Pebble World by gyvwpsjkko

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									Pebble World

                                          Special report published by Pebble Bed Modular
                                          Reactor (Pty) Ltd of South Africa on the
                                          High Temperature Reactor Conference (HTR)
                                          that was held from 28 September to 1 October
                                          2008 in Washington D.C.

Artist’s impression of the PBMR reactor building

                                                   Nuclear...beyond the grid
  Contents                                         Message from PBMR’s CEO
  HTR research and development              3      The High Temperature Reactor (HTR 2008) conference recently held in
                                                   Washington D.C. comes at a time when concerns regarding greenhouse
                                                   gases, energy security, and the high cost of imported fossil fuels have
  What is HTR 2008?                         4

                                                   propelled nuclear energy onto the agendas of citizens and government
  Excitement builds for high

                                                   officials alike.
  temperature reactors                      5
  South Africa has what it takes            6
  USA regulatory perspectives on

                                                                                                             Advanced technologies that provide a clean, efficient
  high temperature reactors                 7
  HTRs: a long-term, next generation                                                                         means of producing coal to liquids, hydrogen, and
  nuclear solution                          8                                                                other process heat applications in addition to the
  Greenpeace founder gives                                                                                   generation of electricity, are under the spotlight.

                                                                                                             The Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) is
  ‘green light’ to PBMR                     9
  PBMR leads the way                      10                                                                 increasingly viewed as one of the most promising of
                                                                                                             these technologies, and the likely successor for the
                                                                                                             Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) in the
  Some key papers presented

                                                                                                             USA, thanks to the advancing work in South Africa
  at HTR 2008                             10
  High temperature reactors will                                                                             and the leading quality of work being done in
  change the world                        11                                                                 support of the NGNP.

                                                                                                             As such, it is no surprise that PBMR, along with
  The PBMR safety case                    11
  Fuel and fission products in the                                                                            Westinghouse personnel, played a substantial role
  Jülich AVR pebble bed reactor           12                                                                 in the organisation of the bi-annual, international
                                                                                                             HTR 2008 conference.This year’s event marked the
                                                                                                             fourth successive growth in conference attendance,
  PBMR radionuclide source term
                                                                                                             with over 470 experts from more than 20 countries
  analysis validation based on AVR

                                                                                                             gathered in Washington D.C. to particpate in what
  operating experience                    12
  Conference buzzes with talk about                                                                          is the biggest and most important conference
  PBMR and process heat potential         13       Jaco Kriek, CEO of Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (Pty) Ltd   related to HTR technology in the world.

                                                   PBMR made full use of this opportunity by sending a large delegation to the conference. It was noticeable
  HTRs: essential for powering

                                                   that delegates almost invariably turned to the PBMR representatives for answers to technical questions and
  the future                              14

  Lessons learnt at HTR 2008              15       consensus was that the PBMR booth was one of the most professional and impressive in the exhibition hall,
                                                   a proudly South African achievement.The conference was attended by institutions, vendors and customers
                                                   and created the perfect platform for networking and side meetings, inter alia with the USA Nuclear
  An elephant yes, but it’s colour
                                                   Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Chinese developers of pebble bed technology.
  isn’t white                             15
  Impressions of HTR 2008                 16
                                                   The growth in international recognition of the PBMR programme is evident by the number of accepted
                                                   papers by or about PBMR presented at HTR 2008. More than 220 papers were submitted, over 200
                                                   accepted and about 160 presented. Approximately 51 of the presented papers had to do with pebble
                                                   technology directly, or were PBMR/South African company sponsored papers, providing additional exposure
                                                   to PBMR–related advancements. I am proud of the quality of people that represented PBMR at the
Editor:    Dianne Tipping-Woods

Design: Heather Masson, Masson Design

                                                   PBMR was a sought-after participant in various side meetings covering international technical, business, and

                                                   regulatory opportunities relating to HTR technology. Several worthy discussions for collaboration were
                                                   held that have the promise of furthering the development or deployment of PBMR technology more rapidly,
                                                   with lower cost, and in some instances, lower risk. On the first conference night, the PBMR delegation was
“Most important - technical papers were

                                                   also hosted by the South African Embassy in Washington D.C., whose personnel needed no introduction
generally of exceptional quality. This is to the

                                                   to the project. It is clear that the project is followed with great interest, even in the USA.
credit of our track leaders and all authors, of
course. Second most important - the attendance
                                                   I am confident that our presence at HTR 2008 will bear fruit long into the future, as we continue preparing
was exceptional and included outstanding
representation by offshore HTR leaders.            to build a commercial-scale demonstration reactor at Koeberg. Our focus as a company is on developing
I especially wish to thank PBMR who had 46         and keeping this technology for the benefit of South Africa, although as HTR 2008 illustrates, the work we
registered attendees, many excellent technical     are doing is having an important impact globally.
papers, and a strong showing of young engineers
in HTR technology.”                                While there is still much work ahead, the opportunities going forward are exciting, and our successes to date
                                                   are significant.When the time comes for HTR 2010, South Africa should be the proud owners of the World
                                                   Soccer Cup and close to pouring first concrete at Koeberg. We can then look forward to once again sharing
Dr. Finis H. Southworth Chief Technology Officer,

                                                   our advancements on the international stage, as one of the most developed HTR technologies in the world.
AREVA NP Inc. & Technical Programme Co-Chair,
HTR 2008

02 HTR Conference 2008
                                                                                                                           RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

HTR research and development
The PBMR project offers tremendous benefits in terms of research and development, in which South Africa
still lags well behind most developed countries.

This was the message from Dr. Alistair Ruiters,       “South Africa has a modern, cost-competitive
Chairperson of Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (Pty)       economy capable of advanced manufacturing activity,
Ltd, during the keynote session of the HTR            which will provide a favourable economic
conference in Washington D. C. which he delivered     environment for the realisation of the PBMR
on behalf of the Minister of Public Enterprises. He   demonstration plant and the subsequent
pointed out that South Africa spends less than 1      industrialisation of the PBMR.
percent of its Gross Domestic Product on Research
and Development, compared to Australia’s 1,8          “The placement of long-lead capital equipment has
percent and the Organisation for Economic             resulted in a growing demand for technical disciplines
Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries’         such as civil, mechanical, electrical, construction,
average of 2,4 percent. The current spending on the   chemical, instrumentation and control, mining and
PBMR project equates to only about 0.15 percent of    computer technology. This, in turn, has provided a
GDP per year.                                         host of opportunities for investment and training,” he

  “South Africa has a modern, cost-                   He stressed that the commercialisation of the PBMR
                                                      technology did not only apply to electricity
   competitive economy capable of                     generation, but also a host of process-heat
advanced manufacturing activity, which                applications. “The high temperature reactor coupled
                                                      to a direct Brayton cycle – like the PBMR – allows
 will provide a favourable economic                   one to utilise fission heat at a very high temperature
environment for the realisation of the                of up to 950°C. This heat can be applied for a variety                        Dr. Alistair Ruiters
                                                      of industrial process applications.
 PBMR demonstration plant and the
      subsequent industrialisation                    “For example, the PBMR-produced steam can be
                                                      used to extract oil from Oil Sands, and for many             “The PBMR-produced steam can be
            of the PBMR.”                             other petrochemical industrial applications where          used to extract oil from Oil Sands, and
                                                      fossil fuels are currently used as the primary source
                                                                             of process steam. Alternatively,         for many other petrochemical
                                                                             the PBMR-produced hydrogen          industrial applications where fossil fuels
                                                                             can be used for upgrading coal
                                                                             and heavy crude oils into              are currently used as the primary
                                                                             usable products or for                     source of process steam.”
                                                                             transportation fuel in the
                                                                             future, thereby relieving
                                                                             pressure on natural gas supply,
                                                                             the source of most hydrogen         “South Africa developed huge localisation in the
                                                                             produced today.”                    sixties and seventies when Eskom embarked upon a
                                                                                                                 major new-build programme. But then many
                                                                            He said pre-conceptual work          international manufacturing companies pulled out of
                                                                            has confirmed that the reactor        the country at conclusion of the construction
                                                                            design developed for power           programme. A repeat of this must be avoided. South
                                                                            plant applications can be            Africa must establish a nuclear industry that is part of
                                                                            readily integrated into process      the world market from day one.
                                                                            heat       applications.   The
                                                                            characteristic robustness and        “The localisation strategy will be evolved
                                                                            flexibility of the core design        systematically as the design and construction of the
                                                                            means that only minimal              PBMR demonstration unit progresses. Once PBMR
                                                                            modifications to interfaces are       commences delivering the plants abroad, the South
                                                                            necessary to meet a broad            African government will consider support
                                                                            range of process heat                mechanisms such as export incentives, credit
                                                                            application requirements.            guarantees and overcoming barriers to entry,” he said.

