Prepare a 200- to 300-word history about the National Critical Technology (NCT)
technical application your team has selected to solve a local or national problem.
Since 1934, when Enrico Fermi
initiated the world’s first nuclear fission,
engineers and scientists alike have been working towards developing a nuclear power
reactor that would be able to satisfy energy consumers, please environmentalists,
and keep your wallet relatively full.
In the 1940’s scientists worked towards developing weapons for the military, including
, which were used to end WWII. During this time, experiments
uncovered knowledge that enriched our understanding of nuclear science and gave
us insight in to potential technological opportunities. By the early 1950’s we had
technologies like Hyman Rickover’s US Navy aircraft carrier USS Nautilus
, submarine vessel USS Triton
, and the
, a nuclear power plant used to power the entire town
of Arco, Idaho.
While the nuclear science aspect saw success, the political component fell fast.
In the 1970s nuclear proliferation became a topic of great concern as the Cold War
intensified between the USA and the USSR; during this
time leaders saw fear in their citizens’ eyes over the possibility of global nuclear
hostilities. In the next decade, the world was forced to witness the horrible catastrophes
at Three Mile Island
which gave rise to precautions towards safely
using nuclear energy.
Not all things nuclear were detrimental; our research produced many benefits, including
a clean economical energy solution. Significant economical impacts have been realized
in the 1990s and 2000s, which have led us to consider nuclear power as our single
" global leaders are making the switch to nuclear reactors as substitutes
for rapidly depleting fossil fuels
Although nuclear technology has yet to rid itself of all of its negative connotations,
in recent years much of its strong opposition has been quelled, allowing it to make astonishing advancements.
Cite three detailed examples of research done in the past 3 to 5 years which focused
on the NCT technical application your team selected. Include:
the funding agency,
the principal investigator's name, and
the institution where the research is or was being conducted.
In his 2011
State of the Union speech
on Jan 27th, President Barack Obama stated
that his Administration has set aside
in the 2012 budget to go towards research in modular nuclear
: In July of 2010 the
Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission
awarded a total of
$2.4 million grant
to the Babcock & Wilcox Company to create the B&W mPower Integrated System
at a site in
Bedford County, Virginia
. The President of B&W Nuclear Energy, Inc., Chris
Mowry, believes that this relocation will play an important role in moving forward
with the testing and licensing of
. The Integrated System Test (IST) will be built at the Center
for Advanced Engineering and Research (CAER) and is expected to be
operational in 2011
: In 2007 the US Department of Energy awarded
as part of the
Small Business Innovation Research Program
. FAR-TECH is using the
funds to research and develop an
Archimedes Plasma Mass Filter
to use in the
separation process for nuclear waste
. Reports of the
findings from their demonstration prototype
were reported by Richard
Freeman et al. at the AIP conference on December 15, 2003. Their US Patent #6,096,220 - Plasma Mass Filter
was awarded on August 1, 2000.
: In October of 2010, Oxford Technologies, Ltd, and Consorzio RFX
donated a combined £1M grant to the
Culham Centre for Fusion Energy
(CCFE) to design ITER’s NeutralBeam Cell
through methods of a
remote handling system
. This apparatus contains a heavy-duty monorail crane
system and six systems of dexterous manipulators and booms. This remote handling
system project, led by Nick Sykes, will safely maneuver desired objects in a radioactive environment without
the need of human manipulation
, thus protecting against any possible radioactive
As part of our research, we would like to cite several patents that deal with reactors
and the use of radioactive materials.
US Patent #6797176
: The Archimedes Technology Group, Inc. is based in
San Diego, California. They received a patent on September 28, 2004 for a plasma
mass filter with inductive rotational drive, which is a device that can separate
particles with relatively different mass/charge ratios.
US Patent Application #20090252273
by John Rogers
, of TerraPower
provides an outline of an automated
fast-neutron fission reactor, the traveling wave reactor. TerraPower received
from a group of investors that included: Charles River Ventures,
Khosla Ventures, and many wealthy individuals such as Nathan Myhrvold, Vinod Khosla,
and Bill Gates. TerraPower has conceptualized a design that will burn through spent
uranium in a “cigarette-
” to produce a
billion watts of electricity
constantly for 50 to 100 years without
replacing any fuel. Nuclear proliferation is not an issue with the TWR as it uses
that lacks enriched uranium and large amounts of potentially
dangerous plutonium waste. The dependability associated with a longer reaction cycle
lowers the amount of maintenance necessary while still providing a safer, more efficient
#4,835,433: Apparatus for Direct Conversion of Radioactive Decay Energy to Electrical
This patent was granted to Paul M. Brown in May 1989. Mr. Brown's
objective was to create a "small, compact, reliable, and self-contained" battery
that would be capable of providing large amounts of power for long periods of time
with little or no maintenance. He would achieve this through the use of three radioactive
nucleonides that decayed by alpha emissions.
Based on the research your team has done, explain how the NCT application chosen
has advanced scientific knowledge.
The energy that society fosters plays an integral role in forming their standard
of living. The need for energy is ingrained in the very fiber of human survival,
thus explaining the prevalence of energy-related fields and professions in thriving
societies. One of the main components to an advancing civilization is the cultivation
of the energy resources into applications for human use, or technology.
Key to the use of nuclear energy is the ability to harness the power given off
by radioactive isotopes. Atomic batteries, also known as nuclear batteries, allow
for energy to flow for 10-20 years
from one small battery source the size of a
top of a thumb tack. The atomic battery has been used in such venues as NASA space missions
and various military missions. The most
common type of atomic battery is betavoltaics which uses a semiconductor to absorb
beta decay to collect a current. Although less prevalent, the Direct Energy Conversion
Cell (DEC) runs on electrons generated by the decay of the radioactive isotope tritium.
The 12.3 year half-life of tritium allows for the DEC Cell to provide approximately
ten years worth of nuclear power. These batteries would have lucrative economic
implications for medical and oil conglomerates. Nuclear batteries
have been responsible for powering common
devices like human pace makers, underwater apparatus, and satellites for many years. Nuclear powered batteries have proven to be more energy efficient
than chemical batteries.
For many years the military has used
nuclear technology on submarines and aircraft carriers
. Nuclear energy is
used on vessels that need to be at sea for long periods of time and have even allowed
nuclear submarines to stay underwater for weeks. With the current focus on greenhouse
gasses and pollution, interest in nuclear propulsion systems for naval vessels is
expected to be renewed.
NASA has benefited from nuclear technology as well. For more than a decade, the
space probe Cassini has been flying through space. This was made possible by a
Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator
(RTGs) which is a type of atomic battery.
These generators run off of the decay cycle of a plutonium isotope and are responsible
for the success of many space missions and satellites. Due to the large amount
of money invested into these missions, radioisotope thermoelectric generators have
become extremely safe and effective for use in space exploration.
Nuclear technology has made huge contributions to medical science. Radiotherapy
is currently known as one of the most effective forms of cancer treatment. Nuclear-based medicine
is very cost-effective and is constantly being improved. Many hospitals have recently
upgraded to include nuclear tools.
The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission has projected many new reactor sites
for the near future.