FIRST REACTORS TO BE BUILT IN 30 YEARS MAY BE AMONG THE NATION’S LAST
A $6.5 billion-dollar loan from the U.S. Department of Energy will go toward the construction of two additional reactors at the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Waynesboro, Ga., the first reactors to be built in the U.S. in almost 30 years.
The Energy Department loan guarantee program, established in 2005, made $17.5 billion in loans available for commercial use in advanced power technology and was seen as the beginning of a nuclear power comeback in the states, according to The New York Times.
But power competitors, such as natural gas and renewable energy, have devalued nuclear power.
The risks made visible by incidents like the ongoing issues with the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan have also deterred proposals for new construction. That meltdown created massive amounts of radioactive water that will take several years to contain and clear out, according to the World Nuclear Association.
“This is probably closing the chapter on the story that started back in 2005. It’s more or less the end, rather than the beginning,” Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C., told Nature magazine.
Only a handful of nuclear projects have applied for the guaranteed loan program with the Department of Energy.
FUEL MADE FROM PLASTIC BAGS CAN POWER A DIESEL
Plastic bags, known for polluting landscapes and killing sea life, can be converted into useable diesel fuel, according to a new study.
Researchers from the National Center for Agricultural Utilization and the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center at the University of Illinois used a process called pyrolysis, in which the bags are heated in an oxygen-free chamber to extract 80 percent of the fuel available in the bags, which are made from petroleum. This is 30 percent more than what can be extracted from petroleum crude oil.
The ability to convert plastic bags into fuel may reduce the environmental impact produced by the 1 trillion bags produced each year in the U.S.
Un-recycled bags end up in landfills, where they can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Many of these bags don’t make that journey and end up blowing into streets, rivers and oceans, where they can kill sea life, study authors say.
The research team, led by Brajendra Kumar Sharma, divided the fuel extracted from the plastic bags into different petroleum products, making it easier to test which of the products would work with national standards for ultra-low-sulfur diesel and biodiesel fuels. The research team found that a mixture of two of the divided petroleum products provided a fuel equal to diesel fuel standards.