                                                                             The placement of long-lead capital equipment has resulted in a growing
                                                                             demand for technical disciplines such as mining technology.

                                                                                                                                       HTR Conference 2008           03
        HTR 2008

What is HTR 2008?
HTR 2008 is the fourth in a series of bi-annual topical meetings on high temperature reactor (HTR) technology, held
in Washington D.C., United States. The first meeting was held in 2002 in Petten in the Netherlands, the second in
Beijing, China in 2004, and the third in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2006.
All the meetings have been a huge success, which is     high temperature availability for process heat
evident from the growing interest in HTRs               applications such as hydrogen production.
worldwide, and the increasing number of delegates
attending the bi-annual meeting.                        The agenda for HTR 2008 highlighted a broad range
                                                        of developments in the areas of research, licensing,
The 2008 meeting attracted over 470 delegates           experimental programmes, process heat
from over 20 countries. They represented                applications, and economics, just to name a few.
technology providers, utilities, government agencies,
academia, research laboratories and end users, each     Current research and development projects are
of whom offers a unique perspective on the              progressing in countries such as Japan, China, South
challenges and opportunities that are involved with     Africa, France, USA, South Korea and the Russian
making HTR technology a part of our energy mix.         Federation. Many other countries are participating
                                                        in HTR research through the High Temperature           Africa’s only nuclear power station is based, and a
The theme for HTR 2008 was “Nuclear… beyond             ReactorTechnology Network (HTR-TN), a network          fuel plant at Pelindaba near Pretoria. If proven
the grid”, which speaks to an increasing interest in    of 21 partner organisations of the European Union,     successful, the intention is to build up to 30 reactors
advanced technologies that provide a clean, efficient   and the Generation IV International Forum (GIF),       in South Africa, after which the technology will be
means of producing process heat in addition to the      which include 10 member countries, as well as the      deployed overseas and elsewhere on the African
generation of electricity.                              International Project on Innovative Nuclear reactors   continent.
                                                        and Fuel Cycles (INPRO) project of the
What is HTR Technology?                                 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). South       PBMR’s current investors, the South African
HTR technology, also referred to as High                Africa and China, have recently announced plans to     government, the South African electricity utility
Temperature Gas Reactor (HTGR) technology, is           build full-scale HTR demonstration plants within the   Eskom, the Industrial Development Corporation of
one of the most promising reactor concepts of           next few years.                                        South Africa and the American nuclear company
the nuclear renaissance, offering advantages                                                                   Westinghouse Electric Company, share the vision of
such as improved safety and economics, shorter          Where does PBMR fit in?                                 small, standardised modular reactors with inherently
                                constr uction           The Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) is an            safe characteristics, as one of the best carbon-free
                               times, distributed       example of a leading high temperature gas-cooled       alternatives for new power generation capacity
                              generation and            reactor design, with a closed-cycle, gas turbine       around the world.
                                                        power conversion system.Although it is not the only
                                                        gas-cooled high temperature reactor currently being    Westinghouse’s involvement in PBMR is a clear
                                                        developed in the world, the South African project is   indication of the confidence in the pebble bed
                                                        internationally regarded as the leader in the global   technology’s technical, commercial and export
                                                        power generation field. The PBMR is characterised      potential. The PBMR project also enjoys solid
                                                        by inherently safe features, which mean that no        support from the South African government, who
                                                        human error or equipment failure can cause an          regard it as one of the most important capital
                                                        accident that would harm the public.                   investment and development projects undertaken
                                                                                                               in the country.
                                                        Since its establishment in 1999, Pebble Bed Modular
                                                        Reactor (Pty) Ltd has grown into one of the largest    Next generation high temperature reactors such as
                                                           nuclear reactor design teams in the world. In       the PBMR can furthermore produce hydrogen for
                                                              addition to the core team of some 700            transportation or for upgrading coal and heavy
                                                                 people at the PBMR head-office in             crude oils into usable products, thereby relieving
                                                                   Centurion near Pretoria, more than a        pressure on natural gas supply (the source of most
                                                                    thousand people at universities, private   hydrogen produced today). They can also generate
                                                                     companies and research institutes are     process heat for desalination, to extract oil from tar
                                                                      involved with the project. Around the    sands, and for many other industrial applications.
                                                                          world, scientists and governments
                                                                           are looking to South Africa with    Sponsors
                                                                            great interest to see how the      The fourth International Topical Meeting on high
                                                                            local nuclear reactor develop-     temperature reactors was sponsored by Areva,
                                                                             ments unfold.                     General Atomics, Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (Pty)
                                                                                                               Ltd, Shaw, United States Department of Energy, and
                                                                             The PBMR team is currently        Westinghouse. Participating organisations include
                                                                              preparing for the building of    the American Nuclear Society, American Society of
                                                                              a commercial scale power         Mechanical Engineers, High Temperature Reactor
                                                                               reactor project at Koeberg      Technology Network, and the National Hydrogen
                                                                               near Cape Town, where           Society.

04 HTR Conference 2008
                                                                                                                          BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY

Excitement builds for high temperature
By Andrew C. Kadak

Judging by the diverse attendance at the recent HTR 2008 conference, high temperature gas-cooled reactors are gaining popularity and
visibility in the nations of the world. What was most interesting at this conference, besides the number of high quality papers presented,
was the participation by potential customers for the products of these reactors – namely electricity and process heat.

Utilities, hydrogen producers and users and industries      conference offered them an opportunity to learn
that use large amounts of process heat, all expressed       about nuclear and those of us in the nuclear field,
deep interest in what this technology could offer their     learned about their business needs.
businesses. These businesses are concerned about
price increases in their traditional fossil fuel sources,   What is particularly encouraging is the actual
price volatility and eventual carbon taxes or               construction preparations of the South African
restrictions on carbon releases. While these                PBMR and the Chinese HTR-PM reactors with real
businesses do not know much about nuclear energy,           customers and high expectations of what this
they are quite open to considering its use. This            technology can deliver. The Japanese continue with
                                                            their extensive research on thermo-chemical
                                                            hydrogen production which they hope to link with
                                                            their high temperature test reactor (HTTR).

                                                             “What is particularly encouraging is
                                                             the actual construction preparations
                                                              of the South African PBMR and the
                                                                  Chinese HTR-PM reactors.”

                                                            Active research and continued development is being
                                                            done in Europe and the United States. The United
                                                            States Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP)
                                                            continues to make progress with three design teams
                                                                                                                                    Andrew C Kadak
                                                            working to develop concepts from which to choose.
                                                            Pre-conceptual designs have been completed and
                                                            teams are awaiting funding for conceptual and then      technology development and testing facilities.
                                                            final design for the NGNP. Active Department of          Additionally, the development of an international
                                                            Energy research on advanced fuels, and the helium       regulatory standard for high temperature
                                                            intermediate heat exchangers are but a few of the       reactors would greatly assist worldwide
                                                            research and development projects underway. The         deployment. At this meeting, steps were taken to
                                                            Idaho National Laboratory has staffed an engineering    make this possible. The Chinese HTR-10 reactor
                                                            organisation in support of design and construction      offers a unique platform for benchmarking and
                                                            of the USA NGNP. It can safely be said, that            testing as does the HTTR. As we look forward to
                                                            momentum is building for the introduction of the first   the next HTR conference in 2010, we should
                                                            truly Generation IV reactor concept in the USA.         expect great progress in all nations who seek to
                                                                                                                    take advantage of the unique capabilities of gas-
                                                            To be successful and timely, progress needs to be       cooled high temperature reactors.
                                                            made on true international cooperation for
                                                                                                                    Andrew C. Kadak, Ph.D. is Professor of the Practice,
                                                                                                                    Nuclear Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of
                                                                                                                    Technology. His research interests include the
                                                             “To be successful and timely, progress                 development of advanced reactors, in particular the
                                                            needs to be made on true international                  high temperature pebble-bed gas reactor, space
                                                                                                                    nuclear power systems, improved technology-neutral
                                                                  cooperation for technology                        licensing standards for advanced reactors, and
                                                               development and testing facilities.”                 operation and management issues of existing
                                                                                                                    nuclear power plants.
           PBMR’s kernel production process.

