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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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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.


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