Aug 24, 2012
Nuclear engineering research not sufficientBack
South African Nuclear Energy Corporation|South Africa|North-West University|Nuclear Energy Generation New-build Fleet|Nuclear Engineering Applications|Nuclear Medical Applications|Dawid Serfontein|Jan Hendrik Kruger|Jat|Pieter Rousseau|Vishnu Naicker
© Reuse this
According to government policy, the State-owned South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) leads and coordinates nuclear research in the country, and is supported by other institutions, such as universities.
“Unfortunately, Necsa’s budget has been progressively and significantly cut in the last few years and, therefore, I believe that not enough research is being done. In terms of universities, the research chair in nuclear engineering at NWU is currently the only entity focusing on nuclear engineering research,” he claims.
The South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) awarded the research chair in nuclear engineering to NWU for 2011 to 2015, which will enable the country to retain excellence in research and innovation in the South African science system. Rousseau notes there are factors curbing interest among scientists in nuclear engineering research.
The biggest is government’s delay in making a final decision to proceed with the procurement of the nuclear energy generation new-build fleet, as envisaged in the Department of Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan 2010 (IRP 2010).
He believes that, once a concrete new-build programme has been announced and gets under way, the country should expect to see greater interest from students and other tertiary institutions in nuclear engineering-related qualifications and research.
The problem, therefore, is not government’s policy uncertainty, but rather the uncertainty about government’s ability to implement the policy, states Rousseau.
“The DST establishes the research chairs, with a recognised research leader in the position of chair. The department provides funding in cycles of five years, based on an approved research plan and budget,” he states.
The NWU nuclear engineering research group comprises several permanent faculty members and about 20 postgraduate students, many of whom are from previously disadvantaged groups. The faculty members include Rousseau, who is the chair, Professor Jat du Toit, Dr Vishnu Naicker, Dr Jan Hendrik Kruger and Dr Dawid Serfontein.
Rousseau notes that the appointment of a research chair and the approval of the chair’s research plan undergoes a strict peer-review process, which includes local and international leaders in the specific research field. The contributions of each chair are also closely monitored on a yearly basis and are also peer-reviewed.
Further, he says the research group and the chair work in support of South Africa’s Nuclear Energy Policy, which outlines a vision to become globally competitive through the use of innovative technology for the design, manufacture and deployment of high-tech nuclear energy systems, power reactors and the nuclear fuel cycle. The IRP 2010 outlines government’s plans for nuclear power to contribute 9.6 GW of the planned 40.3 GW of new electricity generation capacity to be constructed by 2030.
Rousseau says the main challenge in bringing nuclear power generation on line is whether or not government can commit and successfully manage the procurement process within a reasonable time.
Other challenges are obtaining sufficient funding, lengthy construction lead times and achieving localisation goals, as well as managing the negative public perceptions about nuclear safety and waste management.
“Generation Four reactors provide significant advantages with regard to sustainability, such as uranium resource use and waste reduction, safety and reliability, as well as proliferation resistance,” he states.
The research done by the NWU research group supports the development and improvement of the existing Generation Three systems and specific Generation Four reactor concepts.
Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn© Reuse this Comment Guidelines
Other Electricity News
Updated 2 hours ago Engineering consultancy Mott MacDonald has been appointed as lenders’ technical adviser by Investec Bank and Absa Bank for the 50 MW Bokpoort concentrated solar power (CSP) plant, being developed in Groblershoop, in the Northern Cape. The two banks are the mandated...
Updated 3 hours ago The construction of 22 solar-powered tollgates continues to advance across Zimbabwe, with completion targeted for the first quarter of 2014. The solar power initiative, which fell within the country’s plan to upgrade its road transport services as part of an...
Updated 1 hour 2 minutes ago The value of copper theft narrowed by 22% year-on-year to R9.5-million in November, however, month-on-month the value increased by R300 000, from R9.2-million in October, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (Sacci’s) November Copper Theft...
Updated 1 hour 52 minutes ago The International Year of Crystallography 2014 (IYCr 2014) was launched worldwide on Thursday. Next year marks the centenary of the award of the Nobel Prize for Physics to Max von Laue (1879-1960) of Germany for his discovery (published in 1912) that crystals...
Updated 2 hours 21 minutes ago Engineering consultancy Mott MacDonald has been appointed as lenders’ technical adviser by Investec Bank and Absa Bank for the 50 MW Bokpoort concentrated solar power (CSP) plant, being developed in Groblershoop, in the Northern Cape. The two banks are the mandated...
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2013: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Defence Report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key players in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the defence sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial...
Road and Rail 2013: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2013 Report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move...
Liquid Fuels 2013 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Liquid Fuels report examines South Africa’s liquid fuels market, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing,...
Projects in Progress - Second Edition (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s second Projects in Progress supplement considers some of the major project developments under way, including high-profile energy and transport projects, as well as a few of the lower-profile public and private developments. What remains apparent is...
Water 2013: A review of South Africa’s water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2013 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Canadian Mining Roundup for June 2013 (PDF Report)
The June 2013 roundup includes details of the development of TSX-V-listed Aldridge Minerals’ flagship Yenipazar polymetallic project, in Turkey; the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s renewal of Cameco’s uranium mining licence pertaining to the Cigar Lake...
This Week's Magazine
Johannesburg-based locomotive solutions provider DCD Rolling Stock officially launched Phase 1 of its R240-million recapitalisation programme at its Boksburg manufacturing facility, last month.
Sales of electric cars should pick up once more such vehicles become available on the South African market, says Nissan South Africa (SA) chief marketing manager Ross Garvie. The local arm of the Japanese car company launched the country’s first fully electric...
Denel Land Systems’ (DLS) Mechem division is successfully marketing the latest version of its highly regarded Casspir mine-protected vehicle, the Casspir NG2000 series wide body ambulance. As its description says, this has a notably wider body than standard...
The infrastructure boom in Africa has seen investment in 322 megaprojects reach $222.7-billion, says professional services firm Deloitte in its ‘African Construction Trends’ report. Deloitte Southern Africa infrastructure and capital projects leader André Pottas...
ASME, the international engineering profession’s cooperative, educational and training, research, outreach and codes and standards development organisation (originally the American Society for Mechanical Engineers, founded in 1880), is seeking to improve the...