New analysis of Fukushima core status

30 November 2011 A new analysis of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi indicates more extensive melting probably occurred at unit 1 than previously thought, although the predicted status of units 2 and 3 remains about the same. The bulk of unit 1’s nuclear fuel went through the bottom of the reactor vessel as well as about 70 centimetres of the drywell concrete below, according to the analysis released today. However, the corium did not breach the steel containment vessel 1.9 metres further down within the concrete, or the boundary of secondary containment some 7.6 metres further still. Of the 10.2 metres of solid concrete that makes up the floor of the reactor building, the corium is thought to have melted and mixed with the first 70 centimetres only. The natural spreading and expansion of the corium, plus the addition of compounds of concrete, would have reduced the intensity of the heat produced until it reached an equilibrium and solidified in place. Tepco said it was confident the melting had ceased due to the absence of gases that would be released by the high-temperature reactions between corium and concrete. The likely states of Fukushima Daiichi 1 (left), as well as 2 and 3 (right). Water is injected via the main feedwater line, while units 2 and 3 benefit from the core spray that has helped reduce temperatures considerably The latest analysis was done to supercede one from May due to the emergence of some information that contradicted its predictions. Because this analysis takes into account some of this data, Tepco expect this model to be more accurate, although the company cautioned that its scenarios remain uncertain. Unit 1 was the oldest of the three Fukushima Daiichi reactors operating at full power before the earthquake of 11 March, and was hit hardest by the loss of power following the tsunami and the flooding of diesel generators. For units 2 and 3 the analysis gave similar results to a simulation released in May, actually suggesting that the better of two scenarios presented then is more likely. Nevertheless, the cores of units 2 and 3 are thought to have overheated badly, with a large portion having melted or softened enough to slump to the bottom of the reactor vessel. A relatively small amount is thought to have passed through holes in the pressure vessel and fall to the drywell floor. Tepco continues to inject cooling water...
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Mining licence granted for Husab

30 November 2011 Namibia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy has informed Extract Resources that it is prepared to grant the company’s Swakop Uranium subsidiary a mining licence for the Husab uranium project. All necessary permits have now been received for development of the project to begin. Extract – which submitted an application for a mining licence in December 2010 – said that Swakop Uranium has accepted the terms and conditions contained within the notice of preparedness. Therefore, in accordance with the Minerals (Prospecting and Mining) Act of 1992, the Minister of Mines will now direct the Mining Commissioner to issue a mining licence to the company. Swakop Uranium received environmental approval for the linear infrastructure for the proposed Husab uranium project from the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism in July. That approval, covering access roads, electricity, telecommunications and water supply, was the final environmental approval needed for the project. The project mining area received environmental approval in January. Extract announced a 37% increase in estimated uranium reserves for the Husab project – formerly known as Rössing South – in August. The total estimated ore in proven and probable reserves now stands at 280 million tonnes containing 319.9 million pounds U3O8 (123,000 tU). Ore grade forecast was also increased from 497 to 518 parts per million. Extract claims that Husab is currently the fourth largest uranium-only deposit in the world. The company expects a mine there to operate for over 20 years. “We are delighted to receive the notification of preparedness to grant a mining licence,” said Extract CEO and managing director Jonathan Leslie. He added, “This marks the final step to achieving all of the permits that we need in order to begin the development of the Husab uranium project.” Leslie noted, “Discussions with potential debt financiers of the project are well underway, and the company continues to evaluate offtake arrangements and opportunities for investment in the project by strategic partners. Plans for delivery of access, power and water infrastructure are well advanced.” Recent changes to Namibian mining policy on strategic metals, including uranium, will give state-owned Epangelo Mining Ltd control over new minerals developments but existing licences and applications are not affected. Earlier this year, Extract confirmed that it was in discussion with Rio Tinto about combining the Husab project with the adjacent Rössing uranium mine to make the most of potential synergies from joint development. More...
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Qinshan Phase II unit 4 grid connected

