Still building nuclear power plants?

Will experiences in Japan kill off new nuke plant construction?

03/25/2011


Dear Control Engineering: When I see articles about new nuclear power plant construction, I have to wonder if the experiences in Japan won’t send that grinding to a halt.

It’s true that the problems at the Fukushima site have caused people all over the world to wring their hands over the scarier aspects of nuclear power plants. There will be additional discussions and inquiries related to any new construction or even operation of existing plants, but like many other issues, it will blow over eventually. We got over Chernobyl, and that was much worse.

The need is huge for power generating technologies that do not depend on fossil fuels with greenhouse gas implications, and nuclear plants are certainly one of the most practical options. Bear in mind that the sites in Japan are very old facilities and nuclear generating technology has been advancing all these years, even if we don’t see it in the U.S. That story about the new plants in China discusses a specific reactor and plant design, the Westinghouse AP1000. The company characterizes that as a generation III+ design with many improvements from the old Dai-ichi complex.

Westinghouse goes into greater detail at its Website, but the idea is that newer reactor designs use passive safety features that allow it to shut down safely even if everything goes dark. Check out a presentation on reactor safety. Westinghouse says that type of reactor can safely sit with no human intervention for 72 hours, even in an emergency. Moreover, the control architecture is far more modern, using digital controls rather than old analog devices.

The need for generating capacity is going to increase, particularly in developing markets. That’s why China and other growing economies are still committed to nuclear power. It is certainly possible that older plants may be phased out more quickly, but that just gives all the more reason to deploy newer reactors.

Peter Welander, pwelander@cfemedia.com



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.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Doubling down on digital manufacturing; Data driving predictive maintenance; Electric motors and generators; Rewarding operational improvement
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
Prescriptive maintenance; Hannover Messe 2017 recap; Reduce welding errors
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Research team developing Tesla coil designs; Implementing wireless process sensing
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me