Why Did The NS Savannah Fail? Can She Really be Called a Failure?

(Post was originally published on July 1, 1995. It was updated on April 2, 2011 to include information and videos that were not available in when it was first written. The title has also been revised to open up a new discussion – was the NS Savannah a failure or a successful demonstration of a technology whose time has not quite arrived?)

On Friday, March 23, 1962, the N.S. Savannah became the first nuclear merchant ship at sea. In 1972, after ten years of demonstrations and operations, she was laid up in an effort to reduce spending by the Maritime Administration.

In the lore of the nuclear industry, her early retirement proved that nuclear power was not a viable option for commercial shipping. Once again, Atomic Insights will discuss why we believe that the conventional wisdom is wrong.

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Ask Atomic: What was your point regarding the 760 million mile per gallon carburetor?

Ask Atomic: What was your point regarding the 760 million mile per gallon carburetor? Reader Patrick recently asked me a question about an article titled “The 760 Million Mile Per Gallon (MMMPG) Carburetor” that I originally wrote for an online publication called Power Online a bit more than 5 years ago. With current interest in […]

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Ask Atomic: What limits reactor fuel burnup?

Several people have either sent email or made a comment on the Atomic Insights Blog about the factors that limit reactor fuel consumption (burnup). Here is one of the questions with my answer. This question came from Iain, who blogs at http://ambivalentengineer.blogspot.com Rod, Could you please explain something to me, or point me at some […]

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How I developed my atomic insights

This posting needs a little context. I occasionally get into conversations with people that wonder why I am so passionate about atomic energy. Explanations of that sort often require some background information. I composed this letter as part of a conversation with a journalist whose views are completely divergent, but who is willing to listen […]

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Building New School Energy Wells

Petroleum – that term includes oil, gas and derivatives – wells have been going dry for more than 150 years. Until now, the solution to that problem of resource depletion has been to find a new place to drill. Though there is still a lot of oil left inside the Earth, there is a significant […]

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PBMR Update June 7, 2005

As frequent readers know, I am a huge fan of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) project that has been under development in South Africa since 1993. Though there have been some hurdles over the years, and the project has had to overcome a significant amount of resistance, the PBMR team – originally from Eskom, […]

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A Time For Opportunity and Caution

On May 16-18 2005, the Nuclear Energy Institute hosted its annual Nuclear Energy Assembly. The conference, held at the Fairmont Hotel in northwest Washington DC was titled Nuclear Energy 2005: A Time of Opportunity. There were both optimistic and cautionary speeches given during the conference. Some of the speeches are available for download from our […]

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BP versus Exelon

Two energy companies made the cut in the 2005 edition of Wired Magazine’s annual article about cutting edge companies. This year’s installment of the survey led with the following quote: “They’re masters of technology and innovation. They’re global thinkers driven by strategic vision. They’re nimbler than Martha Stewart’s PR team. They’re The Wired 40.” Both […]

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Are Nuclear Plants Really Terrorist Targets?

On September 11, 2001, three fully fueled transcontinental airplanes became terrorist weapons, causing a huge amount of direct damage and killing more than 3,000 people living and working in the United States. Though terrorist attacks are nothing new, the scale and impact of these three coordinated attacks from the air caused a complete revaluation of […]

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Replacing Oil With Uranium

Truckers, farmers, parcel services, chemical manufacturers, airlines, bus companies, and railroads all need uranium to begin replacing oil. No, they do not yet need their own reactors, but they would all benefit substantially if more nuclear power plants were built to allow more uranium to be used instead of oil and gas wherever possible. The […]

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