Archive for the ‘nuclear energy’ category

Oct 4, 2018

Earth’s First Nuclear Reactor Is 1.7 Billion Years Old And Was Made Naturally

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, space

Planets can ‘discover’ nuclear power on their own, naturally, without any intelligence. Earth did it 1.7 billion years before humans.

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Sep 30, 2018

Commonwealth Fusion stronger magnet tokomak gets billionaire funding

Posted by in categories: government, nuclear energy

Commonwealth Fusion Systems a spinout from MIT has received additional funding from Breakthrough Energy Ventures (which investment from billionaires Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, Mukesh Ambani, and Richard Branson).

Commonwealth Fusion Systems will use new superconducting materials to make far stronger magnets for a smaller Tokamak fusion system. The planned fusion experiment, called Sparc, is set to be far smaller – about 1/65th of the volume – than that of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project, an international collaboration.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures’ portfolio company @CFS_energy is building on decades of government-funded research to accelerate the path toward clean, limitless commercial fusion energy. #cleanenergy

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Sep 25, 2018

A nuclear startup will fold after failing to deliver reactors that run on spent fuel

Posted by in category: nuclear energy

Transatomic Power, an MIT spinout that drew wide attention and millions in funding, is shutting down almost two years after the firm backtracked on bold claims for its design of a molten-salt reactor.

High hopes: The company, founded in 2011, plans to announce later today that it’s winding down.

Transatomic had claimed its technology could generate electricity 75 times more efficiently than conventional light-water reactors, and run on their spent nuclear fuel. But in a white paper published in late 2016, it backed off the latter claim entirely and revised the 75 times figure to “more than twice,” a development first reported by MIT Technology Review.

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Sep 22, 2018

Japan Has Enough Nuclear Material to Build an Arsenal. Its Plan: Recycle

Posted by in categories: materials, nuclear energy

Japan has spent decades building a facility to turn nuclear waste into nuclear fuel, but neighbors fear it has other plans for its plutonium.

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Sep 21, 2018

NASA targets next-gen nuclear reactors for spacecraft, space colonies

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, space travel

A new nuclear fission project, called Kilopower, could fuel the future of spaceflight, manifesting a dream that’s been around since the beginning of the Space Age.

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Sep 21, 2018

Build Small Nuclear Reactors for Battlefield Power

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, physics

Los Alamos engineers are working on a tiny, steel-encased core regulated by physics, not pumps.

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Sep 1, 2018

Nuclear Thermal Propulsion: Game Changing Technology

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, space travel

Today’s advances in materials, testing capabilities, and reactor development are providing impetus for NASA to appraise Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) as an attractive 21st century option to propel human exploration missions to Mars and other deep space destinations.

Utilizing nuclear technology as an ingredient of NASA’s exploration prowess is not new. NTP research is part of the space agency’s storied history. In 1961, NASA and the former Atomic Energy Commission jointly embarked on the Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application (NERVA) program – an effort that over several years led to the design, building, and testing of reactors and rocket engines.

Those programmatic high points spurred then-NASA Marshall Space Flight Center director and rocket pioneer, Wernher von Braun, to advocate for a proposed mission, dispatching a dozen crew members to Mars aboard two rockets. Each rocket would be propelled by three NERVA engines. As detailed by von Braun, that expeditionary crew would launch to the Red Planet in November 1981 and land on that distant world in August 1982. In presenting his visionary plan in August 1969 to a Space Task Group, von Braun explained that “although the undertaking of this mission will be a great national challenge, it represents no greater challenge than the commitment made in 1961 to land a man on the moon.”

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Aug 27, 2018

China and Russia looking at 27 floating nuclear reactors but ThorCon and Indonesia could scale to 100 per year

Posted by in categories: economics, nuclear energy

What could possibly go wrong? Does anyone remember Fukushima?

Floating nuclear power plants offer several economic advantages.

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Aug 27, 2018

Global race for transformative molten salt nuclear includes Bill Gates and China

Posted by in categories: government, nuclear energy

Unlike Nuclear fusion which has never had net generation of power, molten salt nuclear fission power had 2.5 megawatts of net power generation from a US nuclear prototype back in the 1960s. The US government had major work on molten salt nuclear reactors form the 1950s through the 1970s.

There is now a multi-billion race from many US companies and China and Canada and European countries to develop molten salt nuclear power.

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Aug 24, 2018

Pushing the plasma density limit

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, particle physics

For decades, researchers have been exploring ways to replicate on Earth the physical process of fusion that occurs naturally in the sun and other stars. Confined by its own strong gravitational field, the sun’s burning plasma is a sphere of fusing particles, producing the heat and light that makes life possible on earth. But the path to a creating a commercially viable fusion reactor, which would provide the world with a virtually endless source of clean energy, is filled with challenges.

Researchers have focused on the tokamak, a device that heats and confines turbulent plasma fuel in a donut-shaped chamber long enough to create fusion. Because plasma responds to magnetic fields, the torus is wrapped in magnets, which guide the fusing plasma particles around the toroidal chamber and away from the walls. Tokamaks have been able to sustain these reactions only in short pulses. To be a practical source of energy, they will need to operate in a steady state, around the clock.

Researchers at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) have now demonstrated how microwaves can be used to overcome barriers to steady-state tokamak operation. In experiments performed on MIT’s Alcator C-Mod tokamak before it ended operation in September 2016, research scientist Seung Gyou Baek and his colleagues studied a method of driving current to heat the plasma called Lower Hybrid Current Drive (LHCD). The technique generates plasma current by launching microwaves into the tokamak, pushing the electrons in one direction—a prerequisite for steady-state operation.

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