Atoms for power; International atom - Canada
For the record. I transcribed program produced by a Purdue University under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Today's program written and produced by Bob McMahon. There's the title the international ad of Canada. We forget sometimes that the app is truly international. It knows no nationality race or ideology. The Atom only knows one set of laws and that is the laws of physics and man's mastery over the atom is directly proportional to his comprehension of these laws. The real top secrets of atomic energy are
those that are still held by nature. Those which nature has released are generally known throughout the world. That was the voice of Gordon Dean former chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission. Sometimes we do forget. And speaking about the atom that under no circumstances got to be said that the atom as a native born American. Nor is it in the United States alone that at the present time work is going forward and discoveries are being made in the field of atomic power. Just as in recent weeks on atoms for power we have been visiting the various power reactor development sites in the United States. This week we'll journey north to find out about recent developments in the dominion of Canada's atomic energy program.
Canada is a country a vast area and of tremendous natural resources many of which are as yet almost untapped among these is your rainy I'm the raw material of atomic power. And many places particularly in the far north where much of her raw material is found. Canada needs more power to process one ton of aluminum and takes as much electricity as would light the average home for 15 years. Atomic power if it were available could perform this task and others and let us remember that only very small amounts of uranium are needed to do the job for in one pound of uranium. There is the heat equivalent of two million seven hundred thousand pounds of coal and places such as the far north where railways and highways are scarce. The problem of transporting great quantities of fossil fuels could be solved by the substitution of uranium for coal. It is no wonder that we find today that Canada is highly interested in the potentialities of atomic power and that
she is carrying on research to find out how the atom can best be put to work to fulfill her needs for electrical energy. Canada officially added the Atomic Power field in 1940 when the National Research Council began to sponsor experiments with nuclear energy. Late in 1942 Great Britain joined Canada and the establishment of a laboratory at the University of Montreal Canada provided part of the stop and Britain set over a research team including some French refugee scientists that had been working at Cambridge University the Montreal project as it was called was interested primarily in slow or thermal neutron research and it maintained close contact with the Americans under Permian Chicago who were developing the first chain reacting pile. It was early in 1944 that Canada decided to build its first experimental nuclear reactor. The site chosen was Chalk River Ontario one hundred twenty five miles west of Ottawa Canada's capital city. The reactor
utilizing uranium and heavy water was completed in the fall of 1945. This was the first nuclear reactor to go into operation outside the United States. In 1947 the Canadians completed a much larger and more powerful reactor known as an R X for national research experimental. It is located at Chalk River and also uses your right knee a metal with heavy water as the moderator for a long time this reactor had a greater concentration of neutrons than any other research reactor in the world at the present time. A third a Canadian reactor also to be moderated with heavy water as under construction. A Chalk River. The new reactor will be capable of producing rather sizable quantities of plutonium and it should be of great value to the Canadians and investigating the problems of economical power production and reading. Studies which may one day result in atomic questions becoming economically feasible method of turning out electric power. But in order for us to give you a more complete picture of atomic power development in Canada
Let's go to Chalk River Ontario and meet some of the key men in the atomic energy picture. The first of these is Mr. Jay L. gray vice president of administrations and operations for atomic energy of Canada limited at Chalk River Ontario. We asked Mr. Gray about the present status of reactor development in Canada. He told us that Canada's reactor development work is mainly centered at Chalk River Ontario and went on to say we have about 20 200 employees here. And our main goal is to see that reactors are built to meet the present costs of thermal power plants. The Chalk River and our X reactor which has been in operation for nearly 10 years is still our main tool for reactor development. It is being used continually to test fuel systems for reactor designs that are actually under consideration or being dreamed up.
We have a large 200 megawatt research and production reactor and nearing completion where the higher flux which is approximately three times 10 to the 14. And its increased research holes. Will be available towards the end of this year and should enhance the project facilities both for fundamental and applied work. Where does Canada stand at the present time in regard to power reactors. A planned or under construction. We have actually started to design and develop a 20 megawatt power reactor known as and PD nuclear power demonstration. It is being designed and built under contract to the Canadian General Electric Company. It will be located about 12 miles up the Ottawa River from this site at the site of the Ontario Hydro Electric Power Commission installation at this worship.
This is a joint effort between the Park Commission ourselves and a General Electric Company. This reactor is a heavy water moderated and cooling system and will be fueled with natural uranium probably oxide that is are going up. We have a power study group working on the specifications and outline of a outline design of a hundred to 200 megawatt reactor. Their first report will be available this year and will indicate the type of system we should concentrate on and give a general direction to where our development problems should center. The NPD if I understand it correctly is a demonstration unit designed to show industry what can be done in the way of producing power. Is it intended to produce any useful power for the Ontario Hydro electric system. Once operation is begun one of the things that this reactor is
supposed to demonstrate is that you can you can actually operate and tie in a nuclear powered electric generator with a large and complicated electric system. We tied in firmly with the Ontario Hydro grid for that area. The load will be small though if it's not operating it will not make too much difference but it one of the things that is demonstrated it can be operated in a normal high dose system. Thank you very much there. Earlier in the program we mentioned one or two reasons why atomic power development is so important today to Canadians. But there is really more to the story than that and some of the answers you will hear in the next few minutes are equally as applicable here in the United States as they are in Canada. We'd like to talk to Dr. David Keys next who is a consultant and scientific advisor to the president of atomic energy of Canada limited. Dr. Keyes How great is Canada's need for atomic power. Well the demand for electricity is doubling about every 12 or 15 years
in Canada. Now in the province of Quebec and in British Columbia there is still a lot of hydroelectric power available but in the other problem food practically all of the hydro electric power. So I have been you who noted we must have the electricity produced either by thermal power units or by nuclear power you know who we have in Ontario here enough power to meet the demand. Till about 1962 when all the power that's being developed in the Agra falls and by the Lawrence Seaway plan will be used up. So that from then on it's a question of whether to use thermal power using fossil fuels or whether we use nuclear
fuels. So to sum it up then the need for additional power is very great at Atomic Power is one form that is readily available and current. The question really is how are we. How well or how economical only in nuclear power units will compare with that power produced by fossil fuel. But you are cold. You talked about water power reserves Dr. Keyes and I think I'd be right in summing up your answer by saying that there is still hydroelectric power available in Canada to be developed. But by and large it's in the remoter areas of the countries where the demand is less great than it is in the populated areas is that right. It's in Quebec and British Columbia. They need their new power down in the Maritimes Prince Edward Island where there are there's no large amount of hydro power available so it will have to be produced.
Fossil fuel that used coal or oil. But in Ontario where the largest demand will be and also in the other central problem the problem is really one of economics. What do you think in general about the status of Canada's reserves of fossil fuels. Well I think Canada has larger reserves certainly of coal and apparently of oil and natural gas all of which can be used to fuel that to these reserves eventually will be used up. And we have also a large supply. You're a new MB and if we can use it so much the better. And of course there is the fact that a little uranium quantitatively speaking goes a long way toward the production of power. Let me have one pound of your radio. You completely burnt in the reactor. It would give you as much heat is
generated by two million seven hundred thousand pounds of coal or three hundred sixty thousand gallons of gasoline or about 30 million cubic feet of natural gas. So you can see that there's a lot of energy in one pound of uranium. We haven't yet learned how to burn completely one pound of uranium but someday maybe snow. Dr. Keyes moving on to the next question which really comes under the same general heading since we've been talking just now about the question of economics. Can atomic power compete on an economic basis in any part of Canada today with other sources of power. Well the only region that I know of and it's my own opinion where nuclear energy would be competitive with oil for instance is up in the northern part of the country that used to be very large.
Great Bear Lake. If these mining companies are going to continue to be in action for the next 40 50 years I'm quite sure that even now a nuclear reactor could be built which would deliver electricity at a price competitive with that which they're paying at present for the electricity developed by diesel engines and notably the cost of nuclear fuel is very much less than that of any fossil fuel so that the real problem is the cost of the reactor itself which is greater than that of a fossil. You move well thank you very much Dr. Keyes. As you may recall Dr. Keyes told us that atomic power was most badly needed in Canada's underdeveloped areas among them the Great Bear Lake where as a matter of fact
much of Canada's uranium is to be an Iranian or from that region must travel fifteen hundred miles from where it has been mined in a district only 25 miles from the Arctic Circle and ordered to reach the first railroad. Here is where atomic power would be economical even today if reactors were to be built up but the Great Bear Lake. One reason however that there is no rush to build reactors in these areas is the fact that no one knows exactly how long these mines will be productive and consequently how long the power would be needed. But this really leads us to another group of questions that we should like to ask of Mr. Grey and the first of these as how soon will atomic power begin to play an important role in Canadas industry. Atomic power will not play a very important role in the volume of business the IT industry for about 10 years or perhaps even more. Howard from a technological point of view the role is important right now.
