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So OBP, what do you think of these BWRs?

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  • So OBP, what do you think of these BWRs?

    Tech note: BWRs are boiling water reactors. The reactor generates steam directly which goes into a turbine system to generate electricity. PWRs generate steam indirectly, using superheated water from a primary loop to boil water in a secondary loop in a steam generator, segregating the two water systems. The main difference is that a turbine leak in a BWR releases steam that's been directly irradiated, making it a good deal more nasty.

    Back when I was in, BWRs were the punchline in critiques of the Soviet sub fleet. Just a primary loop? Who cares. Hey, since when did the Russians care about their seamen? Dose 'em up for a couple of years, and recycle, nyet? Extend their tours a bit longer, and you can post 'em in the corridors for emergency lighting.

    But now there's this:

    Power Plants Seek to Extend Life of Nuclear Reactors for Decades
    The prospects for building new nuclear reactors may be sharply limited, but the owners of seven old ones, in Pennsylvania, Virginia and South Carolina, are preparing to ask for permission to run them until they are 80 years old.

    The Viriginia and South Carolina designs are old PWRs, but Pennsylvania ...

    Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station
    Peach Bottom is co-owned by Exelon Generation and Public Service and Gas of New Jersey. Exelon Nuclear operates the two of three units at Peach Bottom that are currently in operation. Both Units 2 and 3 are boiling water reactors each capable of generating 1,140 megawatts (MW) of electricity. These units began commercial operation in 1974.

    The common denominator of every major nuclear incident that's made the press, from TMI to Chernobyl to Fukushima, is an old, unsafe design. Now, granted, I don't know much about civilian reactors, other than the obvious: Rickover would turn over in his grave if anybody suggested relaxing his standards back to those used in the civilian world. And even the SW5s I ran are old news, but they were PWRs, and approved by Hymie himself.

    I don't like the sound of this. Cheaper is no substitute for a better design.

    As ever, Jesse

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