November 12, 2012

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 130

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 130 is up at Atomic Insights.

Canadian Energy Issues - Modern cities cannot function without electricity. That electricity is usually the product of other people from outside of the city, which, says Steve Aplin, illustrates Adam Smith’s division of labour in real time action. City dwellers do not produce most of what they consume; that is why they exist in the form they do.

This division of labour, whereby most citizens of and workers in Toronto do not produce or distribute the electricity that runs Toronto, also is why electricity is cheap. The central-station grid model is by far the most efficient way to deliver bulk electricity to millions of consumers.

And the most efficient central station grid is one that is fed with cheap, highly concentrated generation sources, that occupy small physical footprints.

Atomic Insights - On November 8, 2012, Environmental Health Perspectives, a monthly journal supported by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, published a report titled Radiation and the Risk of Chronic Lymphocytic and Other Leukemias among Chornobyl Cleanup Workers.

The authors studied a population of 110,645 people who had been involved in efforts to clean up contaminated areas after the 1986 Chernobyl accident. The exposures were all received sometime during the period from 1986-1990.

Out of that large population, 162 (0.146%) were diagnosed with leukemia between 1986-2006. Of the 162, radiation dose estimates were not available for 25 people, leaving a group of 137. Out of the 137, 20 people were interviewed within 2 years after they started chemotherapy for their disease. That group demonstrated a significantly different dose-response from other cohorts so the people conducting the study decided to exclude them from the study results, leaving 117 cases of leukemia (both CLL and non-CLL) in the group to be studied.

Through a variety of statistical methods, the study authors determined that approximately 19 cases of leukemia (16% of the remain 117 cases, but just 0.017% of the initial group of 110,645) could be attributed to radiation doses received during the clean up effort.

Nextbigfuture - Westinghouse and others are pursuing the development of a true next-generation nuclear technology referred to as the High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor (HTGR) for the past few years. Without too much technical detail, HTGRs are helium-cooled, graphite-moderated reactors with robust ceramic-coated fuel that operate at temperatures at or above 750 Degrees Celsius (1400 Fahrenheit) where conventional light water reactors operate at temperatures less than half that.

Capturing merely 25% of the key markets would require over 700 reactor modules in North America alone. Potential uses include:

* Petrochemical, refinery, fertilizer/ammonia plants and others (125 HTGRs);
* Oil Sands/Oil Shale (30 HTGRs);
* Hydrogen merchant market (60 HTGRs);
* Synthetic fuels and feedstocks (415 HTGRs); and
* Electric power (180 HTGRs).

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