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  1. To paraphrase an aphorism made famous by President John F. Kennedy, “A rising tide lifts all boats”. The greatest danger that this group faces, is if Advanced Reactor developers attempt to promote their technology by trying to undercut or tear down others within this community. To do so will only help to undermine the effort as a whole and will diminish the enthusiasm and support for these technologies.

    Wow! Was that remark directed at some of the participants in the comments section of this blog?

    Probably not, but it should have been.

  2. One thing that will hold back development is Intellectual Property. State granted monopoly privileges stifle innovation and add to costs.

    Reactor designers should have a moratorium from filing patents and go open source. At least until advanced nuclear has sold a significant number of of new reactors.

      1. @E-P

        Perhaps, but when has China respected IP protections like patents? It’s analogous to the phrase that you often hear about guns “The only people restricted by gun laws are those who obey the law.” The only people constrained by patents and copyrights are those who pay attention to the law and are within legal reach of the patent holder.

      2. IMHO, there is a mountain to climb before any of these GEN IV designs get built in meaningful numbers. Handing the industry to China is the least of our worries when time is now so short.

        Seeing as the era of huge State investment (China excepted) in reactor research is over, there needs to be openness and sharing in the industry if we are going to see rapid progress.

        For example, in a recent presentation, Ian Scott (moltex) announced he’s discovered that by galvanising stainless steel with Zirconium, expensive alloys are not needed to prevent corrosion by salts.

        If true, this could solve a lot of issues faced by other MSR designers. But only if Scott either hasn’t patented the idea, or charge them an exorbitant licence fee(which he might well be advised to by his business partners).

        1. @benhj

          Interesting comment. I just replayed the Atomic Show interview with Moltex founders on my way back from Oak Ridge. Ian Scott’s presentation reminded me of their interesting technology and history.

          Based on the way that John Durham described his motivations for footing the start-up costs, it seems that he would be quite willing to be in a share and share alike community of atomic makers.

          For the record, I put my Adams Engine patent into the public domain back in about 2002. There was no commercial reason to pay the renewal fee. It would have expired by now anyway.

          I tend to agree with you; worrying too much about IP protection will delay the needed industrial investments to the point where they might never occur. This is one of the reasons why I’m glad that Intellectual Ventures has not shown any interest in high temperature gas reactors.

          1. You are advocating the development of technology as a altruistic endeavor. Admirable, but pie in the sky. With the costs involved in your hoped for rennaisance of nuclear innovation, investors will expect a return on their investment. Giving away technological advantage ain’t exactly how the Trumps and Kochs in our capitalistic society roll. Dream on.

            1. @poa

              I’m not advocating an altruistic endeavor. I just don’t think that traditional IP is all that valuable in this business. The technology was mostly developed decades ago, often with government money.

          2. There’s also plenty of precedent for patent pools in the software industry. Think H.265 video codec standard. The key players get together and cross-license their relevant patents for a nominal fee, the non-key players get locked out, and everyone has a share.

            1. @Ed Leaver

              Patent pools are a good example of what I mean by “share and share alike.” Numerous players who all have contributions to make work together on common issues like materials, software, regulatory changes, etc. Entities who don’t contribute don’t get to use the output for free. It’s the way that functional communities work.

          3. The technology was mostly developed decades ago, often with government money.

            So were the computer codes that are used to analyze these reactor designs, Rod, but just try getting a copy of one of these codes from RSICC (the Radiation Safety Information Computational Center at Oak Ridge) without paying a fee, unless you are doing work for the US government.

            Frankly, I’m less worried about IP issues than I am about the US export restrictions.

            1. @Brian Mays

              Frankly, I’m less worried about IP issues than I am about the US export restrictions.

              I agree. We need to get information and equipment associated with special nuclear materials utilization facilities out from under the control regime designed to control equipment and information associated with special nuclear materials production facilities.

              We must firmly press the point that the language used as the basis for the restrictions doesn’t consider “military” uses like engines for ships and submarines to require the onerous controls, just facilities aimed at producing special nuclear material.

              Producing used nuclear fuel, though it contains a tiny portion of plutonium mixed in with about 100 times more uranium and fission products, is NOT producing “special nuclear material.” New fuel is already “special nuclear material” because it is enriched in U-235.

          4. So..if onerous restrictions are hampering inovation here, why the concern about exportation and asian development? Isn’t the idea to demonstrate safety, reliability, environmental wisdom? If you can’t do it here, perhaps the chinese will. And as far as a global issue of environmental damage due to coal and oil, what country needs clean energy more than China does? If China cleans up its act, it benefits everyone that resides on this planet. I realize some here, such as Brian, have a very hard time seeing issues through anything other than an “us against them” lens, but we all share the same planet, whether we like it or not.

          5. poa – Shh! … The grown-ups are trying to have a conversation here.

            Rod – Currently the export restrictions imposed by the US government are so vague and encompassing that all they do is hinder the US (and US citizens such as me) from participating in what has already become an international market.

            The way that US law is worded, any nuclear technology can possibly be subject to US export restrictions simply because one American citizen worked on the technology. That’s crazy.

            1. @Brian Mays:

              Are you talking about the law or 10 CFR 810?

              The whole basis for Part 810 rides on a shaky interpretation of a single subparagraph of the Atomic Energy Act. As I read the law as passed by Congress and signed by the President, the export control restrictions should only be applied to nuclear technologies related to production of special nuclear material, not ALL nuclear technologies.

              No nation can claim ownership of physics, chemistry and material science.

            2. @Brian Mays

              poa – Shh! … The grown-ups are trying to have a conversation here.

              No need to be insulting when what you really mean to say is that it’s an issue that is worth considerable investment in research in order to understand the nuances and the harm that is imposed on American nuclear technologists and supply corporations.

          6. Rod – I’m talking about the law. I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t have the exact statute or ruling at my fingertips. I’m just commenting on what I’ve seen in practice.

            The situation is so vague that it’s just the fear of possible US export restrictions that will cause certain decisions to be made.

            poa – Shh … name calling is not going to help you.

          7. “No need to be insulting …”

            Rod – Really? Then please tell your “guest” to stop calling people out. Normally I ignore him, but if he is going to mention my name, then I’m going to treat him like the child he is.

            Please tell him to either grow up or just go away. His comments here are not productive in general, and I noticed that you’ve just deleted yet another of his less productive ones. I believe that he holds the record for the number of comments deleted from this blog.

          8. “I believe that he holds the record for the number of comments deleted from this blog”

            Thats because Rod doesn’t bother to delete your partisan ignorance, unfounded accusations of anti-semitism, and general right wing braying. Nor, unless prodded, does he delete blatant and despicable racism that rivals the doctrine of the KKK.

            “Then please tell your “guest” to stop calling people out”

            Carry on, adult. I didn’t realize whining was a sign of maturity either. You’ve got this “adult” thing knocked, doncha?

    1. I don’t quite understand this. Most of ideas about how these advanced reactors work are published in the open literature. That’s how paper reactors are. It’s how you get people interested in them.

      The ideas are available for anyone to take and develop themselves. The details (which is where the real money goes) will remain trade secrets.

  3. I just wish to mention a nice development in my home state of Wisconsin. Our senate just passed a bill to lift our moratorium on new nuclear stations, as long as the designs were approved by the NRC after 31 December 2010. It will signed by Governor Walker in a few weeks.

    It isn’t to say that any will be built anytime soon, but we still have an active nuclear engineering program (with a working research reactor) in Madison, so the odds are turning in our favor.

    1. @Brent Schwert

      Terrific news. Can you help me locate a more hopeful and accurate report than the one that the Associated Press wire service issued before the vote?

      MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Senate is poised to pass a bill that would lift Wisconsin’s ban on new nuclear plants.
      Currently, state regulators can’t approve new nuclear plants unless a federal facility for storing waste exists and such a plant doesn’t burden ratepayers. No federal facility exists, however.
      The Republican bill would erase the storage facility and ratepayer clauses from Wisconsin law, clearing the way for new plants. The GOP says nuclear power is a viable renewable energy source and the ratepayer language duplicates other sections of state law that require regulators to determine that any new power plant won’t burden customers.
      Democrats warn nuclear power is too dangerous, pointing to a meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima plant in 2011.
      The Senate was set to take up the bill Tuesday.

      I found an update that simply replaced the last line with the following:

      The Senate approved the bill Tuesday 23-9, sending it to Gov. Scott Walker for signing.

      I’d like to find a roll call vote tally. I find it hard to believe that a 23-9 vote was strictly along party lines as the AP piece implies.

        1. @poa

          Thanks for the link, but it appears to have been referring to the Assembly’s vote, not the Senate vote.

          As I’m learning, Wisconsin has a bicameral legislative body with both a Senate and a group of representatives whose collective name is Assembly, which is analogous to the House of Representatives at the federal level.

      1. Wisconsin’s Senate is currently 19-14 in the Republican’s favor. Someone must not have voted, but the vote couldn’t have been along party lines. Some Democrats must have voted in favor of the bill.

  4. Well, I found a few way to get at the vote tallies, but this is likely the best:


    That is the page the shows all history for the bill, from when it was introduced in the Assembly to when it was passed by the Senate (the Senate’s identical version was SB288, but they went the easier route of simply passing the Assembly’s version).

    In particular, you need the final roll call voting record:


    Of course, it does not give party affiliation, but I did a bit of data magic to cross-reference. (Hey, I do it all day for work.)

    All the Republicans voted in favor, as did four of the Democrats (Hansen, Lassa, Ringhand, and Shilling). One Democrat did not vote, and the other nine were opposed.

    My own state senator (Shilling) was one of the democrats would did vote in favor. I sent her a letter of thanks.

    1. I am embarrassed by the wrong words in that post. I mean, I write all day for work, and here I am merrily misusing words right and left…

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