Industry is being asked to work with new materials about which very little is known. They are also being asked to fabricate reactor part and reactor Exupery equipment that is taxing their machines and knowledge to the very limit. In fact one of the main difficulties in building the inner you reactor was the limit of knowledge of both the designer and the manufacturer the designer due to lack of experience is setting tolerances and complications that are nearly impossible of execution or you being ultra conservative. In either case costs are very high. Industry could play a very important part in reducing costs and consequently hastening the day of economic planning. If they would concentrate some effort on the problems of Applied Engineering degree engineering development
concerned with the fabrication of reactors and reactor equipment in Canada it is difficult if not impossible to find an engineering development department in the heavy engineering industry. This will have to come in the third of it. The unit will have a volume of atomic power manufacturing business that is of interest to our industry. The problem is to get industry interested in this development work is to get industry not only interested in it but with staff and equipment and knowledge to carry the work out successfully. Do you also run into that problem as far as industry in the scientist is concerned. Suppose that scientists can come to you with specifications shall we say for an economic power plant. Do you then find it difficult to translate them into industrial terms. We have scientists here who can certainly specify an economic plan today. The difficulty is that they use standard costs of
construction in their estimating for instance they may be liberal and allow twice the cost for a fabricated thing the real part that is found in normal business. When we actually come to build them into reactor equipment we find it cost as much as ten times normal cars. Another example might be an pump for probably normal water £300 for a minute but the mark of the 600 foot head would cost me like $4000 in our in our year reactor. The pump cost about $9000 and in our test equipment where we use somewhere from the cost about $60000 that indicate the very expensive type of. But but you become involved in in the reactor development game. Well thank you Mr. Grey. We've been talking for the last few minutes with Dr. Jay L. gray
vice president of administration and operations for the atomic energy of Canada limited at Chalk River Ontario. One of the chief concerns of any nation that is beginning to utilize the benefits of atomic energy and its many farms has to deal with the field of health and protection. And in this regard Canada is no exception. In order for us to find out what Canada is doing on the problem of ever increasing amounts of radioactive wastes we have asked doctors see a Mohsen acting director of the biology division of ECL or atomic energy of Canada limited. That's question Dr. Mohsen what steps are being taken at the present time in Canada in the fields of safety and health as regards to the power program. The implications of the power program in the field of health protection being that it can't withstand it by all nations which are proposing to set up atomic power stations the protection of the workers in these plants will be assured by the elaborate system of radiation
hazard control which already exists in the atomic energy industry. This is being served standing was successful that over exposure to radiation has been practically nonexistent. Attendance at the present time is to increase rather than to decrease precautions so that the work of a little bit as safe as human ingenuity and foresight can make in the power stations will be designed in such a way that they will be as safe to work with as a steam plant. The reactors which will be it will be inherently safe and nobody need fear that if anything goes wrong they might explode like an atomic bomb an atomic power station will produce very large quantities of radioactive waste products. The disposal of these products is one of the problems which at present is not in time to solve. This is because it has to be done cheaply to make atomic car competitive with hydro power. Some of the waste products are valuable to industry and medicine and it may prove to be worthwhile to recover them. It so happens that the most useful ones are also the
most dangerous ones which makes their separation an attractive proposition. The fact remains that the users will never keep them until they are no longer radioactive and at the best which will still be faced with a difficult disposal problem. All sorts of apparently fantastic schemes have been proposed from shooting them to the moon rockets to burying them in the Arctic ice. Most of these ideas break down when you look at the Times potations costs. Disposal in the deep ocean seems a reasonable proposition but the quantity of radiation involved is so vast that even the oceans might be unable to dilute it sufficiently to say unless it were locked up so tightly that it could only diffuse out that is slowly a great deal of research is being done on methods of fusing radioactive waste into ceramics glasses and Mike. These products are leeched so slowly by water that they could probably the buried in the ground without risk of contaminating the surrounding soil. If they were sunken mine shafts they would
be even safer in Canada. We have deep the frozen swamps in the far north which never melt and as the radioactive bricks will be hot as well as radioactive we have considered putting them into this permafrost and letting them out themselves down into an ice cave. However there again we come up against transportation costs and all we can say at the moment is that we believe the solution of the disposal problem will be some form of fusion of the waste products into bricks from which they can only escape. Indeed but we do not know yet just where we are going to put our bricks. Thank you very much Dr. Mohsen. We have one more question for Dr. Keyes before we leave today. And Dr. Keyes you might really call this question a flight of fancy looking into the future. What is your personal prediction as to what may happen in the next hundred years as as a result of the utilization of atomic power. What will the world be like what will Canada be like let's say
100 years from now. Well it's a very interesting question I only wish I could live through the weather any predictions that I might make come true or not. But among these I should say that in a hundred years from now with our expanding trade in manufacture in Canada we need enormous amounts of energy. And our coal supplies being far away from the central provinces will become more expensive place of leasing goes up with time. Oil will probably be pretty well used up with judging by the use of oil even heating at present and in older cars and so on so that we will have to depend upon nuclear energy to meet our demands for power.
All the nuclear energy at present can be obtained from using your rainy human that which we have large supplies of present time. But I think a hundred years from now one will be able to produce energy from fusion. That is the controlled reaction. Such use takes place in the hydrogen bomb with the use of hydrogen. Producing helium save the general statement that you can get more energy released than you do from the fish you know of uranium for the same weight material so that when fusion becomes available we have lots of hydrogen available of course and water everywhere. So it should become cheap and if power becomes cheap that way we can think of
many applications for power and for heat which today are produced by burning coal and oil and natural gas. For example large blocks of houses and city could be used for. Could be used as a source for utilizing the heat produced by fusion. This would remove from the personal individuals having to operate furnace of some kind in their own houses. Do you think atomic power will ever be used to heat and eventual residence and I doubled the field every year. Atomic energy plants in individual residences but large blocks of houses could be heated from a central station. And I think this will be done. I also think that
most of our shipping will be operated by your peer reactors of a modern type such as we don't have a present but probably my fusion also. Also there are the railways locomotives could be operated by you your energy present time. You wouldn't want to use your radium because if one had an accident one would have fission products spread around which would cause the contamination. But if we could have fusion with little of Haitian products lasting for Asian products anyway so why then the difficulty would be eliminated. And good airplanes and probably locomotives could operate a time advantage. This will be a different world from what we
have today. Power should be cheap available and that means the medium would be able to work instead of 40 hours or 44 hours a week. They should be able to produce what is necessary in something like 30 hours a week. Well Dr. Keyes that's a very interesting picture you paint for us. I think I'd like to live to see that day. So who drives most interesting turn to have lived anyway. And that completes our program for this week devoted to the various aspects of the International at home in Canada. This week on atoms for power we've paid a visit to the Chalk River Site of atomic energy of Canada limited to talk with some of the key people involved in the development of the atomic industries and power in Canada. One of the countries in the forefront of
atomic energy development today. Our thanks go to Mr. J.L. gray vice president administration and operations of atomic energy of Canada Ltd.. And Dr. David a key scientific advisor to the president and Dr. Fauci acting director of the biology division for taking. Part in the program. Also to Mr. Robert Redford and the international service of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for the tape recordings made with us next week when we'll visit Calder Hall in order to find out about atomic energy development in Britain. As for power transcribed atoms for power was written and produced by Bob McMahon for radio station WABE AA at Purdue University under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center scientific advisor to the program was Dr. Donald J tandem of the Purdue Department of Physics. Your narrator Richter and James Holston and this is Jack Carroll speaking.
- Atoms for power
- International atom - Canada
- Producing Organization
- Purdue University
- WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- J.L. Gray, vice president, Atomic Energy of Canada; Dr. David A. Keys, consultant to the president; Dr. C.A. Mawson, acting director, biology division.
- This 15-part series discusses the feasibility of atomic power as an alternate energy source to replace depleted fossil fuels.
- Media type
Advisor: Tandam, Donald J.
Guest: Gray, James Lorne
Guest: Keys, David A.
Guest: Mawson, C.A.
Narrator: Richter, Walt
Producer: McMahon, Bob
Producing Organization: Purdue University
Producing Organization: WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
Writer: McMahon, Bob
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-59-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- MLA: “Atoms for power; International atom - Canada.” 1957-05-03. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 22, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-8c9r5x5n>.
- APA: Atoms for power; International atom - Canada. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-8c9r5x5n