Modern nuclear technology for new plant

The NRC has approved plans for the first new nuke plant since 1978, using Generation III+ technology.

02/10/2012


NRC grants permission for Southern Co. Vogtle nuclear generating plant expansionThe hand wringing has started in earnest as the NRC has granted permission for Southern Co. to add two more units to its Vogtle nuclear plant site in Georgia. “Haven’t we learned anything from Fukushima?” the chorus asks.

  The answer to that is yes, we have learned a great deal, not just from Fukushima (other than maybe we don’t want to locate plants right on the coast) but from all the nuke plants around the world. Here’s an analogy: Let’s say you want to buy a new car, but your friend says cars aren’t safe based on the fact that his aunt was killed in a crash in a 1967 Plymouth. What would you say in response to that? You could legitimately make the point that cars have changed a great deal since then. Accident information collected over the years has guided technical improvements, like airbags, that make today’s cars much safer.

  Such is the case with nuclear reactors. The new units proposed for Georgia will use Westinghouse AP1000 reactors, which are billed as Generation III+ technology using many safety improvements compared to those designed and built 30 or 40 years ago. This reactor is also a modular design to cut construction costs. To make a specific and very relevant connection to Fukushima, once the tsunami hit and those plants went dark, there was no power available to run cooling pumps, which was a serious problem. The AP1000 has a passive cooling system that can operate via gravity and convection without needing power. Lesson learned.

  Of course there are lots of those old nuke plants still running which need upgrades. Many have already been improved, but there is more to do.

Peter Welander, CFE Media, Control Engineering, Pillar to Post blog  Others detractors suggest that those new plants aren’t necessary, particularly with natural gas so cheap. Yes, it’s cheap today, but what happens if fracking is banned for various environmental reasons? That idea has been seriously suggested. Nuke plants look to the very long term, and they are 24/7 base loaded facilities. I don’t know enough about Southern Co’s generating fleet, but maybe these new reactors could create room to retire older coal burners.



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
World-class manufacturing: A recipe for success: Finding the right mix for a salad dressing line; 2015 Salary Survey: Manufacturing slump dims enthusiasm
2015 Top Plant: Phoenix Contact, Middletown, Pa.; 2015 Best Practices: Automation, Electrical Safety, Electrical Systems, Pneumatics, Material Handling, Mechanical Systems
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Getting ready for industrial IoT; Visualizing the (applied) automation continuum; Preventing VFD faults and failures; Using wireless for closed-loop applications
Migrating industrial networks; Tracking HMI advances; Making the right automation changes
Understanding transfer switch operation; Coordinating protective devices; Analyzing NEC 2014 changes; Cooling data centers

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.