30 November 2011 Unit 4 of China National Nuclear Corporation’s (CNNC’s) Qinshan Phase II nuclear power plant was connected to the grid on 25 November – the second Chinese reactor to be connected this year. It is expected to enter commercial operation early in 2012. The reactor, a CNP-600, is a two loop domestic design rated at 650 MWe. It has taken about five years to build, with first concrete for the unit poured in January 2007. Construction on units 3 and 4 were conducted in parallel, with unit 3 starting commercial operation in October last year. When operational, all four CNP-600s at the Qinshan Phase II site will produce a steady 2600 MWe of power and generate between 180–200 million MWh annually. According to CNNC, the now completed Phase II construction project marks the first time that China has taken the lead with the design, construction, operation and management of a nuclear power plant project, independent of a major foreign partner. It represents a major leap forward in China’s localization goals. Following the Fukushima nuclear accident in March, the Chinese government opted to freeze its approval process for new nuclear power plants; however this did not affect those which were already under construction. Another Chinese reactor, Ling Ao unit 4, was connected to the grid on 3 May while unit 1 of the Ningde nuclear power plant began its cold test functions on 28 November and should enter service next year.  With the addition of Qinshan Phase II unit 4, the total number of operating Chinese reactors stands at 15. Fuente:...
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Bargain for a nuclear hedge against gas

29 November 2011 Belarus has signed a range of energy agreements with Russia, handing over its gas supply network while cementing progress toward a nuclear power plant to offset the fuel.  Intergovernmental talks in Moscow last week completed strategic negotiations on gas, including price, transit tariffs and terms under which Russia’s Gazprom will take 100% ownership of Beltransgaz, the gas transmission network. Gazprom will pay $2.5 billion for the remaining 50% of Beltransgaz shares, repeating a transaction carried out in May 2007. The former Soviet state imports the vast majority of the gas used for industry and power generation from Russia, but will benefit from a price significantly lower than its neighbours in the European Union. The deals were sealed by a ceremony involving both countries’ presidents and prime ministers, Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin as well as Alexander Lukashenko and Mikhail Myanikovich. It was hailed as a new era in energy cooperation. The move establishes three export routes for natural gas sourced in the Yamal Peninsula of central Russia’s Arctic coast: one via Ukraine that serves south-eastern Europe; the new Nordstream pipeline that runs under the Baltic sea to surface in Germany; and now the Belarusian network which gives a major direct connection into Poland. This is network “is the shortest and cheapest way to Europe,” said Mikhail Kovalev of Belarusian State University. He added that Gazprom would “convince the Europeans to buy more gas” and thereby keep all the connections busy. Despite deep cooperation between the countries on energy, there are “no links” between the gas agreements and plans for a Russian-built nuclear power plant, said Nikolai Grusha, head of the nuclear energy department of the energy ministry. Nevertheless, Mikhail Filimonov of the nuclear construction directorate noted that “the nuclear power plant is meant solely for Belarus’ needs to substitute some part of very expensive gas.” He said the nuclear power plant would prevent the need for about 5 billion cubic metres of gas per year. This compares to the 22.5 billion cubic metres Gazprom expects to sell to Belarus in 2012. The price of gas just agreed for Belarus is $165.50 per 1000 cubic metres, which puts a figure of $827 million per year on the imports that could be avoided. By contrast, uranium fuel and waste management for the two reactors would cost less than $200 million per year, giving very significant savings once the...
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JSW optimistic over order book

29 November 2011 Heavy forgings supplier Japan Steel Works (JSW) has received new overseas orders worth over $640 million since April and says it expects the pattern to continue.   The company has announced its forecast for the current financial year, which runs to the end of March 2012. According to the Japan Atomic Industry Forum’s Atoms in Japan, JSW president Ikuo Sato said that new orders received over the fiscal year to date had primarily come from overseas, particularly France and China, and had been worth ¥50 billion (approximately $643 million). The company is optimistic that it will continue to receive overseas orders for six or seven large steel products per year, worth around ¥45-50 billion ($579-643 million). The production of heavy forgings is a potential bottleneck for the construction of new nuclear plants, as only a handful of companies worldwide have presses able to accommodate the 500-600 tonne steel ingots needed to make the largest forgings needed for some of the latest reactor models. JSW is one of them, and has supplied the reactor pressure vessels for both the Areva EPRs currently under construction in Finland and France, as well as components for AP1000 reactors under construction in China and advance orders for components for planned reactors in the USA, UK and China. As well as EPR and AP1000, its order book includes forgings for potential ABWR and ESBWR units. The company has over recent years undertaken the largest investment program in its 104-year history to enable it to triple its production capacity. A second 14,000 tonne hydraulic forging press commissioned at its Muroran plant in early 2010 can handle 670 tonne ingots, and the plant’s presses can now produce twelve reactor vessels and associated components per year. Muroran also manufactures steam generator components, generator and turbine rotor shafts, clad steel plates and turbine casings for nuclear power plants.  Fuente:...
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