Monday, January 09, 2017

NUCLEAR POWER - New Generation Ideas

"Demand for clean energy inspires new generation to innovate nuclear power" PBS NewsHour 1/4/2017


SUMMARY:  The next generation of nuclear power is coming, as concerns about climate change bring the industry out of hibernation.  Science correspondent Miles O'Brien reports on how new startups and young scientists are hoping to develop solutions for safely generating vast amounts of nuclear energy.

MILES O'BRIEN (NewsHour):  This is where nuclear power began.  Welcome to the Idaho National Laboratory.  It covers a vast swathe of high desert nearly the size of Rhode Island.

It is dotted with experimental nuclear reactors that wrote the textbooks on how to generate power by splitting atoms.  And now a new chapter is being written here.

MARK PETERS, Idaho National Laboratory:  If we're going to mitigate climate change, we have to think about how to develop new nuclear.

MILES O'BRIEN:  Laboratory director Mark Peters says concerns about climate change have brought his industry out of a long nuclear winter.

MARK PETERS:  We're restarting and testing infrastructure to start to develop the next generation of nuclear power.  So I'm just incredibly excited about the fact that we're finally starting to get a public dialogue going now that it's important to build the next generation.

MILES O'BRIEN:  The Bush and Obama administrations and Congress have concurred on that point.  Together, they authorized tens of billions in loan guarantees for nuclear plant construction, and tens of millions in funding to develop what's known as Generation IV technology.

MARK PETERS:  Generation IV are future reactors that are based on different concepts, different core designs, different coolants.

MILES O'BRIEN:  And perhaps his most promising client is an innovator from another industry.  Microsoft founder Bill Gates is among a handful of entrepreneurs with seemingly bottomless pockets making big bets on nuclear power.

In a 2010 TED Talk, he announced he had co-founded a company called TerraPower.  His partner is his former chief technology officer at Microsoft, Nathan Myhrvold.

NATHAN MYHRVOLD, TerraPower:  We need to have base load carbon-free power, and nuclear is a great example of something that is base load carbon-free power.  Base load means 7 by 24, day and night, whenever, it's going to be there.

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