institution."

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Sandia’s Ion Beam Laboratory performs research on advanced materials for future reactors

Sandia’s Ion Beam Laboratory performs research on advanced materials for future reactors. A replacement for the aging NRU reactor will ensure that Canada will be able to perform such research well into the future... here is the link for Sandia's story at physorg: "andia National Laboratories is using its Ion Beam Laboratory (IBL) to study how to rapidly evaluate the tougher advanced materials needed to build the next generation of nuclear reactors and extend the lives of current reactors."

US president's speech at Hankuk University on the value of nuclear technologies

US president's speech at Hankuk University on the value of nuclear technologies: " ..."And this brings me to the final area where we’ve made progress -- a renewed commitment to harnessing the power of the atom not for war, but for peaceful purposes. After the tragedy at Fukushima, it was right and appropriate that nations moved to improve the safety and security of nuclear facilities. We’re doing so in the United States. It’s taking place all across the world.
As we do, let’s never forget the astonishing benefits that nuclear technology has brought to our lives. Nuclear technology helps make our food safe. It prevents disease in the developing world. It’s the high-tech medicine that treats cancer and finds new cures. And, of course, it’s the energy -- the clean energy that helps cut the carbon pollution that contributes to climate change. Here in South Korea, as you know, as a leader in nuclear energy, you’ve shown the progress and prosperity that can be achieved when nations embrace peaceful nuclear energy and reject the development of nuclear arms.
And with rising oil prices and a warming climate, nuclear energy will only become more important. That’s why, in the United States, we’ve restarted our nuclear industry as part of a comprehensive strategy to develop every energy source. We supported the first new nuclear power plant in three decades. We’re investing in innovative technologies so we can build the next generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants. And we’re training the next generation of scientists and engineers who are going to unlock new technologies to carry us forward.
One of the great challenges they’ll face and that your generation will face is the fuel cycle itself in producing nuclear energy. We all know the problem: The very process that gives us nuclear energy can also put nations and terrorists within the reach of nuclear weapons. We simply can’t go on accumulating huge amounts of the very material, like separated plutonium, that we’re trying to keep away from terrorists.
And that’s why we’re creating new fuel banks, to help countries realize the energy they seek without increasing the nuclear dangers that we fear. That’s why I’ve called for a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation. We need an international commitment to unlocking the fuel cycle of the future. In the United States we’re investing in the research and development of new fuel cycles so that dangerous materials can’t be stolen or diverted. And today I urge nations to join us in seeking a future where we harness the awesome power of the atom to build and not to destroy."

Monday, 26 March 2012

Happy birthday Tony Leggett

Happy birthday Tony Leggett! Leggett was born on March 26, 1938 in London, he had almost finished his bachelor's degree in classics and philosophy at Oxford when he decided to switch to physics. About 15 years later, he did the work that would earn him the 2003 Nobel physics prize: on the phase diagram of superfluid helium-3:

Dr. Richard Feynman

Here is the link to an interview Richard Feynman had with historian Charles Weiner when he spoke about his life and work in length: interesting to note is the role played by Feynman's dentist in the great physicist's early science education!:

Earth warming faster than expected

Earth warming faster than expected: "By 2050, global average temperature could be between 1.4°C and 3°C warmer than it was just a couple of decades ago, according to a new study. That's substantially higher than estimates produced by other climate analyses, suggesting that Earth's climate could warm much more quickly than previously thought."

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Helium shortage

Helium shortage: perhaps recycling helium in all research labs should also be attempted! "According to some, the world may run completely out of helium gas within 30 years. Such an outage could have major implications on space travel and exploration, scientific and nuclear research, and even medical advances and early detection of diseases.
To make the situation all the more frustrating is the way we are depleting this resource: selling the gas at unbelievable low prices for party balloons and other uses. The writing on the wall is clear: the world is running out of the precious gas at an alarming rate, and scientists worry if current conditions continue, we may have to travel, quite literally, to the ends of the Earth to find more.
Helium is a natural byproduct of petrochemicals and therefore, is a non-renewable resource. The gas is released during natural gas and oil drilling. Therefore, most of the gas are found in the mineral-rich south and southwest. If the gas is not captured, it is released into the air, making it impossible to recover."

Friday, 23 March 2012

Magnetic cloak!

Magnetic cloak? yes!!! "Researchers in Europe have built a magnetic cloak that, in theory, is reasonably practical to manufacture. An object concealed by the new cloak, the researchers claim, is magnetically undetectable, while the cloak itself is made from materials available in many physics labs the world over. This means that it is, in principle, the first cloak that should be reasonably practical to manufacture. "

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Bubble Technology Industries

This is a nice writeup about BTI company ( which began in April 1988 a startup that spun out of AECL: ... "In the 1980s, Harry Ing was looking for more effective ways to measure radiation dose from potentially harzardous radiation particles called neutrons. He developed a device called the bubble detector, which used bubbles trapped inside a gel to take a quantitative measurement of neutron radiation exposure.
The company has grown steadily over the last two decades and now offers a wide range of radiation and explosives detection technologies to clients. It also performs cutting-edge contract research with its team of scientists, engineers, and support staff."

CNBC hosts graduate classes

training students in the field of neutron scattering, this is how NRU has enabled that for many years, a new research reactor replacing it will ensure that this could go on for many more years...

Sustainable Energy Choices for the 21st Century

Great video from Barry Brook of Brave New Climate stating a much needed perspective as to why we need nuclear energy!, please share: "Climate change and sustainability of the global human enterprise are two of the most critical issues of the 21st Century. If we are to tackle these problems effectively, we need to make prudent, evidence-based choices about energy."
And another short video this one from Nuclear Energy Institute: "Nuclear Energy: Cleaner, Safer and Made in America":
... and here a couple more ads from Nuclear Energy Institute:

New nuclear institute fosters collaborations in advanced materials research

Awesome! and note that the collaboration is also with colleagues from Atomic Energy of Canada’s Chalk River Laboratories: New nuclear institute fosters collaborations in advanced materials research: "Most people are familiar with cubic zirconia as a more economical alternative to diamonds in jewelry, but for University of Saskatchewan researcher Andrew Grosvenor, the interest lies in its remarkable properties beyond its ability to sparkle.
Cubic zirconium is hard, durable, resists corrosion, and has a high melting point – more than 2,750 degrees Celsius. These qualities make it ideal for use in nuclear reactors or to sequester nuclear waste products.
“This material has a large number of current and potential applications,” Grosvenor says. “In this case, it could be used to store radioactive waste elements or to act as a host for neutron absorbers, which would be placed in a nuclear reactor.”
Grosvenor, assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Saskatchewan, is exploring cross-country collaboration with colleagues from Atomic Energy of Canada’s Chalk River Laboratories to look at ways of combining zirconium with other elements to create new materials with a range of uses."

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A blueprint for nuclear clock accurate over billions of years

Quite neat! would you like to have a clock accurate to within a tenth of a second over 14 billion years – the age of the universe? here is the "the blueprint for a nuclear clock that would get its extreme accuracy from the nucleus of a single thorium ion."... and you wonder what use that would have? it could be used for "certain forms of secure communication – and perhaps of greater interest – for studying the fundamental theories of physics. A nuclear clock could be as much as one hundred times more accurate than current atomic clocks, which now serve as the basis for the global positioning system (GPS) and a broad range of important measurements.":

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Albert Einstein and the most elemental atomic theory

Ever wondered how Albert Einstein proved the existence of atoms in 1905? here is a great read by Paul Bowersox at the ANS Nuclear Cafe commemorating Einstein's 133nd birthday:

China grabbing up uranium to secure nuclear lead

China grabbing up uranium to secure nuclear lead: ... well I think it is called planning ahead! "More signs that China will lead the world in nuclear power: The country is snapping up a significant chunk of the world’s supply of uranium in part by buying mines in Africa and making deals with Canada to secure the nuclear fuel.
China is on track to build up to 100 nuclear reactors by 2030. It already has 27 of those under construction, as a path away from the polluting, CO2-emitting coal-fired plants that supply 80 percent of its electricity. The country looks likely to vault into the top position of nuclear generating nations - 100 new reactors would be nearly a quarter of the 435 nuclear power reactors that are commercially generating electricity in the world today."

A nuclear dream from London

A good read: "A silly claim is now making the rounds the United States that a supply of natural gas that – at unchanged production – could last a hundred years. Until I see more evidence of a scientific nature, I intend to believe that, with luck, the present production of natural gas in that country could be continued for at most 50 years. On the other hand, it is certain that there is enough uranium and thorium to supply every reactor being constructed (or for that matter contemplated) for at least a hundred years. This is because, as I pointed out in my latest Energy Tribune article, it is nuclear and not natural gas or anything else that will benefit the most from the march of technology."... "The most expensive nuclear equipment now being purchased or contemplated is, in reality, less expensive than the least expensive alternatives that are presently available!"

Friday, 16 March 2012

Now is the Time for Canada to Invest in Nuclear Energy

A must read: Now is the Time for Canada to Invest in Nuclear Energy: "Canada has an opportunity to regain a leadership position in the one of the world’s pre-eminent clean energy technologies. But to do this, our leaders must take courageous, long-term decisions to invest in new nuclear energy projects today. As a proud Canadian and nuclear industry employee, I look forward to seeing the next new nuclear plant under construction in Ontario. While this may not be the easiest course of action, our leaders will find that new investment in nuclear energy is good for Canadians’ electricity rates, Canada’s industrial base, and Canada’s clean energy future."

The winners of the 2nd "Illustrating NMI3" picture competition are announced

The winners of the 2nd "Illustrating NMI3" picture competition are announced: ... Love the photo which won the second prize (by Holger Kohlmann from Universität des Saarlandes in Germany): a picture of a sapphire gas pressure cell, on the high-intensity diffractometer D20 at the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL).

CNSC allows the restart of the Bruce A Unit 2

CNSC allows the restart of the Bruce A Unit 2: Duncan Hawthorne, President and CEO's on youtube: "The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has given Bruce Power the go-ahead to power up its Unit 2 reactor.
Today's permission to remove reactor shutdown guarantees from Unit 2, which has been shut down for nearly 20 years, means it is now a live reactor and Bruce Power can complete final safety checks in preparation for synchronization to Ontario's electricity grid.
"The regulator's approval clears the way for our staff to take the reactor to power operation and complete the remaining commissioning and start-up tests on the unit," said Duncan Hawthorne, President and CEO. "Operations staff will complete a number of tests that will clear the way for Unit 2 deliver to low-cost, clean, reliable power to the provincial grid."
Innovation has been a key theme of the refurbishment program on Unit 2, with many complex maneuvers being completed, when previously they were thought to be impossible.
"A project of this magnitude has never been done before on a CANDU reactor and that cannot be overlooked," Hawthorne said. "We have learned many lessons from our work on Unit 2 and have implemented them on Unit 1 which is following very closely behind Unit 2 and should achieve a similar milestone in a few short months."
The next step will be to synchronize Unit 2 to the Ontario electricity grid. The 750 megawatt unit will produce enough electricity to power approximately 500,000 homes which is roughly the size of the city of Hamilton." this is the link to the CNSC's announcement:

Thursday, 15 March 2012

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau will receive the Cliff Shull Prize at ACNS 2012

Prof. Robert Birgeneau, UC Berkeley Chancellor, will receive the Cliff Shull Prize for his research in the field of neutron scattering at the ACNS meeting in June ( The award is given to a leading researcher who has made lifelong contributions to the field of neutron science every two years. This is richly deserved for Prof. Birgeneau considering his extensive and continuing record of high important scientific articles and a remarkable track record of supervising students and post-docs... In this great interview, the chancellor talks about juggling the chancellorship and staying on the cutting edge of physics research: "Q: What work of yours is the Neutron Scattering Society of America recognizing?
It’s actually more of a career award. In trying to understand these exotic materials, it turns out that using beams of neutrons from either accelerators or nuclear reactors is particularly important. I have a longtime investment in the basic science in this field, plus have chaired DOE (Department of Energy) committees that assessed both the field and the facilities that are available nationally and internationally. So, the award also recognizes the leadership that I provided on the administrative side. In addition, the award recognizes my success in graduate student mentoring. Former students of mine are now professors at Harvard, MIT, Yale, UC Santa Barbara, Cambridge and many other leading universities nationally and internationally." ... "Q: What kinds of experiments do you do?
Our goal is to identify materials that have unusually interesting properties, such as high-temperature superconductors. The Shull Prize recognizes my use of neutron beams to probe the properties of these materials at the atomic level. The neutron beam scatters off the atoms collectively and tells us about the electron spins and the nuclear positions.
As I noted before, our aim isn’t for practical devices; it is to understand materials at the most fundamental level. When I began my research program here at Berkeley, we focused on traditional high-temperature superconductors, which are based on two-dimensional sheets of copper oxide. But I had a stroke of luck. In 2007 and 2008, a completely new and unexpected class of materials was discovered based on sheets of iron arsenide – iron plus arsenic. This was a boon for me because, when I switched to studying these materials, which have quite exotic properties, I was really starting up a new research program from scratch at Berkeley. Instead of just continuing old lines of research going back to my MIT days, I had the opportunity to participate in a completely new field.
Now, we’re just working away at trying to characterize the materials and to elucidate the basic properties, so we know how to think about them. This field is at a very early stage of development, which is the most fun for me, my students and my postdocs."

