NASA debuts KRUSTY nuclear reactor for future Mars residents

January 19, 2018 by  
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Researchers at NASA , Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Department of Energy announced they have successfully tested a small nuclear reactor that may someday provide power to human habitats on Mars and beyond. Called Kilopower, or KRUSTY (Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology), the reactor comes in several versions to meet certain power needs, from 1 kilowatt (enough to power a small kitchen appliance) to 10 kilowatts, four or five of which would be required to provide power for a habitat on Mars. “Kilopower’s compact size and robustness allows us to deliver multiple units on a single lander to the surface that provides tens of kilowatts of power,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, during a press conference on Thursday . Kilopower could support manned missions to Mars in several ways. “We would need power on Mars for two primary reasons,” said Patrick McClure, Project Lead for Reactor Development at Los Alamos, in the video above . “The first is that astronauts need power for their habitat, so that they can make oxygen , purify water, but prior to their arrival, we need to make liquid oxygen and propellant so that they can get off the Martian surface.” Kilopower provides a fairly straightforward solution, requiring a minimal number of parts and thus lightweight, for the power needs of any planet-bound mission. Related: MIT’s winning solar-powered dome tree habitats for Mars mimic earthly forests The system works by incorporating steam-pipe technology, in which a sealed tube in a heat pipe circulates fluid throughout the reactor while generating heat . The heated fluid then travels to a Stirling engine, where it pressurizes gas to power a piston connected to a motor that generates electricity . Combining these parts makes for a reliable, simple device for providing power for all kinds of space missions. As for next steps, the research team intends to conduct a full-power test of their device in March. If all goes well, the sky may well be the limit for this compact powerhouse. Via Engadget and Space.com Images via NASA (1)

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South Korea to throw out any plans for new nuclear reactors

June 20, 2017 by  
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South Korea currently obtains around 30 percent of its energy from nuclear power , but with the election of a new president the country seems ready to shift away from that energy source to something a bit safer. President Moon Jae-In – who campaigned on a platform of phasing out nuclear energy – says he will toss out plans to build new reactors and won’t extend the lifespan of existing ones in the country. The 2011 Fukushima disaster in nearby Japan incited concern in South Korea, as many of the country’s nuclear plants were then getting old. According to the country’s new president, many of the plants are located dangerously near residential areas. He said a nuclear meltdown could result in unimaginable consequences. Add to that corruption scandals over state nuclear energy agencies during the last few years and public unease over several earthquakes in South Korea in 2016, since an earthquake sparked the Fukushima meltdown. Related: Finland’s Green Party says humanity must embrace nuclear power Moon echoed these fears when he said, “South Korea is not safe from the risk of earthquake, and a nuclear accident caused by a quake can have such a devastating impact.” South Korea is running 25 nuclear reactors right now. Many of them will expire between 2020 and 2030, leaving the decision to extend several of them or not in Moon’s hands during his 2017 to 2022 term. He campaigned on the idea of shutting down every single one – although that task could take decades. As he decommissioned the Kori-1, South Korea’s first nuclear reactor, Moon said in a speech, “We will dump our atomic-centric power supply and open the door to the post-nuclear era.” He’d like to move towards what he described as more environmentally-friendly and safer energy sources like solar power and wind power . He’s also pledged to promote a post-coal energy policy . During his campaign he said he’d abandon coal to help curb air pollution . Among the member nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), South Korea is home to the highest levels of small air particles. The country currently obtains around 40 percent of power from coal. Via Phys.org Images via IAEA Imagebank on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Solar-powered Tonke Camper brings a hint of nostalgia to off-grid living

June 20, 2017 by  
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Although the mahogany cladding on the Tonke Woodline Camper may seem like a blast from the past, this camper is designed for the modern road warrior. The camper is entirely powered by solar energy , and it comes with a large battery bank and water tank for those looking to go completely off-grid . Hand built in the Netherlands, the camper offers a compact, but comfortable living space. The interior comes with all of the basic necessities – a spacious sleeping area, kitchenette with a large, double-door fridge, and small latrine. Strategic storage throughout the interior helps keep the space clutter free. The dining table with ample seating backs up to the rear doors, which open to provide stellar views. The camper also has a number of windows, which flood the interior with natural light , making the living space light and airy. Related: Solar-powered EarthCruiser camper expands at the push of a button Designed to be used as a sturdy ride for on-the-go travel or just a simple home addition, the camper van’s Mercedes Sprinter base comes installed with four remote-controlled electrical jacks that can lift the camper off its base in order to use the truck’s cargo bed. This feature, along with its compact size, makes the Tonke Camper convenient to ship virtually anywhere in the world. + Tonke Woodline Camper Via Uncrate

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Watts Bar Unit 2 is the first new American nuclear reactor to go online in 20 years

October 21, 2016 by  
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A new nuclear reactor went online in Tennessee recently, making history as the first commercial reactor in America to go online in the 21st century. Watts Bar Unit 2 is part of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)’s Watts Bar Nuclear Plant , and cost $4.7 billion. The unit can power 650,000 homes. There hasn’t been a new nuclear reactor brought online in two decades. TVA says Watts Bar Unit 2 was finished “the right way – with safety and quality” taken into deep consideration every step along the way. The company says the unit underwent ” an extensive series of power ascension tests ” as it began to operate. This week they announced the new reactor is officially operational after it functioned properly and generated power for three weeks. TVA CEO Bill Johnson said the energy generated by Watts Bar Unit 2 will be reliable, low-cost, and will protect the area’s natural resources. Related: First new US nuclear power plant in 20 years scheduled to open in Tennessee The company emphasizes the power generated by Watts Bar 2 is clean energy

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Ukraine might transform Chernobyl into a gigantic 4GW solar farm

July 29, 2016 by  
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The nuclear disaster site at Chernobyl remains abandoned, as lingering contamination makes the area too dangerous for human inhabitants. Ukraine leaders are now suggesting a new use for the danger zone, with a proposal to transform Chernobyl into a sprawling solar farm that could produce nearly one-third the amount of electricity generated by the nuclear power plant at its peak. The Ukrainian government released a presentation to a number of banks, and the Guardian reports the proposal includes solar, biogas, heat, and power generation and could produce more than 1,000MW of solar and 400MW of other renewable energy for the region. Currently, Chernobyl’s exclusion zone spans 386 square miles (1,000 square kilometers) and Ukrainian leaders are eyeing nearly 15,000 acres for a renewable energy farm. The contaminated land is too dangerous for people to live in, and is similarly unfit for agriculture, so evolving the site from a dangerous nuclear power plant location to a massive clean energy farm seems like a good possibility. In the 30 years since the Chernobyl accident, many proposals for repurposing the land have been discussed, but none have gained the traction that this idea has garnered. Related: Unexpected Aurora Skyscraper purifies air and water in Chernobyl That is in part due to changing attitudes about Chernobyl’s potential. “There has been a change in the perception of the exclusion zone in Ukraine. Thirty years after the Chernobyl tragedy [it] reveals opportunities for development. A special industrial area is to be created in compliance with all rules and regulations of radiation safety within the exclusion zone,” says the presentation. It seems likely the plan for the four gigawatt solar farm will move forward. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which already invested $500 million to seal off the destroyed nuclear reactor with a steel canopy, indicated this week it would invest in the Chernobyl solar farm as well. In addition to the obvious benefits of renewable energy, the proposal suggests that parts of the nuclear power plant could be repurposed for solar power generation, and the project could employ many of the skilled engineers who currently represent a surplus in the available pool of workers. Via The Guardian Images via Shutterstock , Wikipedia , and SSE Chernobyl NPP

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Recent Indian Point nuclear reactor outage was probably caused by bird poop

March 4, 2016 by  
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A sudden shutdown of the Indian Point  nuclear reactor just outside of New York last December is believed to have been triggered by bird droppings  that interfered with the outdoor electrical lines. What is called bird “streaming” is not as uncommon as you may think and it makes for quite a crappy inconvenience, especially in light of the plant’s recent failures . Read the rest of Recent Indian Point nuclear reactor outage was probably caused by bird poop

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Japan restarts second nuclear reactor since Fukushima disaster amid public disapproval

October 16, 2015 by  
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Some people in Japan are freaking out this week as the country restarts its second nuclear reactor since the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in 2011. The aptly named Number Two Reactor at Sendai is back in business for the first time, as protesters gathered outside the power plant. Despite the unrest, government officials are pressing forward with plans to return Japan to a nuclear-powered nation, largely due to the low financial cost. The people of Japan, rightly, are concerned about the other costs tied to the deadly energy source. Read the rest of Japan restarts second nuclear reactor since Fukushima disaster amid public disapproval

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Japan restarts first nuclear reactor since 2011 Fukushima disaster

August 11, 2015 by  
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The catastrophe wrecked by the Fukushina Daiichi nuclear power plant in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, forcing 160,000 people from their homes, left many in Japan highly wary of atomic energy. So much so that by 2013 all nuclear reactors in the country had been taken offline . But today, under what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refers to as the “world’s most stringent regulation standards,” a nuclear reactor in Sendai will be switched on, despite polls showing the majority of Japanese residents oppose the move. Read the rest of Japan restarts first nuclear reactor since 2011 Fukushima disaster

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Japan’s Homeless are Cleaning up Fukushima Waste for Less than Minimum Wage

December 31, 2013 by  
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  Photo © Shutterstock A recent Reuters report reveals that a black labor market run by Japanese gangsters, or yakuza, has been using taxpayer funds to clean up radioactive fallout in northern Japan. The gangs have been rounding up homeless men and illegally putting them to work for less than minimum wage. These exploited workers are often charged for food and shelter, which just makes the situation worse when they end up in debt to their employers. Due to the dangerous nature of the job , it’s been hard to find enough workers for the project, which is already running behind schedule and expected to take decades to complete . Read the rest of Japan’s Homeless are Cleaning up Fukushima Waste for Less than Minimum Wage Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Fukushima , fukushima cleanup , government corruption , homelessness , Japan , minimum wage , nuclear disaster , nuclear power , nuclear power plant , nuclear reactor , nuclear waste , workers rights        

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South Korea To Restart Old, Faulty Nuclear Reactor Despite Protests

August 3, 2012 by  
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It seems many countries in Asia are making dramatic U-turns when it comes to nuclear energy . News just broke that South Korea is about to restart Kori-1 , the country’s oldest nuclear reactor, after a four-month closure. This news follows a recent announcement that  Japan will be reactivating its nuclear power stations  which were shut off in the wake of the Fukushima disaster . Unsurprisingly, South Korea’s decision has been met with protests from local residents and environmental groups. Read the rest of South Korea To Restart Old, Faulty Nuclear Reactor Despite Protests Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: IAEA , International Atomic Energy Agency , Kor-1 nuclear reactor , Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power , Korea’s Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) , Kori-1 , nature journal , nuclear energy , nuclear power , nuclear reactor

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