Thursday, 25 July 2013

Neutronsou​ launched

A great resource for all the neutron lovers out there!!!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The new reactor is still undetermined

The write up about the future of AECL in Re$earch Money magazine: The new reactor is still undetermined: "Editorial
 The fate of Canadian nuclear research appears to be hanging on an amorphous commitment to consider a fourth mandate for the restructured Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL), which is now moving to a government-owned, company-operated (GoCo) model. The potential fourth mandate — first raised by Natural Resources Canada minister Joe Oliver — would involve the government examining the value to Canada of investing in longer-term nuclear innovation (see lead story).
 That, by logical extention, would require a $1-billion commitment to replace AECL's aging nuclear reactor — a long-delayed decision that will determine just what kinds of activities AECL will be doing five, 10 or 20 years from now. The lack of clarity surrounding this important component of a Canadian nuclear innovation agenda is worrying.
 So, too, is the government's apparent expectation that the a successful bidder to operate AECL would contribute to the cost of replacing the 56-year-old Chalk River NRU reactor, which is licensed to operate only to 2016. Nuclear reactors operate globally under a range of management structures, but one would be hard pressed to find an operator of a government-owned facility that has contributed to the capital costs of a new reactor.
 Canada has a long legacy of leadership in nuclear power generation and the NRU has served a diverse range of users and clients well. It is government's responsibility to pay for the cost of replacing the AECL reactor. If it insists that the future operator helps to foot the bill, the current process to moving to a GoCo model could be doomed to fail.
Mark Henderson, Editor"
 And from the main article: "Future of AECL will become clear as feds push ahead with GoCo implementation: The fate of nuclear research in Canada and the future role of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) will be decided as early as 2014 during a process to transform the crown corporation into a government-owned, company-operated (GoCo) organization. The competitive procurement process for seeking a contractor to operate the nuclear laboratories marks the second phase of AECL's restructuring, following a 2009 decision to overhaul the storied organization and the 2011 sale of the CANDU business to SNC Lavalin (R$, August 9/11).
The government is eager to attract private sector interest in AECL both as a customer and a potential operator. It is far less forthcoming when it comes to replacing the 56-year-old National Research Universal (NRU) reactor at AECL's Chalk River Laboratories. The aging, multi-purpose workhorse is far past its original due date and has been kept in operation via numerous overhauls and upgrades. Its current operating licence is due to expire 2016 and although a notice has been filed with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to extend that to 2021, its future will be determined well before then.
"The government didn't say no or yes on the NRU. It's willing to entertain a cost-shared approach. A number of intriguing proposals were put forward on how the NRU could be built and funded and that is intended to interface with this process (for selecting a new operator)," says Dr Robert Walker, AECL's president and CEO. "The government has said there are requirements to fulfill its role in the sector via science and technology. It will invest accordingly … The future is an open question."
Despite the sale of its CANDU operation, AECL remains a formidable research facility employing more than 3,000 people and commanding an annual budget of $690 million this year, with more than 83% or $520 million provided by the federal government. The decision to pursue a GoCo model was launched into gear earlier this year (R$, March 14/13) and was the focus of an Industry Day gathering more of than 100 participants (including 50 companies) in late June to inform interested parties of the process.
"The government wants to use the process to get industry input around a cost-shared innovation agenda, including the NRU … It expects the labs to be able to offer its services to the private sector. It's a progressive policy," says Walker, noting that the NRU is currently used for a wide range of research and commercial purposes from neutron scattering research and medical iostope generation to materials research and irradiation services.
When Natural Resources minister Joe Oliver announced the GoCo model last February, he outlined three mandates (see chart) but he also hinted at a fourth which was repeated by a senior AECL official June 4th before the Senate Committee on National Finance. AECL VP finance and CFO Steve Halpenny said the "potential fourth mandate" referenced by Oliver is "linked to the restructuring exercise".
"Specifically, the government will examine the value to Canada of investing in longer-term nuclear innovation. The government will assess the potential business case for a forward-looking, industry-driven, cost-shared nuclear innovation agenda. It will also be seeking independent advice from experts," stated Halpenny.
Halpenny also stressed that the process leading to a GoCo operation is being led by Natural Resources Canada and Public Works and Government Services Canada: "AECL is riding shotgun to a certain extent. We are advising and supporting, but it should be very clear that this is not an AECL initiative".
Walker says that AECL's pursuit of a GoCo structure for future operations marks the first time such a model has been attempted at this scale in Canada, although it is common in the UK and the US, particularly labs overseen by the Department of Energy (DOE). The labs within the DOE are primarily operated by university consortia.
"It addresses a weakness which is to bring science into a jobs and innovation agenda," he says. "As for the fourth mandate as it relates to the research reactor, the government has not ruled on it yet. It will determine this during the engagement process. How much should the government invest as a funder and is it prepared to do so? It will be decided in 2014 and it would become one of the pillars going forward."
One possible obstacle to adding the innovation mandate to a future AECL is the government's pursuit of a cost-sharing model for future operations. If the government is expecting the private sector to share in the cost of replacing the NRU, it could find there are few takers. Walker says a public-private partnerships could be among the options being examined for building and operating a new reactor should the fourth mandate be added, although he acknowledges that none of the GoCos operating in either the US or UK require the operator to assume any share of capital costs.
Dr Nigel Lockyer, outgoing director of the TRIUMF laboratory for particle and nuclear physics is familiar with the GoCo experience in the US. He is about to head one of the biggest when he takes over as director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago (see page 7). AECL Future Mandates:
1) The labs will continue to support the government in addressing its nuclear legacy and historic waste liabilities. The best practices of the private sector GOCO contractor will strengthen Canada's capabilities in all aspects of nuclear decommissioning and waste management.
2) The laboratories will provide nuclear science and technology capability to federal departments to help them fulfill their mandates related to nuclear safety, security, public health and the environment. AECL will continue to fulfill its role as an adviser to and agent of the government for public policy purposes, but we will do so with a stronger customer-supplier relationship with federal departments. 3) The nuclear laboratories will continue to support, on a commercial basis, the nuclear industry's need for R&D, testing and evaluation. This will include the development and validation of technologies. Access to the laboratories by CANDU reactor owners, CANDU energy, and the nuclear supply chain will be sustained.
Source: AECL testimony to the Senate Committee on National Finance, June 4, 2013
Lockyer says the motivation behind the university consortia operating DOE labs is to monitor lab activities with a view to commercialization possibilities. He says that if the government wants to transform AECL into a GoCo, it should ensure there is close interaction with universities to provide a steady flow of graduate students and post docs, adding that university consortia are superior to government operation of big labs. Yet, even under GoCo arrangements, governments set performance indicators that allow them to micromanage operations.
"For whoever gets chosen (to operate AECL), the big question will be, is Canada going to be a force in the world in nuclear power. Is AECL going to be in that business?," asks Lockyer. "I would think that the government will choose the company that will achieve their goals. I just don't know what those goals are. The isotope question has been settled so the research question is, if you build a reactor will you get the company to help build it? That won't work.""

Tuesday, 23 July 2013


The saga continues: REQUEST FOR INFORMATION - AECL: "1.1. The Government of Canada (Canada) is intending to procure the services of a contractor to manage the operations of what are today known as Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's (AECL's) NuclearLaboratories under a Government-owned and Contractor-operated (GoCo) model. The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is to solicit input and feedback from industry on various elements of the proposed procurement process, which is described in more detail below. Specifically, the objectives of this RFI are to:
(a) inform suppliers about the proposed procurement process, along with the associated timelines and national security requirements and to solicit feedback on any aspect of the procurement process;
(b) solicit feedback on the draft mandatory technical criteria to be used to pre-qualify suppliers during the Request for Response Evaluation (RFRE) pre-screening and industry detailed consultation stage; and,
(c) provide information on security clearance requirements so
as to solicit feedback on these items and prompt suppliers to initiate security clearance processes if required.
1.2. This RFI will also be used to seek input on the scope and interest of suppliers in participating in a broader nuclear innovation agenda.
1.3. To facilitate feedback on these, and other relevant topics,
several specific questions are provided in Appendix B. To support informed feedback, draft elements of the RFRE pre-qualification document are provided in Appendix A.
1.4. Finally, given the amount of time that Canada has allotted for the procurement process, suppliers are encouraged to begin preparing to meet the security requirements for the future solicitation, including for example initiating any security clearance processes that are required."

background documentation:

Friday, 19 July 2013

Staying cool? Thank nuclear power

Staying cool? Thank nuclear power: "Hot out, isn’t it? At least for some of us, anyway. Southern Ontario is sweltering in temperatures that have soared into the 30s. Toronto has declared an extreme heat alert, and the air conditioners are running at full blast.
Thank god for air conditioning. Or rather, thank nuclear power – that’s what’s keeping us cool. Wednesday morning at 7 a.m., Ontario’s nuclear plants were generating more than half of the province’s electricity: 11,148 megawatts. Gas, hydro and coal accounted for another 8,608 MW. Wind power, at 97 MW, barely moved the dial. Those mighty turbines (for which we will be paying dearly for many years to come) contributed less than half of 1 per cent of the total power output.
Of course, wind energy is green. But so is nuclear. Unlike coal and natural gas, nuclear power creates zero greenhouse gas emissions.
“Nuclear energy is the most powerful weapon in the war on global warming,” Steve Aplin, an Ottawa-based consultant in energy and the environment, told me in a phone interview. He points out that if Ontario’s environmental lobby had succeeded in having nuclear power replaced by natural gas, the province’s carbon dioxide emissions would have soared.
But wait! Nuclear plants are dangerous. After the disasters at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima, surely nobody could seriously argue that nuclear power is the way ahead.
In fact, the peril of nuclear is one of the great myths of our time. Chernobyl, a disastrously designed reactor, has killed just 56 people so far, according to the United Nations. Three Mile Island and Fukushima have killed none. Engineering has taken many leaps ahead. Today, nuclear is the safest form of power that we have, next to wind."

Monday, 15 July 2013

Business emphasis at research council has Canada’s scientists concerned

The wirte up about funding cuts for basic science in Canada, this time is in Physics Today: "Unveiled on 7 May, the new structure of the NRC has been in the making since the release nearly two years ago of the government-commissioned report Innovation Canada: A Call to Action, which said Canada should identify strategic areas, streamline its interactions with companies, and focus more on commercialization. The NRC response includes a reorganization from 21 independent institutes into 12 R&D portfolios falling into the three categories of engineering, emerging technologies, and life sciences. In the process, the NRC has shed at least two institutes: A medical diagnostics center in Manitoba was closed, and in April the Canadian Neutron Beam Centre was transferred to Atomic Energy of Canada. “This refocused NRC, with a business-led innovation mission, is pivotal to the future of Canadian jobs, economic growth, and our long-term prosperity,” said Gary Goodyear, minister of state for science and technology.".... "Goodyear compares the refocused NRC to Germany’s Fraunhofer organization, a network of applications-oriented institutes. “In some sense that’s fine,” says Simon Fraser University biophysicist John Bechhoefer. “But what they don’t say is that Germany still has and funds the Max Planck Institutes. We don’t have anything like the Max Planck.”"

Friday, 12 July 2013

Want to kill fewer people? Go nuclear

Want to kill fewer people? Go nuclear: "The record of deaths and diseases over the past 60 years shows nuclear power is safer than every other source of energy."

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

New study concludes nuclear generation is the best investment for Ontario's energy future

New study concludes nuclear generation is the best investment for Ontario's energy future: "A new detailed analysis concludes that investment in Ontario's nuclear generation capacity will deliver the greatest benefit to Ontario ratepayers and the economy while dramatically reducing future potential greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Ontario is in the middle of a review of its 2010 Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP). Many observers have speculated that with slower than forecasted growth in energy demand in Ontario, building out the full capacity contemplated by the LTEP could result in higher than anticipated costs to ratepayers and an unacceptably large surplus of power generation capacity. New decisions on the future supply mix for Ontario may have to be contemplated.
To inform the LTEP review, the Power Workers' Union (PWU) and the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries (OCI) commissioned Strategic Policy Economics Inc. (Strapolec) to assess the economic and GHG emission impacts associated with two supply mix options. One scenario - Retained Wind − assumes that planned new wind generation goes forward while investments in nuclear power generation are curtailed. Under this scenario, additional gas-fired generation is needed as a backstop to the intermittency of wind generation. The other scenario - Retained Nuclear − assumes that the planned refurbishment of existing nuclear reactors and the building of new reactors would proceed while the proposed development of new wind generation would not.
The study shows that retaining the nuclear generation capacity as planned in the 2010 LTEP while reducing contemplated wind generation would:
•Produce $56 billion in direct benefits to Ontario's economy through $27 billion in savings to ratepayers and $29 billion in direct investment in Ontario. This represents a $60 billion net incremental benefit to Ontario as compared to the Retain Wind scenario.
•Generate $9 billion in greater direct employment income benefits than the Retained Wind scenario including the creation of more than 100,000 full-time jobs in Ontario, many in the advanced manufacturing sector.
•Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 108 million tonnes, or 80 per cent less, compared to the Retained Wind scenario."

