Toshiba Establishes New U.S. Nuclear Business
March 6, 2008 11:55 AM
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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
3/6/2008 6:36:04 PM
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
3/16/2008 10:00:32 AM
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.
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