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Dr. Bob Walker, President & CEO of AECL, speaks at the 2012 CNA Conference

Dr. Bob Walker, President and CEO of AECL, speaks at the 2012 Canadian Nuclear Association Conference: "Dr. Bob Walker on how Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's (AECL) Nuclear Labs are applying their resources, knowledge and unique nuclear research facilities to the benefit of Canada and the world. He describes AECL's role as an advisor to, and agent of, the Canadian Government for public policy purposes. He goes on to explain how to participate in the Nuclear Labs' business innovation initiatives, and how the Labs can assist your company with technology transfer, to boost competitive advantage and commercial success.":

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Superconducting maglev track could launch spacecraft into orbit

So cool! superconducting maglev track could launch spacecraft into orbit!!! another example of how fundamental research in one area of science could be used in different areas and remove important obstacles!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Fukushima's refugees are victims of irrational fear, not radiation

A must read: Fukushima's Refugees Are Victims Of Irrational Fear, Not Radiation: "The radiation in those potato chips isn’t going to kill me. Likewise, no one is going to die from Fukushima radiation. Cancer rates are not going to increase in Japan. The disaster wasn’t hidden like the Soviets did, so that people unknowingly ate iodine-131 for two months before it decayed away to nothing. No one threw workers into the fire like lemmings because they didn’t know what to do."

Honourable Rob Norris on Saskatchewan's nuclear investments

The Honourable Rob Norris on Saskatchewan's nuclear investments, a must watch video: "2012 Canadian Nuclear Association Conference and Trade Show.
The Honourable Rob Norris on the Government of Saskatchewan's plan for the future of the province's nuclear industry." paraphrasing: "we are working to adding value through innovation, we are very focused and energized to adding value to uranium though nuclear research in medicine, materials science, small reactor modules... we have been working on CLS in producing medical isotopes ($12M investment), Canadian Centre for nuclear innovation has been established and funded, research cyclotron, partnership with Hiotachi GE in nuclear research allowing us to make real progress, and recent announcement for uranium sale to China... SK intends to gain leadership role in nuclear R&D and we know we need partnerships as these could not be done alone"

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Science policy decision making

Science policy decision making, it could be difficult at times, this paper ( addresses questions such as: “understanding the role of scientific evidence in policymaking” and “democratic governance of scientific advice”. The questions themselves include “Under what conditions does scientific evidence legitimise political decisions?” and “What impact has research on the relationship between science and policy actually had on science policy?” but are the "science" and "policy" separable? a thought provoking article in any case...

US DOE makes a commitment for advancing Small Modular Reactors

US DOE makes a commitment for advancing Small Modular Reactors: ... also see: : "SMR’s have been a hot topic in the nuclear industry for a while now and were developed to solve three large issues that face the industry as it stands today. The first is cost. With a new, large-scale plant costing somewhere in the six to eight billion dollar range, power companies are having a tough time finding the financing to pay for them. A large part of the construction cost comes from building and certifying the reactor. In contrast, SMRs could be built and certified in a factory and shipped to the actual power plant site, greatly reducing the costs involved. Also, since SMRs are smaller than their larger brothers, they are much cheaper, meaning smaller power companies will be able to bring the capital together to build them. The second issue is refueling. Refueling a large reactor takes a great deal of time, during which electricity is not being provided to the public. Nuclear fuel has to be transported to the site, the reactor has to be disassembled, and the fuel swapped out. Then the old fuel has to be stored somewhere. SMRs deal with this problem by being a total-package deal. The reactor is shipped to the site, and once it runs out of juice, the reactor is shipped back. No on-site refueling, no interruption of power production (as long as you got your new reactor in before you ship the old one back), and no on-site storage of spent nuclear fuel. The third issue is size. Nuclear power plants up till now have been big, base load providing, power plants. These days the DOE is moving toward a distributed approach to energy, meaning lots of smaller power plants spread out along the grid, and SMRs are the nuclear industry’s answer to that approach. Beyond just their application in the power industry though, SMRs could also be used to provide process heat for industrial applications, such as hydrogen production.
Up till now though SMRs have been a nice thought, with some Autocad drawings and a few calculations done, but they remain untested. With access to a test facility, the three companies named above will be building their designs for actual use. Hopefully through testing they’ll discover that the SMR concept is still feasible and doable, while still solving the cost and refueling issues of the past."

