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Nuclear Reactors As Art

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the springfield-diagrammed dept.

Power 118

Hemos recommends the coverage over at Wired of a project to digitize nuclear reactor art. "Not all nuclear reactors are built alike. Power plant designs can vary in their fuels, coolants, and configurations, a fact beautifully illustrated by a series of reactor wall charts originally published in issues of Nuclear Engineering International during the 1970s and 1980s. Since then, the charts have been lovingly collected by Ronald Knief, a nuclear engineer at Sandia National Laboratory. Recently, he completed his collection... and began to digitize the drawings. The first eight out of more than 100 have now been permanently archived online... 'This is not a CAD/CAM-type thing,' Knief said. 'This really is art.'"

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118 comments

Oblig Simpson's ref (4, Interesting)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30531840)

I like "Smilin' Joe Fission" - now that's art!

Re:Oblig Simpson's ref (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30532082)

I like "Smilin' Joe Fission" - now that's art!

I am happy that this guy has the capacity to recognize that these blueprints are art. There's a lot of potential in these diagrams. Hopefully this site will be in a constant state of flux, with him adding new pieces of artwork. Even though it would be easy to get grounded by the mundane details of a nuke reactor, I still think that the majority of these diagrams are shockingly interesting.

Re:Oblig Simpson's ref (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532456)

I was second post, how the fuck can it be redundant...

Re:Oblig Simpson's ref (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30532736)

Yeah. I'm moderating and I agree - both posts were on topic/funny and I gave an underrated to FP. Some of these moderators must be new here.....

Re:Oblig Simpson's ref (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533626)

You referenced Smilin' Joe Fission from the Simpsons but not the episode where Homer designs a nuclear power plant for a children's contest?

It had race stripes and wings I believe. It won first prize! He showed those kids who's boss!

Expensive (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534480)

This is why Nuke plants are so expensive. Each plant is a one off.

Better to have one, or just a few designs, approved and immunized against lawsuits challenging their safety. Components could then be manufactured in factories, providing better quality control and reduced costs.

They could even save costs on the posters!

Re:Expensive (1)

Manfred Maccx (1365933) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534822)

Wasn't it the case with the canadian Candu reactor? I was under the impression that they were fairly standard, especially in Ontario. (I'm sure that the main objective was to save on the posters :) )

Re:Expensive (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535414)

Well the rate of construction was always pretty low and they where still trying out new ideas all the time. Even conventional plants tended to be one offs at that time.
You are right though when the number of reactors built is high. The Navy did exactly that with subs.
All of the Skipjack, Permit, Sturgeon, George Washington, Ethan Allen, and Lafayette class subs use the same reactor design. There was a a few one offs in that time to try new ideas but the vast majority where standardized reactors. The Navy then went with two reactors one for attack subs and a different one for SSBNs.
I will make on correction to your statment. that is why Nuke Plants where so expensive. The new nuke plants are being planed to use a standardized family for reactors.

Re:Expensive (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535640)

Now there is an idea: Just use the existing naval designs.

They are compact and have an excellent saftey record, and could be clustered (probably) for greater generation power.

Re:Expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30535608)

This isn't true. There are many sister plants around the country and the initial designs were almost identical. What caused the price to explode were the seismic rating of the safety structures and changes in safety requirements that occurred when many plants were being built. One example is fire separation: older plants were grandfathered in if they could show that they could implement improved fire separation requirements--new ones weren't. So a requirement of keeping safety related trains (this could be piping, switchgear, electronics, etc.) separate from each other required extensive design modifications of these seismically rated buildings and of the safety systems. Other requirements, such as high energy line breaks and flooding, also required changes. There were also a lot of changes that occurred after TMI. Plants were required to prove protection for a much wider variety of casualties and to a much greater extent (and with accident rated instrumentation, some of which was new). This required a redesign of many safety systems, tons of electrical switchgear work, and millions of engineer man-hours of evaluation. These requirements continue to increase as industry experience gives guidance: for example, after the Davis-Bessie head corrosion incident, reactor vessel head inspection requirements have become so burdensome that many plants are simply buying new heads.

This, of course, doesn't describe location specific requirements, which can add to the cost. Each plant started out the same in initial design, but each company operating the plants decided on how to meet the increased safety standards, sometimes with help from the reactor vendor that could apply to sister plants, and sometimes not.

If new 3rd generation plants are built, they are going to have some of the same issues. Their safety systems are more robust as designed, so the impact will be less, but it will still cause issues. The first AP1000 will have one design and the 14th will have another. And the plant operators will determine how to meet any changes. Unlike other nuclear plants, though, the 3rd generation plants were designed to be built with this in mind. So the x2 or x3 cost estimate scenarios are probably unlikely.

More art in science posters (2, Informative)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30531858)

For you electronics geeks out there who are into this kind of thing and want some cool posters to decorate your thinking space, There's this, [synthesysresearch.com] this, [synthesysresearch.com], and this [synthesysresearch.com] which are all made by Synthesys Reasearch. They will send you a poster for free if you ask.

Chicken Little (3, Funny)

Ceiynt (993620) | more than 4 years ago | (#30531904)

Oh no, he's helping the terrorists by showing them what a reactor looks like and how it works. The Iranian people can use that to build 100billion teratons of nukes to kill stuff. Hang him.

Re:Chicken Little (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30531926)

Oh no, he's helping the terrorists by showing them what a reactor looks like and how it works. The Iranian people can use that to build 100billion teratons of nukes to kill stuff. Hang him.

Unless he's already well hung. Terrorists like that.

Re:Chicken Little (2, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532066)

Oh no, he's helping the terrorists by showing them what a reactor looks like and how it works. The Iranian people can use that to build 100billion teratons of nukes to kill stuff. Hang him.

*blinks* You can't use a nuclear reactor to build a conventional nuclear device -- the best you'll get is a dirty bomb. You can use a breeder reactor to create fissionable material, but breeder reactors are also useful because they can take many different kinds of fuel and produce power from it, whereas conventional reactors can only use fissile uranium and it degrades to useless and highly toxic byproducts relatively quickly. Anyone who studies physics and engineering could build most any reactor design. The math and engineering is well-understood and not technically challenging for a well-funded organization.

It requires exceptionally precise and expensive equipment and a lot of technical know-how to develop several key components to creating a conventional nuclear device. Specifically, the critical function is how to model the compression shock wave in the fissile material that begins the chain reaction. If this is not perfectly timed, it's a dud. There is little danger of a country that uses nuclear reactors suddenly leap-frogging to that technology. As well, there are many ways of detecting such research and the US and its allies are constantly conducting surveillance to identify and confirm those factors. That said, such surveillance resources have diminished since the cold war ended.

The biggest risk is a rogue nation acquiring detailed schematics on how to build a warhead from a country that already possesses the technology. This would allow them to bypass the development and testing stages and move directly to production, which is much more difficult to prevent and many aspects of the production process can be accomplished covertly. Right now, Russia and former USSR member-states are the only plausible sources for this scenario being realized.

Iran and most of the middle-east, for all its bravado and sabre-rattling lacks the infrastructure to make a serious attempt at nuclear weapons research. North Korea and India, on the other hand, are another can of worms entirely. India has the raw resources, but it's unlikely for cultural and economic reasons that they will develop a nuclear weapons program in the immediate future. North Korea, however lacks those inhibitions and there's been a lot of evidence they have an active weapons program -- and ties to Russia.

Re:Chicken Little (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30532250)

You know that India has had nuclear weapons for many years already?

Re:Chicken Little (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533208)

Many decades in fact.

Re:Chicken Little (5, Informative)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532316)

The biggest risk is a rogue nation acquiring detailed schematics on how to build a warhead from a country that already possesses the technology... Right now, Russia and former USSR member-states are the only plausible sources for this scenario being realized.

Err... have you forgotten about Pakistan? They've got nukes already, and would be far more like to be unstable and also inclined to share with the "rogue states". And if you do some research, you'll find that they were allegedly helped to that point by China (for more details see the background on A.Q. Khan of Pakistan [wikipedia.org]), which might indicate that the threat is not so much from Russia but from China.

India has the raw resources, it's unlikely for cultural and economic reasons that they will develop a nuclear weapons program in the immediate future.

... errrrrr I think you need to do your research again: India's already got a nuclear weapons program. [wikipedia.org]. India's had a nuclear program since 1974. Indeed, it's in reaction too India's nuclear program that Pakistan did whatever it could to develop its own nuclear arsenal, as detailed in the link above.

In fact just make sure you take a look at which countries have nukes [wikipedia.org] before you comment on this again.

Re:Chicken Little (0, Flamebait)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532486)

In fact just make sure you take a look at which countries have nukes before you comment on this again.

There are a lot of ways to correct factual errors that don't involve telling the other person to shut up. Your post had a lot of excellent points, but then you crapped all over it with an ad homid attack. Also -- wikipedia? Seriously?

First, Pakistan didn't develop the technology -- they bought or stole it, which is exactly the scenario I put forward as most likely to occur. Here's an official congressional report [slashdot.org] [PDF] on the issue, instead of a wiki link. Lastly, the Pakistan issue is twenty years old now. While they're not exactly what would be called an island of stability -- if they were going to do something stupid they'd have done it by now. China isn't "for hire" by terrorists -- Their interest in Pakistan is as a strategic hedge against India.

So no... Pakistan is being watched, but it's not high on the list.

Re:Chicken Little (4, Informative)

jericho4.0 (565125) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532690)

There are a lot of ways to make your point on the internet, and one of them is to not talk about shit you don't know. It's Ad hominem [wikipedia.org]. And yes,seriously, that's a wiki link. If you would deign to look at it you might learn something, like the fact that dakameleon didn't commit an ad hominem. Saying India won't develop nuclear weapons when they already have makes you look like an idiot, and I thought dakameleon let you off lightly.

Re:Chicken Little (1)

Kagura (843695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533244)

Agree, and raise you one... North Korea developed a nuke program, but Iran is uncapable of doing so? North Korea has been stuck in the 1970s for years, with an economy that can't even grow enough food to feed it's population (well, now that millions have died off, maybe it can support the new, smaller population). Iran is far better off than North Korea, and likely has North Korea's help (just like Syria did).

Re:Chicken Little (1)

wmac (1107843) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533430)

Correct. A few years ago everyone was saying N.Korea is ahead of Iran in missile technology. 8 months ago Iran put their first locally built small satellite into orbit with their locally developed 2 stage rocket (9th or 10th country to do so, and the fact that it is 2 stage means it is considerably powerful and they can still enhance it by adding a 3rd stage). 2 months after that N.Korea tried to do the same with their 3 stage rocket but failed.

Now can you tell which country is helping the other?

Iran has designed 2 reactors and owns almost full fuel cycle. The first locally designed (of course by benefiting from other designs) is a 50MW heavy water reactor and the other is a 250MW power generating reactor.

Re:Chicken Little (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532740)

"...you crapped all over it with an ad homid attack. Also -- wikipedia? Seriously?"

Yeah, seriously. If you can point out where the WP entry is factually incorrect you may have a point otherwise dissmissing something because it comes from WP is simply intellectual snobbery. The GP was correct and rather than a pedantic reply about the word "develop" you could do your homework before posting crap and/or grow some balls* and admit you were wrong.

And if you think either the GP's or my advice is an ad-hom then you should back away from the keyboard now becuse the internet is chock full of genuinely offensive insults.

Balls* - yes I realise you have a feminine tag.

Re:Chicken Little (3, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532852)

*blinks* You can't use a nuclear reactor to build a conventional nuclear device

Sorry to point this out, but you can and it has been done several times. Small nuclear reactors are a useful addition to a nuclear weapons program. Egypt and Indonesia are two nations to ask about that with their "civilian" reactors that produce very little power.

Re:Chicken Little (0, Offtopic)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534630)

There are a lot of ways to correct factual errors that don't involve telling the other person to shut up.

You made a comment which was entirely composed of factual errors on slashdot, and now you're upset that people are picking it apart and suggesting that you shut your piehole until something useful might come out of it? You must be new here.

Your post had a lot of excellent points, but then you crapped all over it with an ad homid attack.

Holy shit, werewolf attack [wikia.com]! I wouldn't stand for that either.

Your comment is amateurish at best, and your followup whinge is pathetic. But if you're a whiner in training, I guess it works. Next time, take a deep breath and count to ten before you reply. If "it's just not worth it", don't click submit. You may, however, find it cleansing to write the comments even when you don't submit them; I know I do. It's what you do afterwards that counts; I suggest ^W

Re:Chicken Little (0, Offtopic)

virg_mattes (230616) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535108)

In fact just make sure you take a look at which countries have nukes before you comment on this again.

There are a lot of ways to correct factual errors that don't involve telling the other person to shut up.

He didn't tell you to shut up, he told you to do your research before you comment.

Your post had a lot of excellent points, but then you crapped all over it with an ad homid attack.

This isn't an ad hominem attack. Attacking your argument on the basis that it's factually incorrect isn't personal. It's not like he called you a hypersensitive, touchy bitch and then used that to deride your argument.

Also -- wikipedia? Seriously?

It's not really hard to back up the info found there on this subject, and it's a convenient first line for the information.

Virg

Re:Chicken Little (5, Informative)

TiberSeptm (889423) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532952)

*blinks* You can't use a nuclear reactor to build a conventional nuclear device -- the best you'll get is a dirty bomb. You can use a breeder reactor to create fissionable material, but breeder reactors are also useful because they can take many different kinds of fuel and produce power from it, whereas conventional reactors can only use fissile uranium and it degrades to useless and highly toxic byproducts relatively quickly.

*blinks* Oh how you would have failed my fuel cycles class. Plutonium is present in spent fuel from even non-breeder reactors. Though it only represents 1% or so of the spent fuel, there are some potential advantages to using plutonium from spent fuel over highly enriched uranium. Plutonium can be extracted chemically from spent fuel while U235 can not be separated from U238 without enrichment facilities. The process of chemically removing the plutonium requires much less infustructure than enrichment of uranium. That being said, the byproducts are much more of a nuisance. Still, if a country wanted to claim to be using nuclear technology for power while steadily stockpiling weapons grade material, a power reactor and PUREX-like (Plutonium - URanium EXtraction ) reprocessing system would be one way to do it. That is why there have always been such large concerns over PUREX reprocessing.

One type of power reactor could be of particular interest to countries wishing to produce weapons grade material without performan ANY enrichment. Those are natural-uranium reactors which burn un-enriched uranium as their fuel. They require moderation by heavy water though, which tends to offset some of the cost benefits of not requiring enriched material. Still, being able to use only mechanical and chemical processing of uranium ore and leaving out the whole enrichment step does have its advantage. That is probably why India produced its plutonium through chemically reprocessed spent-fuel from a natural uranium reactor (CIRUS). That's also probably why Iran built a heavy water plant near Arak and is currently building a 40MW light-water moderated reactor as well. This is not a power reactor of course but is not particularly special. The reason a reactor like this would be used instead of a larger scale power reactor is because it is much cheaper if you leave off all those multi-million dollar power side components like tubrines and don't have to scale the system up to something that can light a city. To argue that "conventional" reactors can not be used to produce weapons grade fuel is incorrect. While most reactors used to do so are not power reactors, they are also not particularly unconventional in any way that makes them more difficult to build. In fact, they can be built much more cheaply than a power reactor and with a much smaller footprint.

requires exceptionally precise and expensive equipment and a lot of technical know-how to develop several key components to creating a conventional nuclear device.

This part is true enough for some of the more efficient bomb designs like those that evolved from "Fat Man." While one can use a technically simple gun-type bomb with highly-enriched uranium, this is not practical for a plutonium bomb. If a country wants to use plutonium from spent fuel then they must decide between a more technically challenging design with higher efficiency or a simple but low efficiency device like a two-point linear implosion bomb. The latter is not particularly appealing for a large scale and long term weapons program due to the relatively low yield, but has been considered a potential "suite-case nuke" design since it can be built to an extremely small diameter That definately doesn't sound like a design someone worried about terrorism would be concerned with, right?

India has the raw resources, but it's unlikely for cultural and economic reasons that they will develop a nuclear weapons program in the immediate future.

I think the main reason they are unlikely to develop a nuclear weapons program in the near future is that they had already conducted one test in 1974 and 5 more in 1998. They already have a nuclear weapons program, the nuclear infrastructure to produce the refined materials for them, and have built and tested nuclear weapons. They have, however, declared a moratorium on further testing.

Iran and most of the middle-east, for all its bravado and sabre-rattling lacks the infrastructure to make a serious attempt at nuclear weapons research.

A large scale heavy water plant and a 40MW research reactor sound like the infrastructure required to make a serious attempt. India was able to produce its initial plutonium stockpiles and conduct its 1974 "Smiling Buddha" nuclear test using the material output from its... 40MW research reactor and heavy water production facilities.

Re:Chicken Little (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534278)

To argue that "conventional" reactors can not be used to produce weapons grade fuel is incorrect. While most reactors used to do so are not power reactors, they are also not particularly unconventional in any way that makes them more difficult to build.

But, they are unconventional in their design compared to a classic electrical generation PWR/BWR, so "art" made using a PWR is pretty useless for designing a Pu production reactor.

Since you're not going all Rankine cycle on it, delta-temperature thru the reactor is irrelevant, may as well make it as low as possible since you're limited by pellet core and surface temps, so keeping the top and bottom at about the same temp means you can run the overall core at the highest level (a high delta-T would mean you'd have to run, overall, at a lower power level or the rods would melt at the hot end even if "on average" the rods are well below their limits).

Also a Pu reactor needs to be built for nearly continuous servicing... the Pu-240 ratio gets all icky if you leave Pu-239 sitting in there too long. This is fairly public knowledge now... Even wikipedia mentions it. Back during WWII they screwed around for two years before giving up after realizing that reactor generated Pu is no walk in the park for a simple U style gun design.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutonium#Production_during_the_Manhattan_Project [wikipedia.org]

Finally there is a desire to run the Pu reactor at a low power density, so the substances at reprocessing time are less icky and there is less post-run cooldown time required before reprocessing. If you get the power density low enough, you don't even need a decay heat cool down interval before reprocessing. And its no major problem, since you're not running at high pressure for steam production so the reactor wall thickness is no issue. And you're under no illusions that a Pu generator is going to "make money" so you don't have to minimize reactor wall thickness to save money anyway.

So, compared to an electrical generation reactor, a Pu reactor is going to have freaking huge coolant pumps, is going to be built for servicing/fuel cycling to the detriment of fluid dynamics, is going to be huge or at least have a really low power density, and frankly will probably not cut any corners on optimized minimum wall thickness etc because there is no illusion that its going to generate profitable electricity. So, a pix of a PWR is fairly useless to help design a Pu generator.

Not to say you can't produce SOME bomb grade Pu from a perfectly innocent electrical generation plant, but a real engineer would not do it.

Re:Chicken Little (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534498)

Not to say you can't produce SOME bomb grade Pu from a perfectly innocent electrical generation plant, but a real engineer would not do it.

If you only need a small amount for a small bomb, arguably more useful for an act of terrorism anyway, then that seems like an ideal cover, because others will have your same reasoning. If the reactor obviously won't be useful for power generation, what's left?

Re:Chicken Little (2, Informative)

bertok (226922) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533228)

The math and engineering is well-understood and not technically challenging for a well-funded organization.

It requires exceptionally precise and expensive equipment and a lot of technical know-how to develop several key components to creating a conventional nuclear device. Specifically, the critical function is how to model the compression shock wave in the fissile material that begins the chain reaction.

You're forgetting about "gun type" bombs, which are basically a sawn-off naval cannon, and are so trivial to build that the Americans didn't even bother testing the design before dropping it on Japan.

They were easy to build in the forties, and the only reason they aren't used now is because they're inefficient and too heavy for most launch vehicles.

A rogue state that just wants to build a "few" nukes could easily make these. As long as the intended use was terrorism, and not strategic ICBM warfare, then the weight is not an issue. Several analysts have pointed out that one could simply ship such a weapon to any major city in a standard shipping container, and it's unlikely to be detected, as the gamma radiation scanning devices installed in US ports are trivially defeated by several types of shielding, including the natural Uranium casing used for most gun type bombs!

Just about the only 'hard' part is the purification of Uranium, but even that's getting progressively easier as new techniques are discovered and related industries bring costs down by using the same underlying technologies at a large scale.

Re:Chicken Little (-1, Troll)

wmac (1107843) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533462)

What is a "rogue state" and what is its difference with US?

I guess a rouge state is a country which has not started/participated in about 50 wars in recent history and has not been able to kill millions of people. And for sure they have not used atomic bombs on people (because only a non-rouge!! state has done it).

Re:Chicken Little (1)

wmac (1107843) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533404)

You know everyone would say Iran is not able to put a satellite into orbit and they did it 8 months ago. Before that everyone would say N.Korea provides the technology to Iran. N.Korea tried to put its satellite into orbit 3 months after Iran and they failed.

They have already designed two reactors and one of them is being completed (50MW) in 2 years. The other 250MW reactor's design has been completed and designs are approved by a company in Switzerland.

Iran currently has 3 million university students (you may be able to calculate how many graduates are already out) of which 60% are women. In some countries in middle east women do not even go to university. You can easily observe the difference in the case of Iran.

Besides you lack to mention India and N.Korea have already built and tested their nuclear bombs. India has done it decades ago and they even have very small battle field nukes.

Re:Chicken Little (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533660)

> You can't use a nuclear reactor to build a conventional nuclear device -- the best you'll get is a dirty bomb.

As a matter of fact, you can.

http://www.fas.org/rlg/980826-pu.htm [fas.org]

There has been at least one successful US weapons test that used reactor plutonium, precisely to clarify that question, in 1962, in Nevada, underground, with a yield 20 kT.

Re:Chicken Little (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533866)

Thanks for the post from 1999, but could you please file it back pre India and Pakistan having tested nukes.

Re:Chicken Little (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533946)

The biggest risk is a rogue nation acquiring detailed schematics on how to build a warhead from a country that already possesses the technology. This would allow them to bypass the development and testing stages and move directly to production, which is much more difficult to prevent and many aspects of the production process can be accomplished covertly. Right now, Russia and former USSR member-states are the only plausible sources for this scenario being realized.

So Pakistan is not plausible source. Right. A.Q.Khan, is that you?

Re:Chicken Little (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30534186)

"India has the raw resources, but it's unlikely for cultural and economic reasons that they will develop a nuclear weapons program in the immediate future."

Um.... are you sure about that [wikipedia.org]?

"North Korea, however lacks those inhibitions and there's been a lot of evidence they have an active weapons program -- and ties to Russia."

What, did you step out of a time machine or something [wikipedia.org]?

Re:Chicken Little (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30534236)

"*blinks* You can't use a nuclear reactor to build a conventional nuclear device -- the best you'll get is a dirty bomb."

This has empirically been shown to be wrong [wikipedia.org]. Canada and the U.S. were rather miffed, given that the original agreement specifically said India was not supposed to use that reactor for weapons research or development. It was used by India generate the weapons-grade plutonium used in their first test in 1974, and in subsequent tests.

If you mean that you can't used a conventional commercial power generation reactor to produce weapons, you might be right because of the way that most of them are designed and the type of fuel and refueling cycle they use. But I wouldn't discount the possibility, especially if the design and fuel load were tweaked so that it was suitable (allowing rapid fuel swapping is the main issue to get the right mix of plutonium isotopes in the result). Furthermore, in the case of Iran, coincidentally they are building a heavy-water "research" reactor that could be employed in almost the same way as the infamous CIRUS reactor used by India. If safeguards and inspections were not in place to make sure it wasn't used that way, they could follow practically the same route.

Re:Chicken Little (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534256)

Oh no, he's helping the terrorists by showing them what a reactor looks like and how it works. The Iranian people can use that to build 100billion teratons of nukes to kill stuff. Hang him.

*blinks* You can't use a nuclear reactor to build a conventional nuclear device -- the best you'll get is a dirty bomb.

Somebody missed the tag.

As a side note, I remember those drawings well; they really were a work of art. Technical illustration is a very under appreciated art form. I had a friend who did that; he also was a scale model rocket builder par excellance.

Another art form was the scale models built for checking piping routing - miniature models of the entire plant. We had one in the visitor's center.

Re:Chicken Little (1)

NouberNou (1105915) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534300)

You also realize the evidence of an active weapons program in North Korea is two nuclear tests in the last 3 year? This has to be one of the most uninformed posts I have ever read.

Re:Chicken Little (1)

jackbird (721605) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535284)

Sure, for an implosion bomb with a higher yield. However, a gun-type fission bomb isn't the least bit complicated. The US didn't even test the design for the Hiroshima bomb - The implosion bomb design (the type dropped on Nagasaki)was the one used for the Trinity test.

Re:Chicken Little (0, Flamebait)

wmac (1107843) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533768)

Terrorists don't build reactors!

Iranians are a nation and they are not terrorists because another nation(s) claim so.

If by terrorist you mean people (countries) which kill other people (from their own or other countries) for unjust reasons, then you can list more eligible countries.

Iran has never started a war in last 150 years.

Another country has started/participated in more than 50 wars and has killed millions (including those killed by atomic bombs!).

What about graphite modulated reactors? (1)

FlyingHuck (1135427) | more than 4 years ago | (#30531956)

I wonder if he has a diagram of our favorite graphite-modulated open-roof model reactor. Oh wait... the open roof now has a concrete sarcophagus over it. My bad.

Re:What about graphite modulated reactors? (1)

_merlin (160982) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532050)

You're not serious, but I'll answer anyway. Although he may have one for the RBMK [wikipedia.org], you it isn't one of the eight in that Wired pictorial.

