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.



Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
2017 MEP Giants; Mergers and acquisitions report; ASHRAE 62.1; LEED v4 updates and tips; Understanding overcurrent protection
Integrating electrical and HVAC for energy efficiency; Mixed-use buildings; ASHRAE 90.4; Wireless fire alarms assessment and challenges
Integrated building networks, NFPA 99, recover waste heat, chilled water systems, Internet of Things, BAS controls
Transformers; Electrical system design; Selecting and sizing transformers; Grounded and ungrounded system design, Paralleling generator systems
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; VFDs in high-performance buildings
Tying a microgrid to the smart grid; Paralleling generator systems; Previewing NEC 2017 changes
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
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