Energy of the Future / L’énergie du futur
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Nuclear Propulsion Concept Could Get to Mars in Three Months

Printable version / Version imprimable

EIRNS — The New Atlas website reported Oct. 25 a “new nuclear engine concept” of the nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) type, developed by Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies based in Seattle, “and delivered it to NASA.” New Atlas wrote, “The company claims that this fuel is much more rugged than conventional nuclear fuels and can operate at high temperatures. This produces safer reactor designs and a high thrust and specific impulse that could previously only be obtained with highly-enriched uranium…. It is hoped the new concept could lead to nuclear engines that reduce deep space mission times drastically, with a crewed mission to Mars arriving in as little as three months.” [pbg]

Chinese Nuclear Reactor Type Ready for Commercial Use

EIRNS— Unit 5 at the Fuqing nuclear power plant in China’s Fujian province attained a sustained chain reaction for the first time on Oct. 21, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has announced, reported World Nuclear News on Oct. 22. The unit — the first of two demonstration Hualong One reactors at the site — is scheduled to begin commercial operation by the end of this year, with Unit 6 following by the end of next year. Unit 5 is the world’s first Hualong One reactor, a genuine Chinese development, to be commissioned. Construction of Fuqing Units 5 and 6 began in December 2015.

Construction of two demonstration Hualong One (HPR1000) units is also underway at China General Nuclear’s Fangchenggang plant in the Guangxi Autonomous Region. Those units are expected to start up in 2022. CNNC has also started construction of two Hualong units at the Zhangzhou plant in Fujian province, plus the first of two units at Taipingling in Guangdong.

The reactor type is also being exported: Two HPR1000 units are under construction at Pakistan’s Karachi nuclear power plant. Construction began on Karachi unit 2 in 2015 and unit 3 in 2016; the units are planned to enter commercial operation in 2021 and 2022. [rap]