It may seem a mere tangle of pipes and instruments to the untrained eye. To nuclear engineer Jose Reyes, it's a sign of a coming nuclear-power plant revival in the United States with electricity produced more safely and for less money than the atomic behemoths built in the 20th century.
This jumble of technology is a one-quarter-scale model of the Westinghouse AP1000 power plant. Reyes heads a team at Oregon State University that built the model to test the AP1000's so-called passive safety systems, under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy and Westinghouse.
"We've conducted 20 tests for the AP1000," said Reyes. "We found the simple passive system could replace entire batteries of pumps that are normally used for cooling of the nuclear core."
This kind of safety system, Reyes said, would make nuclear leaks far less likely, and virtually eliminate the threat of a meltdown of the nuclear core.
China seen driving global nuclear power industry growth - Merrill Lynch
According to the China's People's Daily, the National Development and Reform Commission announced plans in 2004 to increase installed nuclear capacity to 36 mln-kilowatts by 2020, and is contemplating adding two or more reactors every year for the next 16 years.
'Despite this, there remains considerable uncertainty about the scale of future nuclear generation, and this is reflected in the relatively wide variation between different demand scenarios by the World Nuclear Association (WNA),' the note said.
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