Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Post 75. Italy Returns to the Nuclear (2007)..


Italy Returns to the Nuclear. (2007).
In Italy, interest in atomic energy has resurged, opening the way to an energetic future heavily dependent on nuclear energy, twenty years after the Referendum held in 1987 that forced all nuclear stations to be closed.
Public and private enterprise, as well as the most prestigious italian Universities are by now fully engaged in all aspects of the complex production-flow of nuclear energy-: From the planning to the commissioning stages of the generating stations, including the handling and management of the produced fuel and of its by-products, in addition to the development of novel technologies which are going to make nuclear energy totally safe and non-pollutant, by the elimination of the by-products.
In fact, italian nuclear science has programmed a totally novel approach to the production of nuclear energy that shall result in the construction of nuclear generating plants which belong to the fourth generation in relation to existing production systems.
ENEL, a multinational enterprise of which Italy is an important member, is in fact spearheading the italian return to atomic energy, even if no construction of new nuclear stations is at present being considered in Italy, .
This Enterprise led by Piero Gnudi and Fulvio Conti is already fully established on the international arena, where it is exploring the potential for an expansion of its already vast activity in the field of the nuclear. Its declared objective is to achieve a diversification of its fuel-resources, at an inernational level, so as to make atomic energy the source of at least one third of its present, entire, energetic production of approximately 100,000 megawats. The latest achievement by ENEL in relation to this goal is the contract signed with EDF for a 12.5% of the nuclear station at Framanville, where the French are completing the building of a new model of nuclear reactor, the "Epr", a third generation nuclear reactor, which is programmed to replace all old reactors in the transalpine sytem. With this pact the ENEL has become a full part-owner of nuclear reactors, of the latest generation, with a life of at least 60 years, which offer increased guarantees in relation to safety, and the management and handling of the fuel and its by-products.
It should be observed that ENEL’s activities in the nuclear field are not limited to the french scenario. This multi-national Enterprise already owns four stations in Slovacchia, six in Spain and is planning to further expand its ativities in Eastern Europe, specifically in Russia, where negotiations are being held with ROSATOM for the acquisition of about ten stations, and in Bulgaria, where the ENEL has decided to participate in a tender involving the installaion of a second reactor in the station at Belene.
Giancarlo Aquilanti, the head of the nuclear-technological-department at ENEL, that numbers already approximately one hundred engineers, explains how ENEL is already operationally involved in all aspects of nuclear-fuel-production from second and third generation nuclear technologies.
Moreover, ENEL is not the only Enterprise through which italian industry is participating. In the field of designing, planning and construction of new plants, stations, etc., ANSALDO NUCLEARE together with ANSALDO CAMOZZI are in fact extremely active. The two Enterprises which are part of a larger Group FINMECCANICA, have recently completed the construction of a second reactor in Romania, and are shortly to be engaged in the construction of four plants in China.
It s not a coincidence that italian participation is focusing on Asia and Eastern Europe as these are the areas in which nuclear production is at its highest. However, in the recent few months, also the U.S.A. have decided to return to nuclear production-: The Federal Authorities have approved the construction of seven new plants while contemplating the authorisation of further 25.
In Europe also, new plants are being built, not only in Finland and France, but also
in Bulgaria, Romania and in the Ukraine. The future may see in fact a further increase in the number of nuclear plants since 80% of all european power stations, both those using fossil as well as nuclear fuels, are at present between 20 and 30 years old, thus needing replacement in the next 20 years.
Luigi Paganetto, president of ENEA, the "Research Centre for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment ", explains-: " In the nuclear sector, we have been paying the penalty for a technological neglect, as we found that, while traditional plants were becoming obsoleted, no new plants were yet available on the market. This meant the slowing down of the construction of new plants or the upgrading of existing ones, with the operators waiting for news of new reactors, equipment and technologies, still in the experimental stages. Now the scenario is becoming more dynamic."
The new reactors of the present nuclear Renaissance are the french " Epr" and the japanese-american "AP1000 of Westinghouse-Toshiba ", both of the third generation technology, with a life of at least 60 years, allowing the development of the third generation and a half and of the fourth generation nuclear technologies which are already under study.
It is to be noted that, Italian Univerities are deeply involved with the development of the reactors of the post-third generation leading to those of the desired fourth generation ( i.e., These reactors are supposed to not produce by-products).
Research in the field of nuclear energy-production has not ceased in the few italian Universities in which the Faculties of Nuclear Engineering have been preserved-: The Politecnics of Milan and Turin and the Univerities of Pisa, Roma and Palermo. Giuseppe Forasassi of the University of Pisa, president of the CITERN, the "Inter-universitary Consortium for Nuclear Energy Research and Technology", says-: " It is particularly annoying to hear people say that, in Italy we have lost the know-how in the field of the nuclear, as we are still working on all existing research-programs active in both Europe and in the world".
This is indeed a very well known and widely accepted truth and all enterprises involved witrh nuclear projects, have begun to hire italian researchers, particularly newly qualified engineers. Last year, ENEL has hired 21 of these and 40 have already been earmarked for next year.
Giancarlo Aquilanti, of ENEL comments that " Italian Universities produce engineers of the highest worth". In the years to follow these Universities shall certainly produce an increasing number. Enrolments are increasing although the growth of the specialisation is relatively slow. At the University of Palermo, close to one half of the students enrolled are women.
In fact, in spite of 20 long years of ostracism, budgets reduced to a minimum and severe reduction in the number of enrolments, it is a great surprise to find that the "italian Universities’ Nuclear Faculties" are so active.
In practice, the conribution of italian researchers is behind every modern reactor under study, testing, realisation and commissioning. As an example, the tests and responsibility for the installation of and safety measures for the latest reactor "AP1000 Westinhouse-Toshiba " have been carried out at Piacenza, in the establishment of SIET which is part of the ENEA’s Research Centre.
In the same Laboratories tests and commissioning programs are going to be soon run for "Iris" a reactor belonging to the third generation and a half.
Italian researchers are similarly among the researchers engaged in the realisation of the fourth generation reactor that is not going to produce objectionable by-products.
Italy is in fact a leader in the project "Elsy ", a reactor cooled by molten lead and developed with the backing of a european funding-consortium, by ANSALDO in association with CIRTERN, DELFUNGO GIERA ENERGIA, and ENEA.

Nations with the largest number of Nuclear Stations.
USA 104
France 59
Japan 55
Russia 31
Great Britain 20
North Corea 19
Canada 18
Germany 17
India 17
Ukraine 15
China 11
Sweden 10
Spain 8
Belgium 7
Cecoslovacchia 6
Slovacchia 5

Nations with authorised Nuclear Stations about to be built.
China 30
Japan 11
India 10
Russia 8
USA 7
South Corea 6
Canada 4
Bulgaria 2
Bielorussia 2
Indonesia 2
Iran 2
Pakistan 2
Romania 2
Ukraine 2
SouthAfrica 1
North Corea 1
Brasil 1
Argentina 1

Nations considering additional Nuclear Stations
Russia 7
India 6
China 5
Canada 2
Slovacchia 2
Japan 2
North Corea 2
France 1
Argentina 1
Finland 1
Romania 1
Iran 1
Pakistan 1


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