Geiger Readings for Mar 24, 2019

Latitude 47.704656 Longitude -122.318745

Ambient office  =  94 nanosieverts per hour

Ambient outside = 106 nanosieverts per hour

Soil exposed to rain water = 102 nanosieverts per hour

Red potato from Central Market = 80 nanosieverts per hour

Tap water = 97 nanosieverts per hour

Filter water = 93 nanosieverts per hour

Geiger Readings for Mar 23, 2019

Latitude 47.704656 Longitude -122.318745

Ambient office  =  115 nanosieverts per hour

Ambient outside = 171 nanosieverts per hour

Soil exposed to rain water = 169 nanosieverts per hour

Beefsteak tomato from Central Market = 89 nanosieverts per hour

Tap water = 153 nanosieverts per hour

Filter water = 136 nanosieverts per hour

Dover sole - Caught in USA = 89 nanosieverts per hour

Nuclear Reactors 665 - Moltex Energy And Fermi Energia Are Working On Siting And Licensing A Moltex Stable Salt Reactor in Estonia

       Estonia is a small country in Northern Europe. The Gulf of Finland is to the north and the Baltic Sea is to the west. The country of Latvia lies to the south and Russia lies to the east. Estonia has a land area of about sixteen thousand square miles which includes the mainland and over two thousand islands. It has a population of one million three hundred thousand people.Estonia is a developed country with a high-income economy and enjoys a high level of civil liberties and social welfare programs.
      Moltex Energy is a nuclear technology company based in the U.K. It was created in 2013. Their Stable Salt Reactor (SSR) is a Generation IV nuclear reactor design that uses molten salts as its coolant. A study of six different molten salt reactor designs in 2015 concluded that the Moltex SSR was the best fit for construction in the U.K.
     Fermi Energia is a utility company in Estonia that supplies a variety of equipment and services to its customers. It has selected the Moltex SSR as a preferred technology for the production of low-carbon energy in Estonia. Moltex announced yesterday that the two companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that they will collaborate on a feasibility study for siting a Moltex SSR. They will also work on a suitable licensing program.
       Moltex issued a statement in which they pointed out that Estonia currently gets most of its power from oil shale although they intend to stop using this source by 2030. Wind power is plentiful in Estonia, but they need an alternative reliable energy source to be self-sufficient in energy production. Estonia’s neighbors including Latvia, Lithuania and Finland are all importers of electricity. Moltex feels that their SSR would enhance the energy security of the whole region.
       Simon Newton is the business development director of Moltex. He said, “Estonia is a vibrant, entrepreneurial and forward-looking economy and is the perfect place to benefit from the Moltex Stable Salt Reactor technology.”
        Kalev Kallements is the CEO of Fermi Energia. He said, “Our ambition is to deploy the first fourth generation small modular reactor in the EU, here in Estonia, by the early 2030s. We are delighted to be working closely with Moltex Energy on this vital project. It is important for Estonia to have its own source of clean, cheap energy and Moltex’s innovative technology has huge potential for us.”
        The Moltex SSR reactor design contains no pumps and relies exclusively on convection from static vertical fuel tubes in the core to send heat to the steam generators. Unlike other molten salt reactor designs, the SSR uses conventional fuel assemblies instead of a pumped molten salt fuel. The fuel assemblies are positioned in the center of a tank that is half full of the molten coolant salt. The molten salt conveys heat away from the fuel tubes in the middle of the tank to the steam generators located on the periphery. The reactor is not pressurized and operates at temperatures between five hundred and six hundred degrees Centigrade.

Geiger Readings for Mar 22, 2019

Latitude 47.704656 Longitude -122.318745

Ambient office  =  196 nanosieverts per hour

Ambient outside = 108 nanosieverts per hour

Soil exposed to rain water = 111 nanosieverts per hour

Avocado from Central Market = 66 nanosieverts per hour

Tap water = 80 nanosieverts per hour

Filter water = 73 nanosieverts per hour

Nuclear Reactors 664 - U.S. Energy Infromation Administration Releases Performance Numbers For U.S. Commercial Nuclear Power Reactor Fleet

        The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has announced that the fleet of U.S. commercial nuclear reactors produced more electricity in 2018 that in any previous year. In 2018, U.S. nuclear power generation of eight hundred seven and one tenth terawatts was slightly higher than 2010, the previous peak year at eight hundred seven terawatts. However, the U.S. commercial nuclear power industry has been in serious decline for years. The EIA says that the peak in electrical generation in 2018 occurred because of fortuitous scheduling and a practice called “uprating” in which old power plants are allowed to output more power than their original licensed rating. The EIA says that we should not expect to see this level of electrical generation again soon if ever.
       Since the previous peak in nuclear power generation in 2010, five gigawatts of nuclear capacity have been retired as aging nuclear power plants have been permanenly closed. The completion of a new reactor at the TVA’s Watts-Barr nuclear power plant in 2016 did offset retirement losses by adding one thousand two hundred megawatts of U.S. nuclear capacity.
        Between 2010 and 2018 many nuclear power plants completed uprates. The original power ratings for many nuclear power reactors were deliberately set very conservatively. Modernizing equipment and using advanced computer modeling have resulted in the relaxation of the older conservative power ratings. It is estimated that two gigawatts of nuclear power capacity have been added to the U.S. nuclear fleet by uprating. Power reactors are being retired faster than they are being built so uprating has been useful in offsetting the reduction in U.S. nuclear capacity resulting from the closure of old power reactors.
       Even with the offset of new reactors and uprating, the U.S. nuclear power capacity has only grown about three thousand two hundred megawatts of capacity while losing over five gigawatts of capacity to retirements.
       While the loss or addition of capacity is measured in watts, the total annual power output as released by the EIA is measured in watt-hours. A watt hour measures the consumption of a watt of electricity over an hour. If one gigawatt is consumed for twenty-four hours a day for three hundred and sixty five days, that means that eight thousand seven hundred and sixty gigawatts of electricity were consumed that year. In 2018, the U.S. nuclear power fleet operated at a capacity factor of ninety-two and six tenths percent which is the highest ever recorded. Even though the total capacity was reduced, shortening the time for refueling and uprating old reactors resulted in the record production.
        Nuclear power reactors must be taken offline for refueling for about twenty-five days every eighteen to twenty four months. This means that some years will see more reactors offline to refuel than other years. 2018 just happened to be a year when fewer reactors than average were offline for refueling. This contributed to the peak power production of 2018.
        The new reactor being built in Georgia at the Vogtle nuclear power plant is expected to add two thousand two hundred megawatts of capacity to the U.S. nuclear fleet. A second reactor project at the Summer nuclear power plant in South Carolina fell apart and was cancelled so there will be no additional power coming from that plant.

Geiger Readings for Mar 21, 2019

Latitude 47.704656 Longitude -122.318745

Ambient office  =  119 nanosieverts per hour

Ambient outside = 137 nanosieverts per hour

Soil exposed to rain water = 143 nanosieverts per hour

White onion from Central Market = 122 nanosieverts per hour

Tap water = 135 nanosieverts per hour

Filter water = 122 nanosieverts per hour

Nuclear Reactors 663 -China General Nuclear Power Group Just Requested Bids To Construct a Large Nuclear-Powered Vessel

        China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) has just put out a request for bids to construct a nuclear powered vessel that will be about five hundred feet long, about a hundred feet wide and about sixty feet in depth with a displacement of about thirty thousand tons. In the request for bids, the ship is described as “experimental.”
        China does not have any nuclear power surface ships, but it does have nuclear-powered submarines. There are plans to build nuclear aircraft carriers for the Chinese navy but the specifications for the new “experimental” vessel are small for an aircraft carrier. That having been said, such a ship would be helpful in the ultimate development of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. The bids had to be submitted by today and no companies outside China were allowed to apply.
       The new ship will be powered by two twenty-five megawatt compact pressurized water reactors. The two reactors will drive the ship at a maximum speed of about twelve knots. An analyst based in Hong Kong said that the specifications for the new Chinese ship were close to those for a nuclear-powered Russian icebreaker.
        Russia is the only country in the world that operates a fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers. It currently has two classes of icebreakers in service. One of them is the Taymyr-class which has a displacement of about twenty-one thousand tons and the other is the Artika-class with a displacement of thirty-three thousand five hundred tons. Both classes are about five hundred feet long and a hundred feet wide. This is very close to the length and width of the new Chinese ship. A larger class of Russian icebreakers is under construction which will be about five hundred and seventy feet long and about a hundred and twelve feet wide.
       In June of 2018, the Chinese-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) put out a request for bids for a nuclear-powered icebreaker that will be powered by small floating modular reactors.
       China intends to expand its operations in the Arctic Ocean and this will require powerful icebreakers. Last year, China launched its first domestically constructed icebreaker with conventional non-nuclear engines. It is called the Xuelong 2. It was constructed in order to boost China’s capability for polar research and expeditions. The Xuelong 2 will enter service later this year.
       China seems to be following the same path to nuclear aircraft carriers that was taken by Russia when it developed nuclear aircraft carriers. The Russians constructed and operated five nuclear icebreakers before starting the construction of the first Russian nuclear aircraft carrier called the Ulyanovsk. Although the Ulyanovsk was never completed, the Russians did go on to build nuclear aircraft carriers.
        The Chinese currently operate two non-nuclear aircraft carriers. The Liaoning is a Soviet Kuznetsov-class vessel that was purchased from Ukraine. The other Chinese aircraft carrier is called the Type 001A. It was constructed based on the design of the Liaoning and will be commissioned in the near future.
       Besides icebreakers and aircraft carriers, nuclear reactors can be used to power other big surface vessels including cargo ships, science survey ships and tracking vessels such as the Yaunwang-class ships. These ships are sent out by China to track satellites, transmit space communications and monitor intercontinental missile launches.

