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Proto Labs, Inc. Message Board

lewis_whokeyser 53 posts  |  Last Activity: 2 hours 27 minutes ago Member since: Oct 6, 1999
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  • lewis_whokeyser by lewis_whokeyser 2 hours 27 minutes ago Flag

    Fukushima study: Think about unthinkable disasters
    WASHINGTON (AP) -- A U.S. science advisory report says a key lesson from Japan's Fukushima nuclear accident is that the nation's nuclear industry needs to focus more on the highly unlikely but super-serious worst case scenarios.

    That means thinking about earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, solar storm, multiple failures and situations that seem freakishly unusual. Those kind of things triggered the world's three major nuclear accidents.

    Thursday's report said the 2011 Japanese accident, caused by an earthquake and tsunami, should not have been a surprise. The report says another Japanese nuclear power plant also hit by the tsunami was closer to the quake's fault. But it wasn't damaged because, unlike Fukushima, quakes and flooding were considered when it was built.

  • lewis_whokeyser lewis_whokeyser Jul 23, 2014 11:42 AM Flag

    Finally, one important issue in the US in the context of the future of USEC and the SILEX project is whether it is advisable for the country not to have a domestically-owned enrichment plant. A return to a nuclear arms race may seem unlikely, but the recent tensions over Ukraine give ammunition to those in Washington who claim that the US must retain a domestically-owned facility.

    The trend in recent years has been to reduce the number of nuclear weapons through arms-limitation agreements with Russia, but some argue that this may one day be reversed. One option in that eventuality would surely be to nationalize the New Mexico plant owned by Urenco and turn it over to the military, but this is still deemed to provide the US with too little security by some lobbyists. There would therefore be some pressure for the US to establish a new enrichment facility owned either by the US government or a private US company. This could be either a SILEX or ACP plant (or conceivably some other technology if the US could license the Urenco or Russian technology). Any such plant would, however, be a politically-inspired creation and (if subsidized by the US government) arguably harmful to the interests of the commercial enrichment suppliers.

    There are therefore, as always, a number of interesting things happening in the world enrichment sector. The transition to the more efficient centrifuge technology has been accomplished to the benefit of the customers (if not the uranium producers). There is no real risk of customers suddenly experiencing an acute shortage of enrichment capacity, while competitive forces should ensure that prices remain keen. Not many new nuclear countries are on the horizon and one of these (the UAE) has already signed away its right (generally accepted to exist through the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons) to establish its own enrichment facility for civil purposes.
    Steve Kidd is an independent nuclear consultant and economist wi

  • Reply to

    Question for Lewis

    by oldasasgt Jul 23, 2014 2:15 AM
    lewis_whokeyser lewis_whokeyser Jul 23, 2014 11:31 AM Flag

    Silex and Paducah was also referenced in the Steve Kidd July 4th article I posted about:
    One wild card that remains is the possibility of commissioning a commercial-scale laser enrichment plant. The SILEX technology was developed in Australia but has now been licensed to GE in the US. GE has also won approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to build a plant at its Wilmington, South Carolina facility (where technical development work has been taking place) but it is not yet clear whether this will go ahead.

    Because of proliferation concerns, the details of the SILEX project are highly classified and the economics of the process is not publicly well known. Another option is to build a plant at the DOE's Paducah facility, where there is a substantial stockpile of relatively high-assay tails material that could be utilised (it is believed that the SILEX technology is very efficient at separating isotopes, even when the feedstock is below the natural 0.71% U-235).

    It remains to be seen if a SILEX plant will ever be built. There is not much room for additional capacity in the market at present and this may not change much in the future. These considerations have already caused AREVA to suspend its plans for a possible US plant in Idaho. One important advantage of the centrifuge technology is that it is modular, so even if demand is rapidly rising it should be possible to expand capacity at existing facilities. This obviously depends on achieving the necessary licensing and financing, but also importantly on the capacity of the factories that produce the centrifuge machines.

  • Good article by Steve Kidd: (snip)
    Beyond Iran, the proliferation concerns surrounding enrichment have led to attempts to dissuade any new nuclear countries from trying to establish enrichment plants, by setting up backstop arrangements through internationally-supervised fuel banks if normal commercial contracts for supply somehow fail. On the other hand, although it is frequently pointed out that commercially-available enrichment is in the hands of a limited number of companies, at least the market is competitive and international, and a prospective customer would find interest from every supplier.

    Other fears about the limited number of enrichment suppliers have been amplified by the recent bankruptcy of USEC, one of the major suppliers. The background to USEC's financial problems is the long- standing need to transition from the old gaseous diffusion enrichment technology to lasers or centrifuges. USEC inherited two huge diffusion plants from the US Department of Energy (DOE) that were originally built for military purposes. These plants used equally huge quantities of electricity, rendering them uneconomic compared to newer technologies. USEC initially put effort into laser enrichment during the 1990s with the AVLIS technology, but eventually concluded that a commercial-scale plant was not economically viable. It then reverted to centrifuge technology, which had been developed by the DOE in the 1980s, and started work on the American Centrifuge Program (ACP). This has faced a number of difficulties, particularly in attracting the necessary level of funding, and USEC eventually ran out of cash. It has closed both diffusion plants and, with the end of the Megatons to Megawatts deal that down-blended highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Russia, it now faces bankruptcy. It does have an arrangement with Tenex to market "fresh" Russian SWUs to its customers and some inventory it has accumulated in recent years, but no longer has its own plant.

  • Reply to

    Question for Lewis

    by oldasasgt Jul 23, 2014 2:15 AM
    lewis_whokeyser lewis_whokeyser Jul 23, 2014 11:22 AM Flag

    oldasasgt, there was a Wall Street Journal article recently titled
    "Uranium stocks set to rock"

    The Australian
    July 17, 2014 11:53AM
    by Tim Boreham
    Criterion Columnist Melbourne

    which talked about the deal to put Silex in Paducah.
    It begins:
    "LONG forgotten in favour of graphite, rare earths, potash and even nickel, the uranium sector has received its best news since the March 2011 Fukushima disaster sent the sector into meltdown. Not that local uranium stocks were emulating the stricken plant by blowing their tops off this morning..."

    but the rest is subscription-only content and I usually just read the hard copy at the local library.
    Hope this helps.

  • lewis_whokeyser by lewis_whokeyser Jul 20, 2014 2:48 PM Flag

    The Hill Editors - 07/23/13 12:00 AM EDT

    The Environmental Protection Agency will be at the center of several debates this week on Capitol Hill.

    On Monday, House Republicans unveiled their plan to slash the EPA’s budget by 34 percent in fiscal 2014. The budget blueprint would also block federal rules to limit carbon emissions from power plants.
    The lower chamber has also put two energy bills on the floor agenda this week.
    Rep. David McKinley’s (R-W.Va.) measure challenges the EPA’s decision to label coal ash as a hazardous material. The bipartisan bill — backed by many Republicans and Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) — cleared the Energy and Commerce panel 31-16.

    Rep. Bill Cassidy’s (R-La.) legislation, the Energy Consumers Relief Act of 2013, calls for more stringent cost-benefit analyses of pricey regulations. That bill passed the Energy panel along party lines, 25-18.

    Last week, the Senate, as part of the deal to avert the “nuclear option,” approved Gina McCarthy as head of the EPA. She will be very busy.

    President Obama, whose legislative effort on climate change fell short in 2009 and 2010, is now tackling the thorny issue through administrative actions.

    Proponents of the president’s climate plan will fight to defeat the GOP’s effort to gut the EPA’s funding levels.

    But there are some Democrats, especially centrists who are up for reelection in 2014, who are wary of how active the EPA will be over the next several years.

    Congressional Republicans usually schedule votes on energy when gas prices are rising, as they are now.

    Last week, an official with AAA told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that motorists shouldn’t expect gasoline to ever fall below $3 a gallon.

