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Toshiba Corp. President and CEO Atsutoshi Nishida was a strong supporter of his company's new U.S. nuclear initiatives  (Source: REUTERS/Toshiyuki Aizawa)

The new company will market Toshiba's advanced 4S reactor design. This small reactor design is made to power a small town with a minimal footprint, as pictured here.  (Source: Toshiba and Westinghouse)
Toshiba looks to help satisfy the growing demand for nuclear power in the U.S.

Nuclear power may have its critics, which argue that it isn't a viable large-scale replacement to fossil fuels, but enthusiasm for nuclear power continues to mount in the U.S. and abroad.

Also, nuclear is being embraced not just for alternative energy, but also for medical and research purposes.  Worldwide need for medical isotopes was brought into sharp focus when a reactor in Canada was forced to close, and then due to the medical crisis that ensued, swiftly reopen.  The end results is growing public support for nuclear-driven technology.

In the U.S. alone, electric utilities have announce plans to construct 30 new plants in coming years.  Among these is NRG Energy's application, which was the first application for an entirely new plant in 30 years.  Many of the new construction projects will implement sophisticated technologies such as advanced boiling water reactors (ABWR) and pressurized water reactors (AP-1000).  These designs will offer additional improvements in efficiency, safety, and output over current designs.

Toshiba is looking to jump onboard the burgeoning nuclear market.  It announced today that it has created Toshiba America Nuclear Energy Corporation, a new company that started this month.  The company, based just outside Washington D.C., will enhance the existing nuclear lines of business which Toshiba held.  Its primary initial focus will be on promoting and marketing the advanced boiling water (ABWR) nuclear power plant design.  It will also provide support for related services.

As the new company grows, Toshiba wants to expand its capabilities to include licensing and engineeering support for technologies to go into new nuclear plants in the future.  Toshiba and Westinghouse, a Toshiba Group company have both been working to promote the ABWR and AP-1000 reactor designs.  The new company will add more market and support resources to these efforts.

Toshiba's new company has a workforce of 30 employees.  This number is expected to greatly expand, once construction on the various plant proposals in the U.S. begins in full, which is projected to occur around 2011.  At this point, Toshiba explains, it will also add engineering support staff at liason offices near the sites of construction. 

Toshiba and Westinghouse focus on the development, implementation and marketing of operation and maintenance (OP&M) technologies, technologies to keep plants running in peak shape. Toshiba America Nuclear Energy Corporation will rely chiefly on Westinghouse for these OP&M capabilities in America.  The new company will also help network Westinghouse's construction management talent, which has been cultivated during construction projects in Japan.  The company will also support older PWR and BWR designs.

Perhaps most exciting the new company will help to promote the 4S reactor design.  This design is a small, and extremely simple and safe system, which offers great promise for distributed nuclear power generation.  Toshiba also announced that it may use the new company to help participate in the Next-Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) project. 

Toshiba calls nuclear power, "a cost-efficient long-term energy source, a powerful tool in the fight against global warming, and an integral part of a future hydrogen economy." 

Its new line of business will also market nuclear power in Europe, Asia and North America.


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Not a good idea IMO
By Amiga500 on 3/6/2008 1:06:15 PM , Rating: 1
Surely from a security point of view it is better to keep the fuel at HIGHLY centralised locations.

Then there is training people to handle the fuel and operate the reactor safely.




RE: Not a good idea IMO
By ajfink on 3/6/2008 1:10:09 PM , Rating: 1
Agreed. Large nuclear facilities have numerous security safeguards (whether or not the guards are napping on the job) to protect them. Having nuclear plants everywhere is just asking for a truck bomb or theft.


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/6/2008 1:15:36 PM , Rating: 5
Theft is unlikely to be an issue, barring gross negligence on Toshiba's design staff's part. I'm sure they would install significant safeguards -- wireless surveillance systems -- on these things.

As far as a car bomb, the plant is sunk underground. It is surrounded by dense metal/concrete walls that should be up to withstanding the worst man or nature could throw at it -- car bomb, earthquake, etc.

This also is one more reason why theft would be difficult. You're talking about breaking into a locked facility, accessing the reactor core and somehow carrying fuel rods out of this place, up some tiny staircase/service ladder? That would be rather tough, don't you think?

I think a legitimate concern would be waste disposal (which there are some pretty promising solutions for). Terrorism fears just aren't founded though.


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By oopyseohs on 3/6/2008 1:20:10 PM , Rating: 2
Correct. Current nuclear facilities in the US and worldwide are protected by extremely dense concrete shells. The twin domes at the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station (SONGS) in Southern California is built to withstand the direct impact of a 747 at full speed (resulting in little more than chips to the surface of the dome). Factoid of the day!


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By deeznuts on 3/6/2008 1:35:33 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Correct. Current nuclear facilities in the US and worldwide are protected by extremely dense concrete shells. The twin domes at the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station (SONGS) in Southern California is built to withstand the direct impact of a 747 at full speed (resulting in little more than chips to the surface of the dome). Factoid of the day!


Hmm, for some reason everytime I drive by the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station I see a sign that calls it The International Thermalnoocular Station (TITS)

http://www.nctimes.com/content/articles/2005/08/22...


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By ninjit on 3/6/2008 3:43:43 PM , Rating: 2
And at night, those TITS blink too!


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By TomCorelis on 3/7/2008 1:53:30 AM , Rating: 2
I live right next to those things and drive by them on a regular basis. To me, they're simply "the boobs of San Onofre." All my non-SoCal friends get a kick out of that :-)

In other news, there's a border patrol checkpoint about a mile away, and the stories of friends who work there tell of some pretty scary terrorist-concocted things heading for LA.


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By deeznuts on 3/8/2008 2:23:42 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I drive by it all the time. San Diego native who went to UCI, and also had a job up there for a 2 years in Irvine. C'mon Tom, tell us the true word you guys use. Well we call them the "titties"

So if we call anyone that's driving up or down, it's always "you past the titties yet?"

Crude, I know.


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By RaulF on 3/6/2008 2:16:36 PM , Rating: 2
All contaiments structure for US plants are the same way, not just San Onofre.


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By TimberJon on 3/7/2008 11:26:20 AM , Rating: 2
What about the new AirBus?


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By Amiga500 on 3/6/2008 1:25:55 PM , Rating: 2
Theft is unlikely to be an issue, barring gross negligence on Toshiba's design staff's part. I'm sure they would install significant safeguards -- wireless surveillance systems -- on these things.

This also is one more reason why theft would be difficult. You're talking about breaking into a locked facility, accessing the reactor core and somehow carrying fuel rods out of this place, up some tiny staircase/service ladder? That would be rather tough, don't you think?


Yeap, I'm sure they will have all sorts of safeguards on them. But bank robbers don't target fort knox, they go for the small local bank.

Breaking into a locked facility is easy - criminals do that all the time, accessing the reactor core is not so easy, but it cannot be impossible for re-fuelling purposes - ditto for removing the fuel rods from the site.


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By ebakke on 3/6/2008 3:25:14 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't going into the core / containment room project the "intruder" to large amounts of radiation? Not to mention the prospect of someone carrying out some fuel rods. Seems like people trying to do that would kill themselves in the process.


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By Oregonian2 on 3/6/2008 5:11:32 PM , Rating: 2
They have suicide bombers, perhaps we'll have suicide thieves as well?


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By Macungah on 3/6/08, Rating: 0
RE: Not a good idea IMO
By Samus on 3/7/2008 2:12:07 AM , Rating: 2
I guess you haven't seen Dirty Bomb, Jason?

It's an extreme case of what happens when spent nuclear waste is distributed through London with a small carbomb.

The fear isn't the nuclear fuel, it's the nuclear waste. They will have to remove that from the facility, and that is a prime opportunity for a carjacking or heist.


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By Grast on 3/7/2008 11:13:07 AM , Rating: 4
Additionally, the invaders would need to be technically capable of operating the plant. The reactor would need to be shutdown and cooled prior to gaining access to the fuel rods. My only experence was in the Navy. A SSBN Trident nuclear reactor took 3 days to fully shutdown to allow access to the reactor chamber.

If anyone thinks that you can just go into a reactor area while in operation has another thing coming. Lets say lots of Neutron and Gamma radiation umong other much more energetic energy particals.

Suffice to say, the amount of planning and time needed would make such a heist very unlikely. I believe the only limiting factor would be opposition to nuclear waste activities in residential areas.

Later..


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By dever on 3/7/2008 3:17:49 PM , Rating: 2
The main obsticle I see with smaller, distributed facilities is NIMBY. There is still significant stigma to overcome. Let's hope that happens.


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By spluurfg on 3/6/2008 5:41:31 PM , Rating: 1
I still haven't figured out how this is relevant to the article. Toshiba wants to build nuclear power plants, but you want the fuel stored in highly centralized locations. Is this supposed to mean that you don't want Toshiba to build nuclera plants?

You are aware that there are other nuclear power plants scattered throughout the country? And one reason they aren't all in one place is because the further you transmit alternating current the more power you lose along the way? And at any rate, the nuclear fuel is imported from other countries?

D for effort.


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By deeznuts on 3/6/2008 5:59:14 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think he's talking about plants being scattered around the country, as they already are. But he's talking about numerous smaller plants being scattered around every region. So instead of one Plant (like San Onofre, or TITS) that supplies all of Southern California, the region would be served by multiple, smaller plants.

quote:
Perhaps most exciting the new company will help to promote the 4S reactor design. This design is a small, and extremely simple and safe system, which offers great promise for distributed nuclear power generation.


You gave him a D for effort. What should we give you? Also grades for reading comprehension and assumption skills. ;)


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By spluurfg on 3/6/2008 6:30:30 PM , Rating: 2
Hehe, fair enough, I was skimming too quickly -- I take it all back and give myself an F =)


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By spluurfg on 3/6/2008 6:36:04 PM , Rating: 2
However, to address his (very reasonable) point, apparently the 4s design of nuclear reactor has the actual reactor core deep underground and does not need to be refueled for decades, so it's unlikely that it will need to maintain unused fissionable material on site in general -- only the hot material should be on site when not refueling.

It's also liquid sodium cooled, which might alleviate the worries about water consumption, but of course has its own issues (is sodium self regulating?)


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By djc208 on 3/16/2008 10:00:32 AM , Rating: 2
Nuclear plants don't really "consume" any water after initial fill. The system is a closed design so new water is added as other water is removed (for sampling, volume changes due to temp fluctuations, etc.)

The water removed is highly filtered and usually re-used, though even if not re-used it is usually about as clean as you can get water without making it in a lab.

The advantage of sodium is that you can run at higher temperatures without having to design for the higher pressures of a pressurized water reactor. The tradeoff is you have to desing and work with liquid sodium.


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By deeznuts on 3/7/2008 12:40:55 AM , Rating: 2
I can appreciate a man who admits his mistakes. Cheers!


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By spluurfg on 3/7/2008 9:49:31 AM , Rating: 2
Heh well not only that but I was being kinda mean too, so only fair that I get to eat some humble pie =P


RE: Not a good idea IMO
By marvdmartian on 3/7/2008 10:13:13 AM , Rating: 3
So far as operating the plants goes, the US Navy trains ~2000 people a year in how to operate a nuclear power plant, and has the best nuclear power safety record you can find. Lots of those guys and girls get out after their hitch is up, and a lot of those are eagerly gobbled up by the civilian power plant industry, due mostly to the fantastic training they receive.


Quick question...
By i3arracuda on 3/6/2008 1:12:37 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Toshiba calls nuclear power, "a cost-efficient long-term energy source, a powerful tool in the fight against global warming, and an integral part of a future hydrogen economy."


Can it play Transformers?




RE: Quick question...
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/6/2008 1:20:15 PM , Rating: 5
"I want people to see my movies powered by the best energy possible. For them to deny people by focusing on nuclear sucks! They were progressive by having lots of energy sources. No Transformers 2 for me!"
--Michael Bay on developments


RE: Quick question...
By FingerMeElmo87 on 3/6/2008 1:39:09 PM , Rating: 5
"As a director, I'm all about people seeing films on the best power grid possible, and I saw and heard firsthand people upset about a corporate decision but today I saw 300 on toshibas new nuclear power system, and it rocks!!! Count me in for Transformers 2" - Michael Bay


RE: Quick question...
By TimberJon on 3/7/2008 11:29:39 AM , Rating: 2
Michael bay is an idiot. This way, that way, this way again, exaggeration, then extreme emotion... then curses I have to go the other way now.. geebus.


In my back yard ...
By joegee on 3/6/2008 1:51:54 PM , Rating: 3
You know, I wouldn't mind a third or fourth generation nuclear plant designed by a company that actually had experience building the three previous generations (GE, Westinghouse, Areva, or Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.) This should give any of us pause: Toshiba is doing with this plant's model number, 4s, what Intel, AMD, and nvidia do with model numbers, 9900XGR-XDR-III. They're marketing it against their competitors using a model number trick.

Keeping in mind Japan's shoddy safety record regarding nuclear plants (not only what has been in the news, a friend of mine got a year off, and some really funky nuclear dermatitis, when a pipe full of "hot" water was sluiced down her back.) Um. No.

Dear Toshiba,

I have watched how you've conducted business over the past several years. In light of your performance, I have the following concerns about your nuclear debut:

I don't care if it's a more technologically-advanced format. We've heard this from you before. This is more than pretty lights and polycarbonate chemistry -- if it's anywhere near me I want proven, tried technology managing nuclear fission.

I really don't want to hear that it's running any software designed by Microsoft (Windows Server 2008 for Nuclear Power Plants .9 beta. Internet Exploder takes on a whole new, ominous meaning.)

We have heard better, faster, superior from you in other areas too http://www.engadget.com/2007/04/13/30-inch-oled-tv... . What happens to your existing customers if you lose interest in this venture?

If another format proves itself to be superior to what you are offering, what do we do with the plants we have already purchased? We'll need more than ebay to keep us afloat.

In short, the only thing more alarming to me than your debut in nuclear power would be a debut by Sony. Please go back to doing what you do best. That would be, um. Well, please just go do something else.

Sincerely,

Joe G.




RE: In my back yard ...
By RaulF on 3/6/2008 2:19:30 PM , Rating: 3
Well to back Toshiba up(im pro blu ray since the begining) on the picture Westinghouse is also mentioned, plus you could be sure that most of the work is related to the big manufacturers and the such.


RE: In my back yard ...
By Carl B on 3/6/2008 3:00:35 PM , Rating: 3
Toshiba *is* Westinghouse... they bought Westinghouse a couple of years ago, adding them to their existing nuclear business.

No one should be happier than if Toshiba was at the center of the US nuclear new-builds.


RE: In my back yard ...
By joegee on 3/6/2008 3:04:16 PM , Rating: 2
Good catch, both of you. Thanks for the correction.

-Joe


RE: In my back yard ...
By Grast on 3/7/2008 11:15:18 AM , Rating: 2
Just looked that up. It is very scary.


Not really apartment sized
By atomicrod on 3/7/2008 4:13:17 AM , Rating: 6
There is a bit of confusion on the web that is reflected in the caption of under the picture.

In December, 2007, there was a story posted by nextenergynews.com claiming that Toshiba was going to market a "Micro Nuclear" plant suitable for powering individual apartment buildings or city blocks. According to the story, the reactor would produce 200 kw of electricity, would be installed in a Japanese location in 2008 and would be marketed in Europe and the US starting in 2009. The story also included a drawing of the plant that looks like the one associated with this article.

The problem is that the story was a hoax. The 4S (Super Safe, Small and Simple) reactor produces 10 MWe - 50 times more than the stated 200 KWe. It is suitable for powering a moderately sized TOWN with 10-20,000 residents, not an individual apartment building. It requires an excavation that is 30 meters deep for the core while the steam turbine portion of the plant will be in a building that will be about the size of a large commercial garage or fire station.

I contacted Toshiba directly about the "micro nuclear" story and determined that they had no plans to develop a 200 kwe machine, much less to market that device. Under current regulations, even the 10 MWe 4S is considered to be tiny and will have some commercial challenges because of the upfront licensing costs and the continuing cost of regulatory "services". You can find the stories I wrote on this topic at the Atomic Insights Blog by doing a site search for Toshiba.

Perhaps not surprisingly, nextenergynews.com and most of the rest of the blog world that copied it have never retracted their story.




RE: Not really apartment sized
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 3/7/2008 12:38:25 PM , Rating: 2
Hi atomicrod,

I agree with you completely. I contacted both NEN and Toshiba for clarification when that story broke, and I did not receive anything back from NEN. Toshiba denied the story completely, which is why we didn't run with it.

I checked out the blog - great stuff! Let me know if you'd ever like to syndicate any of it on DailyTech.

