• ## Bainite

It's not pearlite or martensite. A blog written by Mathew Peet.

## Economic cost of nuclear power

About 1 year before the Fukushima disaster President Obama announced \$8 bn dollars in loan guarantees to the Southern Company, for the construction of two new nuclear reactor piles at the Vogtle site, each having a capacity of 1117 MW. The expected construction cost of the plants is \$8.87 billion.

The Southern Company provide the following information about costs.

Economic Impacts
* Up to \$14 billion of investment in the state of Georgia
* Approximately 5,000 on-site jobs during the peak of construction
* 800 high-paying jobs for the life of the plant
* Tax dollars to the local communities and the state over the expected 60-year life

The Westinghouse AP1000 is design is based on the AP600, the design is boasted to use existing technology and simplified design to cut down on the number of safety valves, pumps and piping, control cable and ‘seismic building volume’. Two plants of similar design are currently under construction in China, and planned at 6 other sites in the USA.

Of course a full cost would also have to include any price premium or guaranteed market for electricity generated from the plant.

Vogtle site:

Benefits to financing during construction:

* The cost of the plant will be phased-in over 7 years, versus included in rates over only two years. (Approx. 1.3 percent/yr over 7 years for total of 9 percent, versus approximately 12 percent total over two years.)
* Customers will avoid paying \$300 million in interest charges, thereby saving money over the life of the plant.
* The in-service cost of the plant will be reduced by nearly \$2 billion (30 percent).
* Total rate increases required to cover the cost of the plant when it goes into service will be nearly 3 percent lower.
* Preserving utility credit ratings reduces costs for other projects and helps keep customer rates low.

Is this an interesting use of compound interest? if we increase by 1.3% every year we can claim the total increase is 9%. The real increase is (1.013)^7 = 1.0946 = 9.46%. 1.3 x 7 = 9.1 so pretty close between these two numbers. Why would we have to increase tax to 12% over 2 years then. We can only make such large numbers by borrowing all the money to build the plant before we start building which seems a strange way to do business.

It’s also strange that electricity bills have to increase to pay for the nuclear plant to be built when they also use nuclear power, I guess coal power is pretty cheap in comparison.

## 1M Prize for Engineering

Presumably to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee, and to also celebrate engineering, a 1M pound prize has been announced to be given biannually for achievements in engineering.

Lord Browne, Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Prize Foundation, said, ‘Too often the engineers behind the most brilliant innovations remain hidden – The Queen Elizabeth Prize aims to change that. It will celebrate, on an international scale, the very best engineering in the world’.
Candidates from around the world are able to win the prize, which is funded by 11 British and Indian companies, including BP. Organisers hope that the £1m award will come to rival the level of prestige enjoyed by the Nobel Prize.

http://www.iom3.org/news/prime-minister-launches-1m-queen-elizabeth-prize-engineering

This is interesting, but I think to rival the Nobel prize a fund would need to be established where the funding for the prize is completely independent from the sponsoring companies. I also think it is worth pointing out that although the Nobel Prize is given in Physics, Chemistry, Peace, Literature and Physiology or Medicine, it is worth reminding people that is was established by an Engineer.

— update —

The first Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering of 1 Million Pounds was awarded to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Kahn, Vinton Cerf, Louis Pouzin and Marc Andreessen for their pioneering work developing the the internet.

## Fukushima

My thought go out to all those in Japan in the continuing disaster which seems to be going on after the earth quake struck last week.

I didn’t understand what is happening in the plant from the media reports I heard on the radio… but the situation seems to still be developing.

Can anyone explain to me why it is not possible to cool a nuclear power station with a passive system like the ones used to move the water around a central heating system? Is it more expensive or less efficient? Are there cooling systems which don’t rely on water?

The units are all GE designed, reactors 1, 2, and 6 were supplied by General Electric, those for Units 3 and 5 by Toshiba, and Unit 4 by Hitachi.

On 11 March 2011 an earthquake categorised as 9.0 MW on the moment magnitude scale occurred at 14:46 Japan Standard Time (JST) off the northeast coast of Japan. This led to cooling problems in reactors 1, 2 and 3. Over 170,000 people were evacuated after officials voiced the possibility of a meltdown. The external structure of Units 1, 2, and 3 collapsed after hydrogen explosions. The containment building of Unit 1 and 3 remained intact, but Unit 2 was feared damaged. On 15 March 2011, the Unit 4 fuel pond caught fire, increasing radiation levels and prompting more evacuations.

Reactors 1, 2 and 3 have been filled with seawater and are likely to be decommissioned, since it is not cost effective to decontaminate.

## Engineers are Terror-ble?

Engineers are angry – Beware!

Are engineers statistically more likely to be terrorists than other disciplines (or rather terrorists are more likely to be engineers) . If that is explained by greater ability to do something once they decide (they don’t have to learn much new to make a bomb etc.). They have ability to learn how to fly a plane? Or if it can be explained by their disappointment with engineering/science.

As discussed here Slate / Build-a-Bomber and here Fred Borz/ Are engineers more likely to become terrorists a study (reported as an essay in new scientist) found that among muslims, engineers were 3-4 times more likely to become terrorists. Also 60% of `muslim terrorists’ born in the west had engineering backgrounds.

Actually it seems like the disappointment from thwarted expectations is what made these people angry.

Gambetta and Hertog propose that a lack of appropriate jobs in their home countries may have radicalized some engineers in Arab countries. The graduates they studied came of age at a time when a degree from a competitive technical program was supposed to provide a guarantee of high-status employment. But the promises of modernization and development were often stymied by repression and corruption, and many young engineers in the 1980s were left jobless and frustrated.

Regarding American domestic terrorists I am not sure the trend holds true…
The Unabomber is said to be a talented mathematician, more likely to target engineers then be one. Timothy McVeigh left the education system after high school.

## EPSRC make massive investment in scanning transmission electron microscopy?

EPSRC is announcing news of ‘New investment in the next generation of scientists and engineers to boost the UK economy‘.

Forty six outstanding UK researchers have been awarded EPSRC fellowships totaling £38 million to help develop their potential as the next generation of world-leading scientists and engineers.

Announcing the new fellowships at Farnborough International Airshow today Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts said:

“Supporting talented scientists and engineers throughout their careers is crucial to driving the UK’s science base and economy forward. These prestigious fellowships are an important investment for the future, and will help us develop innovative technologies and solutions for the major challenges ahead, and secure our place as global winners.”

But reading the article this morning I was surprised at how focused there research will be. I know STEM is a type of electron microscope…

EPSRC fellowships are designed to help develop future leaders with the STEM skills necessary for the UK to compete on a global stage, generating the knowledge, new ideas and technologies essential to support business, government, and national priorities.

I was surprised we had a demand that could be fulfilled for 46 research fellows all at the same time for this… has there been a breakthrough in STEM technology?

Another theory is that STEM stands for ‘science, technology, engineering and mathematics’.

Are EPSRC more susceptible to use acronyms because they use was for their name and do you have another suggestions for what STEM could stand for here?