    That’s one of the many reasons energy and the EPA will be hot-button topics for years to come

  • Reply to

    Question from Newbie

    by conaz64 Jul 17, 2014 10:14 AM
    lewis_whokeyser lewis_whokeyser Jul 17, 2014 10:26 AM Flag

    Look at the massive amount of shares sold short. The only way to close out a short position is to buy the stock. Any mildly good news, like increased government funding, can have a disproportionate effect on share price. We just finished a short squeeze, but USEC has had multiple short squeezes in the past. Last year the shares rallied from $3 to $30 on genuine good news. Recent news has been only mildly positive.

  • Nuclear News:
    The Environmental Protection Agency is in the early stages of revising the federal regulations for radiation safety at nuclear plants originally written in 1977.

    An advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on the agency's website initiated the public process for updating 40 CFR part 190, “Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Nuclear Power Operations.” Enforced by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, these apply to both power plants and fuel cycle operations. Under current limits, radiation measured outside such facilities barely registers above background levels. It's widely noted among nuclear power supporters that the radiation exposure among people who live near a coal plant exceeds the federal limits that would apply to a reactor.

    "These standards were the earliest radiation rules developed by EPA and are based on nuclear power technology and the understanding of radiation biology current at that time," the EPA wrote. While it could choose to leave existing standards in place, the agency will also consider potential changes to incorporate advances in health physics and biology. The EPA is seeking public comments through Aug. 3 on exposure limits, dose calculations, new fuel cycle technologies and other related topics.

  • Reply to

    Short Squeezes are Fun But...

    by lewis_whokeyser Jul 1, 2014 10:44 AM
    lewis_whokeyser lewis_whokeyser Jul 16, 2014 6:14 PM Flag

    Naked shorting is illegal. If they got burnt, I have no sympathy and I hope the SEC looks into it.

    I feel somewhat bad for the people who bought USU during the squeeze thinking it would go to twenty. On the other hand, they say education is always expensive.

    I suspect we have a new crop of short sellers then those who were short a month ago. Any short who lived through last year's short squeeze is probably thinking this one wasn't so bad. Last year remains the record holder.

  • Reply to

    Short Squeezes are Fun But...

    by lewis_whokeyser Jul 1, 2014 10:44 AM
    lewis_whokeyser lewis_whokeyser Jul 16, 2014 3:14 PM Flag

    Well, that was fun. It went higher and lasted longer than I thought, but with the squeeze mostly over, I think the stock will be hunting for a new "fair value" price. I hope it can stay around $5 until the next real news.
    When they update the "short interest" figures it will be very interesting to see how many people are still willing to short a stock capable of these types of price movements.

    Maybe the Energy Secretary will throw USEC a bone and approve the loan guarantee and we can get another squeeze.

  • lewis_whokeyser by lewis_whokeyser Jul 11, 2014 4:12 PM Flag

    A 6.8-magnitude earthquake has hit Japan's northern coast near the nuclear power plant crippled in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

    Japan's Meteorological Agency says the quake struck early Saturday 6 miles below the sea surface off the coast of Fukushima, northeast of Tokyo.The agency issued tsunami advisory along the Japanese northern coast.

    Public broadcaster NHK says the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant is checking if there is any damage from the quake.

    The 2011 disaster killed about 19,000 people. That disaster also triggered multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima plant. More than 100,000 people are still unable to go home due to fear of radiation contamination from the plant.

  • lewis_whokeyser by lewis_whokeyser Jul 10, 2014 3:30 PM Flag

    "The Environmental Protection Agency has quietly floated a rule claiming authority to bypass the courts and unilaterally garnish paychecks of those accused of violating its rules, a power currently used by agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service," according to The Washington Times. Why not take this additional power? The IRS already garnishes everyone's paychecks for taxes, not to mention penalties. And we all know how trustworthy that agency is. The Times notes the case of a Wyoming homeowner who built a pond on his rural property and was fined $75,000 by the EPA. Now the agency is evidently claiming the power to take those sorts of fines right out of your paycheck, and to do so without review because it isn't a "significant regulatory action." We'll bet people on the "giving" end disagree.

    If the Obama Administration can't or won't reign in its rogue agencies American democracy is threatened.

  • Reply to

    something crazier than USU, CYNK

    by gojeera Jul 10, 2014 12:17 PM
    lewis_whokeyser lewis_whokeyser Jul 10, 2014 3:27 PM Flag

    I heard about that on CNBC. They called the building where the company says it's headquartered and nobody there ever heard of it!

  • The federal loan guarantee program for renewable energy projects is officially back in business.

    Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced Thursday that the Energy Department is taking applications for up to $4 billion of federal loan guarantees for renewable and energy-efficiency projects. It's a restart of the federal program that garnered heavy Republican criticism for backing a handful of failed ventures, most notably the $535 million loan guarantee awarded to now-bankrupt solar panel-maker Solyndra.

    Moniz, however, has doubled down on the loan guarantee portfolio -- Thursday's development builds on an earlier retooling of an alternative vehicle loan program that has $8 billion of debt authority remaining. Moniz has noted that losses have stayed far under the $10 billion Congress set aside for the loan portfolio, and has credited it with invigorating the clean technology industry.

    "Through previous loan guarantees and other investments, the department is already helping launch or jumpstart entire industries in the U.S., from utility-scale wind and solar to nuclear and lower-carbon fossil energy. Today's announcement will help build on and accelerate that success," he said.

    House Republicans have already taken aim at the loan guarantee program through the budget process. The budget proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., which the House passed in April, zeroed out funding for the effort.

    "If you look at what we've done thus far with all the money that came out of the stimulus bill that we spent on so-called alternative energy and green energy, it was a complete disaster. We have nothing to show for all of that," Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said in a recent interview. "When you look at the number of companies, I lost track of how many companies have now gone bankrupt, taking the taxpayers' money with them."

  • Reply to


    by gupnamon Jul 4, 2014 9:34 AM
    lewis_whokeyser lewis_whokeyser Jul 4, 2014 5:30 PM Flag

    Old news. Barron's is referring to the USEC press release which caused an initial 9% pop in the stock before the short squeeze took hold.

  • Mexico City (AFP) - The theft of a vehicle in Mexico containing a potentially deadly radioactive material briefly raised alarm Friday -- but the container was found with no leak or harm to the population.

    The truck, which was transporting deadly iridium-192, a radioactive substance used in making some industrial products, had been stolen Thursday, federal civil defense officials said.

    The substance "can be dangerous for human health if removed from its container," according to an official statement cautioning that the material could be lethal even if handled for only a brief time.

    The truck was found shortly after it disappeared, but the radioactive material remained missing, National Civil Protection Coordinator Luis Felipe Puente posted on his Twitter account.

    Puente confirmed a few hours later that the radioactive material had also been located.

    The container "was not violated, it contains the material, which was measured," he added in an interview with Milenio television.

    "As it wasn't manipulated, there was surely no risk to people," Puente said.

    The theft in Mexico state had prompted officials to issue an alert throughout the capital region and in neighboring states.

  • lewis_whokeyser by lewis_whokeyser Jul 4, 2014 1:05 PM Flag

    Obama asks China, India to stop using coal
    Washington Times:
    Coal may have played an integral role in turning the U.S. into the world’s top economic superpower, but President Obama is actively pushing China, India and other emerging economies to ignore the fuel that powered the Industrial Revolution and instead embrace renewable sources favored by those on the political left.

    As part of his passionate push on climate change, the president recently implored developing countries to “leapfrog” old energy sources, which are the primary drivers of carbon emissions. So far, however, there’s little evidence those countries intend to listen to Mr. Obama, with China’s coal consumption, for example, skyrocketing and projected to keep growing for the foreseeable future. The country now accounts for nearly 50 percent of all global coal consumption, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

    Some energy analysts say that expecting the president’s sermon — in which he urges nations to now do as we say, not as we did for more than a century — to dramatically alter the worldwide energy landscape is a glaring example of the “dream world” that Mr. Obama and his backers in the environmental movement call home.

    Coal, the most carbon-intensive of the fossil fuels, accounts for 70 percent of energy used in China today and is responsible for about three quarters of electricity generation.
    •In just 5 years, from 2005 through 2009, China added the equivalent of the entire U.S. fleet of coal-fired power plants, or 510 new 600-megawatt coal plants.

    •From 2010 through 2013, it added half the coal generation of the entire U.S. again.

    •At the peak, from 2005 through 2011, China added roughly two 600-megawatt coal plants a week, for 7 straight years.

    •And according to U.S. government projections, China will add yet another U.S. worth of coal plants over the next 10 years, or the equivalent of a new 600-megawatt plant every 10 days for 10 years.

  • Laser-sparked fusion power passes key milestone

    The dream of a completely clean, high powered and almost limitless renewable energy source is getting closer. Nuclear Fusion is the process by which atoms fusion power are compressed to such a degree that their nuclei fuse, releasing a huge amount of energy. Essentially it is the opposite of current Nuclear Power, based on fission whereby large nuclei are torn apart to release energy. This is the process which happens in stars, turning Hydrogen into the heavier Helium, and all other natural elements.

    The National Ignition Facility in California began experimenting in 2009 to slow progress. They are using lasers and X-rays to compress a fuel pellet with a frozen Hydrogen Isotope, but it takes significantly more energy to start the fusion reaction than the process actually produced, making it currently ineffective as a fuel source.

    However, an article in Nature this week confirmed that a milestone had been passed, whereby of the amount of energy actually delivered to the pellet, the reaction released a surplus of energy. The next step is to improve the efficiency of how the lasers deliver energy to the pellet. However, this is still a long way away, perhaps decades, but once that has been refined, mankind will essentially be able to build miniature stars to produce nearly unlimited energy.

  • lewis_whokeyser by lewis_whokeyser Jul 3, 2014 6:31 PM Flag

    According to The Economist:

    “The Chinese Academy of Sciences claims the country now has “the world’s largest national effort on thorium”, employing a team of 430 scientists and engineers, a number planned to rise to 750 by 2015. This team, moreover, is headed by Jiang Mianheng, an engineering graduate of Drexel University in the United States who is the son of China’s former leader, Jiang Zemin (himself an engineer). Some may question whether Mr Jiang got his job strictly on merit. His appointment, though, does suggest the project has political clout. The team plan to fire up a prototype thorium reactor in 2015. Like India’s, this will use solid fuel. But by 2017 the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics expects to have one that uses a trickier but better fuel, molten thorium fluoride.”

    Easy to Mine and Refine

    Thorium is cheaper and easier to refine that uranium or plutonium.

    Only 0.7% of natural uranium is the fissionable isotope 235U. The rest is 238U, which is heavier due to three more neutrons and does not undergo fission because of the stability these neutrons bring. This is why uranium has to be enriched by the process of centrifugation.

    Plutonium is made by bombarding 238U with neutrons in a manner similar to the conversion of thorium into 233U. Thorium, on the other hand, only has to be extracted from its ore, which, as we noted above, is plentiful and near the surface.

    On a side note, you do need a bit of uranium or plutonium to start the fission for a thorium-based nuclear power plant, but once started, it will continue until the fuel is used up.

    Another upside to thorium is that thorium reactors can run for years, while uranium reactors must be shut down every 18 months to replace fuel rods. Shutdowns cost money.

  • lewis_whokeyser lewis_whokeyser Jul 3, 2014 6:25 PM Flag

    Assuming the short squeeze is over (we'll know on Monday) the magnitude was not as big as the one last year but the volume was amazingly huge. I wonder what accounts for that? Institutional ownership (the so-called smart money) has declined by a huge amount. Are all remaining shares in the hands of speculators?
    Even today share volume traded was twice what it was at the peak of last years short squeeze and ten times normal, even though the markets closed early before the three day weekend.

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