Kristopher


RE: Not really apartment sized
By atomicrod on 3/8/2008 10:55:18 AM , Rating: 2
Kristopher:

It is nice to know that there is a tech blog that does not simply repeat what they hear. Real journalism is so much more valuable!

Let's talk about the idea of syndication. One of our thoughts at Atomic Insights is that the technology and the industry that we cover is pretty darned exciting, but it is almost completely ignored when people think of the "tech" industry.

In fact, most of the time when I sign up for new social network - even one that focuses on business contacts - I cannot find "energy" or "nuclear power" listed as an option. It is kind of depressing to feel so left out.

Rod Adams
Editor, Atomic Insights
Host and producer, The Atomic Show Podcast (hosted by The Podcast Network)
Founder, Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.


Who's first?
By deeznuts on 3/6/2008 1:12:45 PM , Rating: 2
Who's first to do a HD DVD joke here. It's dying for one ...




RE: Who's first?
By deeznuts on 3/6/2008 1:13:27 PM , Rating: 2
Aha, i3arracuda beat me by 8 seconds. Kudoes.


RE: Who's first?
By MaulBall789 on 3/6/2008 2:37:41 PM , Rating: 1
So you all went Blu-ray, huh? Introducing the new Toshiba No-Shell, Low-Security Nuclear Reactor, coming to a town near you Walmart and Warner! Enjoy your afterglow!


LOL
By kattanna on 3/6/2008 1:13:39 PM , Rating: 2
i posted a link to that article today earlier in the story about the guy saying nuclear is unfeasible

and like i said there..

if big business can see the case for nuclear, then why can't others




RE: LOL
By rcc on 3/6/2008 4:11:13 PM , Rating: 2
1) because they don't want to?
2) because it is contrary to their agendas?
3) because they bought into the 60's and 70's anti-nuke propaganda?
4) see #1 above
5) see #2 above

etc.


In other news...
By ninjit on 3/6/2008 4:11:20 PM , Rating: 4

Not to be outdone by the likes of Toshiba, Sony today also announced the creation of a Nuclear subsidiary within America, called Sony America Nuclear Energy, or SANE

By using newly developed BLUE (Better, Longer, Uber-Energy) uranium fuel rods, Sony claims to be able to provide more data... err power from any given reactor, as compared to Toshiba's design.

Production of BLUE fuel rods is still plagued by defects, leading to low yields and hence higher costs per shtick. However Sony remains committed to their viability, and believes the public will eventually support their efforts as well.

As with all nuclear technologies, the risk of theft and/or terrorism ever looms, to which Sony has several answers:

1. These new BRs (BLUE Reactors) will be disc-shaped, and stacked to mimic regular grain Silos, confounding efforts to locate them.

2. Recently leaked designs also show these BR "discs" plastered with DRM stickers(along with the subtext "Don't Remove Me"), but what this DRM does, and how it will prevent theft of nuclear secrets is still unclear.

Sony chairman, Howard Stringer, has tapped recently retired SCEI chairman, Ken Kutaragi, to head up the new nuclear company, saying:
"With what Ken has done with the Playstation brand, and for Sony as whole, we think he will do wonders in SANE"

In accepting his new position, Ken expressed a desire to work with fellow video-game messiah, Hideo Kojima, on security for SANE:
"I think having Koji's mecha from the MGS series defending our new reactors would be friggin' awesome!"





Judging from what I've read...
By Durrr on 3/6/2008 7:40:04 PM , Rating: 3
this reactor design is self-regulating and inherently stable. The thing I was worried about was the Void Coefficient or Temperature Coefficient of Reactivity being positive due to the nature of a Sodium Cooled/Moderated reactor, however, this only uses Sodium to cool it and appears to be thermal reactor not fast fission. The moderator would get hot enough to insert so much negative reactivity that in the case of a reactor problem, it would simply shut itself down. Pretty ingenious design.




By phxfreddy on 3/8/2008 9:08:57 AM , Rating: 2
Global warming was originally brought into the world conversation about energy by Margaret Thatcher. She offered to fund a study that came back with the conclusion that global warming was happening and that we needed nuclear power as a way of getting away from dependence on unionized coal miners in Britain. I am really relieved when I see the prepaid assertions pay off with the result of nuclear energy relivened in the USA!!! watch this find out http://www.amarketplaceofideas.com/great-global-wa...




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