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Comment Re:Melodrama (Score 1) 60

Exactly. This is a remote visual inspection that maneuvers a tool to a difficult-to-access area and feeds images back to to a qualified inspector. The trick is ensuring the quality of the images, which should not be hard with adequate standards. Similar systems are used for inspecting the insides of nuclear reactor vessels. Since the dose would kill any inspector that got inside the vessel, underwater cameras and/or miniature submersible robots are used. Before the inspection, they will hold a calibration standard with a variety of colors and scratch sizes in front of the camera to ensure that it can see the types of defects that being looked for. Before the camera is removed from the water, the standard is filmed once again to ensure that the camera quality did not degrade during the inspection. This is controlled by the ASME Boiler and Pressure Code, which we are bound to by regulations. A similar set of standards and quality assurance could be applied to camera inspections of aviation in order to reap the time/manpower benefits without reducing the ability to find dangerous defects.

Comment Re:Oh the Humanity! (Score 1) 901

Agreed. I'm studying nuclear engineering. While all the atomic level material was taught in N, J, and kg, the hydraulics courses about fluid flow are being taught in English units. The professor pointed out that these units are used in every US nuclear plant, so it would be more practical to learn in these units. There are some hybrid units though, such as watts per foot (for fuel rods).

Comment Re:Is there? (Score 1) 432

Naval reactors run fuel that approaches weapons grade enrichment (~90%). This means that they have to refuel about every 20 years, compared to ~3 years for a civilian reactor with 4% enrichment. However, naval reactors are guarded by military personnel and in the case of submarines, are hidden. Civilian nuclear reactors do not have this luxury. There is the perfectly viable, save for political reasons, option of taking weapons grade fissionable material and blending it with depleted uranium to make fuel suitable for civilian reactors. The problem is that most weapons use plutonium, which is less desirable in reactors because it causes more rapid power changes and in general changes the handling characteristics that operators may be used to, as most civilian reactors use uranium. As a reactor fuel loadout ages, power changes actually become faster because the U238 is converted to Pu239 over time.

Comment Re:Just Plain Incompetance (Score 1) 309

A first year undergraduate engineering student would be able to build a reliable temperature monitor.

Right. Because there are so many combinations of materials that can withstand temperatures in the thousands of degrees F and the intense neutron flux in a commercial reactor core for any prolonged period. Core status is measured by the temperature of the water entering and leaving the core - the core power can be calculated by how much the water heats up. Safety limits are usually given in terms of power, because the behavior has to be calculated.

"Summit meetings tend to be like panda matings. The expectations are always high, and the results usually disappointing." -- Robert Orben