Geiger Readings for Mar 20, 2019

Latitude 47.704656 Longitude -122.318745

Ambient office  =  100 nanosieverts per hour

Ambient outside = 112 nanosieverts per hour

Soil exposed to rain water = 110 nanosieverts per hour

Red bell pepper from Central Market = 119 nanosieverts per hour

Tap water = 77 nanosieverts per hour

Filter water = 68 nanosieverts per hour

Radioactive Waste 385 - Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation Developing Processes For Recycling Vitrified Waste

       One of the suggested ways of permanently disposing of spent nuclear fuel and other highly radioactive wastes is to mix them with sand and chemicals and heat the mixture until it turns into glass logs. This is referred to as vitrification. A seventeen-billion dollar vitrification plant is being constructed at Hanford to deal with the toxic soup of radioactive materials and toxic chemicals stored in underground tanks. Elements in the radioactive logs will include palladium, selenium, cesium and zirconium, and other long-lived fission products (LLFP) with a half-life of about one million years.
       The Japanese Cabinet Office’s Council for Science, Technology and Innovation works with Japanese corporations through their Paradigm Change through Disruptive Technologies (ImPACT) Program to explore new technologies for Japan’s energy sector. Under this government program a team of researchers from Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation have been working on developing a way to recover useful elements from vitrified radioactive waste. Their work involves investigating the reduction of LLFPs into stable and short-lived nuclides. It also involves the recycling of resources from nuclear waste.
       The Toshiba researchers in collaboration with the Japan Science and Technology Agency have successfully demonstrated that reusable elements can be extracted from vitrified waste by the use of a molten salt technology. The research team released a joint statement that said that when combined with other technologies developed under the ImPACT program including transmutation from long lived radioactive isotopes to short lived radioactive isotopes, their research might make it possible to reduce the size and or depth of geological nuclear waste repositories.
       The researchers successfully recovered dummy LLFP nuclides as solids, molten salts and gases by reducing mock vitrified waste in the molten salt. The silicon monoxide network structures of the silicon dioxides had to be dissolved in the molten salt to permit this extraction. The molten salt is radiation tolerant and can be reused. This results in the reduction of secondary wastes produced by the new process. The team will continue to research practical systems to reuse and minimize high-level radioactive waste.
       Making use of such processes presupposes that the vitrified logs of waste are accessible for recycling. Some designs for permanent geological repositories might make this difficult. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) geological repository for high-level nuclear waste produced by nuclear weapons production near Carlsbad, New Mexico illustrates the problem. The repository has been operating for about fifteen years. It is carved out of an old salt mine. There are big rooms that are filled with waste that are supposed to be permanently sealed when they are full. Originally, huge steel and concrete doors were going to be welded shut.
       If there was interest in recycling vitrified waste from the WIPP, the big doors would have to be breached in order to access the vitrified waste. In addition, there have been hydrological studies that indicate that the assumption that the salt mine was safe from migrating ground water is not accurate. If the mine was flooded, crews might face flooded chambers in their attempts to recover the waste. This would greatly increase the cost.
       Ultimately, new geological repositories would have to be constructed with recovery and recycling in mind. If the market failed to adopt the recycling technology for any reason, geological repositories constructed on the assumption that the nuclear waste they contain would be recovered might prove to be unsafe if the waste was not ultimately recovered. The Toshiba research is interesting but a lot of factors other than scientific feasibility will govern whether or not it is ever widely implemented.

Geiger Readings for Mar 19, 2019

Latitude 47.704656 Longitude -122.318745

Ambient office  =  133 nanosieverts per hour

Ambient outside = 112 nanosieverts per hour

Soil exposed to rain water = 115 nanosieverts per hour

Carrot from Central Market = 80 nanosieverts per hour

Tap water = 97 nanosieverts per hour

Filter water = 93 nanosieverts per hour