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2 PM hopefuls favor nuclear fusion, small modular reactors

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while nuclear fusion reactors do not emit high-level radioactive waste.

That should read "while nuclear fusion reactors do not currently exist".

Seriously, they are pinning their hopes and plans for the future on technology which is still decades at best from being fully developed into reality... and that is assuming its even possible.

That is leadership?

Nuclear fusion has been a scientific dream for decades, but it's still a long way off from being commercially available.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Making promises and grand plans for the future (that they know they'll never carry out) is the mainstay of politicians the world over. But it seems more so here in Japan where everyone knows change is glacial at best.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Small modular reactors are said to be cheaper to produce and safer to run than conventional reactors, while nuclear fusion reactors do not emit high-level radioactive waste.

Said to be in joint development by China and Israel with US nuclear submarine reactor technology that was stolen by Israeli spies.

Not much mentioned because of this slightly embarassing fact.

It is envisioned that the system will consist of five or so shipping container sized modules.

Reactor,

Boiler,

Turbine.

Pumps.

And a control module.

The modules would be manufactured on a production line to reduce costs and use standardized components.

Then the models could be located almost anywhere that there is a cooling water supply.

Takaichi said she would seek to introduce domestically built SMRs underground and nuclear fusion reactors as a safer and more efficient source of energy.

If Takaichi is aware of the technology, you can be sure that Hitachi, Fuji Heavy Industries et al are prodding him.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

2 PM hopefuls favor nuclear fusion, small modular reactors

Ha, ha. Ha ha ha. Guffaw.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Said to be in joint development by China and Israel with US nuclear submarine reactor technology that was stolen by Israeli spies.

That is a fish story, or perhaps a sea story if you prefer. No exaggeration ever occurs in either. Right? The reactors used in nuclear subs are very different from the Small Modular Reactor designs becoming available for civil uses. US subs use weapons grade uranium so the core lasts the life of the sub without needing to be refueled. Nothing even remotely like that is proposed for civil SMRs.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Ha, ha. Ha ha ha. Guffaw.

Laugh if you wish but modular molten salt reactors are being developed for ships as a carbon free propulsion technology. That tech is coming fast and has many other civil applications.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Molten salt (e.g. thorium) reactors: I've been hearing about this coming on fast since the 1950's.

Small fusion reactors: Good Lord, Japan is doomed if either of these two are PM. How about harnessing black holes?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

It is envisioned that the system will consist of five or so shipping container sized modules.

Reactor,

Boiler,

Turbine.

Pumps.

And a control module.

Most designs do not use pumps but instead use natural convection. At least one design is a boiling water reactor that generates steam directly in the reactor for use by the turbines. And reactors don't have a boiler. Some have a heat exchanger where water heated by the reactor heats water in a separate circuit into steam for use by the turbines.

Gas cooled reactors can use the hot gas from the reactor to power a turbine much like the free power turbine on a turboshaft helicopter engine.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

If Takaichi is aware of the technology, you can be sure that Hitachi, Fuji Heavy Industries et al are prodding him.

Yes and Takaichi must also know that Japan Inc is already working on the technology and has partnership in some foreign smr development projects

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Takaichi said she would seek to introduce domestically built SMRs underground and nuclear fusion reactors as a safer and more efficient source of energy.

nuclear fusion reactors

Maybe she means 'solar'...the sun is the only 'fusion 'reactor' we have at this moment and for, probably, MANY moments into the future? I hope she turns loose which ever advisor suggested she mention fusion...

And truckloads of spent and unspent radioactive fuel on the highways servicing these miniFukushimas...

Oh well, time to quit paying attention...it hurts too much to watch

0 ( +4 / -4 )

A fusion reactor is currently being built in France, with China as a partner. It won’t be online for quite a while, but it isn’t science fiction.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Fusion doesn't exist. Renewables exist. Pick the one that exists.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

It’s not coincidence that Kono is pushing for renewable energy and the fact that his father and brother own solar energy companies in China.It also explains his reluctance to build attack capabilities.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Given that the half-life of whichever of these bozos gets the job will be around 1-2 years, phrases like "I will eventually seek technologies such as...." seem somewhat redundant.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Fusion doesn't exist.

Oh, it exists all right; it is just that no one has managed to get more energy out of the reaction than it took to put in.

SMRs are an interesting concept be they Hitachi or Rolls-Royce or whatever, but as with all things nuclear: I will believe it when I see it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Oh, it exists all right; it is just that no one has managed to get more energy out of the reaction than it took to put in.

which means it doesn't exist and has no practical use right now today

Meanwhile the production of LCD TV's was once proposed to take half its production and make solar panels since the laying down of cells is very similar. Since then the technology has improved so the production of solar panels have dropped in cost year after year. That's today. Already more cost effective than more white elephant reactors fission or fusion.

Take then CHP to reduce energy load, put solar in as much as you can, and Japan has built in local resilience for its constant disasters that no reactor can provide.

Once the nuclear lobby is placated and renewables are centre stage Japan could have a real renewable boom economy

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yep its a pipe dream.

Nuclear fusion reactor technology, specifically the Tokamak varient has been tested to be viable. The current ITER program is a scaled up (industrial) version that will be able to produce more output than the input, which was the problem with all other tokamak varients before.

1988 project begins

2007 ground is broken

2025 power on.

Another decade after that, perhaps, commerical power would be viable.

But its a tad too late.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@sf2k

What can be done to deal with intermittancy of wind power in japan? How will Japan provide reserve power for the country during the winter months when wind loses more than half its capacity? Since nuclear power is on the way out I only see coal and gas plants filling the gap.

As Germany found out.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2021/07/28/german-emissions-from-electricity-rose-25-in-first-half-of-2021-due-to-the-lack-of-wind-power-not-willpower/?sh=5484b78f37a2

https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2021/08/15/can-europe-go-green-without-nuclear-power

Compared to wind farms which will require huge swathes of offshore area, a single generation 4 molten salt reactor, with a passive safety design, and 10GW capacity and a more than 60 year service life to supplement wind power seems more practical and sustainable.

Also how do you deal with the maintenance costs of offshore wind turbines, their short 15 year lifespan and inability to recycle decommissioned parts?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It's worth mentioning that the small modular NUCLEAR reactors both the innovation of having no waste. The reason why is because the modules are just meant to be left in the ground forever. What an advance in technology!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Nuclear is good, as seen in China and Korea.

Japan just needs to rework on the reactors, their American built ones are purposely built as death traps.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Welcome the LDPs its itsy-bitsy-yellow-poka-dot modular nuclear reactor. No matter the size they are still dangerous. They require uranium to be dug up and processed.

All this reminds me to a Walt Disney TV program where a deep and manic voice proclaims the "friendly atom" is America's future--everything from atomic canon to atomic factories and atomic cars.

It's high time to leave the uranium in the ground and proceed with solar pawer.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@jeancolmar

It's high time to leave the uranium in the ground and proceed with solar pawer.

No can do. Japan's capacity for solar power is abysmal and its solar energy density the one of the lowest due to its climate and mountainous terrain.

The only workable renewable energy source for Japan is wind power. But this will require deployment of vast arrays of floating offshore wind turbines (Japan's coasts are deep so fixed support wind turbines are unviable, the windiest parts are in the deep ocean).

Floating wind turbines are more expensive to construct and maintain. They have a short service life of 15 years and hence have to be decommissioned due to wear and erosion. Decommissioned parts cannot be recycled as they are mostly made of fiberglass. I mentioned intermittancy problems in my previous comment.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

the government needs to invest in 

Why?

Because the investments are not actually investments that normal investors would risk their money on, so the government / politicians bravely risk tax payers money instead?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There are SME molten salt reactor designs that are walk away safe, do not need to be "left in the ground" and can burn the waste from current reactors as they burn over 90% as against 5% of available fuel in current reactors. Some waste from current reactors will be dangerous for hundeds of thousands of years, some of the newer designs will leave little waste and what there is will have far more manageable dangerous timescales in the tens to hundred year range.

Fusion is still a pipe dream and even if we can get it to work may not be economicaly viable (given the huge costs of ITER are indicative).

All of these are projects for the future, none are up and running currently. Renewables are current tech and available. None present insurmountable engineering problems that haven't been dealt with elsewhere.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All of these are projects for the future, none are up and running currently.

Based on a 2014 IAEA report small modular reactors are currently operating in Russia (3). Two are under construction in China, one more in Russia and another in Argentina. SMRs in Canada, the US (4), Russia and South Africa are at the licensing stage. One more in South Korea has just been licensed. Additional reactors added in 2021 not included in the report.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What I find interesting is that General Atomics is not among any of the firms shown involved in SMRs. They were originally founded as a division of General Dynamics to develop civilian nuclear power but that endeavor went nowhere. Instead they found their groove building military UASs. They claim to be developing a Gen IV reactor and a Gas Turbine Modular Helium Reactor and an "Energy Multiplier Module" which uses "fast neutrons" in gas cooled "fast reactor". None of these show up among the IAEA's listing of SMR projects so their status is uncertain at best.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

 Renewables are current tech and available. 

Renewables are current tech that is deeply flawed. Europe is experiencing soaring electricity costs due to the intermittancy of wind power, so they have import gas from Russia to burn to make up for lost capacity. And with the completion of Nord Stream 2 Russia is going to hold Europe hostage with gas supplies. Should have kept nuclear.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

And with the completion of Nord Stream 2 Russia is going to hold Europe hostage with gas supplies

The only benefit to Russia from Nord Stream 2 is the Russians can now fulfill their deliveries to Germany without shipping gas through the Ukraine. What that means is the Russians can now shut off gas deliveries to Ukraine and not affect the rest of their European clientele as has been the case in the past.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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