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martes, 30 de septiembre de 2008

FIX University Studies Nuclear Plants Construction




Our world is ever growing, and the way we respond to energy demands must grow along with it. By 2020, there will be an additional two billion people placing higher demands on electricity, and fossil fuels cannot satisfy this demand without further harming the environment. Likewise, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are still in their infancy and, when used alone, are not realistic solutions to meet this demand. 

Nuclear power is a proven, safe, plentiful and clean source of power generation, and Westinghouse Electric Company, the pioneer and global leader in nuclear plant design and construction, is ready with the *AP1000™ pressurized water reactor (PWR). It is the only Generation III+ reactor to receive Design Certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The AP1000, based on the proven performance of Westinghouse-designed PWRs, is an advanced 1154 MWe nuclear power plant that uses the forces of nature and simplicity of design to enhance plant safety and operations and reduce construction costs. 

Please navigate throughout this site to learn how the AP1000 is ready to meet tomorrow’s power generation requirements today!

*AP1000 is a trademark of Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC



Westinghouse Electric Company once again sets a new industry standard with the AP1000™ reactor. Historically, Westinghouse plant designs and technology have forged the cutting edge of worldwide nuclear technology. Today, about 50 percent of the world's 440 nuclear plants are based on Westinghouse technology. 

The AP1000 is the safest and most economical nuclear power plant available in the worldwide commercial marketplace, and is the only Generation III+ reactor to receive Design Certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). 

The AP1000 features proven technology, innovative passive safety systems and offers:
  • Unequaled safety
  • Economic competitiveness
  • Improved and more efficient operations
The AP1000 builds and improves upon the established technology of major components used in current Westinghouse-designed plants with proven, reliable operating experience over the past 50 years. These components include:
  • Steam generators
  • Digital instrumentation and controls
  • Fuel
  • Pressurizers
  • Reactor vessels
Simplification was a major design objective for the AP1000. The simplified plant design includes overall safety systems, normal operating systems, the control room, construction techniques, and instrumentation and control systems. The result is a plant that is easier and less expensive to build, operate and maintain. 

The AP1000 design saves money and time with an accelerated construction time period of approximately 36 months, from the pouring of first concrete to the loading of fuel. Also, the innovative AP1000 features: 


  • 50% fewer safety-related valves
  • 80% less safety-related piping
  • 85% less control cable
  • 35% fewer pumps
  • 45% less seismic building volume
The AP1000™ pressurized water reactor works on the simple concept that, in the event of a design-basis accident (such as a coolant pipe break), the plant is designed to achieve and maintain safe shutdown condition without any operator action and without the need for ac power or pumps. Instead of relying on active components such as diesel generators and pumps, the AP1000 relies on the natural forces of gravity, natural circulation and compressed gases to keep the core and containment from overheating. However, many active components are included in the AP1000, but are designated as non safety-related. 

Multiple levels of defense for accident mitigation are provided, resulting in extremely low core-damage probabilities while minimizing occurrences of containment flooding, pressurization and heat-up. 

The AP1000 meets the U.S. NRC deterministic-safety and probabilistic-risk criteria with large margins. Results of the Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) show a very low core damage frequency (CDF) that is 1/100 of the CDF of currently operating plants and 1/20 of the maximum CDF deemed acceptable for new, advanced reactor designs. 

The following features contribute to defense-in-depth of the AP1000:
Two of the drivers of plant construction costs are the cost of financing during the construction phase and the substantial amount of skilled-craft-labor hours needed on site during construction. The AP10000™ technique of modularization of plant construction mitigates both of these drivers. 

Overnight construction costs
The AP1000 was designed to reduce capital costs and to be economically competitive with contemporary fossil-fueled plants. The amount of safety-grade equipment required is greatly reduced by using the passive safety system design. Consequently, less Seismic Category I building volume is required to house the safety equipment (approximately 45 percent less than a typical reactor). Modular construction design further reduces cost and shortens the construction schedule. Using advanced computer modeling capabilities, Westinghouse is able to optimize, choreograph and simulate the construction plan. The result is very high confidence in the construction schedule. 

Simplified plant arrangement
With a smaller footprint than an existing nuclear power plant with the same generating capability, the AP1000 plant arrangement provides separation between safety-related and non-safety related systems. The plant is arranged with the following principal structures, each on its own base mat:
  • Nuclear Island (the only Seismic Category I structure)
  • Turbine Building
  • Annex Building
  • Diesel Generator Building
  • Radwaste Building
 

Nuclear Island
The volume of these seismic buildings is much smaller than those in previous nuclear power plant designs. This provides a large capital cost savings since seismic structures cost roughly three times as much as non-seismic structures. The nuclear island is designed to withstand the effects of postulated internal events such as fires and flooding without loss of capability to perform safety functions. 

Non-Seismic Class 1 Buildings
Non-seismic building including the annex, turbine diesel generator and radwaste buildings, and they contain no safety-related equipment. They are designed for wind and seismic loads in accordance with the Uniform Building Code. 




This article appears in the June 24, 2005 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
How To Build 6,000 Nuclear Plants
by 2050

We asked nuclear engineer James Muckerheide how many nuclear plants would be needed to bring the world's population up to a decent standard of living, and how to do it. Here are his answers.

In 1997-1998, I made an estimate of how many nuclear plants would be needed in the world by 2050. It reflects an economy that is directed to provide the energy necessary to meet basic human needs, especially for the developing regions.

The initiative required is not unlike what the U.S. government did to build the nation: for example, to bring electric power to rural areas; to provide transportation by building roads and highways and canals, and the intercontinental railroads, and airlines; to develop water supplies and irrigation systems; to provide telephone service, medical and hospital services; and many other programs that were essential to develop an advanced society, and to lift regions out of poverty.

However, we need to do more to meet those needs, both within the United States and for the developing world, to bring those people into the economic mainstream, instead of leaving them to be just cheap sources of our labor and raw materials.

The Role of Nuclear Energy

My projections simply envisioned nuclear energy growing from supplying 6% of world energy needs today to one third of the energy demand in 2050, which was taken to grow by about a factor of 3 from 2000. But, of course, that begs the question: Can fossil fuels continue to provide energy at or slightly above present levels, to produce about one third of the energy demand in 2050? And is it likely that hydro, wind energy, and other alternatives can provide the other third, which is also the equivalent of 100% of today's total energy use?

So, nuclear power in 2050 would be roughly 18 times its current use. This requires fewer than the number of plants I projected in 1997, and is equivalent to about 5,100 1,000-megawatt-electric (MWe) plants.

But nuclear energy must produce more than just electricity; it must produce fresh water by desalination of seawater, hydrogen production to displace gasoline and diesel fuel for transportation, process heat for industry, and so on.

Note that, in this case, nuclear energy does not displace coal, oil, and gas. About 200% of current energy use would still have to come from fossil fuels and alternative sources. If oil and gas production cannot be maintained up to about 100 millions barrels per day, this would require an even greater commitment to nuclear energy, especially if nuclear energy is needed to extract oil from tar sands, oil shales, and coal.

There are pollution-control and other cost pressures limiting supply that will make fossil fuels more costly in any event. We need to consider this in the light that nuclear energy can be produced indefinitely at roughly the cost that it can be produced today.

The alternative is to continue "business-as-usual." These conditions are even now producing international conflicts over oil and gas supplies, large environmental pollution costs in trying to increase fossil fuel production, and high costs to try to subsidize uneconomical "alternative" energy sources. This is leading the world into economic collapse, without adequate energy supplies, where the rich feel the need to acquire the significant resources of the economy, with growing disparities in income and wealth, even in the developed world, and frustration in the developing and undeveloped world from the limits on their ability to function economically.

Calculating Energy Demand

By 2050, given current trends, world population will increase from today's 6 billion-plus people to an estimated 9 to 10 billion people, with most of the increase coming from the developing world. The current development in China, India, and elsewhere, indicates the enormous growth now in progress. Today, if anything, such development projections may be understated.

The industrialized world per capita energy use may drop to 65 to 75% of current use, with increased efficiency, however there will be greater energy demands for the new, non-electrical applications, using more energy to extract end-use energy such as oil and hydrogen.

The developing world will substantially increase per capita energy use, to 40 to 50% of current use in the developed world. Going from a bicycle to a motor scooter, may require only a few gallons of fuel per year, but it's a large increment over the amount being used with the bicycle. And motorbikes lead to cars. Even in the last 5 to 10 years, there has been an enormous increase in vehicles, in China especially, and in other developing regions. These are large population—more than 2 billion people—and their need for oil is becoming enormous.

Therefore, if we are to achieve a world that is providing the energy required for developed and developing societies, along with substantial relief of human suffering and deprivation, energy use will be around three times that of today.

Nuclear Energy is Competitive and Cost-effective

Nuclear power is currently competitive and cost-effective. Numerous pragmatic current and recent construction projects around the world provide a strong basis for cost projections in the United States, Europe, and other locations that do not have current experience. Electricity from available nuclear power plant designs is lower than current costs from recent coal and gas plants, and reasonable projections of electricity costs from future coal and gas plants.

There is a popular view that nuclear power is the high-cost option. However, during the 1968 to 1978 nuclear power construction period, there were economic benefits even when there were almost 200 plants ordered and being procured and constructed, with massive construction costs. All of those plants established strong competition with oil, gas, and coal, and the competitive pressure brought down the cost of fossil-fuel-generated electricity a great deal. Ratepayers in the United States saved billions of dollars in fossil fuel costs over almost three decades.

Without the nuclear option, we have lost that competitive pressure. Prices are not constrained by that competition and have been increased, along with increased demand for scarce oil, gas, and coal resources. So, if we build nuclear power plants, even before a significant number of plants are operational, and especially if we have the ability to build plants in a timely manner, we will have an effect of reducing the excessive demand for, and costs of, coal and gas for providing electricity—to the benefit of the whole economy. We must consider that as part of the economic equation that doesn't presently exist in the way we evaluate nuclear power costs: the externalized benefits to society.

We know about calculating externalized costs, but we do not adequately calculate externalized benefits. It's time to do so.

Of course, people still consider the very high costs of the large nuclear plants ordered in the early 1970s. But these suffered the unanticipated effects of high component and labor costs, design changes in process after the Three Mile Island accident, and long construction times with high financing costs.

Today, we are prepared to manufacture and pre-build modules, reducing construction schedules to limit that long-term financial exposure, even if there were increases in interest rates. Future projects will undertake plant construction with approved designs, with "constructability" incorporated. The current generation of early plants are simply artifacts of the historical first phase of nuclear power plant design and construction, just as the Ford Tri-Motor and the DC-3 are artifacts of the first phases of passenger aircraft.

The Mass Production Road to 2050

Because the time frames for these construction requirements are long, and we need significant contributions to power supplies by 2020, we can't just increase production exponentially to put a lot of the power on line in the decade from 2040-2050. We need a substantial amount of nuclear electricity before 2030, and need to install a construction capacity that would produce a stable plant production rate for the future, to meet both a nominal energy growth and to replace old nuclear, and other energy plants. Consider that China is building roughly one new coal plant per week now, and the United States has about 100 coal plants on the drawing board. These plants and hundreds of others will need to be replaced after 2050.

Obviously, we would install much of that capacity between 2030 and 2050. But to get from here to 2030, we have to re-examine how we plan, and commit, to installing nuclear plants. The current idea in the United States, of building one plant by 2010, and 10 more by 2020, is a long way from the needed 2,000 or so in the world by 2030. Fortunately, other countries are doing more to meet the need.

