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End-user Industries

The Future of Nuclear: Small Scale Nuclear Reactors?

nuclear plant in handThe first nuclear power plant in the world was in Russia. The 5 MWe single reactor unit at AM-1 ("Атом Мирный", Russian for Atom Mirny, or "peaceful atom"), began operation in 1954 and remained active until April 29, 2002.

Since those humble beginnings, the size of reactor units has grown to more than 1600 MWe, bringing with the increase in size corresponding increases in cost to build and concerns about safety, particularly after the disasters in Chernobyl and most recently at Fukushima. This has led to many countries rejecting nuclear outright, although efforts to replace that amount of energy with low carbon, eco-friendly sources have not been particularly successful.


Valve engineering advances make ocean power feasible

otec spar squareA rarely publicized but promising renewable energy technology that is creating interesting challenges for valve and actuator engineers is ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC). One of the leaders in the field is OTEC International LLC (OTI) and Barry R. Cole is the company’s Executive Vice President and Director of Technology Development. A veteran of the valve industry, Cole is actively involved in the development, planning and implementation of the intricate system that makes it possible to harness this energy source.

New Technology for the New Nuclear

construction_at_vogtle_nuclear_plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved the construction of four new nuclear reactors in the U.S., the first since 1978.

On February 9, Southern Co. won approval and an NRC construction permit to build two reactors at its Vogtle plant near Augusta, Georgia. The first unit is expected to be in service by 2016, and the second a year later.  Then, on March 30, Scana won approval to build two units at its Virgil C. Summer plant in South Carolina.

Pipelines: Striving for Reliability

pipelineDespite a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) from the State Dept. in August 2011 that said the Keystone XL Pipeline will have "no material impact on the environmental resources along the route,” activists continue to oppose the pipeline. At the same time, first nation groups are fighting Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would stretch from Alberta to the British Columbia coast to transport oil-sands oil to Asian markets.

Carbon Capture and Storage at the Oil Sands

shellscotfordShell Canada is developing the Shell Quest CCS Project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their existing oil sands bitumen upgrader, the Scotford Upgrader, located near Edmonton, Alberta. The plan is to store the Quest CO2 in an underground saline formation where it will be permanently stored. While Quest does have the capability to use the CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) under the right commercial and market conditions, the primary driver for this project is saline aquifer injection to reduce CO2 emissions affecting climate change.

Understanding that this type of project would provide ample opportunities and challenges for valve, actuator and control manufacturers, we asked Len Heckel of Shell to explain some of the technology in this fully integrated project which will capture, transport, inject and store carbon dioxide.

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