Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Harper Government Announces New Direction for Nuclear Laboratories

The Harper Government Announces New Direction for Nuclear Laboratories:
Doesn't look good for NRU or a new research reactor: Harper Government Announces Recipients of Funding to Advance New Sources of Medical Isotopes:

The write up in Ottawa Citizen:
Federal government vows Canada will make HEU-free isotopes by 2016:

And at Reuters:

National Research Council president defends cuts to basic science by Harper government

National Research Council president defends cuts to basic science by Harper government: Well why should an increase funding for industry driven research be equal to cuts to basic science? Why wouldn't industry pay for its own research? why should taxpayers fund only a handful of industries? who gets to choose those few industries? why would a federally funded organization should be so narrow in its focus and work base on such short term goals? what happens to the expert people and equipment after the short term goals are met, they get changed all over again? if no investments are made in basic science, sooner or later industry will run out of innovative technologies and ways of doing things anyway, so funding for basic research will have economical and social benefits at the end anyway... "McDougall has swung the NRC in new directions since Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed him nearly three years ago: More effort at solving problems of industry, less “curiosity-driven” work with no obvious, immediate application.
This has unsettled some of his own scientists, who have complained that science proceeds best when it’s not directed by short-term industrial goals.
Some outsiders have warned of a possible loss of science ability, including Nobel Prize winner John Polanyi. Rolf-Dieter Heuer, head of the CERN particle physics lab, urged the federal cabinet to support “the richness of basic science and the importance of basic science” when he visited NRC in 2011. He didn’t mention NRC by name, but NRC’s $900-million budget puts it at the heart of federal science."
This is a great read: "Even without that, I think this new “poster child” program is a terrible idea. The reason we have federal science institutions in the first place is because industry won’t fund projects that don’t have obvious short-term commercial applications, but sometimes those projects are worth doing anyways. The fact that you’re reading this blog at all is proof of that — the Internet is a limited IT research project that has been driven exponentially beyond anything that was initially envisioned. So are antibiotics, to name another useful (and even profitable) example. I could go on, but the point is, there’s a role for basic science. Especially since if you don’t have basic science, the limits of what applied science can do are never going to move much either."

Conservative government attempts to reduce deficit with significant cuts to some organizations including AECL

Globe and Mail reports upcoming budget cuts for AECL: Conservative government attempts to reduce deficit with significant cuts to some organizations including AECL: "Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.
Historically a drain on federal finances, spending on AECL has dropped significantly since it was sold in 2011 to SNC-Lavalin for $15-million. Ottawa still makes payments to AECL for operating and capital expenditures. Spending for 2013-14 is forecast at $211-million, down from $376.7-million in the 2012-13 main estimates and down from $719-million in total spending for 2011-12."
For those non-believers in AECL's funding cuts, see page I–10: 


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Future of CRL announcement

The future of CRL may be announced during the NRCan's minister speech at CNA conferece, Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9 am: Keynote Speaker: The Honourable Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources: "The Honourable Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources will deliver a keynote address on Canada’s nuclear sector."

Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation 2013 Call for Project Proposals

Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation 2013 Call for Project Proposals: "Impact Areas
-Advancing nuclear medicine, instruments and methods;
-Advancing knowledge of materials through nuclear techniques for applications in energy, health, environment, transportation, and communication;
- Improving safety and engineering of nuclear energy systems, including small reactors; and
-Managing the risks and benefits of nuclear technology for society and our environment."

CNSC Renews OPG’s Darlington Nuclear Generating Station Operating Licence

CNSC Renews OPG’s Darlington Nuclear Generating Station Operating Licence: " The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) announced today its decision to renew the power reactor operating licence issued to Ontario Power Generation (OPG) for its Darlington Nuclear Generating Station (DNGS). The licence will be valid for a period of 22 months, from March 1, 2013 until December 31, 2014.
In making its decision, the Commission considered information presented at a public hearing held December 3 – 6, 2012 in Courtice, Ontario. During the public hearing, the Commission received and considered submissions from OPG and 690 intervenors, as well as CNSC staff recommendations."

Westinghouse, others have big plans for mini reactors

Westinghouse, others have big plans for mini reactors, too bad Canada is not doing the same: " The future of nuclear power may be in smaller reactors that could boost a power plant's output or provide enough electricity to run a factory.
Westinghouse Electric Co., Babcock & Wilcox Co. and federal energy officials are anticipating a market for what is known as a small modular reactor, or SMR.
Cranberry-based Westinghouse has eight full-size AP1000 reactors under construction worldwide, and its experience “will speed the Westinghouse SMR to market with less cost and better economics,” said Kate Jackson, chief technology officer and senior vice president of research and technology.
The capsule-like, 225-megawatt mini-reactor design borrows heavily from the AP1000, with safety systems that use gravity rather than access to power if the plant malfunctions. Control rods inside the reactor unlatch and drop when a problem is detected, shutting down the nuclear reaction, for example.
Some other safety advantages: Water sits above the core, to provide cooling in an emergency. And the unit sits below grade, lessening damage potential from above-ground disruptions.
Westinghouse, which built the nation's first nuclear plant in 1957 in Shippingport, is working with scientists at the University of Missouri at Columbia and Missouri University of Science and Technology to build a small reactor at electric utility Ameren Missouri's Callaway Energy Center."