High optimism for nuclear power on Fukushima anniversary

High optimism for nuclear power on Fukushima anniversary: "Industry leaders remain bullish on nuclear power's prospects in coming decades, in part because of the high priority that has been placed on identifying and addressing potential weaknesses such as were revealed last year at Fukushima Daiichi.
"Very little has changed... in respect of the future utilisation of nuclear in the energy mix," said the World Energy Council (WEC) in a perspective document: Nuclear Energy One Year After Fukushima. After surveying its members in 94 countries, WEC found that "The Fukushima accident has not led to any significant retraction in nuclear energy programs in countries outside Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Japan," said senior project manager Ayed Al-Qatani. Progress in some countries' programs has been delayed, but "there is no indication that their pursuit of nuclear power has declined in response to Fukushima."
This global stability in nuclear policy stems from the unchanged nature of the drivers behind nuclear power's use in the first place: The world still has an increasing need for reliable, affordable and secure energy sources that can also help achieve a lower-carbon mix. And while the accident at Fukushima Daiichi "shocked not only world opinion, but also the nuclear industry ... people can draw confidence from the absence of any health harm even from this extreme, highly unusual event," said the World Nuclear Association (WNA).
"Countries like Germany will soon demonstrate the economic and environmental irresponsibility of allowing politicians to set important national policies in the middle of a panic attack." John Ritch, World Nuclear Association
Nevertheless, the accident has had "severe social and economic consequences," said WNA, due to the prolonged evacuation of Fukushima residents. One year after the tsunami and several months after stability was restored at the power plant site, the evacuation remains the principal impact of the accident.
"Countries like Germany will soon demonstrate the economic and environmental irresponsibility of allowing politicians to set important national policies in the middle of a panic attack," said John Ritch, WNA's director general. "In contrast, many national leaders who soberly reviewed their energy strategies have reaffirmed the conclusion they reached before Fukushima: that nuclear power is a uniquely reliable and expandable source of low-carbon energy that can be safely used to meet clean-energy need.""
This is where the full report could be found:

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The scale of universe

Ever wanted to explore the scale of universe from nuclear particles to far edge of the observable universe? this is pretty cool tool for it!!! 10^ -24 m to 10^ +27 m should cover it all, just use scroll bar to explore the scale of our universe from smallest to largest distances!!!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Significant increase in science funding in China

Significant increase in science (including basic science) funding in China announced in the draft budget today: "Another year, another chance for scientists here to pop the champagne corks. In a draft budget released today at the opening session of the annual National People's Congress, China has earmarked 32.45 billion yuan ($5.14 billion) for basic research in 2012—up 26% from last year's appropriation.
Overall, central government spending on science and technology is slated to rise 12.4%, to 228.54 billion yuan ($36.23 billion). Scientists will also benefit from a 24% jump in funding for Project 985 and Project 211, which funnel money to elite universities.
In a 2-hour speech at the Congress, comparable to the U.S. State of the Union address, Premier Wen Jiabao dwelled primarily on China's economic health. Many economists expect growth to slow in China this year, and the central government has set humbler goals. Wen announced that the target for GDP growth in 2012 would be lowered from 8% to 7.5%. Chinese scientists are expected to do their part to fan the embers. Echoing a theme of last year's speech, Wen pledged to "more closely integrate science and technology with the economy." "
If you are wondering where Canada stands, it ranks 9th overall behind US, China, Japan, Germany, South Korea, France, UK and India:

How atomic clocks work

A very cool presentation of how atomic clocks work:

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Saskatchewan's nuclear research funding will have benefits in a wide range of applications including agriculture

Saskatchewan's nuclear research funding will have benefits in a wide range of applications including agriculture: "New funding from the Saskatchewan government will assist nuclear research at the University of Saskatchewan, part of which could go to agricultural projects.
Innovation minister Rob Norris signed a multi-year agreement last week for the province’s Innovation Saskatchewan agency to provide $30 million in funding for the Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation at the university.
And when the research centre puts out the call for proposals later this year, the CCNI’s interim director John Root said there could be interest from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Agriculture and Bioresources.
“Part of what we’re doing is to help set up a lab to enable medical imaging research and development, and one of the applications there could be in getting a better idea about imaging in plants,” said Root, also the director of the National Research Council’s Canadian Beam Centre."

Is the wind power industry the greatest scam of our age?

Is the wind power industry the greatest scam of our age? here is an article about the UK that could also easily be applied to other countries: "Scarcely a day goes by without more evidence to show why the Government's obsession with wind turbines, now at the centre of our national energy policy, is one of the greatest political blunders of our time.
Under a target agreed with the EU, Britain is committed within ten years — at astronomic expense — to generating nearly a third of its electricity from renewable sources, mainly through building thousands more wind turbines.
But the penny is finally dropping for almost everyone — except our politicians — that to rely on windmills to keep our lights on is a colossal and very dangerous act of self-deception.
Take, for example, the 350ft monstrosity familiar to millions of motorists who drive past as it sluggishly revolves above the M4 outside Reading.
This wind turbine performed so poorly (working at only 15 per cent of its capacity) that the £130,000 government subsidy given to its owners was more than the £100,000 worth of electricity it produced last year.
Meanwhile, official figures have confirmed that during those freezing, windless weeks around Christmas, when electricity demand was at record levels, the contribution made by Britain’s 3,500 turbines was minuscule.
To keep our homes warm we were having to import vast amounts of power from nuclear reactors in France.
Wind turbines are so expensive that Holland recently became the first country in Europe to abandon its EU renewable energy target, announcing that it is to slash its annual subsidy by billions of euros.
So unpopular are wind turbines that our own Government has just offered 'bribes' to local communities, in the form of lower council tax and electricity bills."

Acidic shift may be fastest in 300 million years

Acidic shift may be fastest in 300 million years: "The world's oceans are turning acidic at what could be the fastest pace of any time in the past 300 million years, even more rapidly than during the rapid emission of carbon 56 million years ago, say scientists."... "Quickly acidifying seawater eats away at coral reefs, which provide habitat for other animals and plants, and makes it harder for mussels and oysters to form protective shells. It can also interfere with small organisms that feed commercial fish like salmon.
The phenomenon has been a top concern of Jane Lubchenco, the head of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who has conducted demonstrations about acidification during hearings in the US Congress.
Oceans get more acidic when more carbon gets into the atmosphere. In pre-industrial times, that occurred periodically in natural pulses of carbon that also pushed up global temperatures, the scientists write.
Human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels, have increased the level of atmospheric carbon to 392 parts per million from about 280 parts per million at the start of the industrial revolution. Carbon dioxide is one of several heat-trapping gases that contribute to global warming."

Thursday, 1 March 2012

$600-million contract for SNC-Lavalin and Aecon for refurbishment of Darlington nuclear plan

$600-million contract for SNC-Lavalin and Aecon for refurbishment of Darlington nuclear plant: "SNC-Lavalin Nuclear and Aecon Construction have been awarded a $600-million contract for the overhaul of the four reactors at the Darlington nuclear plant.
The contract is the first of seven that will make up the multi-billion-dollar refit of the giant nuclear station, which is due for a mid-life refurbishment.
Previous nuclear projects in Ontario have gone badly over budget, and opposition New Democrats criticized the contract award
But Energy Minister Chris Bentley says this time meticulous planning and preparation will keep costs in line.
“What was announced today was a different approach,” said Bentley in an interview.
Planners will map out the work into 30-minute segments, Bentley said. And a training centre with mock-ups of complex components of the nuclear station will allow crews to practice tasks before they start on the real reactors.
“One of the reasons they’re doing such an extensive design, planning preparation exercise is so they can map out the construction, and transfer any risks of missing those construction timelines to the contractor,” he said.
The initial $600 million contract will cover the planning phase of the project.
The price for the second phase – executing the work – will be determined once the plan has been completed. Planning should be finished by 2016, and work completed by 2023. "

AECL and NB Power sue the insurance company for reactor delay costs

hmmm interesting, let's see whether the insurance company pays anything for the delays! "NB Power and Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. are suing an insurance company for $524 million to help cover some of the costs related to the delayed refurbishment of the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station.
The companies have filed documents in a Saint John court claiming they're entitled to payments for damage and delay during the refurbishment of the nuclear plant.
The project is three years late and more than $1 billion over budget.
NB Power is seeking $320 million in damages and AECL is after $204 million in damages.
NB Power and AECL allege that their insurance policy with Lloyd's of London covers the reactor tubes that were damaged during the rebuild.
The Crown corporations also claim that the insurer should pay for hundreds of millions of dollars in extra costs caused by delays.
The insurance company denied a previous claim by NB Power and AECL last year."