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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 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 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, and most of the rest of the blog world that copied it have never retracted their story.

RE: Not really apartment sized
By KristopherKubicki 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.


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

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.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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