Construction of the Kalpakkam fast reactor in India. (International Atomic Energy Agency)
The New York Times had a forward-looking piece on the development of advanced nuclear reactors that gives an interesting overview of the status of technology in the United States, citing ongoing research at places like Argonne National Laboratory as the groundwork for eventual development of advanced reactors:
… if the world decides in the 2030s and 2040s that it is time to deploy a new fleet of reactors, those will be based on work done in the few labs like this over the next decade, experts predict.
That leaves out one salient point: Russia and India have built large advanced fast reactors. Full story
Using the gas separating properties of fuel cells, a Connecticut company is developing technology to add carbon dioxide capturing capabilities to power plants, which it says could provide an economic way to meet EPA’s proposed power plant regulations. The process, developed by FuelCell Energy using a $2.5 million grant from the Energy Department, would also provide additional power generation to reduce the ratio of a coal plant’s carbon dioxide to kilowatts, the New York Times reported:
In FuelCell’s design, a coal plant adds a fuel cell unit next to its smokestack, and the fuel cell soaks up the carbon dioxide and adds power to overall output. Some energy is used — the demonstration unit here would produce eight kilowatts, enough for a midsize commercial air-conditioner, but in carbon capture mode makes only about six kilowatts — but the loss is more manageable than drawing energy from the coal plant for conventional carbon capture.
The process also unexpectedly breaks down nitrogen oxide emissions, a pollutant that is regulated directly and contributes to ozone pollution. The company’s next step is to build a full-sized demonstration facility at an operating coal power plant.
Following Thursday’s nail-bitter as the omnibus bill squeaked through the House, the Senate cleared the bill late Saturday over the objections of more than 20 Democrats. The Senate is around this week to wrap up nominations and potentially clear a package of tax extensions including a break for wind energy. Here’s what else is going on as the holidays approach: Full story
The Senate will consider the House-passed omnibus spending package as soon as today, but lawmakers would need procedural agreements to expedite the process before Monday. The measure includes $34.2 billion for energy and water programs but it would dole out no additional funds for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. The bill would include $345 million and a requirement to continue construction on the mixed oxide plutonium facility. Appropriators also tucked in a provision to throw a $97 million lifeline to the troubled American Centrifuge Project. Full story
The Appalachian Electric Power coal-fired Big Sandy power plant, seen in June. (Luke Sharrett/Getty Images)
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has scheduled a series of technical conferences to confer with those involved in the EPA’s proposed regulations for carbon dioxide, known as the Clean Power Plan. Full story
The Senate is expected to vote Monday on the nomination of former BP chief scientist Ellen Williams to head the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, which is the Energy Department’s venture capital arm for high-risk, potentially high-reward research. Full story
The head of the National Security Agency called for more information sharing to thwart hackers from China and elsewhere who crawl computer systems of critical U.S. infrastructure to access controls that could be used to cut utility services, CQ Roll Call’s Rob Margettareported Thursday. Full story
Screenshot of gasoline station status on the Energy Department’s Lantern Live app.
The Energy Department Monday unveiled a mobile application called Lantern Live to show area power outages and to locate open gasoline stations in emergencies as well as alternative fuel locations. Full story
Congress is in full swing to wrap up lame duck priorities and the Senate is expected to vote on a measure to approve the Keystone XL pipeline Tuesday. Here is a schedule of other events on tap. Full story
Verdant Power’s Free Flow Kinetic Hydropower System uses three-bladed, horizontal-axis turbines deployed underwater to generate energy from tidal and river currents. (Verdant Power)
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on a series of bills including measures to expedite exports of liquefied natural gas, reauthorize a marine hydrokinetic program and evaluate the energy-water nexus. Full story