Search This Blog

Friday, December 25, 2015

Plutonium 238

Good news!  Oak Ridge National Laboratory has begun manufacturing a new supply of Plutonium 238.

Below, a pellet of Pu-238 glowing orange from internal heating due to alpha decay.
"Plutonium pellet" by Department of Energy (via Wikipedia)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The role of delayed neutrons in controlling a nuclear reactor

It's been a while since I did a nerdy nuke post.  I've had a subject in mind, and been thinking a bit about how to describe some of that nerdy stuff in an understandable way...  I guess it's time to give that a shot.

Today's post is about delayed neutrons, and how they allow a reactor to be operated without power taking off exponentially within microseconds.  I brushed over delayed neutrons in another post, but this will be just a little more in depth discussion of the how and why.

A few thoughts on Energy Independence

Years and years ago, I lived in the Mojave Desert.  I was stuck buying electricity from one of the most expensive utilities in the United States: Southern California Edison.  The only affordable way to cool your house in the summer months was by using an evaporative cooler.  People who cooled with air conditioners were either wealthy or had old homes, built before electrical prices went sky-high.