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Cyclotron construction start announced

Cyclotron construction start announced: "The University of Saskatchewan is beginning construction this month of the province’s first cyclotron facility, a centre for advanced research that will also produce medical imaging isotopes.
To be located in the former Animal Resource Centre between the Canadian Light Source synchrotron and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine on campus, the U of S-owned cyclotron facility will be managed and operated by the Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation, a U of S subsidiary. PCL Construction Management Inc. was awarded the contract to renovate and expand the resource centre building to accommodate the cyclotron.
Some $25.5 million has been provided for the project from the Government of Saskatchewan and Western Economic Diversification Canada. The facility is expected to be operating for research purposes by 2015, and will be fully operational by 2016. It will then supply medical isotopes for the new PET-CT (Positron Emission Tomography – Computed Tomography) scanner at Royal University Hospital, equipment that has proven effective for identifying many types of cancer.
The cyclotron will also provide state-of-the-art facilities for a broad range of research related to human, animal and plant diseases and other molecular imaging applications."

Monday, 8 July 2013

Scientists Bristle at Canadian Leader's Applied Research Push

Science Magazine's writeup about the recent Canadian gvnt's funding cuts for basic science: Scientists Bristle at Canadian Leader's Applied Research Push: ... you need subscription to read the article, I will try to post some...

"That response was the latest—and
quintessential—example of what Harper’s
critics have described variously as his “antiintellectual,”
“antievidence,” or
“antiscience” attitude. An economist
turned politician, Harper
became Canada’s 22nd prime
minister in February 2006.
According to his opponents,
Harper soon began waging a subtle
“war on science” that has only
intensifi ed since his Conservative
party captured a majority of Parliament
in 2011.
That war has operated on
many fronts, his detractors say.
Stagnant budgets for the country’s
three granting councils
have sent a message that academic
research is not a priority
for the Conservative government,
they say. Climate and atmospheric
research have been hit especially hard as
part of what critics regard as an assault on
environmental stewardship."

"However, Harper’s top-down
initiatives and his demand that
the academic community become
more directly involved in the commercialization
of research have
infuriated scientists. Some argue
that the government’s propensity
for large, elitist programs is an
assault on the fundamental tenets of investigator-
initiated research that is eroding the
health of the scientifi c base. Others are simply
queasy about being nudged into becoming
what some call “mercenaries for industry.”"

"Researchers say it’s no coincidence that
a policy requiring government scientists to
obtain permission from Harper’s offi ce before
speaking to the media seems so often to
impinge on environmental researchers. Last
year, 2000 researchers in lab coats descended
on Parliament Hill for a mock funeral for the
“death of evidence.” The policy has spurred
an ongoing investigation by the federal information
commissioner into whether Harper
has placed undue limits on the ability of federal
scientists to disseminate fi ndings."

"Abolishing the national science adviser’s
position was particularly egregious, says
Kennedy Stewart, science critic for the opposition
New Democratic Party. The result, he
says, is that the Harper government is now
crafting science policy “without getting
advice from scientists.”
The shift to a voluntary census, meanwhile,
prompted the resignation of then–
Chief Statistician Munir Sheikh. It was
ostensibly made because libertarian backbenchers
within Harper’s caucus were fretting
that a Canadian might be charged with
failing to fi ll out a census form. And many
fear that the elimination of the national health
council, part of a broader policy to leave the
provinces entirely in charge of health care,
puts Canada on the fast track to becoming
14 splintered systems."

"Gregory Marchildon, Canada Research
Chair in Public Policy and Economic History
at the University of Regina, says that
the “federal government is dismantling
key aspects of the scientifi c infrastructure”
and that it will take “a generation or two
to rebuild” the damage. The opposition’s
Stewart says that the Harper government
is coasting on investments past and that its
strategy of “barking an order at someone”
and telling them “to go from being a scientist
to somebody who does industrial applications”
is doomed to fail."

