Archive for the ‘nuclear energy’ category

Nov 23, 2020

Laser fusion reactor approaches ‘burning plasma’ milestone

Posted by in category: nuclear energy

After a decade, National Ignition Facility nears a self-heated, sustained reaction, though net energy gain is still elusive.

Nov 22, 2020

Cracking the Secrets of an Emerging Branch of Physics: Exotic Properties to Power Real-World Applications

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, nuclear energy, physics

In a new realm of materials, PhD student Thanh Nguyen uses neutrons to hunt for exotic properties that could power real-world applications.

Thanh Nguyen is in the habit of breaking down barriers. Take languages, for instance: Nguyen, a third-year doctoral candidate in nuclear science and engineering (NSE), wanted “to connect with other people and cultures” for his work and social life, he says, so he learned Vietnamese, French, German, and Russian, and is now taking an MIT course in Mandarin. But this drive to push past obstacles really comes to the fore in his research, where Nguyen is trying to crack the secrets of a new and burgeoning branch of physics.

“My dissertation focuses on neutron scattering on topological semimetals, which were only experimentally discovered in 2015,” he says. “They have very special properties, but because they are so novel, there’s a lot that’s unknown, and neutrons offer a unique perspective to probe their properties at a new level of clarity.”

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Nov 20, 2020

Drones Solve a Nuclear Waste Mystery at Chernobyl

Posted by in categories: drones, nuclear energy

In 2019, Switzerland-based Flyability had a mystery to solve at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Was nuclear waste still present in one of the plant’s decommissioned reactors?

“At the time of the disaster, the fifth block of the Chernobyl Plant was under construction and nearing completion,” a Flyability spokesperson said. “Given the rush to leave, there was no record of whether the holding pools in Reactor Five had ever received the depleted uranium fuel bars for which they had been made.”

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Nov 18, 2020

Company Aims to Make Nuclear Reactors Pocket-Sized

Posted by in categories: education, nuclear energy

Hydrogen boron could be used essentially for radiationless portable reactors.

These reactors use gravity and buoyancy to spontaneously circulate the cooling water. Another selling point is the size. WIRED reports that it’s “about the size of two school buses stacked end to end, you could fit around 100 of them in the containment chamber of a large conventional reactor.”

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Nov 17, 2020

Novel analytic approach enhances nuclear magnetic resonance signal detection in previously ‘invisible’ regions

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, nuclear energy

First introduced into wide use in the middle of the 20th century, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) has since become an indispensable technique for examining materials down to their atoms, revealing molecular structure and other details without interfering with the material itself.

“It’s a broadly used technique in , materials characterization, MRI—situations in which you do a non-invasive analysis, but with atomic and molecular details,” said UC Santa Barbara chemistry professor Songi Han. By placing a sample in a strong magnetic field and then probing it with radio waves scientists can determine from the response from the oscillating nuclei in the material’s atoms the of the material.

“However, the problem with NMR has been that because it’s such a low-energy technique, it’s not very sensitive,” Han said. “It’s very detailed, but you don’t get much signal.” As a result, large amounts of sample material may be needed relative to other techniques, and the signals’ general weakness makes NMR less than ideal for studying complex chemical processes.

Nov 15, 2020

Why NASA wants to put a nuclear power plant on the moon

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, space

NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy will seek proposals from industry to build a nuclear power plant on the moon and Mars to support its long-term exploration plans. The proposal is for a fission surface power system, and the goal is to have a flight system, lander and reactor in place by 2026.

Anthony Calomino, NASA’s nuclear technology portfolio lead within the Space Technology Mission Directorate, said that the plan is to develop a 10-kilowatt class fission surface power system for demonstration on the moon by the late 2020s. The facility will be fully manufactured and assembled on Earth, then tested for safety and to make sure it operates correctly.

Afterwards, it will be integrated with a lunar lander, and a launch vehicle will transport it to an orbit around the moon. A lander will lower it to the surface, and once it arrives, it will be ready for operation with no additional assembly or construction required. The demonstration is expected to last for one year, and could ultimately lead to extended missions on the moon, Mars, and beyond.

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Nov 14, 2020

The World Needs Nuclear Power, And We Shouldn’t Be Afraid Of It

Posted by in categories: information science, nuclear energy, sustainability

Although many different approaches have been proposed to address this problem, it’s clear that any sustainable, long-term solution will include one important component: a transition to energy sources that don’t result in additional carbon dioxide emissions. While most of the ideas put forth — such as the hypothetical Green New Deal — focus on renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, there’s another option that we should seriously reconsider: nuclear fission power.

As we embrace green solutions, nuclear should absolutely be part of the equation.

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Nov 14, 2020

Federal utility fined $900K for nuclear violations, coverup

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, security

Federal regulators have fined the nation’s largest public utility more than $900,000 for violating procedures during the startup of a Tennessee nuclear reactor and subsequently misleading investigators. Two managers and a plant operator who worked at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Barr Nuclear Plant in Spring City were also issued violations by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Howard Hall, director of the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Nuclear Security, said the notice of violation to TVA points to “a systemic problem in management.”

“As someone who has worked in this field essentially my entire life, I would have been appalled to receive such a letter,” Hall said.

Nov 9, 2020

Nuclear Technology Abandoned Decades Ago Might Give Us Safer, Smaller Reactors

Posted by in category: nuclear energy

Circa 2019

Could molten salt reactors might just turn nuclear power into the greenest energy source on the planet?

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Nov 9, 2020

The ‘Sun machine’ that could provide the world with clean energy

Posted by in category: nuclear energy

Leo Cendrowicz reports from Provence on a technological marvel 35 years and counting in the making that could provide the world with clean power… for ever.

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