Scientists call for dramatic steps to curb emissions

Scientists call for dramatic steps to curb emissions : "A group of climate scientists is calling for Ottawa to take dramatic steps to curb emissions, including halting the advance of the oil sands while it weighs new greenhouse gas regulations for the energy sector.
Canada’s climate performance has come under renewed scrutiny as other major powers consider new regulatory measures. Last week, state media reported that China intends to introduce a modest carbon tax, while the White House and U.S. State Department have signalled a renewed focus on greenhouse gas legislation. At the same time, observers believe new Canadian regulations and progress on climate change would give the Obama administration political cover to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project."

Are wind farms good at reducing carbon emissions, not so much!

Are wind farms good at reducing carbon emissions, not so much! Wind farms will create more carbon dioxide, say scientists "Thousands of Britain’s wind turbines will create more greenhouse gases than they save, according to potentially devastating scientific research to be published later this year.
The finding, which threatens the entire rationale of the onshore wind farm industry, will be made by Scottish government-funded researchers who devised the standard method used by developers to calculate “carbon payback time” for wind farms on peat soils.
Wind farms are typically built on upland sites, where peat soil is common. In Scotland alone, two thirds of all planned onshore wind development is on peatland. England and Wales also have large numbers of current or proposed peatland wind farms.
But peat is also a massive store of carbon, described as Europe’s equivalent of the tropical rainforest. Peat bogs contain and absorb carbon in the same way as trees and plants — but in much higher quantities.
British peatland stores at least 3.2billion tons of carbon, making it by far the country’s most important carbon sink and among the most important in the world.
Wind farms, and the miles of new roads and tracks needed to service them, damage or destroy the peat and cause significant loss of carbon to the atmosphere, where it contributes to climate change."

Wind Farms Could Become ‘Monuments Of A Failed Civilisation’

More on wind farms: Wind Farms Could Become ‘Monuments Of A Failed Civilisation’, Top Environmentalist Claims: "One of the world’s top environmentalists has said wind farms risk becoming “monuments of a failed civilisation” as he fights to stop a 275ft turbine being erected near his home. Professor James Lovelock, 93, a founding father of the Green movement, is famous for inventing “Gaia Theory” and predicting global warming would wipe out four fifths of the world’s population by 2100. But he has now expressed despair that the original intentions of the movement have been misconstrued as a license to cast aside our “priceless ecological heritage”."

Study suggests real-world generating capacity of wind farms at large scales has been overestimated

From Phys.Org: Study suggests real-world generating capacity of wind farms at large scales has been overestimated ""People have often thought there's no upper bound for wind power—that it's one of the most scalable power sources," says Harvard applied physicist David Keith. After all, gusts and breezes don't seem likely to "run out" on a global scale in the way oil wells might run dry. Yet the latest research in mesoscale atmospheric modeling, published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters, suggests that the generating capacity of large-scale wind farms has been overestimated. Each wind turbine creates behind it a "wind shadow" in which the air has been slowed down by drag on the turbine's blades. The ideal wind farm strikes a balance, packing as many turbines onto the land as possible, while also spacing them enough to reduce the impact of these wind shadows. But as wind farms grow larger, they start to interact, and the regional-scale wind patterns matter more.
Keith's research has shown that the generating capacity of very large wind power installations (larger than 100 square kilometers) may peak at between 0.5 and 1 watts per square meter. Previous estimates, which ignored the turbines' slowing effect on the wind, had put that figure at between 2 and 7 watts per square meter. In short, we may not have access to as much wind power as scientists thought."

Nuclear powers Toronto, cheaply and with no carbon

Another great read by Steve Aplin: Nuclear powers Toronto, cheaply and with no carbon: "Yesterday I pointed out that nearly a quarter of Toronto’s 24.7-billion-kWh-per-year demand for electricity comes from the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), the company that runs the city’s subways, streetcars, and buses. And more than three-quarters of the TTC’s electricity, a whopping 4.4 billion kWh, is used to move electric-powered subways and streetcars. Where does that electricity come from?
Mostly from nuclear plants. Table 1 on the left-hand sidebar gives the sources feeding the Ontario grid in the last hour. As you can see, nuclear is by far the biggest single electricity provider; it usually out-performs all the other sources—hydro, gas, coal, wind, “other” (mostly biomass but some fossil)—combined. And as you can also see, nuclear comes with no emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main manmade greenhouse gas.
When you get on the TTC subway, you pay $3 if you’re an adult, $2 if you’re a senior or student, and 75 cents if you’re a child. That small amount of money will carry you out to or within easy striking distance of pretty much anywhere in the city."

German carbon dioxide emissions on the rise

German carbon dioxide emissions on the rise: "German carbon dioxide emissions rose slightly in 2012 as the replacement of politically closed nuclear generation cost the country the opportunity to reduce emissions to a record low."

