“It is time to make the case for science,” says host Neil deGrasse Tyson of the upcoming relaunch of the classic 1980 series Cosmos. The new Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey premieres this Sunday, March 9, on FOX, and Monday, March 10, on the National Geographic Network—all in all, in 170 countries and 45 languages, the largest global opening ever for any television series, according to executive producer, writer, and director Ann Druyan.
Nuclear-related? Sure! The universe itself is nuclear-powered, and from the Curiosity rover on Mars to the most powerful space telescopes, our understanding of nuclear science and use of nuclear technologies have been indispensable in humanity’s exploration and understanding of that greatest of all mysteries, and greatest of all voyages… the Cosmos.
We no longer have Carl Sagan, but if the new series can capture the charm and wonder of the old, and portray this to a mass audience, we could be in for something special. As in this trip back in time, in which Dr. Sagan (at 28:27) begins to discuss the prospects for… nuclear-powered starships.
For more on the new Cosmos and its creators, see this review in the New York Times. Or, just tune in Sunday evening and enjoy the ride.
Fans of the popular games Portal and Portal II will get a kick out of this one—or just fans of evil and corrupt artificial intelligences—or just fans of nuclear fission, fusion, and astronomy.
As part of the education and public outreach department of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, an A.I. system is brought online to manage the NASA servers—but unfortunately, and of course completely unexpectedly, it turns out to be mad with lust for power.
In the process of dealing with this highly entertaining, if evil, machine, brilliant computer technicians learn about the A.I. system’s fusion and fission power cores and the basic science of the processes behind them—and even how old the light is that we see from the sun, among other interesting things.
Researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory have demonstrated realistic full-core predictive modeling of a commercial nuclear reactor over multiple years of use. The simulation platform is named MOOSE (Multiphysics Object Oriented Simulation Environment).
MOOSE is designed to make modeling and simulation, traditionally a daunting task, much more accessible to a broad array of scientists, in a fraction of the time previously required. For more on MOOSE and its revolutionary applications in nuclear engineering, please see here and here.
In this simulation video, the MOOSE team tracks hundreds of properties of thousands of reactor components to predict detailed conditions and behavior of 40,000 fuel rods in the new Westinghouse AP1000 reactor, of which eight units are now under construction in the United States and China.
In honor of the Seattle Seahawks’ convincing victory in the Super Bowl just a few short days ago, today’s Nuclear Matinee videos come straight from the great state of Washington, home to Energy Northwest’s 1,170-megawatt Columbia Generating Station—which, incidentally, produces enough electricity to power a city the size of Seattle.
In fact, this entertaining 30-second PSA would be quite suitable for energizing halftime during any lopsided Super Bowl:
What if you could eliminate the carbon emissions from half the passenger cars in Washington State? In effect, that’s what Columbia Generating Station does every year:
In today’s Nuclear Matinee, take a trip inside a nuclear reactor core with Jem Stansfield and the BBC. Jem explores a never-used reactor core at the Zwentendorf nuclear power plant in Austria to explain, in the most straightforward of terms, how a nuclear power station works.
A nuclear power station contributes a lot more in benefits to a community and region than just massive amounts of 24/7 electricity generation—although it should be noted that, in the case of Seabrook Station alone, 42 percent of New Hampshire’s entire electricity generation comes from this single power plant. Amazing. See this excellent post at NEI Nuclear Notes for more on Seabrook’s “bigger picture,” and this story for more on regional economic benefits in particular.
Having a few days ago caught up with the latest milestones in construction of new nuclear units at Plant Vogtle in Georgia, let us take a look at the latest history in the making at the construction site of units 2 and 3 of the Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station in South Carolina – and in the local community surrounding one of the largest construction projects in the state’s history. Construction of two new Westinghouse AP1000 reactors officially began in March 2013 and the reactors are planned to be online in 2018.
Thanks to South Carolina Electric & Gas for producing this fine video update
It’s been more than two years since Vogtle Units 3 and 4 began to rise from the landscape near Waynesboro, Georgia—though construction officially began just last March with pouring of the Unit 3 basemat concrete, and a few months ago in November with the Unit 4 basemat. Turbine buildings, cooling towers, AP1000 reactor operator training… 2013 saw great strides toward the first new commercial nuclear power reactors in the United States in 30 years. Join host Joe Washington for a tour of the most recent milestones achieved in this amazing construction project.
Thanks to Southern Company for producing this fine video.
Today’s Nuclear Cafe Matinee takes faithful viewers “across the pond”—well, at least if one is situated in North America—to chat with Hinkley Point B Station Director Mike Harrison in southwest England.
The Hinkley Point B reactors are a bit different from the more common water-cooled reactors in widespread use, as they are Advanced Gas Reactors and use high-temperature carbon dioxide gas as reactor coolant. The video was filmed shortly after the events at Fukushima-Daiichi in 2011.
Hinkley Point has been in the news quite a lot this year, as plans have been finalized to construct at this site the first of a new fleet of British nuclear power stations. Hinkley Point C is scheduled to come online in 2023 as part of a plan to cut the United Kingdom’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent in the mid 2020s. But first… The UK government’s role in an agreement with operators on electricity pricing, construction costs, and other aspects must pass muster with the European Commission, with a decision on necessary changes, if any, expected by summer 2014. For a more recent update with Station Director Mike Harrison, see this Inside the Hinkley Point Nuclear Plant interview with The Telegraph.
News out of Fukushima-Daiichi this week is encouraging: TEPCO successfully transferred the first batch of fuel rod assemblies from the reactor unit No. 4 spent fuel pool to a common fuel pool building offering longer-term stable storage conditions. Completing the process for the more than 1,000 fuel rod assemblies that remain at No. 4 is projected to take a year, and will be a first major step toward decommissioning of the site.
The following video may be of interest to those who are watching and following events at Fukushima closely, as it shows the removal of one of the fuel rod assemblies via underwater camera. Much ink has been spilled over the past year concerning perils and hazards of this stage of decommissioning—so one might as well see part of how it’s done.
Cask with 22 fuel rod assemblies heads to common fuel pool building (Kyodo News)
The Sun is powered by the strongest source of energy in the universe – nuclear fusion – and teams of scientists and engineers around the world are working toward harnessing fusion to power the long-term future of civilization. In effect… they are working to “create a star” on earth.
This excellent (and well-produced!) piece by the BBC takes a look inside the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, home of the world’s most powerful laser. The goal? To use the laser to compress a pellet of hydrogen fuel to the point of “ignition” – when a self-sustaining fusion reaction releases more energy than what was required to initiate it.
Media reports during the murkiness of the US government shutdown indicated that “breakeven” was achieved at NIF last month… well maybe, maybe not. Regardless, there is still a long way to go and there remain challenges to overcome. But then, NIF also has lots of company in the race for fusion energy…
Today’s ANS Nuclear Cafe Matinée takes faithful viewers through the beautiful waterways and countryside of France, following the route of the massive reactor pressure vessel being delivered to the new 1,650 MWe European Pressurized Reactor under construction at the Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant.
A caveat: Users must supply their own sound track, as these are silent movies. Hmm… The Pointer Sisters’ Neutron Dance is quite upbeat, but not bucolic. George Clinton’s Atomic Dog doesn’t quite capture the moment. Perhaps something French? La Marseillaise?
Can we assume that everyone knows that the misty cloud from a cooling tower at a nuclear plant — is simply water?
Well, it is never safe to assume. In this video excerpt from Powering America, workers at American nuclear plants explain how and why cooling towers work. In addition to confirming that, yes, the cloud one sees is merely from clean steam, the way these big cooling towers work is quite interesting in its own right.
One interesting point to start with: The water from the cooling tower at the Watts Barr nuclear plant in the video – is cleaner than the river it came from.
Thanks to Heritage Foundation for producing this video. Watch the Powering America film on the nuclear energy industry, as told by the people who make it go, in its entirety
Two new AP1000 nuclear power reactors are under construction at the Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station in Fairfield County, South Carolina. Along with two new units at the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Georgia, these are the first new nuclear units built in the United States in the past three decades.
As host Rhonda O’Banion explains, teamwork in the community and on the construction site go hand-in-hand—as evidenced by North American Young Generation in Nuclear’s school supplies drive for the local McCrory–Liston School of Technology. Preparations for the basemat concrete pour are underway for Unit 3, while major components for Unit 2—such as the reactor vessel and reactor vessel head—have arrived, and construction including the containment vessel and cooling towers is well underway:
For more technical details, see these media briefings hosted by SCE&G Chief Operating Officer Stephen A. Byrne: