Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Enjoyed A Seward Get Away

  We had made cheap reservations in Seward Alaska for three nights this week. The weather did us fairly well, two beautiful sunny days and one overcast with sprinkles. The overcast day was spent inside the Sealife Center. That is where my GoPro died. It would not turn on at all, yet after a few minutes in my pocket, it got so hot I had to remove it and bounce it in my hand to hold it. I thought this baby was going up in flames. I took it back to the cabin and left it outside in an ashtray as it was still smoking hot. This morning it was cool and dead, so I brought it home with us. After having internet I contacted GoPro Tech Support and the guy acted like this was an everyday event. He talked me through a reset and had me put it on charge and tell him lights flashing. It appears to be working again, but my trust is a bit shakey. They created a trouble ticket and I am to use it a few days and see if it does it again. It is charged and appears to record and is staying cool. I will empty the memory chip for safe keeping and store it on a metal hot plate tonight. Me and electronics.

  Most places we like to eat are closed for the season now. We were shocked to see the Seward Brewery was closed until Spring. 

Two sad people in the reflection

The good Chinese restaurant went out of business and the building is for sale. The so-so/crappy one is the only game in town now and has the business, just not ours. 

Squid and cod chunks trying to ween 3 month old Walrus off milk

 We walked a lot and enjoyed the sunny days. Not many campers there now, most are locals from Anchorage. A ship was in on the first sunny day and the town was overrun with sightseers and I thought perhaps too many shops closed too soon. 

Milk was what he wanted and he gets it every three hours, perhaps that is why he weighs 200 pounds now

  Verizon does not have 4G service there, just phone calls and texts. The cabin did not have internet, so I was glad I had a collection of movies on my laptop for the rainy day.

He is upset the human climbed the ladder and left him alone, they are also trying to wean him of people
 Pics through rained on window took with a cell phone.

A sunny day in Seward is hard to beat

  We mostly cooked in our cabin but did have a pizza for the trip back home today. The pizza place closed for the season yesterday, so we had one from a place that had just got an automatic pizza maker. That is a device I could use as my new hobby. I was impressed with the quality of the thin crust mushroom and olive pizza. One of those in an old mail truck with a generator to power it and I could cruise the hood around dinner time.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Our Little Cabana Is OK

  We got a call from our neighbor who was allowed back on the island today. From an outside walk around she saw no damage on roof, windows, and walls. 

 We got electricity today as was confirmed by a call from FPL the power company and our neighbor. Water will be restored hopefully by Monday, per a call from the utility. Our neighbor said there were many townhomes damaged ( siding and shingles missing ) and the tree I despise bit the dust. That tree being gone is great news, it has left its leaves on my car for the last time.

  She went inside her house and everything was fine so she thinks our Cabana next door is the same. She and her friend will not stay on the island yet as it would not be fun with no water. It was just a RECON visit.

Anchorage news says 27 murders in town so far in 2017 as compared with 34 murders total in 2016. We are not a big city, this is amazing. None in our hood yet.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Linemen Have A Big Job

Having Rainbow Hopes For Our Cabana

  Our island home in Brevard County has been in the news a lot today. Being 14 feet above sea level does make flooding a possibility. The island has been evacuated since last Tuesday and I hope everyone left. Disney World should get the last of the high winds and is reporting gusts of 90 MPH now. By the top of the hour, it should be past the park. After the storm passes, power company Linemen will have a massive job on their hands. Thousands of trees will have blown down power lines and poles. It takes a lot of coordinated work as power must be isolated from lines being worked on and load sharing as lines are fixed. my hat off to them.
  Update: 6.53 million electric customers without power. Major infrastructure damage to be fixed 1st.
Brevard County lost water pressure and system compromised, so water boil required. Big problem is sewage lift stations lost power, so when people in high buildings flush toilets it goes into peoples homes, very bad and they are asking people not to flush. Perhaps it is best the fresh water failed as they can't get rid of sewage. 
Glad I am not there.   

  It was a sunny nice day for driving Kathy and her friend from Hawaii to see sights in Anchorage. After we dropped her off it was raining in our hood.  It was a fun day with a happy natured fun person.

  We had a classical music concert on Friday and really enjoyed it. It was a good change from staying inside on rainy days. We had another concert today and enjoyed it also.

Brenda enjoyed her day with us.
They both enjoyed their time together
She even had a good moose sighting

Sunday, September 3, 2017

EBR-1 Dos

  We are in the basement of EBR-1. This door blocks radiation and access to the room below the reactor pressure vessel. The vessel was hanging from the thick floor above with a lot of space around it. This room contains a lifting table on which the reflecting cup was placed. The table was mounted on a hefty hydraulic cylinder which could lift up to the bottom of the vessel. 

