Atomic Show #262 – New thinking about nuclear energy
It’s time – or way past time – to think and talk about nuclear energy in new ways, recognizing the importance of the topic for the future health and prosperity of humanity.
This show includes 5 forward leaning thought leaders in atomic energy. All of them are optimistic about nuclear’s future, often driven by their acceptance of the fact that abundant clean energy isn’t possible without it.
- Jessica Lovering is the Director of Energy at The Breakthrough Institute and also a PhD candidate at Carnegie Mellon studying energy policy and policy implementation.
- Caroline Cochran is a co-founder and the Chief Operating Officer at Oklo, a start-up nuclear technology development enterprise that is working on its initial product, a 1-2 megawatt compact fast reactor designed to meet the energy needs of remote areas, mining and perhaps even neighborhoods or industrial parks.
- Ashley Finan is the Policy Director for the Nuclear Innovation Alliance and the Director of Nuclear Innovation for the Clean Air Task Force
- Sarah Spath is the East Coast regional director for operations for Mothers for Nuclear, a grass roots organization started by two mothers working at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. Heather and Kristin were motivated to help people understand the importance of their work and their devotion to future generations.
- Lenka Kollar is the Director of Strategy and External Relations for NuScale Power, the leading small modular reactor development company in the U.S. NuScale filed its application for a design certification in late 2016. It was accepted and docketed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on March 20, 2017. That date is the starting point for a 42 month review that should be completed during the 4th quarter of 2020.
We talked about nuclear technology exports and the importance of untangling the bureaucratic obstacles to engaging in international commerce or even hiring non U.S. citizens that currently require an average of 400 days. We talked about new ways to talk about nuclear energy to friends and family and the importance of overcoming the nuclear industry’s reluctance to engage in consistent marketing designed to get people interested and welcoming to the capable technologies it sells.
We talked about nuclear technology systems designed to be more approachable and understandable so that they can be well accepted and integrated into community level power systems. We talked about the value of energy density as a way to provide people with abundant resources while also lightening their impact on the natural world.
It was a great conversation that made time fly. Before we knew it, we were hitting the end of our scheduled time and the busy people involved had to drop off to attend to other commitments.
Paraphrasing an established saying: If you want to accomplish something big, ask busy people to help.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:01:15 — 56.2MB)
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Another great podcast. I did not know about the 810 export rules and I found that section particularly interesting.
Aussies (and anybody else also) who would like to hang out and talk about this podcast and other things nuclear should search Facebook for the group called “Atomic Australia”.
Listened to it and it felt too “crowded”. With five guests, each person has only about ten minutes to talk, so they can’t get in-depth. Some topics had to be put aside rather that discussed further.
This is just my personal preference, but perhaps two or three guests will be better. With fewer people each guest will have more time.
Keep up the good fight.
Rod, any comments on the Versatile Neutron Source, funding for which seems to have passed in the House of Representatives? Do I recommend that Senators Murray and Cantwell support this or ought I encourage the much less expensive restart of the Fast Flux Test Reactor?
Thanks for asking. I’m planning to write about this very soon, but as I read the specific legislation that the House passed, restoration of the FFTF would qualify as a viable path for meeting both the letter and the intent of the law.
In my informed opinion, it is, in fact, the ONLY way that DOE has a prayer of coming anywhere close to delivering a product that meets what Congress intends. If they do it right – which is a giant IF – they will actually be able to beat the deadline by a few months while delivering even more than Congress has required.
So, yes. Please ask your Senators to support the bill without amendment.
Here is a copy of the letter I sent to both senators:
A bill introduced by Representative Weber for a Versatile Neutron Source is reported to have passed the House. As best as I can determine, restarting the Fast Flux Test Reactor at Hanford should fulfill the intent of the bill and is almost certainly less expensive than building a new reactor. I encourage your support for either course of action although restarting the FFTR is my preference.
While actually a health issue, I strongly recommend the Senate pass the Low Dose Radiation Research Act, introduced by Representative Marshall, and passed by the House. The Department of Energy should never have stopped funding this research area. I have seen excellent results from both UCB and LLNL. There is no reason for PNNL, possibly in cooperation with WSU, not to contribute to such a research area.
hope all is well with you and you continue to thrive in Virginia!
I recently listened to Michael Shellenberger at the Canadian Nuclear Association ( CNA 2018) meeting. Very on the ball and logical approach to Nuclear power and the real issues to get things back on track.. a rare environmentalist from Berkeley CA of all places and committed to saving nuclear power in south Korea as well as his home states Diablo Canyon. Great presentation he made and interesting facts on the anti movement stemming from the late 50’s -60’s.. you might consider him as a guest for a podcast….. or a feature article…. you can see him on you tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciStnd9Y2ak
I moved to Florida at the end of 2017. I’ve also listened to Michael speak on a number of occasions. He is terrific on many levels.
He’s contributed a guest column or two here, and we will keep trying to arrange an Atomic Show appearance. He’s a pretty busy guy.
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