Nats 1840 – Lecture 13 Nuclear Power



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NATS 1840 – Lecture 13 - Nuclear Power


  • Physics and industrialization

  • High expectations, nuclear power expensive, dangerous, litigious, minority supply

  • Oil crises, volatility of oil market

  • Ontario reduction in fossil fuels, French and Eastern European nuclear capacity

  • Nuclear power and nuclear weapons capacity, high enriched uranium and tritium (12 yr ½ life), plutonium

  • Nuclear weapon states: US, Russia, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan

  • Potential NWS’s: Israel, North Korea



Current Status of Nuclear Power


  • 12% nuclear in Canada, we sell nuclear power to US

  • Point Lepreau nuclear reactor in New Brunswick:

    • Subsidized by Federal Government 50%

    • 9 years to construct, going 1 billion over budget

    • Sells power to New England at higher rates, since capital investment was made by the Canadian government, US is eager to buy power

    • We are subsidizing US power consumption

  • 441 reactors worldwide (18%), France, Lithuania approximately 80% nuclear

  • American light water reactor (LWR), Canadian heavy water reactor (HWR)

  • CANDU (Canadian Deuterium Uranium), 400-600MW

  • Fuel (enriched, U235) and a moderator (CANDU heavy water - deuterium)



Waste Concerns


  • France: nuclear waste approximately 1.2 kg per person per year, 100kg of toxic industrial waste, 15kg of hospital waste, 3000 kg of non-toxic industrial waste, and 700kg of agricultural waste

  • Mining: waste products in building construction, spent uranium shell casings

  • Radioactive waste: space, burial, mixing with glass and steel containment

  • Reprocessing: reactor transmutation of harmful isotopes into shorter lived ones

  • Waste and institutional life

  • Krypton & xenon (atmosphere), iodine and tritium (water), radiation emission



Well-Known Nuclear Accidents: TMI and Chernobyl


  • TMI March 28, 1979:

    • Information management, malfunctioning valves, overheat and hydrogen bubble formation

  • Chernobyl, April 25, 1986:

    • Testing protocols, power spike, Xenon poisoning, meltdown and explosion

    • Water moderator and neutrons, loss of water and rate of fission


Nuclear Engineering and Design Momentum

  • Bomb project and intellectual momentum

  • Nuclear design: fuel, moderator, coolant, uranium enrichment

  • Light/heavy water, liquid-metal/ gas cooling, graphite/organic (carbon based) moderation

  • Navy’s nuclear program, submarine constraints, Westinghouse

  • Technological momentum, light water reactors

    • Knowledge from navy program, competitive advantage


Technological Expectations

  • Conservativism and technological development:

    • ¡°As long as tomorrow remains inacessible to us, decisions about technology will have to be guesses based on what we can see today. But the momentum - or, often, inertia - of ideas means that the decisions are often based on yesterday。ッs facts, not today。ッs. This may well be unavoidable, but it should not go unrecognized. 57。ア

  • Slow and cumulative change, engineers, performance and conventional thinking

  • Judgement based upon past experience

    • ¡°The explanation for the unquestioning embrace of nuclear energy lies in a momentum built up from a number of sources. They included the generalized technological optimism of the time, longstanding dreams about releasing the power of the atom, a desire to find some counterbalance to the destructiveness of the atomic bomb, and Cold War political manoeuvring. And once the intellectual commitment to nuclear power was made, it took on a life of its own.。ア Pool 64

  • Intellectual commitment and technical careers

  • 1 billion on atomic plane, Project Plowshare, 160 million before termination


The Radiance of France

  • How did nuclear power become a dominant technology in France?

  • Technopolitics: ¡°politics conducted through specifically technological means¡±, conducted by technologists, not elected officials, deriving its power from ¡°expert knowledge and its expression in material artifacts or practices¡± (90)

  • National identity, technocracy, geopolitical power, decolonization, and cultural hegemony

  • Technocracy and engineering as public service

  • Nuclear agency (CEA) and electrical utility (EDF)

  • Basic design: natural uranium, graphite moderator, gas coolant

  • Plutonium production and military implications

  • CEA, industry champions, on-line refueling

  • EDF, competitive tendering, high temperatures and pressures

  • Technological momentum and reactor design

  • Technological embodiment of political goals



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