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Reactors

Hitachi is developing a new reactor that burns transuranium elements, such as those produc...

The problem with nuclear waste is that it needs to be stored for many thousands of years before it’s safe, which is a tricky commitment for even the most stable civilization. To make this situation a bit more manageable, Hitachi, in partnership with MIT, the University of Michigan, and the University of California, Berkeley, is working on new reactor designs that use transuranic nuclear waste for fuel; leaving behind only short-lived radioactive elements.  Read More

Researchers are developing small, round swimming robots that could check pipes in nuclear ...

According to the Associated Press, a recent study has revealed that three quarters of America's nuclear reactors have leaked radioactive tritium from buried pipes that transport water for the cooling of reactor vessels. This tritium could in turn find its way into the groundwater. While industry officials do reportedly check these pipes for leaks, they can only do so in either indirect or costly, labor-intensive manners. Now, however, researchers from MIT are developing tiny, spherical swimming robots that could check on the pipes directly, relaying their findings in real time.  Read More

Thorium could provide a cleaner and more abundant alternative to uranium (Photo: Three Mil...

The world's growing need for energy, the limits of our supply of fossil fuels and concern about the effects of carbon emissions on the environment have all prompted interest in the increased use of nuclear power. Yet the very word "nuclear" carries with it an association of fear. People are concerned about the waste produced by reactors, the possibility of catastrophic accidents as highlighted by recent events in Japan and the link between nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Yet what if there existed a means of nuclear power generation with which these risks were drastically reduced?  Read More

An Ostara PEARL proprietary fluidized bed reactor, used to extract phosphorous from raw se...

Here’s something rather important that you might not know: there may be a worldwide phosphorus shortage within the next few decades. The majority of the world’s phosphorus is currently mined from non-renewable phosphate rock deposits, and widely used in crop fertilizers. Scientists have begun to question just how much more phosphorus is left, and what the agriculture industry will do once it runs out. The answer – or some of it, at least – could be bobbing in a pool of raw sewage. Ostara, a Canadian nutrient recovery company, has developed a method for harvesting phosphorus from municipal wastewater and converting it to fertilizer.  Read More

Safety first ... the reactor core of the Gosgen Nuclear Power Plant (Photo: Kernkraftwerk ...

One of the key challenges when designing nuclear reactors is finding materials that can withstand the massive temperatures, radiation, physical stress and corrosive conditions of these extreme environments. Exposure to high radiation alone produces significant damage at the nanoscale, so scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, have been working on a mechanism that allows nanocrystalline materials to heal themselves after suffering radiation-induced damage. This gives hope for materials that will improve the reliability, safety and lifespan of nuclear energy systems.  Read More

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