Robots Used To Help At Fukushima’s Nuclear Plant Are Burning Out

Five years ago an earthquake triggered a 10-meter high Tsunami that crashed into Japan. One of the buildings affected by this wall of water was Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, ultimately resulting in a meltdown that left the area irradiated and costs people their homes and, unfortunately, many lives. In a big to help speed up the clean up process, companies have been looking at using robots to help clean up and clear the areas still too dangerous for humans. Sadly though it would seem that the radiation involved is too strong for even the robots as they seem to keep burning out.

Tepco is the company responsible for decomposing the wasteland that is Fukushima power plant, the company is not having an easy time though with nuclear rods still unaccounted for. After melting through their containment vessels, the numerous fuel rods could be anywhere within the plant and the robots being developed to search for them are having a hard time.

Naohiro Masuda, Tepco’s head of decommissioning, stated that “it takes two years to develop a single-functional robot”. Given that in order to search each building they require a new robot for just that environment, being able to protect their wires from the radiation is causing delays and difficulty in their searches.

China Plans Construction of a Floating Nuclear Plant by 2020

China has announced plans to build a floating nuclear power plant, and wants it to be seaworthy by 2020, according to Shanghai List. The ship, known by the unwieldy moniker ACPR50S, would be a 200MW floating nuclear reactor designed to support expeditions to coastal areas or as an emergency power source in case of a disaster, natural or otherwise.

The initiative is part of China’s 13th five-year-plan, one of many policies designed to develop the country into a true global superpower, and has already been approved by the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission.

The ACPR50S is just one small part of China’s nuclear power strategy, with over one hundred static reactors set for construction across the country over the next ten years, averaging seven new power plants per year at a total cost of around $7 billion (USD). By the end of this cycle, China will be producing 350GW of electricity from nuclear power.

While not the first seabound nuclear reactor – the US Navy has over a hundred nuclear vessels – the ACPR50S is set to be the first used to generate power for the mainland. The Russians, however, may get the jump on China, with its own floating nuclear reactor – the Akademik Lomonosov – currently under construction, and is expected to be completed in 2017.

UK to Build World’s First Negative Emission Power Plant

Drax in North Yorkshire is a giant coal power station. Its 12 cooling towers makes it one of the largest of its kind, and one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gasses, pumping 23 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere while it produces up to one-tenth of the UK’s electrical power. Change is afoot, though, as its owners are planning on scrapping fossil fuels in favour of wood pellets, while also initiating a program to plant CO2-loving trees in the Southern US to replace each one burned, with the eventual aim of absorbing all those harmful emissions. If successful, Drax could become the world’s first negative emission power plant.

“This is a very exciting new technology,” says Dr. Jeremy Tomkinson, CEO of the National Non-Food Crops Centre, said. “It means we can actually reduce the volume of CO2 in the atmosphere.” Tomkinson’s company is helping Drax’s transition into an environmentally friendly operation.

“Since the beginning of July, half of Drax’s electricity has been generated by burning biomass, mostly from pine forests in the American Deep South,” Richard Peberdy, vice-president for sustainability with the Drax Group, said during a tour of those forests in Mississippi. The Drax Group is converting six of its power stations to biomass.

Drax hopes to complete the conversion of its Yorkshire plant by 2020.

Thank you New Scientist for providing us with this information.

Costa Rica Has Been Fully Powered by Renewable Energy for 75 Days Straight

Costa Rica has achieved a major milestone in clean energy, having the country be fully powered by renewable energy for 75 straight days.

“The year 2015 has been one of electricity totally friendly to the environment for Costa Rica,” the state-owned power supplier Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE) said.

The milestone has been achieved with the help of heavy rainfall at four of its hydroelectric power facilities during the first quarter of 2015. What this means is that no fossil fuel was used during the months of January, February and March so far, having the country being powered by hydro power primarily, in conjunction with a mixture of geothermal, wind, biomass and solar energy.

To be noted is that the country is fairly small, having an area of 51,100 square km and a population of around 4.8 million. Another thing to take into account is that the country focuses more on tourism and agriculture, rather than heavy industry such as mining or manufacturing.

Still, Costa Rica has done an excellent job in developing its electricity sector, having the World Economic Forum ranking it as the second in Latin American countries behind only Uruguay with regards to electricity and telecommunications infrastructure.

Back in mid-2014, the Costa Rica government approved a $958 million geothermal energy project, having the first plants expected to generate about 55 MW and cost approximately $333 million to build, while two other are expected to output 50 MW.

Thank you Science Alert for providing us with this information

More Than One Thousand Power Plants Found Compromised by Unknown Cyberattack

Since the major topics nowadays are secret service cyber conspiracies and cyberattacks, the latest news points to another cyberattack aimed at more than one thousand power plants worldwide.

Symantec, a company specialising in software security, has apparently uncovered a malware campaign started by a group called Dragonfly, allowing remote access to computer systems from various power plants. Symantec stated that the group has used the malware only to spy on its victims, though serious damage could have been done as well.

A number of 1,018 organisations across 84 countries are stated to have been infected, spanning from grid operations to gas pipelines. It has later been discovered that Dragonfly’s base servers were based in Eastern Europe, leading to the conclusion that the group is of Russian origin. They reportedly used techniques spanning from garden pushing attacks, to campaigns targeting component manufacturers, allowing infections to take hold in any downstream system.

The comparison made against the infected systems led to the conclusion that the sophisticated Stuxnet virus has been used, something which the US previously used to damage nuclear power plants in Iran back in 2010. Up to this point, the real purpose of this major cyberattack is unclear.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Picture-Newsletter