I recently blogged about cutting edge research into stabilizing fusion plasmas being carried out the U.S. Department of Energy Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. It turns out that another project at the PPPL is making news.
Framatome is a French company that manufactures nuclear reactors and nuclear reactor fuel. It was created in 2018 when Areva, another French company, went bankrupt. Seventy five percent is owned by EDF, the French utility company. Twenty percent is owned by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, a Japanese company, and five percent is owned by Assystem, an international engineering services firm.
Most of the nuclear power reactors in the U.S. were built in the 1970s and 1980s. They were licensed for forty years and many have reached that age or will reach it soon. Some operators have applied for permits to operate their reactors for an additional twenty years and most of these applications have been granted. Materials used to build nuclear reactors age and deteriorate over time.
China has a nuclear policy that says that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict with other nations. However, their policy also says that the Chinese nuclear capability must be able to survive a nuclear attack and retaliate against an enemy.
We tend to think of steam powered transportation as an antiquated technology. While we still heat water to steam and generate electricity, we have moved on to liquid fuels, electricity and even compressed air to power our vehicles. However, steam is making a comeback as a propulsion system for spacecraft.