more top stories »


— Drones

Nuclear UAV drones could fly for months at a time

By - April 3, 2012 1 Picture
Nuclear-powered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that would increase operational flight durations from days to months are a technological possibility today, according to a feasibility study undertaken last year by Sandia National Laboratories and Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation. A nuclear power supply would additionally double the availability of electrical power to onboard systems, including weaponry, the study found. Read More
— Science

Sandia simulation suggests sunny skies for fusion reactors

By - April 2, 2012 3 Pictures
In the beginning, there was the thermonuclear bomb - mankind had harnessed the energy of the Sun. Confident predictions abounded that fusion reactors would be providing power "too cheap to meter" within ten years. Sixty years later many observers are beginning to wonder if billions of dollars of effort has been lost in digging out dry wells. Now a new simulation study carried out at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, suggests that magnetized inertial fusion (MIF) experiments could be retrofitted to existing pulsed-power facilities to obtain fusion break-even. Read More

Super accurate nuclear clock proposed

The NIST-F1 atomic clock that currently serves as primary time and frequency standard for the U.S. is expected to neither gain nor lose a second in more than 100 million years. That might sound pretty accurate, but a proposed nuclear clock could make it look like a cheap digital wristwatch. It is claimed that the proposed clock would neither gain nor lose 1/20th of a second in 14 billion years. To put that in context, that’s the estimated age of the universe. Read More
— Environment Feature

Feature: Small modular nuclear reactors - the future of energy?

This year is an historic one for nuclear power, with the first reactors winning U.S. government approval for construction since 1978. Some have seen the green lighting of two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors to be built in Georgia as the start of a revival of nuclear power in the West, but this may be a false dawn because of the problems besetting conventional reactors. It may be that when a new boom in nuclear power comes, it won't be led by giant gigawatt installations, but by batteries of small modular reactors (SMRs) with very different principles from those of previous generations. But though a technology of great diversity and potential, many obstacles stand in its path. Gizmag takes an in-depth look at the many forms of SMRs, their advantages, and the challenges they must overcome. Read More
— Science

World's most powerful X-ray laser recreates conditions at the center of a star

By - January 30, 2012 1 Picture
To say things are really heating up at the US Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory isn't just a bad pun, it's one hell (sorry) of an understatement. An Oxford-led team used the Stanford-based facility that houses the world's most powerful X-ray laser to create and probe a 2-million-degree Celsius (or about 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit) piece of matter. The experiment allowed the scientists the closest look yet at what conditions might be like in the heart of the Sun, other stars and planets. Read More
— Marine Feature

How nuclear icebreakers work - and the reversible ships that will replace them

The Arctic North end of Russia is believed to hold as much as a quarter of all the world's oil deposits - an utterly monstrous economic prize, hidden in one of the toughest and least hospitable environments on the planet. Getting to this prize, and then transporting it back to refineries, is a monolithic task that requires one of the most awe-inspiring pieces of machinery man has ever built - the nuclear icebreaker. Purpose-built to the point of being almost unseaworthy on the open waves, these goliaths smash their way through 10-foot thick ice crusts to create viable pathways for other vessels - but fascinating new technologies could mean the days of the dedicated icebreaker are numbered. Read More
— Science

Intelligent absorbent removes radioactive material from water

By - November 1, 2011 1 Picture
Nuclear power plants are located close to sources of water, which is used as a coolant to handle the waste heat discharged by the plants. This means that water contaminated with radioactive material is often one of the problems to arise after a nuclear disaster. Researchers at Australia's Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have now developed what they say is a world-first intelligent absorbent that is capable of removing radioactive material from large amounts of contaminated water, resulting in clean water and concentrated waste that can be stored more efficiently. Read More
— Robotics

Husqvarna demolition robots to help clean up Fukushima

By - October 25, 2011 2 Pictures
Sweden's Husqvarna Construction has announced that two of its remote-controlled demolition robots are to help with the massive clean-up operation at the site of the failed fourth reactor at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The recently-featured DXR-140 and its bigger brother - the DXR-310 - will be used in heavy demolition work such as tearing down concrete constructions and dealing with contaminated materials. Read More
— Military

New method may lead to improved detection of nuclear materials

By - October 24, 2011 1 Picture
Scientists at Northwestern University, Illinois, have outlined a new method for detecting electromagnetic radiation at the high energy end of the spectrum. The work could lead to the development of a small, hand held device able to detect this "hard radiation" and has implications for the detection of radioactive materials which could potentially be employed in terrorist weapons, such as nuclear bombs or radiological dispersion devices, as well as materials employed in clandestine nuclear programs. Read More
— Holiday Destinations

Old nuclear power plant transformed into a theme park and hotel

By - October 6, 2011 9 Pictures
The Wunderland Kalkar amusement park in Germany has been converted from a disused nuclear power station, following the government's decision to abandon all nuclear energy plants. The site was sold in 1991 to a Dutch investor who, leaving the reactor building in place, created Wunderland Kalkar. The proportions of the park are enormous, positioned on over 55 hectares (80 football fields) and features over 40 amusement attractions. Read More