Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Safe, secure and inexpensive power from newest generations of nuclear reactors

Date:
May 6, 2002
Source:
American Institute Of Physics
Summary:
Despite the bad press that nuclear reactors earned in past years, researchers writing for the latest issue of Physics Today magazine report that more and more people are reconsidering nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuel. In fact, President George Bush's National Energy Policy explicitly supports expansion of nuclear power, in contrast to the policies of previous presidential administrations. The primary reasons for the shift in opinion stem from concerns for the environment and interest in enhancing national energy self-sufficiency.

Despite the bad press that nuclear reactors earned in past years, researchers writing for the latest issue of Physics Today magazine report that more and more people are reconsidering nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuel. In fact, President George Bush's National Energy Policy explicitly supports expansion of nuclear power, in contrast to the policies of previous presidential administrations. The primary reasons for the shift in opinion stem from concerns for the environment and interest in enhancing national energy self-sufficiency.

At the moment, nuclear and hydroelectric power are the only technologies that can generate large amounts of energy without emitting copious greenhouses gases. Although dams may initially seem more appealing than nuclear reactors, hydroelectric power plants are impractical in the many regions that lack adequate sources of flowing water. That means nuclear power stands alone as a practical and environmentally friendly resource that is not tied to local geography. Although US efforts are just beginning to ramp up, a handful of modern nuclear reactors, known as Generation III devices, are being planned or built today in Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. First generation reactors were the research devices that proved nuclear energy could work in the lab as well as on the chalkboard. Second generation reactors took the technology one step further, demonstrating that the machines were economically feasible power plants. Emerging, third generation reactors are equipped with advanced features, such as safety systems incorporating passive energy dissipation or natural processes, simplifying their design and allowing them to cope with malfunctions without the need for operator action.

Generation IV machines now in development, says Gail Marcus of the Department of Energy, will provide dramatic improvements in reactor design. "They're going to mean significant improvements in economics of their performance, in safety, and in waste minimization," Marcus explains, as well as being more resistant to attempts to divert mateial for illegal weapons manufacturing.

Some advanced design concepts include high temperature reactors that are 2-3 times more efficient than contemporary reactors, mechanically simpler machines with fewer moving parts for improved reliability, and nuclear plants that would process their own waste. Unlike earlier designs that were intended simply as electricity production facilities, the additional heat from high temperature reactors could provide hot water for nearby communities or energy for seawater desalinization. An important benefit of the reactors of tomorrow might be cleaner cars, says Marcus, because hotter, Generation IV nuclear plants could produce fuel for hydrogen-powered vehicles.

It will be another twenty-five or thirty years before fourth generation nuclear reactors come into service, but improved third generation reactors, which Marcus calls Generation III+ designs, may be in operation by the end of this decade.

"We have an initiative called Nuclear Power 2010," explains Marcus, "The goal is to have one or more new plants operating by the end of the decade. That means the commitment has to be made in the next couple of years."

Marcus and Alan Levin of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission detail many of the near and long term options for nuclear power plants in the April 2002 issue of Physics Today (New Designs for the Nuclear Renaissance, pp. 54-60).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute Of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Institute Of Physics. "Safe, secure and inexpensive power from newest generations of nuclear reactors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 May 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/04/020426073537.htm>.
American Institute Of Physics. (2002, May 6). Safe, secure and inexpensive power from newest generations of nuclear reactors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/04/020426073537.htm
American Institute Of Physics. "Safe, secure and inexpensive power from newest generations of nuclear reactors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/04/020426073537.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins