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Nuclear Breakthrough Paves Way for Unlimited Energy Future

Posted on Friday, February 16, 2024
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by Andrew Shirley
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AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Shirley

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An AI generated photo of a Small Modular Nuclear Reactor.

A British steel company may have just revolutionized the nuclear power industry and could be paving the way for a future of cheap, virtually unlimited energy for the United States – if left-wing activists and bureaucrats will stop standing in the way.

Sheffield Forgemasters, based out of Sheffield, England, recently announced a landmark breakthrough in welding technology that could reduce the time required to produce components for small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) from 150 days to just two hours – drastically lowering costs in the process. Industry experts are hailing the innovation as a significant step toward a future where nuclear power could provide abundant, cheap energy while also reducing the impact on the environment.

The new welding technique is called “electron beam welding” and uses a focused beam of high-energy electrons to weld metals together at the atomic level. Not only are these welds accomplished more quickly, but they are also far more precise than welds accomplished using traditional methods.

This latest breakthrough is nine years in the making, with Sheffield Forgemasters launching a series of projects in 2015 and 2019 to speed up the process for bonding the thick steel components necessary to produce SMRs.

SMRs are a new generation of nuclear reactors designed to be smaller, more flexible, and safer than traditional large-scale nuclear reactors. They were first developed in 2007 and hit the market in 2022.

Unlike traditional reactors, which are typically enormous structures with power outputs ranging from hundreds to thousands of megawatts, SMRs have outputs generally under 300 megawatts. This reduced size allows for easier transport, assembly, and scalability. While traditional reactors must be built on-site, SMRs can be built in factories and transported to their final location, significantly reducing construction time and costs, as well as allowing for incremental deployment to meet varying energy demands.

Another key difference between SMRs and traditional reactors lies in their safety features and design. SMRs incorporate advanced safety systems and passive cooling mechanisms to enhance safety and mitigate the risk of accidents. Additionally, the smaller size of SMRs means that reactor cores are also typically smaller and produce less heat, making them easier to cool in emergency situations.

SMRs are also more flexible and versatile than traditional reactors. They can be deployed in a wider range of locations, including remote or off-grid areas where large-scale reactors may not be feasible. SMRs can also be used for various applications beyond electricity generation, such as district heating, desalination, or other industrial processes.

SMR technology was invented, designed, and patented in the United States. Yet currently, only China and Russia have operational SMRs. Onerous bureaucracy, red tape, and a lack of funding have stifled America’s ability to take advantage of this revolutionary technology. Other countries, primarily in the European Union, are also now developing their own SMRs, although they likely remain years away from going online.

The largest hurdle toward deploying SMRs in America has been liberal legislators and activists. Despite the fact that nuclear power produces energy cleaner, more efficiently, and far more abundantly than wind or solar ever have, left-wing activists and Democrat politicians have long fought to kill the nuclear power industry for the supposed environmental risks it poses.

While high profile disasters like the Three Mile Island accident, the Fukushima meltdown, and Chernobyl have tainted the image of the nuclear industry, data shows that nuclear is by far safer than traditional energy sources such as coal and oil, and also produces less carbon than “renewables” such as wind and solar.

However, the ongoing war in Ukraine may be giving the nuclear industry a new opportunity. Suddenly cut off from supplies of cheap Russian energy, Germany, France, and other Western European nations are being forced to find new sources of electricity. Along with opening shuttered coal plants, many European countries are now investing heavily in nuclear and SMRs in particular.

The energy crisis has also hit the United States, where the Biden administration and Democrat leaders in blue states have waged all-out war on the fossil fuels industry.

Over the objection of climate activists, the U.S. Department of Energy is now reportedly considering a $1.5 billion loan to reopen the closed Palisades nuclear power station in Michigan. If the plan goes through, Palisades would become the first closed power plant to ever reopen in the United States.

In the meantime, new American SMR manufacturers are scrambling to catch up with China and Russia. Major utility provider Duke Energy has announced that it plans to have SMRs online by 2035 – by which time Russia and China will likely have dozens.

While there are certainly legitimate concerns that scaling up nuclear power could cost employees at fossil fuels companies their jobs, nuclear energy still requires significant manpower. Moreover, “Nuclear Power Reactor Operator” is among the highest paying blue collar jobs in America, and many nuclear power jobs are safer than traditional coal or oil jobs.

SMRs – particularly with breakthroughs like Sheffield Forgemasters’ new wielding technology – could redefine America’s energy future. But only if politics and liberal special interests don’t get in the way.

Andrew Shirley is a veteran speechwriter and AMAC Newsline columnist. His commentary can be found on X at @AA_Shirley.

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USN Retired
USN Retired
4 months ago

I’m all for small reactors. Not to mention a common byproduct of reactors is hydrogen gas. We can use that to fuel our transportation needs. Personally I rather see “Molten Salt Reactors” (they don’t melt down) Vs SMR’s. Either way, capitalism (public opinion, need and want) should prevail, not government mandates.

Nick
Nick
4 months ago

Having any energy that is economical and accessible to all is totally against the environmental liberal extremists. This country must be destroyed they will stand in the way of this. They will block anything that is beneficial to mankind. They want to see the destruction of the human race. I don’t know about you but I always change my mind about things when people scream at me or throw tomato soup on artwork. The sign of a stable mind always impresses me

PaulE
PaulE
4 months ago

The writer does his best to discuss an important topic that unfortunately is beyond the typical skills of speechwriter. It would be better to have the company in question have one of its technical writers draft an article on how this new technology can be used to improve the construction process of not only nuclear facilities, but things like submarines that have to withstand immense structural pressures, and as such, require extremely precise and strong welds. Other areas like aerospace would also benefit.

Yes, the new welding technology has many implications, including the area of nuclear power plant construction, whether it be SMRs or conventional nuclear facilities, but it is in itself not what is going to usher in broad adoption of nuclear power in this country. The environmental movement, especially in this country, has stalled nuclear power for decades through endless fear mongering and scare tactics, while France has successfully and safely used nuclear power for electrical generation decades. China is also moving farther and farther ahead of us on the construction and use of several different types of nuclear power options. So yes, while this new welding technology will likely make the construction of any sort of nuclear power plant much better, until we can overcome an environmental movement in this country that ONLY wants inefficient and inconsistent wind and solar, the dream of wide-spread use of SMRs will remain a daydream for most Americans.

anna hubert
anna hubert
4 months ago

That is the only practical way to go Unfortunately reliability and practicality are not on the agenda of the crusaders for the environment for which they do not give a hoot

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
4 months ago

It’ll never fly here: the left will never accept an alternative energy source to useless solar or wind. Unless we hate it,mthen they’ll naturally love it! The left won’t be happy until we’re all driving over-priced electric cars, eat vegetarian, stop having children (or at least change the sex of the ones we have), give up our guns (so the gangstas and latino gangs are the only armed groups), become atheists and accept government as our God.

alpo
alpo
4 months ago

our legislators wont act on this because they get too much money in their pockets by the gas and oil industries. we need to clean house in both houses of the govt. put more educated people in charge who have our(the people) in mind.. we elect them and they should do what we want and not just line their pockets with money, gold, trips and other bribes. too many OLD mindless people in govt. especially the biggest crook of all times BIDEN !!!!!!!!!!!

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
4 months ago

Mass produce
CUT regs to Install
Educate public more
Reverse the 70s anti nuke policies
3D sim models visible for Education
Needed

Mark
Mark
4 months ago

What isn’t mentioned is nuclear waste. Find a solution for handling this problem and then you will have your problems for solving power problems solved. I suggest finding a power producing product that uses nuclear waste and renders it safe waste as a byproduct and all problems will be considered safe. This is the only true solution for all. If we can make safe products into nuclear energy leaving nuclear waste, why can’t we make nuclear waste into safe products again? But for transportation purposes, oil products and fuel needs to be used or the country will come to a stand still. Don’t cut off natural resources, just use the new technology for increasing power needs and the hell with electric cars that have already proven themselves dangerous and unreliable and inefficient and ineffective. They are also very hard on the environment in being produced and the cost of replacing just the battery packs are more expensive than the whole cost of the car. This is supposed to be an acceptable solution? I don’t think so. And it also costs more to charge the batteries than a tank of gas for a conventional car, and takes a lot longer to charge than to fill a tank of gas, and then the range is shorter than the conventional car. Where is the feasibility of going green? Economics isn’t there.

SAW
SAW
4 months ago

“Democrat politicians have long fought to kill the nuclear power industry for the supposed environmental risks it poses.”
In truth, the Democrat politicians are the environmental risks here!!!

Rich
Rich
4 months ago

Electron beam welding is not new. We have been using this technology for decades. As far as nuclear technology is concerned, it is the best option between freezing in the dark (the communist/democrats destroying fossil fuel production) or moving back to the 1900’s with the horse and buggy and wood fired stoves. We have safer technology than ever before to eliminate the possible threat of a run away nuclear accident. The only thing that has to be done now is to change the thinking of the liberal left. That might be the impossible factor in this equation.

sdg
sdg
4 months ago

We need to declare war on liberals, lock them up and ship them to Antarctica. These leftists including there chief Soros are traitors to America and freedoms. They want to make us all slaves to their elitist power and have to be stopped by any means possible.
Its open season on liberal leftists.

Morbious
Morbious
4 months ago

Unfortunately the green movement is resolutely opposed to ANY nuclear power generation. The excuses given are the usual suspects; the supposed disaster at three mile island etc. The real reason is the shocking fact that the environmental movement is anti human. For this reason they will fight even fusion technology. Why? Cheap energy promotes human wellbeing which leads to people reproducing which, they claim, is killing the planet. They believe the earth is over populated right now and only radical declines in populations can save it. Hence the short term goal is twelve dollar gas, 500$ heating bills , no ac and eventually people being herded into soviet style concrete apartments not conducive to having kids.

NeilRK
NeilRK
4 months ago

France has been recycling nuclear waste for decades. Our liberals won’t allow it.

Jimmyde
Jimmyde
4 months ago

Electron Beam welding is not ‘new’, it’s been used the aircraft industry for at least
30 years. Just new for them maybe in this application.

Bob Brown
Bob Brown
3 months ago

I have worked inside WPPS 4, an operating nuclear power plant, located near Richland, WA. This is the safest, best run, operation of its type, in America.

Frank Bellini
Frank Bellini
4 months ago

Massive regulation has traditionally stood in the way of any free market progress for n power.

slot gacor hari ini
slot gacor hari ini
4 months ago

I admire how the article encourages critical thinking and open dialogue.

Frank
Frank
4 months ago

Do you have any specific examples of left wing activists and democratic politicians standing in the way of SMRs? I would think the the concerns we all share – proliferation of plutonium and safe handing of radioactive wastes -would be less with SMRs and would cut across all party lines.

Wayne
Wayne
3 months ago

Don’t give this information to the US. They’ll only weaponize it.

Myrna
Myrna
3 months ago

Andrew meant “welding, not wielding.” but his points are excellent. Prosperity requires power, not from one source but from every reasonable source. If we truly love our neighbors just as we do ourselves, we want honest success.

Frank Bellni
Frank Bellni
4 months ago

Is operation simplified? I assume operators for SMRs need to be NRC licensed- is there a program for creating such licensing training?

Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
4 months ago

Juss waite. The Greenies will be squakin what a boon this will be for electric cars. Kyle L.

A Voter
A Voter
4 months ago

Never happen. Too much money tied up via big oil and sleazy politicians. When restrictions are put in place on oil and gas, who benefits? Big oil for one. Now they have an excuse to produce less (I.E. Reduced overhead) but then turn around and charge more the limited product. (I.E. Supply and demand). And of course the ones who always benefit, the greedy politicians on both sides of the isle.

Chris
Chris
4 months ago

How dare you, making a left versus right issue out of this topic! I am a staunch conservative AND capitalist, but I DON’T WANT SMALLER NUCLEAR POWER sources ANYWHERE NEAR ME! I’d bet my bottom dollar MOST “conservatives” defending small nuclear power generation as desirable are weak kneed twats that lined up with the Covid jabs lemmings! You COWARDS will buy into ANYTHING, if the right person or party is defending it! The beauty of the large scale power plants is that I CAN SEE THE DAMN THINGS and CHOOSE TO AVOID being near them! You start pumping out portable versions and you make available to domestic terrorists, who have the wherewithal to convert the “SAFE” design into a DEVASTATING weapon to take out YOUR CITY, with YOU NOT BEING AWARE of the threat at all! DON’T YOU DARE SUGGEST MY party loyalty, or patriotic DUTY requires me to think as you lemmings, OR buy into your insanity! I’ll take COAL and OIL and NG over nuclear ANY DAY OF THE WEEK! I’m so sick and tired of nuclear proponents PRAISING NUCLEAR production, yet COMPLETELY GLOSS OVER the disposal of the left over nuclear waste! Why? Because no one is dumping THAT HOT SHYTE IN YOUR BACKYARD! You are completely fine with YOUR HOT WASTE being buried in the impactful reach of complete strangers though! As long as YOU don’t have to see it or be reminded of THAT little tidbit! Completely irresponsible twats!

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