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  1. Could a desalinating power plant furnish it’s own cooling water? I suppose probably not – because, it probably, much like power for emergency cooling during a SCRAM, they probably want to ensure that there is emergency cooling water available that doesn’t require the plant to be operating correctly?

    1. With materials that can handle saltwater and brackish water, there are plenty of coastal plants operating with saltwater cooling different parts of their plants.

      Rather than desalinating water to be used directly for cooling, having a closed loop system with freshwater that is cooled by heat exchangers with saltwater on the other side would likely be considerably less capital-intensive in almost all cases.

    2. There seems to be a bit of confusion about cooling water systems. For the main condensers the water will either be drawn from the ocean, a river or a lake, passed through the condenser tubes and returned to its source a few degrees warmer. If the plant has cooling towers the water is either in a closed loop system or the water is cooled prior to being returned to its source. In any case virtually no water is permanently withdrawn.
      Other cooling water systems will use a heat exchanger to cool a clean water system which is then used to cool various components such as oil coolers, air compressors etc.
      The plant will not typically need a large amount of desalinated water during normal operation.
      A SCRAM will not necessarily require an emergency cooling systems to operate.

  2. While we’re trying to convince Governor Cuomo to come to his senses concerning Indian Point, we should also try to convince him that a more reasonable goal for 2030 would be around 75% “low-carbon electricity” for New York State. I think it’s around 55% now (hydro, solar, wind, nuclear). Present it as a matter of pride; after all our neighbor Ontario is already at 90% low-carbon electricity.

  3. Rod Adams posted:
    In support of the Administration’s goal to produce more carbon-free energy, today the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of two companies, X-energy and Southern Company, to further develop advanced nuclear reactor designs.

    This is good, but until the NRC can be changed so that they allow the construction of new technology rectors (i.e., other than light water reactors), the designs being funded here will remain paper reactors.

    Yeah, the folks at the NRC will protest that they are not opposed to new technology reactors. This indeed is true if one has a semi-bottomless pit full of money, and all the time in the world. It is the practical workings of the NRC that forbid the use of anything other than light water reactors.

  4. Thanks for the article. The remarkable thing is that all can be interpreted as good news for many of us.

    Comment on DOE and new reactors. A stable source of clean energy could be considered as being an asset to the security of the country. If some of these new reactors are built in what could be considered as national defense, would the construction and operation still be under the auspices of the NRC?

    1. Not if it is a DoE or DoD reactor. They have their own regulatory regimes, but in some ways they can be more restrictive than NRC (if that’s possible). That may not be true in all cases. I am thinking of research facilities, like ATR and the AFRRI TRIGA, as well as training facilities like the Navy prototypes. Was N Reactor regulated by NRC? I can’t recall.

      1. Wikepedia says it was built in 1966 and closed in 1987, I was told this was a fallout from Chernobyl. The similarity with the graphite moderation may have been a bit too much.


        Seems like a pilot plant would be both a research facility. Maybe, with the right political support, they could get something built.

          1. @EP

            No. Hanford and all of the nuclear weapons complex has been under civilian control since the passage of the Atomic Energy Act of 1946. First AEC, later DOE.

        1. Seems like it is a mixed bag. N reactor at Hanford were regulated by NRC but I know some of the nuclear functions of both DOE and DOD were internally regulated. I think ACR at Sandia is regulated by offices within either DOE or DOD. Same with ATR in Idaho. When the production reactors at SRP were running I think those were not NRC regulated. Likewise with FFTF and LOFT. Rod may be able to speak to the issue of regulation of the navy training reactors, but I’m guessing those are also DOD.

  5. Desalination is roughly 10 times the cost of pumped water delivery.

    It really never makes sense except on remote islands.

    This should not be used as a reason to “justify nuclear”

    1. @Richard Martin

      I never feel the need to “justify nuclear.” It’s an amazingly capable tool that justifies itself.

      I do like to find appropriate new markets where its capabilities are particularly valuable.

      Your statement, by the way, is too categorical. There are many variables that depend on site specific conditions.

  6. The Yucca Mountain repository has been approved for storage of spent fuel. The obstacles are political. The U. S. government should address the 200 plus court challenges by Nevada. The decisions of the courts on these challenges will serve as precedents for other efforts to block new geological repositories. I do not see why state moratoriums blocking construction of new nuclear power reactors should be removed before the Yucca Mountain repository is operating. This is just another problem that our government lacks the will to deal with. The moratoriums should light a fire under our leaders.

  7. Here is some news related to reprocessing. E. Philip Horwitz has been awarded the 2016 Glenn T. Seaborg award for nuclear chemistry. The achievement for which the award was given was development of novel solvent extraction processes and extractive chromatographic materials for the analytical, preparative, and PROCESS-scale separtaion of actinides and fission products.Chem & Engineering News .January 4, 2016.p. 37.

    1. I’m leery of any technology using molecular solvents.  They will be radiolyzed, and create more messy stuff just like at Hanford.  Molten atomic salts don’t have that problem.

      Analytical separation sounds like something which can make high-purity plutonium, absent higher actinides or fission products.  Process-scale operations = bomb factory.

      The world needs pyroprocessing.  I question whether it needs this.

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