Bruce Power: Nuclear up, Coal down

A great video by Bruce Power: Nuclear up, Coal down: "Ontario is counting on Bruce Power to generate over 25 per cent of the province’s electricity to the end of the decade and for generations to come. The investment in low-cost power from the Bruce Power site has and will continue to be a key component in supporting Ontario’s ambitious plan to phase out coal.
During our first 11 years of operation, Bruce Power has revitalized the Bruce site and transformed it into the largest operating nuclear facility in the world. With eight operating units, the site will produce up to 6,300 megawatts, well over a quarter of Ontario’s electricity.
Through $7 billion of private investment, Bruce Power will have doubled the number of operational units on the Bruce Power site; transformed the workforce through new hiring and training; extended the life of operating units through innovation; and positioned the site for long-term stability.
Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan has earmarked the Bruce Power site to generate 6,300 MW in the coming decades as the province relies on our site to power one out of four homes, schools, businesses, farms, and hospitals with low-cost, highly reliable, clean electricity. To achieve this, Bruce Power’s investors will need to invest billions to continue to extend the life of the remaining units on the site."

Lockheed Predict Working Nuclear Fusion Reactor within 10 Years

Lockheed Predict Working Nuclear Fusion Reactor within 10 Years: "Many designs for fusion reactors involve massive investment and construction of huge scientific apparatus which can take years to be completed before they can start to generate power. The resources and infrastructure needed to research and build fusion reactors can only usually be provided by governments, not exactly an expense that they want to shoulder during such tight economic times.
Lockheed’s proposal is enticing due to the fact that it is far smaller than other fusion reactor designs. The plan uses a compact cylinder, rather than the traditional bulky ring, which provides a far stronger magnetic containment field and leaves fewer points where energy can escape.
Lockheed plans to start testing a prototype model in 2017, and scale it up to a full production model by 2022."

China builds uranium enrichment centrifuge

China builds uranium enrichment centrifuge: "he first domestically-produced centrifuge has been successfully installed at a uranium enrichment plant at the Lanzhou Nuclear Fuel Complex, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced. China has previously relied on Russian enrichment technology."

Deaths from Nuclear Energy Compared with Other Causes

Deaths from Nuclear Energy Compared with Other Causes: "Energy Source Mortality Rates; Deaths/yr/TWh
Coal - world average, 161
Coal - China, 278
Coal - USA, 15
Oil - 36
Natural Gas - 4
Biofuel/Biomass - 12
Peat - 12
Solar/rooftop - 0.44-0.83
Wind - 0.15
Hydro - world, 0.10
Hydro - world*, 1.4
Nuclear - 0.04"

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Canada 55th on info release

Troubling: Canada 55th on info release, Harper government rejects report in memo withheld for five months "The Harper government is dismissing a report that ranks it 55th in the world for upholding freedom of information, saying it has a sterling record for openness.
But a four-page document outlining the federal rebuttal took five months to release after a request under the Access to Information Act -- underscoring the very delay problem that contributed to Canada's dismal ranking.
A human-rights group based in Halifax has issued three report cards since 2011 on Canada's anemic standing in the world with regard to so-called right-to-know legislation.
The Centre for Law and Democracy used a 61-point tool to measure Canada's legislation against that of other countries, in co-operation with Madrid-based Access Info Europe.
Canada's standing in September 2011 was 40th of 89 countries, fell to 51st in June last year, then to 55th of 93 countries last September, behind Mongolia and Colombia.
"While standards around the world have advanced, Canada's access laws have stagnated and sometimes even regressed," the centre concluded, noting Canada was a world leader in 1983 when its federal information law came into force.
The research won praise from Canada's information commissioner, Suzanne Legault, who said "the analysis that this group has done is going to be a really useful tool" in her own investigation of freedom-of-information issues.
But an internal memo last summer to Treasury Board President Tony Clement cites the report's "weaknesses," saying the methodology "does not allow for an accurate comparison of the openness of a society and of its government."
The memo from Michelle d'Auray, then secretary of the Treasury Board, which oversees the access-to-information system, noted the report did not take into account the government's proactive disclosure of information, the 2006 expansion of the act to cover some 250 additional entities such as Crown corporations, or years of court rulings that reinforce citizens' right to information.
The internal memo was among a group of records requested from Treasury Board last September by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.
The law requires a response within 30 days, but the agency gave itself a 120-day extension -- four additional months -- so it could consult the Privy Council Office, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's department.
The report card from the Centre for Law and Democracy found such unilateral, lengthy extensions are invoked too often by federal departments, calling delay a "classical way of effectively denying requests."
"Public authorities should be limited to one extension of no more than 30 days, applicable only in appropriate cases," the centre said in a key recommendation for reform."