  This room is quite complex, but with no light and 2 foot thick window, I did not get a pic. There are two other rooms connected to it with thick electric moved doors between them. A rolling electric hoist could move from room to room through those doors. Once the reactor was critical no one could enter this room. The reflector cup was about 3 feet in diameter and 3 feet tall with 1 foot thick walls made from small yet heavy blocks of depleted U-238.

  This is a Fast Neutron Reactor and was not controlled like a slow neutron reactor is with neutron capturing rods. This reactor relies on a neutron source and a reflector to effectively create critical mass. It is safer as if the core is left alone it will quit and cool down. That is a genius design as it makes it 100% safe and vastly reduces waste products. So the cup must surround the core for it to be critical, that is why the cup is on top of a hydraulic jack, release the pressure and the ten ton cup will glide quickly to the floor. That is how the SCRAM is so simple and fool proof.
Turntable in cup repair room

   Slowly the cup itself would turn into Pu 239 and Pu 240. The isotope 240 is radioactive with a short half life, if enough collects it could go critical on it's own.  It should be clear why the reflector was made of blocks and two rooms were built to replace all the U-238 in the cup on a regular basis.

  The cup repair room is quite interesting and still somewhat of a mystery to me how they moved the heavy cup between rooms. We met a worker from the day on our first visit, but he did not know how it was done as he worked the top side of the reactor. This time we got no help. A good reason to return for more looking and thinking. There are rolling hoists with electric slip wires and it appears they could travel through the door. It is the how it was done that puzzles us.

  The transport hoist was controlled by this panel in an area safe from radiation.

  So now it is time to move on to reactor cooling or heat recovery. We know NAK the heavy corrosive liquid metal was fed into the core at the bottom in a low temp state and rose inside the core to exit the top very hot cooling the core. The hot NAK flowed to a heat exchanger where the heat transferred to NAK loop 2, This was done to allow only a small amount of NAK to be in contact with the reactor pressure vessel and fuel core. After the exchange of heat, the NAK went into a receiver tank before being pumped by magnetism back into the gravity flow tank above and behind the top of the reactor.

  Now that we have left the reactor and all radiation behind, NAK loop 2 is just as hot and travels to an NAK to H2o Steam Super Heater then to an NAK to H2o Steam Boiler and then to an NAK to H2o Feed Water Economizer.

Economizer warms feed water

  This flow removes heat from the NAK loop 2 and now it is at it's coolest point. 
Mud Tank and vertical boiler tubes The Steam Drum is on top
This turns the feed water into wet steam

   It now flows downhill into the receiving tank and from there is magnetically pumped back to the heat exchanger to get hot again. There is a drain tank just like the primary system has that will hold the entire amount of NAK in the system, they are both located in pits below the basement level.
Super Heater makes dry steam

  Now that we have left the NAK behind we have dry superheated steam. It can take two paths, one is through a steam turbine to make mechanical energy or the other is directly into a condenser to become feed water again. That brings me to feed water. It is special stuff, super pure and clean, no minerals etc to scale up a boiler or destroy a turbine. Condensor water is just plain drinking water and makes a loop outside to fan cooling radiators and is pumped back nice and cool to the condenser. 
Condensor instantly turns steam into feed water

  As the steam came to the turbine it was throttled to allow a slow start and then maintain a constant speed of the turbine. Anyone who knows more about this 1940's single pass steam turbine please leave a comment. 
Steam Turbine Governor end and feed pipes
Closeup of speed control

  This turns the dry steam into a rotational mechanical energy. The shaft of the turbine spins very fast and then enters a gear speed reduction unit built by Murray. The output from the Murray unit is 1200 RPM. The Generator connects to the 1200 RPM shaft and is rated at 300KW. It has a DC voltage exciter on the end of the shaft.

  The small electric motor drives an oil pump that lubricates the gear speed reduction unit.

  The much cooler wet steam exited the turbine through the bottom and went into the condenser under the floor to be made back into feed water again.

  So now you know this is the first place on Earth that splitting atoms created electrical energy and powered the first town in the USA, ARCO Idaho.
ARCO was powered in 1954 from Borax III.  

 There is a story with that also, told to us a few years back by a volunteer at this site. He had worked as an electrician during that time on this site. As I recall it somewhat like the space program, they got a man in space and told the President and then he said we are going to the Moon. 
 These guys were rushed and got 4 light bulbs powered by the exciter output. That got to the President and he went to make a world announcement that they had powered up a town.
 They had to pay dearly to have the wires and poles etc run to the closest town ASAP and that is how ARCO got the first atomic power. Pure Politics.

  Now, this was not the first reactor by a long shot. The USA had at least 8 in weapons production and Russia had them and England and back in the day, Germany did have one. They were all slow neutron reactors as are all USA power plants, most being Westinghouse AP-1000 units. 
Control Room
Info on museum:

 EBR II was a self-contained fuel recycling plant. A neat concept that worked. Once loaded with weapons grade Pu-239 and a blanket of depleted U-238. It could run for years and years with no possibility of blowing up or melting down. The waste from it was minimal. It really was the perfect power answer, but two things killed it. Westinghouse lobbyists and the question, who could be trusted with a power plant that ran on and produced more weapons grade Plutonium. We could have had almost free electricity for hundreds of years.
 Someone in France thought it was a good idea and they have been selling slightly enriched fuel for slow neutron reactors around the world for many years. Just like drug dealers, they cut their Pu-239 with U-238. MOX made at Tricastin.
 Russia has had a BN-600 and BN-800 Fast Neutron Sodium cooled Breeder reactors running for 30 years now. Kinda a copy of EBR-II. 

  Note: A good tour from a Technician who worked this site. 

EBR 1 Haroldsen Tour   on Youtube

Saturday, September 2, 2017

EBR-1 Snapshots

  Now that the trip is finished and I am being a slug at home, I thought someone might like to see what it looks like in the EBR-1 museum. This is a special point in history when a wild idea of Enrico Fermi was put to test. Could weapons-grade U-235 be controlled in a stable chain reaction?

 The site was chosen because an atom bomb detonation, would hardly be noticed or kill many people and it was already a 16-inch gun test firing area owned by the government with railroad access.

Reactor core being lowered into place inside the pressure vessel 

  The test if successful would be similar to having a car that made more gas than it used when driving. Wouldn't it be nice to have to drain extra gas after each drive?

  I know this is a crappy pic, but it is the only one I have of this sign. It gives the timeline of EBR-1.

The first electricity from atoms lit 4 lamps, yet it was a trick for political reasons. the smaller grey area with the lift ring on top is the exciter that makes DC electricity for the generator armature magnets. It was used to light the lamps, as they did not have an electrician to get the generator working when the famous picture was taken.

  The Experimental Breeder Reactor was a wild idea and used liquid metal cooling which is very explosive / reactive with air and extremely so with water. The metal was liquid at room temp as it was a mixture of Sodium and Potassium metals. It looked and acted somewhat like Mercury.  If you remember chemistry class, there were two or more metals that were stored in jars filled with kerosene. They were soft like butter and small pieces removed would start oxidizing right away. Those were these guys.
  The NAK was made by mechanically rubbing the two elements together. They bond easy and turn to a liquid, this is the liquid metal used to remove heat from the fuel rods.

  Some areas of the building will never lose their radioactivity due to a test that was done to see if it were possible to blow the reactor up. They are off limits to visitors and safe to be around.
  Near the end of tests needed, Argonne Labs requested a complete meltdown of the core to see what would happen. All liquid metal flow was stopped. The rods in the core got too hot and melted and this caused the reaction to cease. No Ka Boom as some had thought would happen. The only problem being radioactive Cesium 137 mixed with the NAK in the inner cooling loop. The core was removed and shipped to Argonne for inspection. The clean up would prove to be a problem though, so the NAK was removed and stored somewhere. Some of it is still trapped in nooks and crannies of pipes and pumps.

   The museum is completely safe to visit since it opened to the public as a historic landmark. There is no way this could be built today. The people working on it knew it could and probably would kill them. Yet it was people like that who did the experiment to provide limitless power to the world. 

There was a EBR II and it proved to be a miracle for limitless power production, but it was torn down and no longer exists. They do have an annex of this building devoted to it.  

Cone is thick lead and was used to shield old rods being removed from core
  I really need to remember to get flat with a pic to take a pic, my bad. 

  The new unused fuel rods were stored in a safe vault. This was 93% U-235 and enough to make several bombs was in this safe, the loaded reactor held enough to make about 25 modern bombs. The military did not want this walking out the front gate. The rods were completely safe to handle by hand until they were placed inside the core. 

Each cap held one hot used fuel rod, they were held here until they became less radioactive

  Once the rods were inside the core transmutations occur and wild isotopes are created and the rods are extremely radioactive, so a shield was needed to remove them and place them in the red tank to burn off short half-life isotopes. Then they were moved to a hot room to be disected and inspected.

  Hopefully, I am making some sense. If you find this interesting enough to read anyway.

  This next pic is through the thick glass and shows the remote hands inside the cell.

  This was nasty chemistry. Fuming nitric acid etc.

  So that is the fuel path through the building. Most fuel work was done in buildings now gone. Clean and friendly going in and dirty and nasty coming out.

  Getting late, and probably lost most readers already anyway. Tomorrow I will make a 2nd post to cover the reflector cup, primary NaK loop, secondary NaK loop and steam generation to electricity making.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Trip Post 7

  We traveled to ARCO Id to see the EBR-1 at the INL complex.  No, it is not the pic above, that is far more complex and magical. 

  It was very busy at the tourist site and security was controlling cars, one out and then one in. I suggested we skip it since we could both describe it in our sleep and it would be crowded with people. He wanted a pic of a particular pipe and a number from a pump. So we parked after someone left and went out of the hot sun and into a cool building.

  No idea what this machine is, but it takes a big tractor to pull it.

  Cute terrified volunteer's second day at work. I felt sad for her as she had no clue what the building was or how it worked and the tour guides had not shown up yet.

  This is the 8 cylinder BUDA diesel engine and generator that powered the complex 24x7. They were off the grid as it is called now. 

  This Wisconson powered genset was the backup power. The green tank was dry compressed air. used to operate air powered servos and for cooling air in reflector.

  Being in Idaho, heat for the building was needed so this is the oil fired boiler. As you can see we started in the utility room, as no one else was there and the place was way too crowded with tourists. 

  This reactor used weapons grade U-235 for fuel in a fast neutron reaction. All the fuel was in pencil size rods( 0.35 inch) that lived in the center hex. one of the rods was a neutron source, since bomb grade U-235 is not radioactive. All the holes around it had larger rods made of depleted U-238 which was the breeder blanket. Outside of the pressure vessel was a foot thick cup made of U-238 blocks that could be raised for more reflectivity and power or lowered to stop the reactor. It used a hydraulic ram and was powered by a self-contained system. 
SCRAM actuator

 The SCRAM system was a 6-inch ring hanging from the ceiling in the control room. It was on an aircraft quality cable that ran through pipes to the basement and connected to the hydraulic pressure quick release valve. Simple and reliable. A electric SCRAM button was on control panel and would release power to two normally open electric relay hydraulic pressure release valves.  

Fuel rod storage vault

 Fast neutrons from the high flux area in the center would mutate some of the U-238 into U-240 or Np 239 which then beta decayed down to Pu 239 which could be used as fuel in any reactor or to make a bomb.

  This is a good drawing of the reactor and it's cooling system. NaK was the liquid metal used to transfer heat generated by the reactor. It went through a heat exchanger to a 2nd NaK loop which in turn went to a superheater then boiler and the economizer to make steam to drive a small turbine genset. Why two loops? The first loop was in direct contact with the fuel rods and held a small quantity just in case it became contaminated.

 It is a totally safe and valid way to produce never ending power, but the USA had gone with a Westinghouse slow neutron boiling water design. France saw the value of this reactor and has safely used them for decades. Typical of USA to build better mouse trap and then ignore it. 

  Just another diesel pic, engines are interesting to me. 

  So there always has to be something I get myself into. In museums, there is always a professor know it all. I like following them just to hear their wacky ideas.

I told myself I would not even answer a simple question if asked on this fine day. 
  I needed to sit for a bit and went to the class room to chill out. There were a few people in there, but I found a chair. After too short of time a man came in with about five people in tow. He was explaining the site to them completely wrong. It was like he did not even read the tour guide the girl was handing out when you came in. I mean total BS.

  After a few minutes of that crap, I stood up and asked if anyone wanted to know how the site really worked. I heard a yes and went full steam ahead explaining the whole process and then saw the man's angry face and much to my surprise, I said 'excuse me I have problems other people do not have and just forget everything I said.' Then I quickly walked out and went into the basement.  

NAK receiving tank

 A while later a woman approached me and thanked me for explaining the reactor.  

Dave got the pic he wanted, this is the steam condenser and feed water pumps
  After this, it was a quick visit to ARCO ( first town to get nuclear power ) and Atomic City to see the race track and other odd things. It was a quick drive back to SLC, good food, and a nice nights sleep. We both flew back to our normal lives that morning, so this is the last trip post. Yet another great adventure with nephew Dave.