President Donald Trump’s energy dominance narrative -- fueled by the prolific production of oil and gas from America’s Shale Gale -- recently got a boost from the United States Navy. The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division filed a patent for a compact fusion reactor (CFR) last month, one that claims to improve upon the shortcomings of the Lockheed Martin Skunkworks CFR that uses similar “plasma confinement” technology.
Humanity's next giant leap could be enabled by next-gen nuclear tech, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. During the sixth meeting of the National Space Council (NSC) today (Aug. 20), the NASA chief lauded the potential of nuclear thermal propulsion, which would harness the heat thrown off by fission reactions to accelerate propellants such as hydrogen to tremendous speeds.
Last week’s mysterious nuclear accident in Russia became even more mysterious as the government admitted that a small nuclear reactor had exploded, killing seven people. Evidence is piling up that the incident is somehow related to Russia’s development of a nuclear-powered cruise missile, and President Donald Trump took to Twitter to state that the U.S. has a similar system.
If a nuclear-armed enemy Intercontinental Ballistic Missile were speeding its way through space towards a heavily populated U.S. target, commanders in charge of defending the homeland would at most have a mere 20-to-30 minutes to destroy the incoming weapon. With lives dangling upon a precipice of total devastation, and the earth’s future potentially in jeopardy, U.S. defenders would be tasked with finding, tracking and destroying the attacking nuclear missile.
Red lights start flashing in rapid succession, space-based infrared sensors detect a heat signature, somebody calls the President...and in what may seem like a matter of seconds, the U.S. launches an immediate, massive counterattack. F-35s, B-2 bombers, nuclear-armed Navy submarines, missile-armed destroyers, Ground Based Interceptors and satellites -- are all instantly thrust into action.
As partisan gridlock on a few high-profile issues dominates headlines, it is easy to lose sight of goals members of both parties share. For us, one bipartisan goal is protecting America’s longstanding leadership on nuclear energy. Our bipartisan work comes as American nuclear energy leadership faces stiff headwinds. Nuclear plants are shuttering nationwide due to competition from cheap natural gas.
The Trump administration has given permission to a handful of U.S. companies to engage in early stage nuclear energy trade with Saudi Arabia, igniting a new battle with Congress over plans to sell American-made reactors to the kingdom.
Nuclear is the largest source of clean energy in the USA, and the nation's nuclear plants are working more efficiently than ever, Korsnick said, adding they are "economic engines" for the communities they serve. In addition to new projects, such as the Vogtle units under construction in Georgia, she highlighted the application of developments such as digital technology, 3D printers, big-data analytics, and artificial intelligence to upgrade existing plants for extended operation.
The number of respondents who say they support or oppose the use of nuclear power is split evenly, with both those who approve and those who disapprove coming in at 49 percent, according to Gallup. A slightly lower percentage of Americans, 47 percent, are willing to say that nuclear power plants are "safe" choices for energy.
The U.S. nuclear industry is on life support. Two nuclear reactors currently under construction have been canceled. Westinghouse, once at the vanguard of American technology, filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and is now owned by a Canadian firm. These troubles have affected the human capital—technicians, engineers, and other specialists--crucial for innovation in the industry.