Friday, 5 July 2013

Westinghouse lands DOE funding for advanced reactor research

Westinghouse lands DOE funding for advanced reactor research: "Westinghouse is one of four nuclear energy companies awarded funding from the Department of Energy this week for research on advanced nuclear reactor projects.
The projects will receive up to $3.5 million in total plus a 20 percent cost share from the companies. Westinghouse’s project is an analysis of sodium thermal hydraulics in advanced nuclear reactor design, according to the DOE. Through this project the Cranberry-based company will provide tools to help quantify heat exchanger performance and improve component engineering for sodium-cooled reactor designs, according to the DOE.
Announcement of these public-private partnerships comes on the heels of President Obama’s climate action plan to lower carbon emissions. The three other projects in the award are:
General Atomic, of San Diego, which is researching silicon carbide composite material for fuel rod cladding in advanced reactor design.
GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, of Wilmington, N.C., which is researching high-temperature insulation materials and analysis tools to design and make electromagnetic pumps for liquid-metal-cooled reactors.
Gen4 Energy, of Denver, which is developing computer models to research natural circulation designs for advanced reactors using a lead bismuth coolant."

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Crime Scene Investigation with neutron scattering

neat!!! Crime Scene Investigation with neutron scattering?!!! A new way of detecting and visualizing fingerprints from crime scenes: New fluorescent fingerprint tag aims to increase IDs from ‘hidden’ fingerprints on bullets and knives: "A new way of detecting and visualizing fingerprints from crime scenes using colour-changing fluorescent films could lead to higher confidence identifications from latent (hidden) fingerprints on knives, guns, bullet casings and other metal surfaces. The technique is the result of a collaboration between the University of Leicester, the Institut Laue-Langevin and the ISIS pulsed neutron and muon source, and will be presented today at the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Faraday Discussion in Durham.
When your finger touches a surface, it leaves behind deposits of sweat and natural oils in a pattern that mirrors the ridges and troughs found on your fingertips. The odds of two individuals having identical fingerprints are 64 billion to 1, making them an ideal tool for identification in criminal investigations.
The greatest source of fingerprint forensic evidence comes from latent fingerprints, i.e. those not immediately visible to the eye, because they are less likely to be ‘wiped’. However, visualizing these prints with sufficient clarity for positive identification often proves difficult. Despite the availability of several enhancement techniques, only 10% of fingerprints taken from crime scenes are of sufficient quality to be used in court.
The classical approach to enhance latent print visibility is to apply a coloured powder that adheres to the sticky residue and provides a visual contrast to the underlying surface. However, these techniques require significant preservation of fingerprint material and are therefore vulnerable to ageing, environmental exposure or attempted washing of the fingerprint residue.
To address this, researchers from the University of Leicester have been working on a new technique that visualizes fingerprints by exploiting their electrically insulating characteristics. Here, the fingerprint material acts like a mask or stencil, blocking an electric current that is used to deposit a coloured electro-active film. This directs the coloured film to the regions of bare surface between the fingerprint deposits, thereby creating a negative image of the print. Unlike conventional fingerprint visualization reagents, the polymers used by the University of Leicester researchers are electrochromic, that is to say they change from one colour to another when subjected to an electrical voltage.
The technique is highly sensitive as even tiny amounts of insulating residue, just a few nanometres thick, can prevent polymer deposition on the metal below. As a result, much less fingerprint residue is required than is typical for other techniques. Also, because it focuses on the gaps between the fingerprint deposits, it can be used in combination with existing (e.g. powder-based) approaches."

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

China prepares to spend billions on science and technology

Unlike Canada which is continuing to cut funding to basic science, other countries are spending billions on science, this is a write up for China's grand plan for investing in science: "The projects are part of China’s “mid- to long-term perspectives for the development of major national infrastructures in science and technology” stretching out to 2030. Through the end of the current five-year planning period in 2015, the total investment is expected to be about CNY19 billion (about $3 billion), more than three times the amount in the previous five-year plan. Individual facilities will get up to CNY2 billion. The construction money comes from the National Development and Reform Commission. Ongoing research is covered by other sources, says Lu Yu, a senior scientist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Physics, so the new large projects do not threaten funding for laboratory-scale science.
Zhen Cao, the chief scientist for a new cosmic-ray observatory that made the cut, says that with the economy strong, “people are thinking this is the time for China to take responsibility for the development of basic science and technology.” The US and Europe, he notes, are both home to many large scientific experiments. “China is making major contributions to science too,” he says. “That is why China thinks we should have this concrete plan to build and grow as many big facilities as possible.”
Among the 16 selected projects, some are ready to go forward pending various permits, but others will be put up for bid. That’s the case, for example, for a user facility to study materials under extreme conditions. Proposals for such projects are due soon, and decisions are likely before the end of the year, says Yu."