Fulton HTGR plant (1)

calidoscope (312571) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533028)

The Fulton plant shows two HTGR's. Alas HTGR construction ended with the Ft St Vrain plant in Colorado, so the Fulton plant was not built.

Thank you! (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533222)

Thank you very much. Resized JPegs of schematics where you can't read the print are just irritating. What you provided was much better than the Wired article.

Re:Links to all drawings (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533326)

I had to have these for my background rotation, in case anyone else wants them too here are the JPGs from those PDFs:

http://kestas.kuliukas.com/NuclearReactors-Scaled.zip [kuliukas.com] - Scaled to a little larger than desktop size, 90% quality (artifacts not noticeable) 6mb
http://kestas.kuliukas.com/NuclearReactors-Full.zip [kuliukas.com] - Full size 100% quality 55mb (will take ~30 minutes)

Re:Links to all drawings (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533378)

Also does anyone know the copyright on these images? I'd like to upload them to the Wikipedia articles associated with each of these reactors, but they'd want copyright info naturally

Re:Links to all drawings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30534686)

here is how they all look after fission completes:
http://cdn-write.demandstudios.com/upload//5000/100/50/4/15154.jpg

Ah, nostalgia (1)

a0schweitzer (1702404) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532046)

If you consider this art, chances are you were the kid that always got the cross-section books from the library in elementary school too. Good times indeed...

anonymous coward (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30532084)

Great - what moron would post a complete guide for terrorists to use as a guide showing the innards of such critical systems?.... who cares about the "Artistic" value? Surely this can't be the only reason why one would be stupid enough to post this.

Everything I see... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30532094)

reminds me of her.

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/17343737

Reactor Porn (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30532122)

Hard-core. Lead-lined.

Guangdong plant (3, Interesting)

xenophrak (457095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532144)

Is anyone else a bit frightened that the Guangdong plant picture shows what looks to be simple trusses and corrugated aluminum siding over the turbine section, where others use poured concrete and I-beams?

Did they skimp on anything else, I wonder?

Re:Guangdong plant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30532618)

Nobody uses concrete over a turbine hall since it wouldn't be seismically rated. You would use seismically rated reinforced concrete with your containment, auxiliary building, and safety related equipment (such as some electrical switchgear, emergency diesels, emergency feedwater, water supply to emergency feedwater pumps and cold shutdown decay heat removal equipment, vital air compressors, the control room, etc.). Since your turbines aren't required for reactor safety, placing them in a seismically rated building would be a huge expense. The turbines and electrical generation equipment are really an optional part of a nuclear plant (if you choose and are given permission to make electricity with it). They aren't required for reactor safety.

Re:Guangdong plant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30532628)

It doesn't matter what covers the turbines. They're on the low-pressure, non-radioactive side of a heat exchanger. Nothing really dangerous happens there.

Re:Guangdong plant (2, Informative)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532878)

Not really. You just need to keep the rain out as in the turbine hall of a coal fired power station.
By the time you get that far it's just normal steam. The worst that can happen if a turbine loses a blade is dead people that happened to be close to it and a very big expensive hole in the ground.

Re:Guangdong plant (2, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533012)

Is anyone else a bit frightened that the Guangdong plant picture shows what looks to be simple trusses and corrugated aluminum siding over the turbine section, where others use poured concrete and I-beams?

Given that the others mostly use simple trusses or lightweight I-beams, I don't see what there is to be frightened about. Doubly so since you don't need anything more than light construction over the turbine hall.

Re:Guangdong plant (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534270)

Is anyone else a bit frightened that the Guangdong plant picture shows what looks to be simple trusses and corrugated aluminum siding over the turbine section, where others use poured concrete and I-beams?

Did they skimp on anything else, I wonder?

Uh, San Onofree has an open air turbine. Gives a beautiful view of the Pacific just north of San Diego.

Boiling-Water Reactors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30532212)

FTA: "Boiling-water reactors are a common form of American reactor."

The hell? As a more dangerous form of reactor, I'm pretty sure they're uncommon in America. I believe having two closed loops of high-pressure water that never boils is the norm.

Re:Boiling-Water Reactors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30532512)

There are different phases of boiling.
Nucleate boiling water removes more heat from the core than non boiling water. Once you have a departure from nucleate boiling, the heat transfer rate drops significantly, AKA critical heat flux.
http://www.tpub.com/content/doe/h1012v2/css/h1012v2_64.htm [tpub.com]

A reactor design that includes nucleate boiling is also considered a "boiling water reactor".

Re:Boiling-Water Reactors? (2, Interesting)

TiberSeptm (889423) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533102)

While nucleate boiling does occur in pressurized water reactors, they are referred to as "Pressurized Water Reactors" or PWRs while reactors that employ lower pressure single coolant loops where steam is generated directly from the bulk-boiling of the coolant are referred to as "Boiling Water Reactors" or BWRs. While this might not seem to be a clear separation, among nuclear engineers it is almost universally understood what one means by BWR as opposed to a PWR. A nuclear engineer, nor most people even remotely associated with nuclear power and reactors, would refer to a PWR as a "boiling water reactor" as that would give the impression that they were talking about a very different reactor design and probably make them look foolish. Still, we tend to do it accidentally from time to time.

Also, departure from nucleate boiling is a term that is mostly referred to with regards to PWRs as opposed to BWRs. In a BWR, normal operation requires you move well past nucleate boiling. If you did not then the you would run into a lot of problems. Since the steam that is meant to pass through the turbines is that which is generated by boiling the water flowing through the reactor, you are going to have difficulty producing sufficient steam volume with only nucleate boiling. You also want to get a much higher exit quality (percent steam) in your center channel than you could through nucleate boiling. These two things are important to produce power efficiently and to protect the steam turbines. While steam dryers and separators can do a great job with 10+% saturated steam, but high velocity flows of "wetter" steam could overwhelm them and allow excessive amounts of water droplets into the turbines. Too many water droplets in the turbines equals multi-million dollar blade replacements much sooner. This is why departure from nucleate boiling is not really mentioned much when discussing BWRs. While the transition through the appropriate boiling regimes must be considered when calculating the thermal profile of a reactor, the phrase just doesn't come up. What it is used for is in the discussion of safety limits and accident conditions for PWRs. The maximum DNBR (departure from nuclear boiling ratio) is one of the key thermal limits one imposes on the operation of PWR. It is not however an item of concern when setting those limits for a BWR.

It better not be art! (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532272)

When it comes to the old glow-in-the-dark I want there to be Science, real Science!

Sure, inspiration is a boon but there has to be some serious number crunching afterwards.

I had Palisades, and I wondered... (2, Insightful)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532302)

two things... Why the Missile Shield only covered the top.

My dad worked in Nuclear Fuel Supply, and I learned how arduous the process can be, and lengthy. But I also waited with bated breath for the Midland plant :( [wikipedia.org] to come online... 1972 was the date in "Our Friend, the Atom", a comic book produced to educate the youth like me.

And even then, I wondered... Why they don't make them essentially the same... like the Saturn V. I still wonder.

I also wonder how many anti-nuke activists are wishing that they'd kept their mouths shut and given us a fighting chance with carbon emissions. Or how many are driving SUVs.

Re:I had Palisades, and I wondered... (0, Troll)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532934)

And even then, I wondered... Why they don't make them essentially the same... like the Saturn V. I still wonder.

Because nothing was good enough so each was an incremental improvement.
There's potentially a very good small reactor that will be commerically available in a few years based on submarine reactor techology from Los Alamos. The Chinese have some pebble bed prototypes that are probably running by now. Both of those technologies have the potential to be small units mass produced in large numbers, probably available long before the ten years plus it would take to build a dangerous large unit Westinghouse dinosaur if we started today.
The "anti-nuke activists" didn't kill civilian nuclear power, idiots at Westinghouse et al did it by sitting on their backsides getting money funneled in from the taxpayer instead of improving things to the point where nuclear power could be a commerical proposition. They are still stuck in the 1960s, they've effectively just painted things green and pretended it's a new generation of reactors. The "nuclear now" crap is mostly a reaction to upcoming competition.

Re:I had Palisades, and I wondered... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533030)

And even then, I wondered... Why they don't make them essentially the same... like the Saturn V.

Well, they *are* essentially the same. They differ greatly in details because the technology was evolving at a fairly good clip.

Reder Digest's Books. (1)

bronney (638318) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532334)

I used to love these style of drawings in Reader Digest's Book's. About space pods, or sea pods. When I was small, I would imagine myself in one of these and float around. I used to make lego models of them. Am I sick, pedobear?

part of me (0)

phrostie (121428) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532364)

the Engineer side of me Ooooooooooh that's cool, the another part of my brain is wondering if it's such a great idea to make this stuff so accessible in this day and age.

Re:part of me (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533576)

Most of this was published a long time ago. It has been available information in any major university library for decades. There's no turning back.

The variability is bad (5, Interesting)

plopez (54068) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532472)

Starglider29a asked why they is a lack of uniformity. In the US at least there was no standard design. Each was basically as "one off" because the company that won the contract changed from reactor to reactor. A low bid contract method. This meant each reactor was a "one off".

My understanding is that in France the government commissioned a standard design which it then licensed out. This had some benefits:
1) The design allowed better project management. Everyone knew what needed to be done. This made estimation of effort easier.

2) Due to point #1, each company had a better idea of it took to build a reactor and bid accordingly.
This also helped the costs to be budgeted.

3) Lessons learned from one reactor can be incorporated into the newer, yet to be built, reactors. It is also easier to retrofit older reactors with lessons learned. In short, incremental improvement.

4) Related to pint 3, it is easier to QA a standard design. You know what to expect and if the expectations are not met something is wrong.

Making every reactor a "one off" is crazy. I googled +ISO +"nuclear reactor design" and came up without a comprehensive spec. Having a standard might be a good idea.

Re:The variability is bad (4, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532596)

As much as it gauls me, Plopez is correct, although reactor designs weren't quite that diverse. In the US there were basically 4 NSSS (Nuclear Steam Supply System) suppliers: GE, who made BWR's; and Westinghouse, Babcock & Wilcox, and Combustion Engineering, who all made PWR's. Within each of the suppliers the designs were similar; the problem came in when the utilities specified the units. Some wanted big, some wanted small. Some wanted X, others wanted Y. So the suppliers competed against each other within that specification, but no 2 utilities had the same specs. Then they'd submit each individual design to the NRC, who would do a de novo analysis on each individual design and license it.

Should they have simply licensed 1-2 designs and be done with it? In retrospect, yes, but keep in mind that, at the time, the governmental style in the US and France were quite different. Licensing only 1 design created a de facto monopoly on NSSS's in France, and they were OK with that. In the US in the 50's and 60's, that looked an awful lot like communism.

Re:The variability is bad (0, Troll)

Damek (515688) | more than 4 years ago | (#30532692)

"In the US in the 50's and 60's, that looked an awful lot like communism."

@#($*^%ing US.

Just sayin'.

'liberte, egalite, fraternite' ... we took the first, tied it to property and ran with it. Wonderful ethics & values for the progressive project! *rolls eyes*

No Chernobyl? (3, Funny)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533108)

I can't believe that there's no Chernobyl reactor as art! I think that in its current state it has a very Dali-melted-watch look to it with a bit of Picasso thrown in.

I love this kind of stuff (2, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533122)

But I didn't see any links to a project where I could really look at the digitized images. Am I just missing something? Will these eventually end up on wikipedia or something like that?

Um Physical OPSEC? (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533268)

Isn't this one of those things which, while not difficult to acquire with greased palms, might be best kept low-key? No, they're not blueprints. But the information certainly poses

Kinda along the lines of why the NSA doesn't have network diagrams of their internal networks made available - even if they're just illustrated with cute penguins, flying Windows, and hostnames.

Re:Um Physical OPSEC? (2, Informative)

TiberSeptm (889423) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534042)

By greased palms do you mean handing $150 over to the cashier at a college book store? If you think it should be more restrictive than that, well then you propose a nation with aging nuclear power plants, a nuclear navy, nuclear powered exploration probes (yes, most of the ones that go farther than you can spit do), a growing issue with nuclear waste, an aging and very large nuclear arsenal but almost no nuclear engineers to maintain, upgrade and replace those things.

We already have a hard enough time convincing people to take hard science and engineering majors; nuclear engineering programs themselves are also somewhat scarce and not offered at all engineering colleges. Make the information required to study for this field any less accessible and you'll cut the number of qualified graduates in half.

It's also worth pointing out that these are basically highly stylized piping diagrams. The important components carry little actual information besides what they are in a general sense. The hard part of designing one of these things is setting up and solving the massive systems of equations required to generate detailed specifications (ie erichment levels, material composition, operating temperatures, flow rates, etc. etc.) This is usually done, in the industry and academia, by writing or purchasing and running very complex computer programs that simulate and help optimize the design. Very little information about these non-trivial specifics can be gleamed from these drawings. I mean even if they contained nearly all of those specifics there would still be manufacturing and other issues. Say that you knew, for instance, that the fuel cladding is supposed to be a tube of near-flawless 0.57 mm thick and about 4 m long zircalloy. Do you know how to manufacture that alloy? How about the tubes? They'll fail extremely early if they're even scratched in the slightest. How about building a 12 m tall, 2.5 m thick, 530 T solid fine-grained low alloy ferritic steel pressure vessel clad internally with a more corrosion resistant austenitc stainless steel alloy? Oh what, there's only 3 or so factories in the world that can build those right now in the first place?

So not only is this information (and far far more) already readily available world wide, it also represents almost none of the actual challenges involved in building any of the designs depicted. There are many smaller systems that are well within the technical and infrastructure capabilities of nations like Iran to build. While much simpler and easier to build, they still represent a large financial and political commitment.

Would increased secrecy about the basics of specific nuclear reactor design make nuclear technology more difficult to obtain? No. Can you use increased secrecy about any or all of the information required to design and build a nuclear device to prevent proliferation? Not really. Nuclear science and engineering textbooks from the 70's that I've picked up at used book stores had more useful information in them than these posters in terms of learning what you needed to make a nuclear device, be it a reactor or bomb. The barrier to proliferation is now, and in the forseable future, be the systems involved create a good ammount of time+money+expertise to build. That does mean that any country with the will to spend the time and money and the educated professionals to provide or cultivate the expertise can become nuclear.

Re:Um Physical OPSEC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30535020)

> How about building a 12 m tall, 2.5 m thick, 530 T solid fine-grained low alloy ferritic steel pressure vessel clad internally
> with a more corrosion resistant austenitc stainless steel alloy? Oh what, there's only 3 or so factories in the world that can
> build those right now in the first place?

The backorder time on those is depressingly long too. The last I heard was that T was at 7 years FOB for new orders.

There is no "Sandia National Laboratory" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533272)

Ronald Knief, is a nuclear engineer at Sandia National Laboratories [wikipedia.org]. He is not a nuclear engineer at "Sandia National Laboratory", because there is no such place, company, or entity with that name. Sandia National Laboratories, known as Sandia [sandia.gov], has two main sites in Albuquerque, NM and Livermore, CA along with several smaller locations. None of the sites is called "Sandia National Laboratory" even when referred to as a single site entity. Sandia's largest site is located in Albuquerque, NM and is known as Sandia National Laboratories/New Mexico or SNL/NM.

Trawsfynydd power station (1)

Bralkein (685733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533826)

This reminds me of a recent feature in The Guardian, which calls for the preservation of a nuclear power plant in Snowdonia, Wales since it was designed by the British modernist architect Sir Basil Spence. Linky [guardian.co.uk].
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