We have to commit now to manufacturing the pressure vessels and other large components in mass quantities, instead of waiting for future ad hoc contracts from individual companies. Waiting leads to substantial overheads and delays to develop contracts, which are subject to the ad hoc process of integrating such plans into the production capabilities of vendors, with, again, rising costs and/or extended schedules, as negotiations are entered for limited production capacity, with high risks perceived for commitments to expand manufacturing capacity vs. the assurance that the industry will not collapse again. Individual companies would still have to develop plans and contracts for new plants, but those plants would come from national policies that engage the developed and developing countries to commit to the production and installation of nuclear power plants to produce a large, worldwide plant manufacturing capacity.

We must also commit to working on evolutionary designs that can reduce the cost of current and future plants. For example, current requirements for containment pressure and leakage, radiation control, including ALARA (the as low as reasonably achievable standard), and so on, can be made more reasonable, along with designs that have less conservatism in design and analysis, without reducing nuclear power plant safety. In addition to engaging the manufacturing industries directly, we must engage the major national and international standards organizations, and other international non-governmental organizations, in this effort.

A plan for rapid growth to a level long-term production capacity to support long-term energy growth and replacement of old plants and fossil fuels, would result in producing roughly 200 new units per year. We can plan for 6,000 equivalent units, taking our present operating plant capacity as about 300 1,000-MWe equivalent units (from about 440 actual units).

There are about 30 units now in construction in the world, with construction times of five to six years, so we are now building about 6 units per year. This will substantially increase in the next two to three years, so we can take something more than 10 units per year as a current baseline, and can plan for a rapid increase in current capacity to a level of about 200 units per year after 2040. We would use current and near-term nuclear power plant construction experience to adopt initial plant designs and major suppliers. We would focus primarily on the required fuel cycle capacity and major component manufacturing, and primary materials and infrastructure, including the required people, to produce nuclear units more like the way we build 747s, with parts in modules being delivered for assembly from around the world, while moving to a more regional manufacturing strategy.

Note that "manufacturing" applies to on-site and near-site support of construction by producing major modules outside of the construction area of the plant itself. The modules built on-site in Japan to construct the two 1,356-MWe ABWRs (advanced boiling water reactors) in about four years, which came on line in 1996 and 1997, weighed up to 650 tons and were lifted into the plant.

The World War II and TVA Precedents

We have the experience of the expansion of production capacity in a few years before and during World War II. President Roosevelt anticipated the need, by engaging industry leaders before the U.S. entry into the war, including earlier production to support U.S. merchant marine shipbuilding, and to supply Britain and Russia using the "lend-lease" program. Henry Kaiser built Liberty ships, which took six months before the war, delivering more than one per day.

The early TVA experience built large projects that integrated production and construction, with labor requirements and capabilities. Unfortunately, as with many large organizations, the later management failed to fully understand and maintain the capabilities that were largely taken for granted as the historical legacy of the organization, with inadequate commitments to maintain that capability. However, there are examples of maintaining those capabilities, in organizations like DuPont and the U.S. Nuclear Navy. These principles must be applied.

In addition, our original nuclear power construction experience demonstrates that these capabilities are readily achievable. Today there are 103 operating nuclear units in the United States, ordered from 1967 to 1973. There were about 200 units in production and construction by the late 1970s. So, even with little management coordination—poor management by many owners and constructors, with plant owners, vendors, and constructors jockeying for position and running up costs in the marketplace—we were building about 20 units per year.

But we got ahead of ourselves. Costs were driven up by competitive bidding and capital constraints, but more important, there was much lower electricity growth following the 1973 oil embargo, which had not returned to near pre-embargo rates as had been expected by many in the industry. The then-existing excess baseload plant capacity was sufficient to satisfy the slower growth in demand for two decades, relying primarily on coal, which we have in abundance, and in the 1990s, by building low-cost natural gas-burning plants, when the cost of gas was low. But that was an obvious failure to do competent planning, which has clearly exacerbated our current inadequate ability to provide for long-term energy needs of the U.S. and the world, with rising costs that will threaten the world economy.

The Industrial Gear-up Required for
Mass Production
















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