Canadian Energy Issues – Steve Aplin looks at the SILEX (laser enrichment process) and how the opponents of it are really opponents to improved economics for nuclear energy.
Nuclear Supplier Group rules already ensure that no other rule-respecting countries than the ones already hosting isotope separation facilities will host the first SILEX plant. So the whole issue is already moot.
As for the countries that don’t respect NSG rules, well they’re beyond our control anyway, aren’t they. If they’re bent on getting a nuclear bomb, chances are they won’t wait around for the latest greatest way to enrich uranium. They’ll use electromagnetic calutrons if they have to. Who cares about the physical footprint—Saddam, with every U.S. spy satellite pointed at Iraq, did exactly that.
SILEX changes absolutely nothing, other than—possibly, if its proponents are correct—the economics of enrichment.
Its opponents just don’t want to see any improvement in the economics of light water reactor (LWR) nuclear energy.
Nextbigfuture - India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) would permit private miners to process beach sand and supply monazite tailings to the government-owned Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL) to increase the latter’s capacity to extract thorium and uranium. The DAE hoped to secure supplies of at least one-million tons of thorium from beach sand processed by private miners, and increase the supply of monazite to IREL.
Canada and China are now working on a project to convert the Qinshan CANDU reactor units to full core use of NUE (natural uranium equivalent) fuel by 2014.
Nextbigfuture - South Korea starts up another reactor and begins construction on another. The Shin Wolsong 1 OPR-1000 unit, construction of which began in November 2007, started up and was connected to the grid in January 2012. The final stages of commissioning tests began on 24 June. A 'performance guarantee test' confirmed that the unit generates its designed output. KHNP subsequently received approval from the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission for the reactor to enter full-scale commercial operation. Its sister unit, Shin Wolsong 2, is expected to start up next month and enter commercial operation in January 2013.
Nextbigfuture - Using nuclear power instead of fossil fuel will save Japan about $1 trillion.
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