Nuclear power study says waste remains issue

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Oct. 9 -- New nuclear plant designs promise to overcome some of the commercial and safety barriers of nuclear power, said the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in a recent report.

But the institute said designs are still burdened by poor public perception, the risk of rogue states using nuclear power plant construction and refueling as a cover for nuclear weapon proliferation, and nuclear waste problems.

Nuclear technology is moving towards smaller scale design, just as conventional power plant technology is, the report said.

The so-called micro-nuclear technology involves new designs that make reactors smaller, with fewer components, simpler design, and simpler operation and maintenance. The new designs include:

� International Reactor and Secure Nuclear Power System, a pressurized water reactor with steam generators integrated within the reactor pressure vessel.

� Pebble Bed Modular Reactor, a modular graphite-moderated, helium-cooled reactor that employs a direct cycle gas turbine and fuel contained in small graphite-covered balls.

� 4S, a sodium-cooled modular fast reactor designed to operate for 30 years without refueling.

� Encapsulated Nuclear Heat Source Reactor, a modular lead-cooled reactor designed to function as a nuclear battery; it is shipped to the site fueled and then replaced by a new module after 20 years of operation.

An advantage to modular design would be shortened construction time compared to conventional reactors, which take at least 5 years to construct. The smaller modular units should be built in less than a year, said the institute.

The cost advantage still would not materialize unless enough modular plants were ordered to make the manufacturing facilities cost-effective, noted the institute. It would not be economic to build a manufacturing facility to produce one nuclear plant module. "The chicken-egg problem of the manufacturing process will stand as a barrier," the report said.

Several of the designs expected to be ready after 2020 eliminate the possibility of severe accidents by relying on the physical process itself for safety as opposed to the functioning of mechanical and electrical components like valves and pumps. For example, because some of the new designs don't circulate coolant, they will avoid accidents that involve large loss of coolant, the report said.

However, other safety issues that involve the possible failure or leaks from the containment structure have not been overcome, said the report.

It noted that because these units would require refueling less often, they would help ease concerns about clandestine nuclear weapon proliferation under the pretense of refueling.

The institute proposed that modular plants could be constructed in one country in a heavily guarded "nuclear park." Then the modules could be shipped to the host country. However, the institute admitted the concept might be politically difficult to implement.

Finally, no matter what the technology, waste disposal challenges will be "daunting." The Baker Institute said if nuclear power were to become the fuel of choice internationally, the spent fuel generated annually would be about 50,000 tons -- equivalent to one Yucca Mountain dumpsite being constructed every 18 months.

To date there is no long-term repository for spent nuclear fuel available in the US, as Yucca Mountain is still under review.

Related Articles

API to issue recommended practice to address pipeline safety

07/01/2015 The American Petroleum Institute expects to issue a new recommended practice in another few weeks that addresses pipeline safety issues, but the tr...

API relaunches 'Vote4Energy' program leading up to 2016 elections

06/29/2015 The American Petroleum Institute wants US voters to elect candidates in the 2016 elections who support broader development of the nation's abundant...

Shell gets state's okay for US Appalachian ethylene plant plan

06/29/2015 Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has approved a permit allowing Royal Dutch Shell PLC subsidiary Shell Chemical LP to pr...

OGJ Newsletter

06/29/2015

Security through change

06/29/2015

At the start of this month the US Army published its "Energy Security & Sustainability (ES2) Strategy" report. 

Marathon commissions unit at Kentucky refinery

06/29/2015 Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) has commissioned a 35,000-b/d condensate splitting unit at its 242,000-b/d Catlettsburg, Ky., refinery to boost the ...

OGJ Newsletter

06/22/2015

Recognize industry know-how in US Arctic policies, API officials urge

06/19/2015 US Arctic oil and gas policies should recognize the industry’s extensive global Far North experience and technology, American Petroleum Institute o...

PBF Energy inks deal for Louisiana refinery, logistics assets

06/18/2015 PBF Holding Co. LLC, a subsidiary of PBF Energy Inc., Parsippany, NJ, has entered an agreement with ExxonMobil Corp. and Petroleos de Venezuela SA ...
White Papers

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts


OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

When Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Predictive Analytics in your digital oilfield - Optimize Production Yield and Reduce Operational Costs

When Tue, Jul 7, 2015

Putting predictive analytics to work in your oilfield can help you anticipate failures, plan and schedule work in advance, eliminate emergency work and catastrophic failures, and at the same time you can optimize working capital and improve resource utilization.  When you apply analytic capabilities to critical production assets it is possible to reduce non-productive time and increase your yield.

Learn how IBM's analytics capabilities can be applied to critical production assets with the goal of reducing non-productive time, increasing yield and reducing operations costs.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected