The American Nuclear Society (ANS) — which touts on its website that it is the “premier organization for those that embrace the nuclear sciences and technologies for their vital contributions to improving people’s lives and preserving the planet” — announced last week that they have published nearly 20 educational webinars this year, available for free. Topics include spotlights on national laboratories, panel discussions on microreactors, and the feasibility of small modular reactors, as well as student-oriented topics.
Some of the presentations on the many national labs seem particularly interesting. According to the website, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) laid the foundation for world-leading science in multiple disciplines. Established in 1943, ORNL is now the largest US Department of Energy science and energy laboratory, employing more than 5,200. The lab’s Graphite Reactor is the world’s first continuously operated nuclear reactor and has helped address challenges in nuclear science and technology—from pursuing economical nuclear energy and groundbreaking fusion energy advances to identifying new applications for radioisotopes.
During the webinar recording, the panelists offer insights and highlight how the lab is pursuing the Transformational Challenge Reactor, the world’s first additively manufactured nuclear reactor, as well developing leading modeling and simulation tools, moving reactor technologies forward, discovering new elements, and advancing the long-term vision of viable fusion energy. The Transformational Challenge Reactor is described as a 3 MW high temperature helium-gas cooled reactor with a small AM core of < 0.5 m3 that uses artificial intelligence to navigate an unconstrained design space and realize superior performance, leveraging AM to arrive at high performance materials in complex geometries.
The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) was founded in 1949 as the National Reactor Testing Station (NRTS) and currently considers as its most important research and development initiatives ranging from new demonstration reactors to integrated energy systems to space reactors and what to expect in the future.
The Argonne National Laboratory has been at the forefront of research and innovation. The presentation notes that “Argonne supports key U.S. Department of Energy nuclear energy initiatives, including leading the nation’s program for development and demonstration of fast reactor and fuel recycle technologies that promise to improve the affordability of nuclear power, enhancing the assurance of safety and security and minimizing the quantity of radioactive waste.”
Of course, when you are discussing nuclear energy, you should always remember the need for safety. Radiation is everywhere of course, and there are many different types of natural radiation. However, there are other types of radiation that may be harmful to health so it must be detected and monitored.
There are advanced, integrated radiation detection and radioactivity measurement instruments to mitigate the threat and keep you safe. Radiation detectors, radiation monitoring devices, and radiation measurement instruments provide comprehensive, real-time monitoring, and early warning of any radiation dangers. (Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about radiation detection.)
The purpose of educating communities on radiation detection is to alert first responders, fire, and police departments that nearly every city and region has radiation sources. In addition to these scientific labs, radiation can be found in many industries (like medical facilities, academic buildings, scrap metal yards, etc.) and in thousands of locations across the country, not just in large metropolitan areas and nuclear power plants. The sources, if involved in an accident could produce unwanted exposure. Safety and security personnel should be able to detect, localize, identify, and measure radioactivity in any scenario. And the first step is being knowledgeable enough to know where the radiation concerns could be located and how to monitor them.
Radiation detection and measurement is just another safety precaution that should be taught to all communities.
Post Author: Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane.