Thursday, April 16, 2009

China & South Africa Sign Pebble Bed Modular Reactor MOU

The Center is delighted that China and South Africa have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop a Pebble Bed Modular [nuclear] Reactor (PBMR). The Center travelled to China to tour the only PBMR in existence in 2007. We support the collaboration and intend to be involved in assuring the success of the partnership. The entire continent of Africa has only one nuclear power plant. PBMR uses helium gas as the coolant, which, along with using hundreds of thousands of tennis ball sized 'pebbles' with uranium pellets at the cores, makes it an entirely new type of nuclear plant.

Center volunteeer/consultant John McCormick spoke at the high temperature reactor (HTR) conference last year where the company PBMR and Tsinghua University started discussions about cooperating. Although South Africa's main utility Eskom has been discussing the construction of a PBMR for years, the Chineses have actually constructed a research reactor about 40 miles from Beijing. The Center also arranged for the lead PBMR physicist from China, Dr. Yujie Dong, to meet with American officials and took him on a tour of the city during his first visit to the United States (See videos).

The Center is in the forefront of promoting PBMR technology and we want the USA to get more involved. Center President Norris McDonald spoke to U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Stephen Chu right after his Senate confirmation hearing, and after other hearings, about PBMR. The Center hopes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will consider PBMR via its International Activities Office, during consideration of climate change solutions. The Center also intends to share our experiences and recommendations with President Barack Obama. (Atomic Insights Blog)

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