                                                                                                                                      HTR Conference 2008            05

                                         South Africa has what it takes
                                           South Africa has the nuclear facilities, skills, industries, heavy engineering capabilities and
                                           uranium reserves to both commercialise and industrialise the Pebble Bed Modular
                                           Reactor (PBMR) technology.

This was the core message of Jaco Kriek, Chief
Executive Officer of Pebble Bed Modular Reactor
(Pty) Ltd, at the recent HTR conference in
Washington D.C. He added that the country also
has a huge requirement for security of energy
supply and a dire need to reduce its carbon
footprint, which provides a strong entry market for
the PBMR technology.

In his presentation entitled “The PBMR Programme
to Establish an Original Nuclear Technology and

                                                         The PBMR Helium Test Facility (HTF) indaba, which was commissioned in early 2007. The HTF is one of five test
                                                                               facilities that PBMR has commissioned over the past few years.

                                                       Equipment Industry in South Africa”, Kriek sketched       These challenges include building a new nuclear
                                                       the historic strategic nuclear programme in South         company; establishing a model with government to
                                                       Africa, which included uranium enrichment, a              host the project; ensuring continuous and
                                                       nuclear weapons programme, a fuel manufacturing           predictable funding; staffing the project amidst a
                                                       programme, the building of two Pressure Water             scarcity of skilled resources; establishing Human
                                                       Reactors at Koeberg near CapeTown, and the Safari         Resource practices in a highly skilled environment;
                                                       research reactor, which today is a major source of        achieving cultural alignment of a diverse workforce;
                                                       medical isotopes internationally.                         driving innovation in a highly regulated environment;
                                                                                                                 technical challenges; clarifying roles and responsibili-
                                                       Kriek said while a unique window of opportunity           ties between PBMR as the design authority and
                                                       opened for South Africa when agreement was                Eskom as the customer; establishing a nuclear safety
                                                       reached in 1996 to transfer the German high               culture; and the development, alignment and
                                                       temperature reactor technology to South Africa,           integration of complex processes.
                                                       the road between the transfer of technology from
                                                       Germany and the establishment of a credible               Kriek said the company is currently preparing for
Graphite pebbles being manufactured at the PBMR fuel   nuclear company able to deliver a “first of a kind”       site access to both Koeberg and Pelindaba in 2009.
       development laboratories at Pelindaba.          technology, presented many challenges.

  PBMR has met many challenges and has to date achieved the following:

  G The company has grown into a credible nuclear vendor with almost 800 employees and about 1800 people involved in the project;
  G Five large-scale test facilities have been commissioned at a cost of about US$100 million;
  G The manufacturing of long-lead components has started and major international manufacturing slots have been reserved;
  G The Safety Analysis Review for the demonstration power plant at Koeberg and fuel plant at Pelindaba is well advanced;
  G The environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the fuel plant has been successfully concluded and the EIA for the demonstration power plant has
    progressed well into the public participation process;
  G The National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) has awarded Necsa a license to manufacture kernels using 9.6% enriched uranium;
  G PBMR graphite material has been sent for testing at the Oakridge National Laboratory in the USA;
  G PBMR participates in the conceptual design phase of Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) research project in the USA;
  G Members of the USA Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) visited South Africa in August this year and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers
    (ASME) held a workshop in South Africa;
  G The Generation IV International Framework Agreement was approved by Parliament;
  G The South African cabinet approved the country’s new energy policy and strategy, which sets out to promote nuclear energy as an important electricity
    supply option;
  G The intention – as expressed by the Government – is to produce between 4000 MW and 5000 MW of power from pebble bed reactors in South Africa.

06 HTR Conference 2008
                                                                                                                         USA PERSPECTIVE

USA regulatory perspectives on
high temperature reactors
Collaboration, validation and improved public communication are crucial for the success of high temperature reactors
like the PBMR. USA Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Peter Lyons provided some regulatory insights at HTR 2008.

In his address to the conference delegates, whom         “However, you must first provide the information        industry has a potentially receptive audience for its
he describes as “representatives of a tremendous         that demonstrates the NRC’s requirements are            work and its messages.
scientific and engineering capability,” Lyons posed      met,” he advised,“and be prepared to answer their
the question: “What will it take to build a low          questions with solid rationale and relevant data        Lyons believes how and what the nuclear industry
environmental impact nuclear energy source so safe       where appropriate.”                                     communicate in that message will be crucial in
and secure that it would require little or no off-site                                                           determining ultimate success.“Be careful with what
emergency response?” Included in this challenge, he                                                              you promise,” he cautioned, “because touting any
explains, is the notion of developing new nuclear                                                                reactor design as unconditionally “meltdown proof ”
fuel cycles that reduce environmental impact by                                                                  or “inherently safe” invites skepticism and debate,
reducing, reusing and recycling nuclear fuel and                                                                 and this has already begun, for example, with the
waste.                                                                                                           Pebble Bed Modular Reactor.”

While Lyons is not an advocate for any particular                                                                Whether any particular reactor design is safe
reactor technology, including high temperature (gas-                                                             enough to remove the requirement for a
cooled) reactors (HTRs), he is confident that the                                                                containment is, for the NRC, a question related to
people who attended the HTR conference are well-                                                                 their defense-in depth policy, and one that the
equipped to meet his challenge.                                                                                  Commission has not yet decided.

  “What will it take to build a low                                                                              About the United States
environmental impact nuclear energy
                                                                                                                 Nuclear Regulatory
  source so safe and secure that it
  would require little or no off-site                                                                            The NRC is headed by a five member Commission.
                                                                                                                 The Commission as a whole formulates policies and
       emergency response?”
                                                                              Peter Lyons
                                                                                                                 regulations governing nuclear reactor and materials
                                                         According to Lyons, the relatively stable regulatory    safety, issues orders to licensees, and adjudicates
                                                         framework that the NRC has created, enables the         legal matters brought before it. This ensures that
To help them in their cause, he gave the delegates       benefits of nuclear technologies to be explored         the commercial use of nuclear materials in the
at the conference three key messages. The first          while providing the necessary assurances to the         United States is safely conducted. As part of the
message is to “collaborate throughout the design         public that its health and safety and the environment   regulatory process, the four regional offices conduct
process to ensure that the HTR’s promising safety        are being protected.                                    inspection, enforcement, and emergency response
characteristics are optimised and validated.”                                                                    programmes for licensees within their borders.
                                                         In a third key message to delegates, he stressed that
Lyons also advised delegates to reflect on their         the industry needs to improve its public                Lyons interest prior to joining the Commission, and
work from the perspective of the NRC and other           communication efforts.                                  now,“is that HTR technology (of which the Pebble
nations’ regulators right from the start. In a second                                                            Bed Modular Reactor is an example), be seriously
key message, he explained that the NRC will look         “The NRC maintains and values strong public             evaluated and, if the apparent promise can be
objectively at the technical aspects of each             information and outreach processes that provide         realised in commercial-scale units with adequate
submitted design accepted for review.The NRC will        public input to our decisions,” he says, adding that    safety, proceed with demonstrations that can lead
furthermore render safety judgments based on             today’s public is interested in and open to new         to a strong licensing case and possible commercial
sound science and an appropriate validation of each      energy solutions. This means that the nuclear           use.”
design’s safety analyses.

                                                                                                                                     HTR Conference 2008          07

HTRs: a long-term, next generation
nuclear solution
By Jim Wright

Small size high temperature reactors have many benefits besides providing electricity. Due to their modular
construction and high operating temperatures, they can support many other industrial processes, like non-petroleum
hydrocarbon fuel production and water desalination.This is the next generation in nuclear technology.

The small size and modular design of the HTR           partnership to share the cost and risks             technology and engineering graduates will be
make them perfect to support the economic              associated with the first HTR technology            available when needed.We are always looking
development of somewhat remote regions                 demonstration in the USA.The ultimate key to        for significant partnerships with industry and
that are arid and contain unique mineral               success for the NGNP will hinge on being able       national laboratories as a way to make our
and/or population resources.                           to attract industrial users that will help          educational process more relevant to our
                                                       financially support the plant with income from      students and their future employers.
I have a passion for the HTR because of its            the potentially highly profitable “back end”
unique capabilities, flexibility and safety. Nuclear   products (electricity, hydrogen, synthetic fuels,   To this end, we (UTPB/UTS) have just
energy is now gaining general acceptance in            desalinated water, etc.) produced by the            completed and signed a Cooperative Research
the USA as the cleanest method for producing           reactor’s heat.                                     and Development Agreement (CRADA) with
base electricity because it produces no CO2                                                                Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to
emissions. In addition, the USA is now                                                                     help ensure that well-qualified and well-trained
importing petroleum hydrocarbons at a cost                                                                 graduates will be available when needed by
that is approaching US$1 trillion per year. I                                                              industry.
believe that this significant drain on the USA
                                                                                                           UTPB is the lead campus for UTS in this
economy, the concerns about the effects of
                                                                                                           endeavor. CRADA will help us buttress our
CO2 in the atmosphere and HTR’s unique
                                                                                                           new College of Energy Engineering and
high temperature process applications, will
                                                                                                           Science (COEES) by 1) putting LANL scientists
eventually help thrust this technology into the
                                                                                                           and engineers on our campus full time to help
forefront as the “best” long-term solution for
                                                                                                           teach courses and train our faculty to do
the USA and world’s energy and
                                                                                                           relevant research, 2) having cooperative
environmental problems.
                                                                                                           research facilities and programmes with LANL
                                                                          Jim Wright                       on our campus, 3) making the UTPB COEES
    “In my opinion, the NGNP                           The university of Texas of the Permian Basin
                                                                                                           curricula responsive to the Generation IV
                                                                                                           industry by simply acting on their input and
   programme includes only two                         (UTPB) and west Texas economic                      suggestions, 4) continuing a student exchange
  “teams” that have the capability                     development entities are currently working          programme that started this summer where
                                                       with Shaw, Westinghouse, PBMR and
     to actually design, licencse,                     Technology Insights to locate and “develop”
                                                                                                           four students spent six weeks at LANL, and 5)
                                                                                                           having joint UTPB/LANL appointments for key
   construct and operate a plant:                      some viable “end-users” for a potential west        engineering and science professors.
                                                       Texas PBMR facility in a project we call
         Areva and PBMR.”                              “NuHeat”. Even though we are still a long way       We hope this model we are developing at
                                                       from getting an “application” to truly invest in    UTPB will set a new standard for nuclear
The commercialisation of HTR technology in             NuHeat, we are starting to see a few potential      education by producing new graduates that
the United States is being led by the                  “first paths” forward to obtaining that end.        will be productive on their very first day on the
Department of Energy (DOE) through their                                                                   job.
Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and a                  Further, I believe that the PBMR should have
programme known as the NGNP (Next-                     the pole position in the race for NGNP              The funding for NGNP in the USA is
Generation Nuclear Plant). In my opinion, the          selection because of their demonstrated ability     extremely competitive and I thought the
NGNP programme includes only two “teams”               to obtain substantial financial investment          PBMR team was extremely professional and
that have the capability to actually design,           (~US$ 600 million spent to date with another        effective in their technical presentations. It is
license, construct and operate a plant: Areva          US$600 million committed) from South                clear that the goal of the PMBR team is
and PBMR.                                              African sources. To me, this demonstrates to        focused on the target: building a PBMR facility
                                                       the DOE that PBMR already has hard cash that        as soon as possible! This is in contrast to some
Even though Areva’s base design for fuel               has been invested in their technology before        of the papers that were more subtly aiming to
handling in the HTR utilises a prismatic block         asking for substantial funds from the USA           create more research.
core and PBMR uses the pebble bed                      government.To date, no one else can make the
technology, they both use TRISO-coated fuel            same claim.                                          Jim Wright is the Director of the High
and graphite moderators in a design that is                                                                 Temperature Teaching and Test Reactor
gas-cooled (using Helium) and passively safe.          As with all new technologies, it is important        (HT3R, or HT3R) programme at the
In my opinion, the basis for a successful NGNP         that a viable educational infrastructure also
                                                                                                            University of Texas of the Permian Basin
is the development of a public/private                 exists to ensure that a pipeline of well-trained

08 HTR Conference 2008

Greenpeace founder gives
‘green light’ to PBMR
Renowned environmentalist Dr. Patrick Moore is passionate about the role
that nuclear energy, as an emissions-free technology, will play in reducing
climate change. And PBMR has a permanent place in his presentation.

Moore, who toured South Africa earlier this          impact of global warming. He also presented           He said as a result, most countries have the
year, was the guest speaker at the HTR               his views on the challenges and the respective        choice of either fossil fuels or nuclear power
banquet evening in Washington D.C. on 30             roles that nuclear power, renewable sources           to generate baseload electricity. “As an
September 2008. While the essence of his             and energy efficiency can play in producing a         environmentalist and someone concerned
presentation entitled “Global Warming and            cleaner electricity supply and ensuring a             about human health, I think nuclear is superior,
the Search for Sustainable, Clean Energy” is still   sustainable energy future.                            because it doesn’t produce greenhouse gases
the same, he has now included a section on                                                                 and it doesn’t pollute remotely as much as
the PBMR technology.                                 He said nuclear was the only non-greenhouse           fossil fuel combustion does.”
                                                     gas-emitting energy source that could
                                                     effectively replace fossil fuels and satisfy global
    “I think nuclear is superior,                    demand. Nuclear energy was not only cleaner
    because it doesn’t produce                       than fossil fuels, but more sustainable than wind        “The PBMR is a fantastic piece
 greenhouse gases and it doesn’t
                                                     and solar power, which were expensive,
                                                     intermittent and difficult to store.
                                                                                                             of equipment that will probably
   pollute remotely as much as                                                                                  revolutionise much of our
   fossil fuel combustion does.”
                                                     “The other alternative is hydroelectric power.          society in terms of the efficiency
                                                     While countries such as China, Canada and
                                                     Brazil do have further reserves of hydro-               with which we can do things we
                                                     electric power, most countries either don’t              can’t do now, with the existing
In his presentation at the HTR banquet,              have a lot of hydroelectric potential or have
Moore, once an ardent opponent and                   already tapped out and developed all the                   machinery that we have.”
activist against nuclear energy, discussed the       existing potential that’s available to them.”

                                                                                                           Referring to the PBMR technology, he said it
                                                                                                           was one of the most exciting developments in
                                                                                                           technology today. “This reactor is going to be
                                                                                                           able to do things that conventional reactors
                                                                                                           and conventional energy supplies have not
                                                                                                           been able to do.”

                                                                                                           He said the PBMR will be able to be used to
                                                                                                           produce electricity, steam (for process heat),
                                                                                                           hydrogen and to desalinate water. “Basically,
                                                                                                           the same PBMR can be used for any of these
                                                                                                           applications. It’s a fantastic piece of equipment
                                                                                                           that will probably revolutionise much of our
                                                                                                           society in terms of the efficiency with which
                                                                                                           we can do things we can’t do now, with the
                                                                                                           existing machinery that we have.”

                                                                                                           Dr. Moore was particularly excited about the
                                                                                                           potential use of the PBMR technology in
                                                                                                           petro-chemical complexes, to either produce
                                                                                                           process steam and/or hydrogen to upgrade
                                                                                                           coal products.

                                                                                                           Greenpeace founder member Dr. Patrick
                                                                                                           Moore has been pleading for a nuclear
                                                                                                           renaissance in his worldwide road shows.

                                                                                                                                    HTR Conference 2008    09

                                                                       PBMR leads the way
                                                                       By Dan Mears

                                                                       While nuclear energy is increasingly recognised as an essential energy
                                                                       provider and advanced light water reactors (ALWRs) are already being
                                                                       deployed, HTRs are the future, combining energy generation with process
                                                                       heat – and PBMR is leading the way.

                                                                       The driving momentum behind all these                           It is increasingly recognised that HTR plants
                                                                       programmes is the capability of the HTR to                      can improve industrial competitiveness,
                                                                       provide enhanced safety, reliability, proliferation             promote the utilisation of indigenous coal,
                                                                       resistance, security, and waste management                      uranium and heavy oil resources, thereby
                                                                       advantages. The HTR further extends the                         reducing costs and risks associated with
                                                                       nuclear option over a broad range of                            imported oil and natural gas.
                          Dan Mears                                    applications.
                                                                                                                                       With the state of development of the DPP,
Within the technology candidates for                                     HTRs will provide:                                            project plus the potential of the process heat
expanding the nuclear option that will                                                                                                 market for coal-to-liquids applications in South
                                                                        G      High efficiency electricity generation                  Africa, the PBMR is acknowledged as the most
complement the current nuclear base of light                                   for small to medium markets,
water reactors, the HTR is clearly in the lead.                                                                                        advanced HTR programme in the world and
                                                                               particularly for cogeneration with                      the clear lead candidate for the NGNP Project
This is largely due to South Africa’s national                                 water desalination or dry cooling,
strategic project to deploy the PBMR                                                                                                   in the USA. To that end, PBMR has teamed
demonstration power plant (DPP) and the                                 G      High quality steam for use in heavy oil                 with Westinghouse, The Shaw Group, and
related fuel and test facilities, plus the Next                                recovery, including oil sands, or the                   other world-class suppliers and participants to
Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) project in                                     broad range of process steam/                           advance the design and licensing of the PBMR
the USA that is currently advancing both the                                   cogeneration-based industries,                          Process Heat Plant (PHP) in concert with
PBMR and the prismatic core technology, with                                   High temperature process heat for                       related developments in South Africa and
emphasis on process heat applications.                                         industrial chemical and petrochemical                   Canada. Through this effort, there is a growing
                                                                               facilities, reserving natural gas for                   cooperative relationship between PBMR and
In addition, there is an aggressive pebble bed                                 feedstock, and                                          the USA national labs for qualifying fuel and
reactor deployment project underway in China                                                                                           graphite, plus the verification and validation of
                                                                        G      High temperature process heat for                       design codes.
while HTR development activities are also
                                                                               hydrogen production and cogenera-
underway in Japan, Korea and Europe.
                                                                               tion for the petrochemical and refinery
International cooperation on the development
                                                                                                                                          Dan Mears is Senior Programme Manager
                                                                               industries, plus the clean conversion of
of HTR technology is advancing through the
                                                                                                                                          NGNP for PBMR and President of
                                                                               coal to liquid fuels or the direct use of
Generation IV International Forum (GIF), in
                                                                                                                                          Technology Insights – Strategic Consultants
                                                                               hydrogen transportation fuel in the
which South Africa has recently formalised its
                                                                                                                                          to PBMR with extensive background in HTR

Some key papers presented at HTR 2008
VARIATION OF SIC IN EXPERIMENTALTRISO COASTED PARTICLES                                             By Carel F.Viljoen, Sonat Sen, Frederik Reitsma and Onno Ubbink from PBMR Pty. Ltd ., Centurion,
By Johan P R deVilliers, Noko Ngoepe, James Roberts and Alison S.Tuling, all of the University of   South Africa and Peter Pohl,AVR GmbH, Jülich, Germany, and Heiko Barnert, Forschungszentrum,
Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.                                                                   Jülich GmbH, Jülich, Germany.

BOUNDARY COMPONENTS                                                                                 By Reiner W. Kuhr, Ryan Hannink and Keith Paul from Shaw Energy & Chemicals, Cambridge, MA, U.S.
By Karl N. Fleming, Ron Gamble and Steve Gosselin fromTechnology Insights, San Diego, CA, USA,      and Willem Kriel, Rene Greyvenstein and RogerYoung from PBMR Pty. Ltd.
and John Fletcher and Neil Broom from PBMR Pty. Ltd., Centurion, South Africa
                                                                                                    THE PEBBLE BED MODULAR REACTOR (PBMR) AS A SOURCE OF HIGH QUALITY PROCESS
By Walter Schmitz and Albert Koster from PBMR Pty. Ltd., Centurion, South Africa                    By Antony Morris, Reiner Kuhr and James McKinnell from Shaw Energy & Chemicals and PBMR Pty.
BYPASS FLOWS                                                                                        HTGR COMPONENTTEST FACILITY (CTF) FEASIBILITY STUDY FOR NGNP
By J.J. Janse van Rensburg, from PBMR Pty. Ltd., Centurion, South Africa                            By Jan P. van Ravenswaay, Jacques Holtzhausen, Jaco van der Merwe, Kobus Olivier, and Riaan du
                                                                                                    Bruyn from M-Tech Industrial (Pty) Ltd, Potchefstroom, North West, South Africa, and Andries
MODELLING SILVER: EVALUATION OF GERMAN EXPERIENCE                                                   Haasbroek and Marius Fox from Westinghouse Electric South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Centurion, Gauteng,
By Hanno van der Merwe from PBMR Pty. Ltd., Centurion, South Africa and Dirk Olivier from           South Africa.
Independent Nuclear Consultants, Grahamstown, South Africa
                                                                                                    You can access these papers via the conference website:

10 HTR Conference 2008
                                                                                                               SAFETY AND DEVELOPMENT

High temperature reactors
will change the world
                                                                                                           The PBMR safety case
                                                                                                           HTR 2008 saw some lively debate resulting from
                                                                                                           questions raised by the Jülich research centre in
                                                                                                           Germany, about the quality of improved PBMR

By Gregory Murphy
                                                                                                           reactor fuel, which featured prominantly at the

A major mobilisation in favour of nuclear power is needed globally. High                                   The claim is that as it is not possible to measure fuel
temperature reactors in particular provide real development potential for
                                                                                                           temperatures directly, PBMR will also have to

Africa and other under-developed countries. Ambition is crucial:“Why not
                                                                                                           assume an error of up to 250oC and therefore

think in terms of 60 000 nuclear power plants?”
                                                                                                           should not have an exit temperature above 750oC. It
                                                                                                           is also claimed that the latest fuel made in Germany
                                                                                                           was not good enough and this will be the case for
The Monday morning keynote address byVice             I have covered a lot of science conferences in       PBMR as well.
Chairperson of General Atomics, Linden Blue,          the past, but this was the first time that I as a
helped to set a positive atmosphere for the           science writer have witnessed a real exchange
                                                                                                           “This evoked much interest from delegates not well

conference. Blue noted                                                         of ideas. In response,
                                                                                                           informed about the AVR operation,” says Dr Albert

that the high temperature                                                      PBMR gave out discs
                                                                                                           Koster, Senior Consultant Nuclear Safety.While the

gas- cooled reactor had                                                        of the presentation
                                                                                                           question-time proved too short to accommodate all

had some setbacks, but                                                         before the morning
                                                                                                           the questions, PBMR was able to present the

said that HTRs have also                                                       panel, which gave the
                                                                                                           preliminary results of its own investigation into the

had some great successes,                                                      people who attended
                                                                                                           fuel history, and the re-calculation of the AVR design.

such as the Peach Bottom                                                       that session the
                                                                                                           This shows that with the newer tools available as

reactor in Pennsylvania,                                                       chance to view the
                                                                                                           well as using data never before considered by AVR,

which he said “ran like a                                                      presentation       later,
                                                                                                           the higher fuel temperatures can be predicted very

Swiss watch.”                                                                  because it was hard

                                                                               to hear due to the
                                                                                                           Further to this, the recently retired Dr. Heinz
I felt that what Linden Blue                                                   standing-room-only
                                                                                                           Nabielek, who has spent upwards of 30 years on fuel
said was what the                                                              crowd. Because of
                                                                                                           behaviour research, has taken on the task of
conference needed to                                                           the size of the crowd,
                                                                                                           summarising the long history of fuel development in
hear: The future is bright                                                     I could only see and
                                                                                                           Germany, a task that should have been done in the
and the high temperature                                                       hear part of the
                                                                                                           early nineties but was not sanctioned because of
reactor's time has finally                                                     PBMR response. I am
                                                                                                           political interference. He discounted practically all of
come. Blue ended his                                                           happy to say that the
                                                                                                           the claims aside from some effects caused by the
keynote by saying that the                     Gregory Murphy
                                                                               PBMR researchers
                                                                                                           high temperatures in a paper entitled “Fuel and
high temperature gas-                                                          did take time to go
                                                                                                           fission products in the Jülich AVR Pebble-Bed
cooled reactor will revolutionise not only the        through their presentations and answer the
                                                                                                           Reactor”, also presented at HTR 2008.
nuclear industry but, with the use of the high        questions I had.
process heat, it will revolutionise every industry.
                                                                                                           “Debates about safety are always productive as long
                                                                                                           as they are based on scientific investigations and not

At a press conference, Blue answered a
                                                                                                           on feelings,” says Dr Koster.“Many good discussions

question from 21st Century Science and                   “I have to say that the PBMR
                                                                                                           were held at the HTR 2008 with colleagues we

Technology on his thoughts about the need to
                                                                                                           don’t see that often and we were able to obtain and

build 6 000 nuclear power plants to meet the             response and rebuttal of the                      share information on the increasing level of research

world's energy needs. Blue answered,“why not             Moormann paper was nothing
                                                                                                           and development being done in South Africa and

think in terms of 60 000 nuclear power
                                                              less than masterful.”

plants?” This is the kind of big idea that the                                                             In the past 12 years there has been extensive
general population needs to hear, and get                                                                  consultation with researchers in Germany who were
excited about, in these troubling times of the                                                             generous in sharing their experiences with PBMR
ongoing financial crash that is affecting every       I would like to see a rapid increase in the          and have made many helpful suggestions. None of
industry and every person on the planet.              development of nuclear power. I think what           them ever mentioned any problems with the fuel
                                                      has been announced by different countries            performance.
I would like to thank the members of the              around the world is a step in the right
organising committee of the HTR 2008
                                                                                                           “We are confident in the PBMR safety case as
                                                      direction, but only a baby step. What is
conference for fighting to invite Dr. Rainer
                                                                                                           presented in a concise document we prepared prior
                                                      needed is a real “man-on-the-moon”-type
Moormann of the Jülich research center in
                                                                                                           to the conference, which is based on thorough
                                                      mobilisation for nuclear power on a
Germany to give a presentation and defend his
                                                                                                           research” says Dr Koster. The document was the
                                                      worldwide scale. To this end, the high
report, "Re-Evaluation of the Safety of the
                                                                                                           result of the combined effort of PBMR analysts and
                                                      temperature reactors are a vehicle for the
AVR Pebble Bed Reactor Operation and its
                                                                                                           their USA colleagues. It presents cogent arguments
                                                      real development of Africa and the under-
Consequences for the Future HTR Concepts".
                                                                                                           about the PBMR safety case, and has been generally
                                                      developed countries of the world.
In his report, Moormann says that the pebble

bed design is unsafe and needs air-tight
                                                                                                           “PBMR is always glad to have the opportunity to
containment. Furthermore, Moormann stayed
                                                         Gregory Murphy is Associate Editor of the         present our safety case in publications and
around after his talk to answer questions for
                                                         21st Century Science and Technology               participate in scientific debates” concludes Dr.
most of the afternoon.
                                                         Magazine.                                         Koster.

                                                                                                                                 HTR Conference 2008           11

Fuel and fission products in the Jülich
AVR pebble bed reactor
A summary of the paper presented at HTR 2008 by Heinz Nabielek, Karl Verfondern and Michael J Kania.
Together with the Dragon and the Peach Bottom           Measured AVR core release rates of short-lived            and an accumulated fluence of fast neutrons up to
reactors, the AVR Jülich was one of the world's first   fission gases and the cumulative release of caesium       6x1025 m-2 (E>16 fJ).
high temperature reactors (HTRs) and the only one       can be accounted for quantitatively. This works by
                                                                                                                  Also, AVR has provided a large number of real-time
with a pebble-bed core.The AVR provided 15 MW           allowing for all the as-manufactured heavy metal
                                                                                                                  irradiated spherical fuel elements required for
of electrical power for 20+ years beginning in 1967.    contamination level in the spherical fuel elements
                                                                                                                  statistically significant accident condition testing.With
Originally planned to operate for only a few years,     from the 1960’s and 1970’s, and in-reactor coated
                                                                                                                  modern UO2 TRISO fuel, it was possible to
coolant exit temperatures were increased to 950°C       particle failures in some of these early fuel types.The
                                                                                                                  demonstrate retention of key fission products in
and power operation was extended to December            prediction of caesium and fission gas release is not
                                                                                                                  simulation tests of core heatup accidents, if
1988. The inherent safety features of gas-cooled        strongly dependent on assumptions of operational
                                                                                                                  temperatures are kept below 1600°C.
HTRs were demonstrated repeatedly with the AVR.         temperatures. On the other hand, the predicted
                                                        strontium core release is highly temperature              In the process, the pebble bed reactor design as well
In 21 years of AVR operation there were operating       dependent.The high levels of strontium release are        as particles and spherical fuel elements have been
incidents and early, poor quality fuel. On the whole    mainly from one fuel type where carbide kernels           optimised to promise an economical nuclear system
though, both the pebble concept and the spherical       were unfortunately covered with PyC only coatings         with inherently safe characteristics.
fuel elements were robust enough to avoid any           in combination with high fuel temperatures, well
problems. With the available operational data, it is    beyond 1250°C. It was, however, additional                  Heinz Nabielek was until his retirement involved with the
possible to reproduce operational history and fission   irradiations in Material Test Reactors which                Institute of Energy Research, Forschungszentrum in Jülich,
product releases. This is an ongoing effort that        demonstrated that modern HTR fuel remains intact            Germany. Karl Verfondern is still with the Institute and
provides many challenges.                               and retains fission products up to 1200°C, 12% FIMA
                                                                                                                    Michael Kania is from Averill Park, New York, USA.

PBMR radionuclide source term analysis
validation based on AVR operating experience
A summary of the paper presented at HTR 2008 by Dirk Olivier                                                      DAMD results with the measured AVR values
(Independent Nuclear Consultants) Coenraad Stoker, Lize Stassen, Frederik                                         are very promising.
Reitsma and Hanno Van der Merwe.
                                                                                                                  The paper therefore demonstrates that
                                                                                                                  DAMD is a valuable design tool based on real
The paper presented briefly describes the               described, followed by the demonstration of               operating plant experience. The use of DAMD
methodology followed to calculate the PBMR              the validation potential of DAMD based on                 provides insight into the dust and radionuclide
radionuclide source terms within the PBMR               the operational data, experiments and                     distributions within typical HTRs such as the
pressure boundary. The two most important               measurements made during 21 years of                      AVR and PBMR. It is also clear that taking the
contributors to be determined for HTR                   operating life of the AVR reactor in Germany.             complete PBMR main power system, including
radionuclide source terms are the release of                                                                      filters and the spent fuel storage as source
fission and activation products from the fuel           The DAMD results presented in the paper                   term sinks into account, resulted in more
sphere and the activation of metal dust. The            clearly show that the reasons for the higher-             realistic source terms for design and safety
main drivers for the fission product release are        than-expected radionuclide sources within the             analyses.
the fuel temperatures, and the fuel quality and         AVR are due to the following:
the fuel performance at these temperatures.             G    In the historical AVR reactor analyses the           Therefore, the main conclusion is that the
The key drivers for the metal dust activation                pebble bed by-pass flows were not taken              ability to model the measured AVR fuel
are the metal dust production rate and the                   into account which then resulted in higher           temperatures and measured contamination
deposition and lift-off properties for the metal             than expected fuel temperatures.                     levels with reasonable accuracy provides
dust.                                                   G    The different fuel types loaded into the             confidence that DAMD can be used for PBMR
                                                             AVR have different fission product                   design and safety evaluations.
To model the PBMR radionuclide source                        retention capabilities, resulting in higher
terms, taking all the contributing factors for               fission product releases for the "poorer"
these source terms into account, PBMR has                    fuel types.

developed the Dust and Activity Migration
                                                                                                                    Dirk Olivier proposed and developed the

and Distribution (DAMD) integrated software             Considering the modelling of the complete
                                                                                                                    DAMD methodology and programmed the

code system. The main focus of the paper is to          operating history of the AVR including the fuel
                                                                                                                    prototype code system.

demonstrate the application of the DAMD                 performance for the different fuel loads, and
                                                                                                                    AVR GmbH and FZJ gave their expert support

code concept to a complete HTR plant. The               considering the complexity of atomic plate-out
                                                                                                                    and information on the AVR reactor, fuel types,

underlying theory and code calibration are              and dust migration, the comparisons of the
                                                                                                                    and AVR operating history and measurements.

12 HTR Conference 2008
                                                                                                               PROCESS HEAT

Conference buzzes with talk about
PBMR and process heat potential
By Lee S. Langston

The Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) was the “star” of HTR 2008, says Prof. Lee S. Langston from the University
of Connecticut.While the conference provided a comprehensive overview of technical and business progress relating
to high temperature reactors in general, the South African delegation lead the way.

As a United States citizen, I found the HTR          second day’s first plenary session, speakers       treat an HTR as a “black box” from which the
conference discussions and presentations             from around the world outlined their HTR           company would purchase the reactor output
promising and upbeat, sharply contrasting with       programmes. PBMR CEO Jaco Kriek’s                  energy. In my view, this introduces a new
the downbeat U.S. Congress’s $700 billion            presentation was noteworthy, for it showed         business model for an HTR Original
financial bailout deliberations, going on            how far along the PBMR team was, compared          Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), such as
concurrently in the Capitol a few blocks from        to other international HTR programmes.             PBMR. The OEM would have intimate
the conference hotel.                                                                                   knowledge of the nuclear regulatory process
                                                                                                        and HTR operation, putting it in a unique
The Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR), was               “The future is bright and the                  position to offer a profitable process heat
the “star” of the HTR conference. Be it the            high temperature reactor's time                  “service” to the oil company. In my own field
subject of a keynote speech, the focus of a                                                             of gas turbines, jet engine OEMs are delighted
technical session presentation, or the topic of
                                                              has finally come.”                        to offer “power by the hour” to airlines. The
lively hallway discussions, PBMR was definitely                                                         OEM owns and maintains the aircraft’s jet
the “buzzword” of the conference. Amidst the         By the second day of the conference I was          engines and charges the airline for their use.
200 technical presentations given to some 500        starting to learn how important the process
attendees, the authoritative level and extent of     heat market could be for HTRs, augmenting its      A very good paper presentation was given by
PBMR technical work was obvious. While               range of application beyond electric power         Antony Morris on the use of a PBMR as a
other HTR systems were outlined in                   plants and hydrogen production. The plenary        source of high quality process heat for
presentations featuring largely paper studies,       session on the third and last day of the           extraction of bitumen (heavy petroleum oil)
PBMR presentations for the most part,                conference featured an enlightening array of       from the oil sands of Canada, based on a
concentrated on solid analysis, design and           speakers representing potential HTR endusers.      conference paper by him and his coauthors
engineering advances. As a past editor of an         Dan Keuter, Vice President of Entergy, the         from PBMR and The Shaw Group. These oil
ASME technical journal I would urge PBMR             second largest nuclear plant operator in the       sands, covering an area larger than England,
authors to consider submitting their HTR             USA, gave an optimistic view of the market for     represent the second largest proven oil
conference papers to an appropriate journal,         HTRs, from an electric utility perspective. His    reserves in the world. Currently about 1000
if they haven’t already done so. At least some       estimate was that there would be a solid need      cubic feet of natural gas is combusted for every
of the PBMR presentations I attended, would          for 500 HTRs between 2020–2050.                    barrel of bitumen recovered. Use of a PBMR
be worthy of preservation in an archival                                                                for process heat would do the same job,
technical journal.                                   Jeffrey Hedges, Division Manager for Chevron,      without using valuable Canadian natural gas,
                                                     discussed the use of HTRs for unconventional       and would eliminate the CO2 that is now
During the first day’s keynote sessions, the         fossil-fuel resource recovery, such as oil sands   produced.
speakers all expressed the view that there is a      and heavy oil, as well as in conventional oil
definite need and a large potential market for       refinery process heat applications. He made        In summary, the Washington D.C. HTR
the high temperature nuclear reactor. In the         the case that an oil company would want to         conference provided an in-depth view of
                                                                                                        current gas-cooled nuclear reactor technology,
                                                                                                        both for experts and for novices like myself. It
                                                                                                        was made clear to the audience that HTRs
                                                                                                        hold great promise in electric power
                                                                                                        production and in a vast array of process heat
                                                                                                        applications. It was obvious to me and many
                                                                                                        other attendees I held discussions with, that
                                                                                                        PBMR is the clear leader in the HTR arena.

                                                                                                        Lee S. Langston is Professor Emeritus at the
                                                                                                        Department of Mechanical Engineering at the
                                                                                                        University of Connecticut. He is a Fellow of
                                                                                                        the American Society of Mechanical
                                                                                                        Engineering Engineers (ASME) and has
                                                                                                        served as Editor, ASME Journal of Engineering
                                                                                                        for Gas Turbines and Power.
                                       Professor Lee S. Langston

                                                                                                                          HTR Conference 2008       13

HTRs: essential for powering
the future
By Marjorie Hecht

“I have been campaigning for nuclear power for more than 30
years, as a writer and a political activist. I visited General Atomics
in 1978, and was familiar back then with the pebble bed
technology through my political colleagues in Germany, who
worked closely with Rudolf Schulten, and I’m excited about the
future of the industry.”
                                                                                                                          Marjorie Hecht

Historically, the USA nuclear industry has               tracing the development of the PBMR, which              the 1960s, the Atoms for Peace programme
considered us to be too "pro-nuclear". But               he characterised as "a young bull elephant", and        had the concept of "nuplexes," agro-industrial
support of nuclear power is not an end in itself;        the challenges that lie ahead.                          complexes centered on a nuclear plant that
without nuclear (and in the future, fusion), the                                                                 would provide electricity and process heat, but
world cannot advance and sustain a growing               I attended the sessions on the topic of fuel            also serve as educational centres for training a
population.                                              because I was particularly interested in studies        new industrial workforce.
                                                         of methods of reprocessing used HTR fuel
The four-day conference on high temperature              (none were presented), which I think is the
reactors was a bright spot of optimism in an             most efficient way to go. The United States             “We've calculated that the world
otherwise gloomy Washington D. C. , pre-                 ended its reprocessing programme in the
                                                         1970s, under the guise of nonproliferation, but
                                                                                                                   needs 6 000 nuclear reactors
occupied with financial blowouts and bailouts.
The attendance was surprisingly high, with so            the real story is that the anti-nuclear faction         (of 1 000 megawatts equivalent)
many more than expected that there were not              used this as a way to kill civilian nuclear power,      by the year 2050 to keep up with
enough printed programmes. The mood was                  by creating the bugaboo of an "insoluble" waste
decidedly upbeat.                                        problem.                                                       electricity demand.”

For me, it was the first chance to meet in               The fourth-generation reactors, specifically the
person the PBMR people with whom I had                   PBMR and the General Atomics GT-MHR, are                This is exactly what we need again today,
long been communicating via email, and to get            essential engines to power the future of                across the globe. The LaRouche movement
a more vivid sense of the progress that has              mankind. Civilization will not survive unless the       has promoted a programme for a World Land-
occurred in moving an idea into the                      world changes course, adopts a New Bretton              Bridge, connecting the entire world via a
construction phase. CEO Jaco Kriek graciously            Woods financial architecture, and begins a              network of high-speed Maglev rail links, tunnels,
spent more than an hour talking with me,                 gigantic programme of world development. In             and bridges, with new cities and industrial
                                                                                                                 complexes. The workhorse power supply for
                                                                                                                 this development is the HTR (both the PBMR
                                                                                                                 and the GT-MHR).

                                                                                                                 We've calculated that the world needs 6 000
                                                                                                                 nuclear reactors (of 1 000 megawatts
                                                                                                                 equivalent) by the year 2050 to keep up with
                                                                                                                 electricity demand.The simplicity and safety of
                                                                                                                 the PBMR and the GT-MHR design, and its
                                                                                                                 mass producibility, make it ideal to begin this
                                                                                                                 task immediately, especially in those areas of
                                                                                                                 the world where the power grid is now too
                                                                                                                 small for a conventional nuclear plant. Looking
                                                                                                                 50 to 100 years ahead, these developing areas
                                                                                                                 will be able to add nuclear units to their grids
                                                                                                                 as their economies develop.

                                                                                                                   Marjorie Hecht is managing editor of 21st
                                                                                                                   Century Science and Technology magazine
 The Yonggwang site in South Korea where six new nuclear reactors have been commissioned since the turn of the     and science editor of Executive Intelligence
         millennium. Thirty new nuclear plants are currently under construction worldwide and more than            Review, the political weekly associated with
     a 100 planned, but according to the author, this is not enough. The world needs 6000 nuclear reactors by      economist Lyndon LaRouche.
                                     2050 to keep up with electricity demand.

14 HTR Conference 2008
                                                                                                                         LESSONS FOR THE FUTURE

Lessons learnt at HTR 2008
By Dr. Gideon Greyvenstein

This is the most important conference on HTR technology in the world and it only occurs
every other year so PBMR has to make the most of each opportunity. Coupling that with
the global interest in PBMR, this was a premier opportunity to demonstrate what PBMR
is really capable of doing.

HTR 2008 provided the PBMR team with four main         facilities and test programmes, code validation
learning tracks                                        benchmarking and advanced engineering
G valuable technical exchanges and insights;
G stronger technical relationships with leading        Developing these opportunities will strengthen
  engineers and scientists around the world;           PBMR’s capability in each agreed area, add substantial
G personal development for authors and                 credibility to the PBMR design robustness, and speed
  presenters from writing about and conveying          up acceptance in the marketplace. Additionally, many
  their results to a highly professional and           of the opportunities will benefit the PBMR DPP
  knowledgeable audience;                              programme and add confidence within the South
G the global importance and interest in the            African regulatory process.
  PBMR programme progress.

                                                                                                                                Dr. Gideon Greyvenstein
                                                       Between now and the next HTR conference, in 2010,
Added to this is the fact that the PBMR team is able   PBMR has to focus on the following tracks; delivering
to better understand the context of their daily work   a high quality Safety Analysis Report to the National
and find new ways or new resources to help              Nuclear Regulator with all the needed underpinning        in both traditional electricity applications and in new
complete the demonstration power plant (DPP) with      design, testing and safety analysis; and, continuing to   and unimaginable ways where the combinations of
greater overall confidence and surety.                  achieve all of the DPP and Pilot Fuel Plant milestones    process heat, electricity and desalinated water have
                                                       from our global supply chain, all at or exceeding         the potential to literally change the world.
Several members of the team, in conjunction with       reference quality requirements.
the USA members of the PBMR team, have identified                                                                  Dr. Gideon Greyvenstein is General Manager:
specific new opportunities to collaborate with USA      Based on lesson’s learnt at HTR 2008, our message          Engineering at Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (Pty)
national laboratories and the Chinese HTR              to stakeholders is: believe in the coming market. It is    Ltd.
programme on technical advances including test         larger, sooner and ever more ready to accept nuclear

  An elephant yes, but it’s colour isn’t white
   Anti-nuclear activists who often refer to the       undisciplined, as they do not have parents to guide       conducted
   PBMR project as a “white elephant” in their         them, teach them the ropes and keep them in check         a safety culture
   insatiable quest to discredit the pebble bed        when they get out of control.”                            review on
   technology, might be on the right track about                                                                 request of the
   their description of the kind of animal we are,     According to Kriek, this is very much what                company. “Their
   but they’ve got the colour wrong.                   happened to PBMR when Eskom cut the umbilical             findings helped us to improve
                                                       cord a few years back. “Like young elephants, we          the safety culture within the
   According to Jaco Kriek, CEO of Pebble Bed          were often guilty of ill discipline, hence the            organisation. Metaphorically speaking,
   Modular Reactor (Pty) Ltd, it is quite              suspension of manufacturing activities that Eskom         one can say institutions such as the NNR,
   appropriate to liken the company to an elephant.    imposed upon PBMR and its suppliers on the                the IAEA and the Institute of Nuclear
   “But instead of a white elephant, I would like to   instruction of the National Nuclear Regulator             Power Operations (Inpo), together with
   think we are simply a young, strong, disciplined    (NNR).”                                                   PBMR’s international investor,Westinghouse,
   one.”                                                                                                         took over Eskom’s matriarchal role.”
                                                       PBMR has learnt valuable lessons in this process.
   In his presentation at the HTR conference in        “We got our house in order and the NNR                    Although PBMR is still a young company, Kriek
   Washington, Kriek reminded delegates that           subsequently lifted the stop order, which enabled         believes that the “elephant” has evolved into a
   there are a lot of elephants in South Africa.       our suppliers like SGL Carbon of Germany and              strong, disciplined animal. “We have no doubt
                                                       Equipos Nucleares SA (Ensa) to resume production          that if we heed the advice and guidance of our
   “Sometimes,” he said, “their numbers increase       activities.”                                              matriarchs, we will go from strength to
   to the extent that many of them – normally the                                                                strength and be able to hold our proverbial
   young ones – have to be relocated. When this        Kriek also referred to the International Atomic           trunks high when the world’s first commercial
   happens, these young animals often become           Energy Agency (IAEA), who early in 2006                   high temperature reactor is commissioned.”

                                                                                                                                      HTR Conference 2008           15

PBMR’s impressions of HTR 2008
“HTR 2008 was a great showcase for high
temperature reactor (HTR) technology and
advancements being made worldwide in bringing
the carbon-free benefits of nuclear power to non-
electrical segments of the energy consuming
public. PBMR personnel were particularly
well received for their presentation quality,
depth of knowledge and relative youth.
The most frequent questions were: Can it
be licensed? And when can we get
one? Answers: yes, and 2018 and
Ed Wallace: Sr. General Manager-USA

“The HTR 2008 conference was really well
organised and it is clear, based on the number of
attendees and the number and quality of papers,
that the interest in HTRs is rising. It was a privilege   different HTR teams
to be able to attend a meeting of this magnitude.         to collaborate, some-thing
                                                                                                                                       The PBMR stand at the
It is clear that PBMR is not alone with the               that bodes well for the industry.”
                                                          Gideon Greyvenstein: General
                                                                                                                                       HTR 2008
challenges we face and that there are really
knowlegeable people who can and want to assist            Manager: Engineering
us in making this technology work.”
Carel Viljoen: Engineering                  Specialist:   “The conference covered most key topics. I do feel                   Conference on Nuclear Power
Computational Fluid Dynamics.                             that topics related to, but not specifically nuclear              Plants. The theme of the conference
                                                          in nature, such as engineering, finance, human                was the “The Nuclear Renaissance”.
“Having attended three of these bi-annual                 resources and economics relating to HTR               Between then and now, the question changed
conferences, my impression is that there is a             technology, could be accommodated in future. As       from “whether we should go nuclear” to “how fast
significant increase in interest in HTRs. This was         far as PBMR is concerned, I would like to             can we go nuclear?”
partly due to a large contingent of USA                   commend all those who presented papers as well        Zainuddin Karriem: Chief Nuclear Analyst; Data
participants and also a sizeable PBMR delegation,         as staff who organised the PBMR contingent. I         Methods and Code; Nuclear Engineering Analysis
but it was also reflected in the number and                consider such platforms as key to development
quality of the papers presented. Of particular            and there should be a way of ensuring that even       “My participation at HTR 2008 was based on
interest was the plenary session with senior              more staff members are given the opportunity to       the need to interact and engage with other
speakers from the petrochemical industry. A               attend.”                                              relevant role-players on licensing issues relating
decidedly increased interest in nuclear for steam         Nhlanhla Ngiba: Product Market Champion,              to HTRs, and in particular PBMR. The conference
production and steam reforming was obvious. It            Business Development Department                       presented an opportunity to facilitate effective
was clear that a significant amount of work lies                                                                 and open communication with the regulatory
ahead in both licensing process heat applications         “The continued growth of this conference shows        authorities. It was a pity that one couldn’t attend
and informing the public about the safety of              the increasing international interest in nuclear      all the sessions presented at the conference as
having such nuclear installations close by, but the       power. Our CEO, Jaco Kriek, did us proud with his     there were so many that were relevant to the
future in that area looks brighter than ever.”            presentation and his response to questions put        PBMR. The ongoing studies to support the
Albert Koster, DSc: Senior Consultant Nuclear             forward.The most important impression I gained        development of HTRs globally is encouraging.”
Safety                                                    from the conference is that we are doing the right    Paul Sampson, Senior Safety Case Engineer:
                                                          things strategically and technically as a company.”   Nuclear Safety Case & Licensing
“PBMR was well represented at the HTR 2008                Isabel van Rooyen: Chief Analyst: Fuel Design
and it is clear that the international HTR                                                                      “The HTR 2008 conference was well-organised
community views PBMR as one of the leaders in             “On the topics presented at HTR 2008, it was          and well attended.The wide range of good quality
the field of high temperature gas-cooled reactors.         clear the PBMR has capable professionals to           and interesting technical papers presented made
Papers of the PBMR team were of a high quality            address the issues relating to the technology.We      it hard to decide which sessions to attend. The
and the presentations were well attended. The             are also addressing the right technical issues that   conference highlighted the global interest in high
meeting was also an excellent opportunity to              HTR technology presents. It was clear that the        temperature reactor technology, particularly the
network with other players in the HTR industry            licensing of new reactor technology is not a          PBMR technology an its process heat potential.
around the world. An interesting characteristic of        challenge that is unique to South Africa.The USA      The PBMR project has placed South Africa firmly
                                                                                                                                                                      Masson Design (011) 805 5342

the conference was the number of side meetings            and other countries intending to pursue the           on the global nuclear map.”
that took place. A noticeable trend was a greater         nuclear option, face similar challenges. Last year,   Ramatsemela Masango, PhD, SM: Multi-Product
awareness of the need and a willingness of the            I had the opportunity to attend the International     Nuclear Safety Assurance and Licensing

16 HTR Conference 2008

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