Aug 24, 2012
Nuclear engineering research not sufficientBack
Construction|Africa|Concrete|Design|Engineering|Innovation|Nuclear|Power|Safety|South African Nuclear Energy Corporation|System|Systems|Technology|Waste|Waste Management|Africa|South Africa|North-West University|Energy|Nuclear Energy Generation New-build Fleet|Nuclear Engineering Applications|Nuclear Medical Applications|Power Generation|Power-generation|Systems|Dawid Serfontein|Jan Hendrik Kruger|Jat|Pieter Rousseau|Vishnu Naicker|Waste
© 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
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online
To subscribe email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here
To advertise email email@example.com or click here
Other Electricity News
Article contains comments
Recent Research Reports
Construction 2016: A review of South Africa's construction industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2016 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; key participants; local demand; geographic diversification; corporate activity; black economic...
Energy Roundup – February 2016 (PDF Report)
The February 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for December 2015 and January 2016 and includes details of a Government Gazette notice that confirms Cabinet’s decision to move ahead with the 9 600 MW nuclear procurement programme; State-owned power...
Energy Roundup - December 2015 (PDF Report)
The December 2015 roundup includes details of State-owned utility Eskom’s application to claw back R22.8-billion; South Africa’s ranking as an investment destination for renewable energy; and a nuclear expert’s thoughts on reactor designs for South Africa’s nuclear...
Water 2015: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2015 Report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context but also in the African and global context in terms of supply and demand, water stress and insecurity, and access to water and sanitation, besides others.
Input Sector Review: Pumps 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2015 Input Sector Review on Pumps provides an overview of South Africa’s pumps industry with particular focus on pump manufacture and supply, aftermarket services, marketing strategies, local and export demand, imports, sector support, investment...
Liquid Fuels 2015: A review of South Africa's liquid fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2015 Report examines these issues in the context of South Africa’s business environment; oil and gas exploration; fuel pricing; the development of the country’s biofuels industry; the logistics of transporting liquid fuels; and...
This Week's Magazine
Lifting, transporting, installing and ballasting solutions provider Ale has expanded its global fleet of trailers and invested in the latest range of widening trailers that can be mechanically widened from 3 m to the desired width for any project. Ale ordered 48 axle...
The market for the BMW 7 Series in South Africa differs quite significantly from the rest of the world. China, the US and the Middle East almost exclusively buy the long-wheel-base version, using the German manufacturer’s luxury high-end sedan as a chaffeur-driven...
January new-vehicle sales fell by 6.9%, to 48 615 units, compared with the same month last year. Statistics released by the Department of Trade and Industry show that the domestic new passenger-car market declined by 6.1%, to 34 936 units, compared with 12 months ago.
Information technology (IT) equipment and infrastructure multinational Dell is providing open infrastructure systems for clients so that they can use any systems, including innovative new systems, that suit their business needs, says Dell Europe, Middle East and...
South Africa’s State-owned defence industrial group, Denel, has set up another international partnership, based in Hong Kong. This new subsidiary is Denel Asia and it is a joint venture (JV) with South African private sector company VR Laser.