Chinese 2012 R&D Spending Reached One Trillion Yuan

And similar news of increased science funding in China, clearly these countries realized the importance of investing in science today to materialize tremendous economic and societal benefits for their countries in future: Chinese 2012 R&D Spending Reached One Trillion Yuan: "China’s R&D spending increased 17.9 percent year on year to 1.02 trillion yuan (US$162.24 billion) in 2012, according to data released Friday.
R&D expenditure represented 1.97 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) last year, up from the 1.84 percent and 1.75 percent in 2011 and 2010, respectively, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
China’s annual R&D spending has grown on average by more than 20 percent for six straight years since 2006 before slowing slightly last year, said an earlier NBS report.
A total of 217,105 invention patents to domestic and overseas applicants were approved in 2012, up 26.1 percent from the previous year, reported the State Intellectual Property Office."

Irish science gets historic €300-million boost

What a remarkable boost in funding research in Ireland! Irish science gets historic €300-million boost: "Funded areas include data analytics, marine renewable energy, biomaterials, perinatal research, nanotechnology, functional foods, photonics and drug synthesis.
Roughly one-third of the funding for the new centres, which are to run for six years, is expected to come from around 150 industry partners through cash and in-kind contributions.
“This is the largest single research announcement to date in Ireland in terms of people and projects,” says Mark Ferguson, director general of Science Foundation Ireland, which will distribute the state funding. “As a small country we cannot do everything well, and these are areas where we see Ireland has the capability to build scale and excellence and have an economic and societal impact.” "

Monday, 25 February 2013

White House directs open access for government research

What a remarkable move!!! not only not muzzling the federal scientists but also now it gives open access to federally funded research, bravo! White House directs open access for government research: "The White House has moved to make the results of federally funded research available to the public for free within a year, bowing to public pressure for unfettered access to scholarly articles and other materials produced at taxpayers' expense.
"Americans should have easy access to the results of research they help support," John Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, wrote on the White House website.
An online petition on the White House website demanding free access over the Internet to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research drew 65,704 signatures.
The directive comes amid a changing landscape for publishing and the availability of information due to the Internet.
Scientists have long published the results of their work in scholarly journals, and many such publications have warned that open access would destroy them and the function they provide the scientific community."
And this the write up about it at Nature Magazine:

Saturday, 23 February 2013

New center for neutron research in Germany

New center for neutron research in Germany: "TUM and Helmholtz Centers celebrate the founding of the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum" also see: "The center is named after the German pioneer and mentor of neutron research, Heinz Maier-Leibnitz (1911 - 2000). On his initiative and under his guidance, the first neutron research reactor (Forschungsreaktor Muenchen, FRM) in Garching was built and put into operation in 1957. Heinz Maier-Leibnitz was also founding director of the international high-flux reactor at the Institute Laue Langevin in Grenoble, France. Until his retirement in 1974, Heinz Maier-Leibnitz was professor for Technical Physics at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen and director of the Forschungsreaktor Muenchen. From 1974 to 1979 he was serving as president of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).
The cooperation between the Technische Universitaet Muenchen and the Helmholtz Centers started in 2011 and is additionally supported for ten years by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with an annual budget of 19.8 Million Euros. Under the auspices of the Forschungszentrum Juelich, the Helmholtz Centers are financially involved with 10.52 Million Euros per year. The TUM is still the sole operator of the neutron source. The State of Bavaria funds reactor operation and research with 25 Million Euros annually."

China Wants Nuclear Reactors, and Lots of Them

China Wants Nuclear Reactors, and Lots of Them: "Soon after the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear meltdown in March 2011, Germany announced it would decommission all its nuclear plants. Switzerland and Italy rejected proposals to build more reactors. Japan shut down its reactors and has yet to restart them. China, on the other hand, plowed ahead with existing projects, even though it suspended new approvals so it could perform more safety checks.
Last November, the government lifted the moratorium and approved four projects. The number of reactors being built is now 29—the most of any country, and 40 percent of the world’s total. “China is now one of the most important countries, if not the most important country, in the global nuclear industry,” says Antony Froggatt, a senior research fellow at Chatham House, a British think tank."

Nuclear Waste Doesn’t Exist

Nuclear Waste Doesn’t Exist: "There is no such thing as nuclear waste — and that’s just one of the many beautiful things about nuclear energy.
A nuclear reactor is refueled by its waste.
Quoting Dr. Pierre Guelfe, chief engineer of France’s main nuclear facility, in an interview he gave with William Tucker, author of an excellent book called Terrestrial Energy:
Pierre Guelfe: When the depleted fuel rods are removed, the reactors are shipped to La Hague for reprocessing. They let it cool down for a few years and then remove the uranium and plutonium. They ship the plutonium here. We take it and mix it with another stream of material, which is the scrap that is left over from uranium enrichment. The U235 content of this is very low … U235 is the fissionable isotope. But the plutonium is much more fissionable than the depleted uranium. So when we mix them together, you get a fuel that is very close to enriched uranium. It’s called ‘Mixed Oxide Fuel’(MOX). We have 20 reactors here in France running on MOX and there are ten more in Germany and two in Switzerland. So we’re pure plutonium, and we scrap uranium together. We use everything. We don’t leave any waste.
William Tucker: I’ve read this several times but I want to make absolutely sure: The plutonium that comes out of a commercial reactor, that you separate from the fuel rod, that cannot be used to make a bomb, right?
Pierre Guelfe: That’s right. You have four plutonium isotopes: Pu239, Pu240, Pu241 and Pu242. Of the four, only Pu239 can sustain a chain reaction. The others are contaminants. The PU241 is too highly radioactive. It fissiles too fast so you can’t control it to make a bomb. But you can use all of them to sustain fission in a MOX reactor (source).
And yet on the basis of some colossal misinformation, the United States now has fifty thousand tons of nuclear “waste,” because our government won’t allow nuclear plants to reuse it.
The stated policy of the Department of Energy (DOE) is “not to reprocess” a perfectly reusable by-product — and all for absolutely no good reason.""

Physicists team up in Vancouver to build a new particle collider

Physicists team up in Vancouver to build a new particle collider: "Some of the world’s greatest minds have collided in Vancouver and agreed to build a new US$7.78-billion particle collider that will help answer some of the universe’s deepest secrets.
The physicists had until Thursday been designing two separate particle colliders, known as linear colliders.
The colliders were expected to hurl billions of electrons at positrons — their anti-particles — along kilometre-long superconducting cavities at nearly the speed of light.
Timothy Meyer of TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, said the results of those collisions would help scientists answer questions related to the Big Bang and the evolution of the universe.
But Meyer said the physicists met at TRIUMF in Vancouver and agreed to form a team to develop a new particle accelerator.
“Everyone wants this collider to go forward, and the technology or which one is which is sort of a secondary concern,” he said. “It’s like everyone is going to start rowing in the same direction.”
He said the meeting also marks the transition between the design and development phases of the new accelerator, which scientists hope will complement a similar accelerator already operating in Europe.
Work at the Swiss accelerator led to announcement last year that a new particle had been found that needs further study to determine whether it’s the Higgs particle.
For more than two generations, scientists have been hunting for the Higgs particle, which many believe is a missing piece in the Standard Model of Particle Physics and will help shape human understanding of the universe’s origins.
According to a media statement issued by the new team, known as the Linear Collider Collaboration, the new accelerator will deliver “cleaner” collisions between electrons and positrons, and probe deeper into the particle discovered at the Swiss facility.
The team said the collider will also help scientists study other phenomena of physics.
A late-afternoon news conference at TRIUMF heard the collider will cost about US$7.78 billion, although costs dealing with site preparation, engineering design, local taxes and operation costs have not been included in that figure.
Lyn Evans, director of the Linear Collider Collaboration, said he expects proponents to take two to three years to negotiate agreements to build the collider and another 10 for construction.
The current European site is not a candidate for construction, he added, and Japan is showing the most interest in hosting the new facility."

Friday, 22 February 2013

An update on the race to commercialise SMRs

An update on the race to commercialise SMRs:

Natural Background Radiation

Another great resource from CNSC: Natural Background Radiation:

Hard reality – biofuels are a loser, despite all the hope and hype

A good read: Hard reality – biofuels are a loser, despite all the hope and hype:

Scientists Detail Severe Future Impacts of Climate Change

Scientists Detail Severe Future Impacts of Climate Change: " In a probable scenario for climate change, New Orleans will no longer exist. Neither will Atlantic City, N.J. Boston will look much like it did in the 17th century, before the city was dredged up to build a port. And Florida will no longer keep its distinct appendage shape.
These geographical changes due to sea-level rise are only the beginning, scientists bluntly stated at a briefing yesterday convened by Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).
"Today's talk underscored what I already knew, but gives me more facts," said Boxer. "We have to act because our children and our grandchildren need us to act."
Storms are likely to travel in different patterns than they did before, much like Superstorm Sandy did. Increasing temperatures are changing the cycles of plants and trees and extending the pollination period to exacerbate allergies. In the hottest cities, it will be uncomfortable to step outside during the day. And limited agricultural growth will severely strain the world's ability to feed itself, said a panel composed of two atmospheric scientists, one public health expert and one biological oceanographer.
"These two years [2011 and 2012] have had the largest number of billion-dollar events," said Donald Wuebbles, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois.
Heat waves and precipitation patterns have changed dramatically, and it's due to human causes. The Texas heat wave of 2011 was 20 times more likely to be tied to human-induced warming than to natural causes, said Wuebbles. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared 2012 the warmest year on record late last year.
The worst-case scenarios predict a 14- to 15-degree-Fahrenheit increase by the end of the century, said Wuebbles. Chicago would feel like Birmingham, Ala.
While many skeptics assert that climate change is a natural process, previous warming and cooling took place over thousands of years, said J. Marshall Shepherd, president of the American Meteorological Society and director of the atmospheric sciences program at the University of Georgia."

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Ottawa will soon announce future of AECL, Chalk River

Ottawa will soon announce future of AECL, Chalk River: "The federal government is expected to announce soon how it plans to restructure the rest of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, according to AECL's president.
Bob Walker revealed the information in his opening remarks to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) on Wednesday, some two years after Ottawa sold off the Crown corporation's Candu reactor to SNC-Lavalin.
Walker was before the regulator to discuss a recent performance review of Chalk River Labs northwest of Ottawa, site of the Candu reactor, which makes a large proportion of the world's medical isotopes
Walker told CNSC board members that the government is about to announce changes to how Chalk River will be run.
"It intends to ensure a sound commercial relationship between AECL and its customers and stakeholders who share appropriately in the costs and benefits," he said.
Performance issues
The restructuring comes as AECL is being forced to explain why it got two grades of "below expectation" in that performance review, in the categories of management system and fitness for service."

Nuclear Power from Uranium Waste

Nuclear Power from Uranium Waste: 'Bill Gates, of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) fame, has a storied history of philanthropy and socially conscious endeavors. Now, he is backing (and chairing) Washington-based TerraPower, a startup that aims to do no less than transform nuclear waste into nuclear fuel, generating clean electricity.
Depleted uranium is a standard by-product of conventional water-cooled nuclear reactors. TerraPower hopes to use what it calls the traveling wave reactor (TWR) to achieve this transformation of nuclear waste into energy.
As the company’s website explains, a TWR reactor can run for long periods solely on depleted uranium, or U-238. U-238 is normally produced when enriched uranium, U-235, separates from natural uranium during the nuclear power generation process.
Presently, U-235 is the fuel of choice for most light water nuclear reactors, while the U-238 generated during the process is discarded. Since conventional reactors cannot make much use of U-238—it’s too weak—TerraPower can step in to utilize this for its own energy generation, thus cutting down radically on the amount of nuclear waste.
The upshot of all this is that a TWR reactor can effectively harvest nearly 50 times more energy per pound of mined uranium compared to standard light water reactors.
The implications are obvious and vast. Such a reactor, because it works slowly and burns more efficiently, can go for 40 years without refueling (bear in mind that today’s nuclear reactors require refueling every two years or so)."

Why We Still Need Nuclear Power written by MIT nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz potential nominee for the DOE in US

Why We Still Need Nuclear Power written by MIT nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz potential nominee for the DOE in US ( "In the years following the major accidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, nuclear power fell out of favor, and some countries applied the brakes to their nuclear programs. In the last decade, however, it began experiencing something of a renaissance. Concerns about climate change and air pollution, as well as growing demand for electricity, led many governments to reconsider their aversion to nuclear power, which emits little carbon dioxide and had built up an impressive safety and reliability record. Some countries reversed their phaseouts of nuclear power, some extended the lifetimes of existing reactors, and many developed plans for new ones. Today, roughly 60 nuclear plants are under construction worldwide, which will add about 60,000 megawatts of generating capacity -- equivalent to a sixth of the world's current nuclear power capacity. " unfortunately the full article is not freely available...

Nuclear: Less CO2 than solar, hydro, biomass

Nuclear: Less CO2 than solar, hydro, biomass: "Nobel physicist Burton Richter points out that nuclear power is well down the list of CO2 emitters, below biomass, solar and hydro, and on a par with wind and geothermal."
"Alex Cannara, an independent energy and environment analyst based in Menlo Park, Calif, wrote an articulate comment after a recent Bloomberg story about nuclear power, in which he explains the spirit and to a large extent the letter of what Richter’s presentation shows. Bloomberg had written that nuclear power is all but finished in Europe, quoting a Paris-based consultant saying that nuclear is “too capital intensive, too time-consuming and simply too risky.” Here’s Cannara’s rebuttal:
Hope they didn’t pay this ‘consultant’ much for: “Nuclear is too capital intensive, too time-consuming and simply too risky.”
Germany thinks it’s ok to emit tens of mega-tons more of CO2 because they like coal & ligniite better than nuclear? Remind us how many Germans have died from nuclear-power radiation. What about Americans? English? French? Oh yes, all zero.
Whoever wrote the advice above seems ok with the deaths and disease from combustion, mining, etc. — all things needed for windmills, by the way.
So when we see German coal & gas burning costing ~180 years of human life per TW-hour, we should say that’s ok, despite German nuclear costing less than 1/6 those years of life? Really?
Remember, making 1 large Siemens windmill requires processing about 2000 tons of materials via fossil fuels — steel needs coal and iron ore, etc. Concrete needs kilned limestone & mined/crushed aggregate., etc. So the emissioins burden of wind is higher than nuclear. And we’re not even talking about the vast tracts of land/sea taken for wind. Nor are we talking about species threats, maintenance emissions, worker dangers, and even maritime dangers for offshore windmills.
And here we thought the Germans the smartest — must have been some PR, or the beer. ;]
Cannara’s valid points hold up even more when you take into account the alternative nuclear technologies that could replace the conventional variety that has been operating for 50 some years. Reactor designs like molten salt, pebble beds and fast reactors augur a number of advantages including the conversion of nuclear “waste” into fuel, the reduction of long lived dangerous waste, failsafe meltdown-proof opeations and others. So could the use of thorium fuel instead of uranium. And the dream of fusion power is achievable."

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The nuclear reactor in your basement

The nuclear reactor in your basement: "How would you like to replace your water heater with a nuclear reactor? That's what Joseph Zawodny, a senior scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center, hopes to help bring about. It would tap the enormous power of the atom to provide hot water for your bath, warm air for your furnace system, and more than enough electricity to run your house and, of course, your electric car.
If your thoughts have raced to Fukushima or Three Mile Island or Chernobyl, let me reassure you. Zawodny is not suggesting that you put that kind of reactor in your house. What he has in mind is a generator that employs a process called Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions. (The same process is sometimes called Lattice Energy Nuclear Reactions. We'll just call it LENR.)"

30 facts that demystify nuclear energy

Good read, knowledge is power! 30 facts that demystify nuclear energy:

Edmonton Journal Editorial: Unmuzzle our scientists

Edmonton Journal Editorial: Unmuzzle our scientists: "A bid by Ottawa to impose sweeping confidentiality rules on an Arctic science project is the latest in a disturbing trend that suggests federal environmental scientists are being systematically silenced from communicating their findings to the public.
An American participant in the joint Canada-U.S. project last week took strong issue with new confidentiality provisions proposed by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, calling them an affront to academic freedom, a “potential muzzle” and the sort of secrecy precautions better suited for classified military research. Andreas Muenchow, an oceanographer at the University of Delaware who has been collaborating with DFO scientists on the project in the Eastern Arctic since 2003, blew the whistle on the new restrictive rules, vowing not to sign any such contract.
Unfortunately, resistance won’t come as easily for the scientists on the Canadian government payroll, a constituency that must be growing weary of Ottawa’s control-the-message zeal when it comes to their work. Fisheries scientist Jeffrey Hutchings of Dalhousie University predicted the new provisions would have “a chilling effect” on research and could prevent important scientific findings from being made public. “This is a greater exertion of control over the communication of science,” said Hutchings. “There is no other way to interpret it.”"
Glad someone is looking into legality of muzzling federal scientists: Could muzzling federal scientists be illegal? "The Information Commissioner of Canada is being asked to investigate whether "federal government policy forcing scientists to jump through hoops before speaking with the media" breaches the Access to Information Act.
The request was made as part of a complaint filed Wednesday by Democracy Watch, a non-profit organization that advocates for government accountability, and the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Clinic.
"In sharp contrast to past Canadian practice and current U.S. Government practice, the federal government has recently made efforts to prevent the media and the general public from speaking to government scientists,” said Tyler Sommers, coordinator of Democracy Watch, in a statement.
He noted that the scientists conduct research that is paid for by taxpayers who therefore have a right to learn the results.
Calvin Sandborn, legal director of the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Clinic, said in a statement that "Canadians cannot make smart choices about critical issues such as climate change, oil sands development, and environmental protection if the public does not have full, timely access to the government’s best scientific knowledge on those issues.
"This is why we’ve filed this complaint and why we are asking for a full investigation.""

12th Canadian Neutron Scattering Summer School: Chalk River on June 2 - 7, 2013

Mark your calendar: 12th Canadian Neutron Scattering Summer School will be held at Chalk River on June 2 - 7, 2013: ... hope to see you and your students at the school...

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Fusion power could happen sooner than you think

Fusion power could happen sooner than you think: "In a presentation that seems ripped from the Atomic Age, Lockheed Skunkworks says it might be a decade away from producing a power plant based on compact fusion reactors. Unlike current nuclear reactors, all of which use fission, nuclear fusion does not easily produce materials that can be used in nuclear weapons. Fusion reactors also offer better containment, easier shutoff, greater energy efficiency, and less radioactive waste than their fissioning cousins."

Monday, 18 February 2013

How Much CO2 Is Created By…

A picture is worth a thousand words: How Much CO2 Is Created By…

Time for a game-changing nuclear technology

Food for thought: Time for a game-changing nuclear technology:"Truly new approaches to nuclear energy have not been developed because the nuclear industry has good reasons to be extremely risk averse, and government policies discourage the innovation and science-based discovery that could advance nuclear power.
It may be time for physicists, the professionals who led the creation of nuclear reactors, to take a hard look at the science of new materials and research on new processes to help continue the development of radically new technologies like those indicated above to provide energy for many centuries. The nuclear industry needs a major paradigm shift toward better economics, improved safety, proliferation reduction, and reduction of nuclear waste. At the very least, we need to inspire our youth to explore the possibilities. Engaging those who only know one approach to nuclear power will not change anything. Basic logic and Albert Einstein’s famous quote dictate that you cannot solve a problem with the same reasoning that was used to create it in the first place. However, changing the constraints can change the solution."

First Hongyanhe unit connected to the grid

First Hongyanhe unit connected to the grid: "The 1080 MWe Chinese-designed pressurized water reactor was connected to the grid at 3.09pm on 17 February. It now enters a phase of commissioning tests, after which it will enter commercial operation.
Hongyanhe 1 is the first of four CPR-1000 reactors currently being built at the Hongyanhe Phase I project. Its construction started in August 2007. Cold testing of the nuclear island of the unit was successfully completed in October 2012; it achieved first criticality on 16 January."

Oilsands tailings leaking into groundwater

How come there is little outcry about this? Oilsands tailings leaking into groundwater: "Tailings ponds from oilsands production are leaking and contaminating Alberta’s groundwater, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver was told in an internal memo obtained by Postmedia News.
The memo, released through access to information legislation, said that federal government scientists, including Quebec City-based research geoscientist Martine Savard, had discovered evidence of the contamination in new research that rejected longstanding claims that toxins in the region of the Athabasca River were coming from natural sources.
“The studies have, for the first time, detected potentially harmful, mining-related organic acid contaminants in the groundwater outside a long-established out-of-pit tailings pond,” said the memo from deputy minister Serge Dupont, dated June 19, 2012."

German nuclear cull to add 40 million tones CO2 per year

German nuclear cull to add 40 million tones CO2 per year: "The phase-out is seen as more political than technical as German Chancellor Angela Merkel tries to capture anti-nuclear sentiment in the aftermath of Japan's Fukushima crisis.
Environmentalists welcomed the shift, although some demanded a faster phase-out, hoping it would spur a shift to renewable energy which they view as less harmful by avoiding radioactive waste.
But analysts say the move will also see an increase in planet-warming greenhouse gases equivalent to the annual emissions of Slovakia, as Germany uses gas and coal to plug a power generation gap, both of which are more carbon-emitting than nuclear power."

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

What Happens When A Developer Abandons A Desert Solar Project?

What Happens When A Developer Abandons A Desert Solar Project? "All the large solar power projects proposed for or being built in the California desert have a life expectancy. It may be 30 years, or 50 years, but it's shorter than a human lifespan. At some point the power towers will have to be removed, the mirrors and the photovoltaic panels recycled, and if the economics and technology of 2065 don't warrant utility scale solar -- as they largely do not now -- then these sites will all be permanently altered. Perhaps we will know better by then how to revegetate a desert landscape; perhaps we will be able to plant 500-year-old yuccas and 1,200-year-old creosotes from seed.
We don't know how to do that now, and so we will struggle to heal those sites once the solar developers abandon them."

Japan now unlikely to phase out nuclear power

Japan now unlikely to phase out nuclear power: "International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general Yukiya Amano is of the opinion that the new Japanese government of Shinzo Abe (elected by a landslide vote in December) will not phase out the country’s use of nuclear power.
Following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011, caused by a devastating earthquake and tsunami (which left more than 15 000 people dead and nearly 5 000 missing), the previous Japanese government decided to phase out all nuclear power by the 2030s. In his election campaign, Abe stated he would retain nuclear power.
“In January I went to Japan and had meetings with Prime Minister Abe and other Ministers,” Amano said in response to a question from Engineering News Online. “My impression is that the leaders of the new government are more supportive of nuclear power. They are not talking about phasing out nuclear power by [the] 2030s. This is not the policy being considered by the Abe government. But it will take them time to establish a new energy policy. I don’t think that a new energy policy will be announced shortly.”"

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Canadian Scientists Must Speak Out Despite Consequence, Says Andrew Weaver

Canadian Scientists Must Speak Out Despite Consequence, Says Andrew Weaver: “We have a crisis in Canada. That crisis is in terms of the development of information and the need for science to inform decision-making. We have replaced that with an ideological approach to decision-making, the selective use of whatever can be found to justify [policy decisions], and the suppression of scientific voices and science itself in terms of informing the development of that policy.” Andrew Weaver

Saturday, 9 February 2013

A New Argentinian Multipurpose Research Reactor

A New Argentinian Multipurpose Research Reactor: The Opal-like reactor will start operating in 2018 and will become the 10th nuclear reactor in Argentina and the Atomic Energy National Commission (Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica, CNEA). The reactor will have 3 functions: 1) producing isotopes for medicine, 2) irradiation of fuel elements for the development of nuclear reactors built and sold by Argentina and 3) producing neutron beams for research. Sounds familiar, yes all three functions of NRU... Wish this headline could be said for Canada building a new research reactor replacing the aging nru!!! on this website you will find the link to the full presentation bout the project at International Conference on Research Reactors in 2011...
And in case you are wondering, they are doing pretty well in science, technology and business in nuclear power reactor sector as well, see these links: and and and and

Friday, 8 February 2013

China the nuclear force of future?

China the nuclear force of future? China Planning Exports of CAP1400 Reactor Based on Westinghouse AP1000: "By the end of the year, Chinese companies will begin international marketing of a 1,400 megawatt power reactor based largely on the Westinghouse AP1000.
In return for the right to sell the AP1000 in China, Westinghouse agreed to help Chinese firms use its generation III pressurized water reactor as a template to develop domestic Chinese designs. One is the CAP1400, which is slated for construction in Rongcheng this year. State Nuclear Power Technology Co."