Jan 16, 2009

Pebble Bed Reactor and Will Atlas Shrug Again

Atlas Shrugged

Image via Wikipedia

I'm reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand for the first time. I just finished chapter 7 and parallels of people, movements, laws, movements and inventions are popping out everywhere.

I find the Pebble Bed Reactor to be an excellent work of technology which is just right for supplying a healthy world's growing energy needs.  Will the Al Gore (Orren Boyle)- Nobel - Green Peace -Earthlife Africa types prevail over healthy growth, development and social commerce? Will the Pebble Reactor become like the 'Rearden Steel' of Atlas Shrugged?

Ayn Rand had begun adapting Atlas Shrugged as a television miniseries in 1981, but the project was never completed. She died in 1982.  This project should be revived and completed.

Read this book.  Then, listen to the news, read the papers and listen to our politicians talk. Addendum: I do not recommend this or blog to the Lilian Rearden types, it will only annoy you.  As for me, I am a 60+ 'wet nurse' sharing my awakening experiences with you, the reader. Enjoy.  Now . .  . to the reactor.

Graphite Pebble for Reactor : Wikipedia Source (The Rearden Steel Part)

The pebble bed reactor (PBR) is a graphite-moderated, gas-cooled, nuclear reactor. It is a type of Very high temperature reactor (VHTR) [formally known as the high temperature gas reactor

(HTGR)], one of the six classes of nuclear reactors in the Generation IV initiative. Like other VHTR designs, the PBR uses TRISO fuel particles, which allows for high outlet temperatures and passive safety.

The base of the PBR's unique design is the spherical fuel elements called "pebbles". These tennis ball-sized pebbles are made of

pyrolytic graphite (which acts as the moderator), and they contain thousands of micro fuel particles called TRISO particles. These TRISO fuel particles consist of a fissile material (such as 235U) surrounded by a coated ceramic layer of SiC for structural integrity. In the PBR, 360,000 pebbles are placed together to create a reactor, and is cooled by an inert or semi-inert gas such as helium, nitrogen or carbon dioxide.  Also, the gases do not dissolve contaminants or absorb neutrons as water does, so the core has less in the way of radioactive fluids.

A rendered diagram of a pebble bed reactor plant layout.  This type of reactor is also unique because its passive safety removes the need for redundant, active safety systems. Because the reactor is designed to handle high temperatures, it can cool by natural circulation and still remain intact in accident scenarios, which may raise the temperature of the reactor to 1600 oC. Also because of its design, its high temperatures allow higher thermal efficiencies than possible in traditional nuclear power plants (up to 50%).

A number of prototypes have been built. Active development is ongoing in South Africa as the PBMR design, and in China whose HTR-10 is the only prototype currently operating.


The Atlas Shrugged Part . . .

The technology was first developed in Germany[1] but political and economic decisions were made to abandon the technology.[2] In various forms, it is currently under development by MIT, the South African company PBMR, General Atomics (U.S.), the Dutch company Romawa B.V., Adams Atomic Engines [1], Idaho National Laboratory, and the Chinese company Huaneng [3].

In June 2004, it was announced that a new PBMR would be built at Koeberg, South Africa by Eskom, the government-owned electrical utility.[4] There is opposition to the PBMR from groups such as Koeberg Alert and Earthlife Africa, the latter of which has sued Eskom to stop development of the project.[5]

Pebble bed reactor: Definition from Answers.com

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Robert Hargraves said...

You can find a tutorial about the pebble bed reactor at http://pebblebedreactor.blogspot.com, but it's best to read it oldest to newest.

Regarding the humanitarian focus, please visit a presentation, Aim High, which deals with the liquid fluoride thorium reactor, but many of the concepts apply to the PBR.


htomfields said...

You can find more information about very high temperature reactors at the Idaho National Laboratory Web site.