Nuclear Energy Reading List for the Curious

  • It’s hard to keep up with a global industry.
  • Here are some sources to help with the task Scroll down for the book list 

One thing I learned in the many years that I published my nuclear energy blog is that there can be too much nuclear information.  This lesson was brought home with the mind-crushing rush of information that hit the wires during the height of the Fukushima crisis.  But what about keeping up with the news on the nuclear industry in ordinary times?

This list was updated in Novembe 2020. Readers are welcome to submit citations for new books which either update current editions or are entirely new in their approach to nuclear energy.  Send your suggestions to: neutronbytes [at] gmail [dot] com.

If your employer can afford it, your firm subscribes to one or more of the specialty newsletters that tap in at $2,000 or more per year for a subscription.  In return, readers get detailed, expert news and analysis that would never, ever show up in the mainstream news media.  I worked for such a specialty newsletter (Fuelcycle Week) for five years and remain grateful for subscriber support since it meant the difference, metaphorically speaking, between a having a roof over my head and sleeping under a bridge.

However, because of copyright restrictions, most of these newsletters contain web beacons or other electronic devices that are designed to stop a firm from buying one subscription and then emailing each issue to its employees.  While there is the copy machine dodge, that is so 20th century.  Plus, waiting for the inter-office mail to deliver a bootleg copy puts you one day behind your electronically wired-in colleagues.

So, what’s a nuclear pro to do to stay current without shelling out the equivalent of a new car lease down payment?  The answer is there are a number of free news services available on the Internet that can go a long way to keep your mental inbox full of interesting stuff.  Here’s a short list of free sources.

Online services

Nuclear Town Hall – This is a seven-day-a-week, and twice-a-day on weekdays, summary of links to business and political news about nuclear energy.  Based in Washington, DC, it has a global perspective and also a special section on nuclear energy OP EDs and opinion pieces.  Resolutely pro-nuclear in every respect it even cites nuclear bloggers when it sees something of interest.  You can read the updates on the website or subscribe to it by email.

World Nuclear News – This is a five-day-a-week service that publishes short news reports about the global nuclear industry. Based on London, it is available on the website, or via email delivery by the time U.S. readers are pouring their second cup of coffee. A searchable archive allows readers to dig into the background of breaking news.

The World Nuclear Association (WNA) also publishes a Weekly Digest for generalists with more focus on significance and context than World Nuclear News (WNN) . Access it and the archive at:  http://bit.ly/2tmxeyX 

ANS Smart Brief – Sponsored by the American Nuclear Society, it picks up news clips from the mainstream media and posts a brief summary of about half a dozen of them a day with links to the original source online.  The brief is published weekdays except major holidays.  Note: The brief was sponsored previously by the Nuclear Energy Institute. The changeover took place in Spring 2018.

ANS News Wire Also sponsored by the American Nuclear Society, it is a daily roundup of interesting nuclear news items plus deep dives into selected topics. This is a news aggregation site with occasional original material.

The Forum on Energy weekly news roundup brings together a mix of global energy stories from around the web. It is published every week. The Forum is recognizes the vital role of nuclear energy as countries around the globe seek sustainable, emissions-free power. It is a project of The Howard Baker Forum’s U.S.-Japan Roundtable on Nuclear Energy Cooperation.

Google News – Google News allow you to search by keywords and to set up news alerts based on them.  You can set up as many alerts as you want and have the alerts delivered by email or RSS feed.  You can select instant delivery or once a day and filter by type of source, e.g., news, blogs, etc.

Nuclear Power Daily – Like ANS Smart Brief, this daily nuclear news summary relies on wire services and other sources.  Also, like ANS Smart Brief, it is an advertising supported service.

NucNet – NucNet is an independent global news and information network for the international nuclear community. NucNet maintains a 24-hour-7-day service to report the facts behind nuclear-related news. NucNet collects and shares information and news on nuclear issues, particularly all aspects of the safe operation of nuclear installations and the safe use of ionizing radiation. Some content is behind a firewall.

The Partnership for Global Security (PGS) publishes a biweekly newsletter with briefs on nuclear energy issues and also nonproliferation news. The nonprofit organization is nonpartisan and neutral in tone in its reporting on global developments involving new nuclear programs, projects, and news items. The newsletter focuses on the many dimensions of nuclear security today, including the impact of new technologies, the challenges of cybersecurity, and the growth of nuclear power in emerging economies. It highlights important developments in the global nuclear industry and offer an informed perspective based on many years of work on these issues

Nuclear Energy blogs are a great source of information often posting news in specialized developments days or weeks ahead of the mainstream news media.  A good starting place is the blog roll list of links on this blog.

Podcasts

Titans of Nuclear – Titans of Nuclear is a podcast featuring interviews with experts on nuclear energy.  Bret Kugelmass told this blog, “my drive for solving climate change led me to meet with hundreds of nuclear energy experts.”  LinksTopics

Radio Nuclear – RadioNuclear was established in 2017 by ANS member and show host Doug Hardtmayer, RadioNuclear aims to cover all pertinent topics related to the nuclear industry. Bi-weekly episodes are available. These episodes of information-filled podcasts consist of recent news, plus a special guest. Radio Nuclear is presented by the American Nuclear Society and links to podcasts are posted at the ANS Nuclear CafeLinkEpisodes

Pocket Guides

Pocket Guide to Nuclear Energy  The World Nuclear Association (WNA)  Pocket Guide WNA’s 2018/19 new combined Pocket Guide (PDF file) brings together useful facts on four key topics. It is 44 pages of plain English facts at your finger tips.

  • Nuclear Power, Energy and the Environment
  • Radiation
  • Nuclear Power Reactor Characteristics
  • Uranium, Mine to Mill.

Nuclear Power, Energy and the Environment – How much carbon dioxide does each energy source emit? Which countries have the highest and lowest emissions of CO2 ? How can nuclear energy help combat climate change?

What is radiation? Where does it come from? How can it be measured? What steps can be taken to protect against high doses of radiation?

Nuclear Power Reactor Characteristics – How do nuclear power plants work? What are the different types of reactors in use? Which countries have chosen nuclear to meet their electricity needs?

Uranium, Mine to Mill – Where does uranium come from? Which countries are the largest producers? How is uranium extracted and processed to produce nuclear fuel?

U.S. Department of EnergyThe Ultimate Fast Facts Guide to Nuclear Energy This pamphlet is a fast read, with pictures, (16 page PDF file)  about commercial nuclear energy in the U.S.  Excellent resource for high school students.

Books

There is another “what to read” issue, and that is how to answer questions from in-laws, friends, and the occasional non-nuclear colleagues who genuinely want to know more about nuclear energy.  Here’s a reading list that you can clip and save.  All of these books are in print and most can be found in a public library or through inter-library loan.  The major online book selling services stock these volumes.

Using eBook Readers – A cheap way to get many of these books is to buy an e-reader from any of the major vendor with a 7-8″ screen which is all you really need if you are using the device just for reading books. EBooks are always cheaper than the print editions often by more than half the hardback price.

A google search shows dozens of products for about $100 or less each with enough storage (8-16 Gb) for at least 100+ eBooks. Many of these devices can expand their storage with SD cards which are cheap. A card with 32 Gb of storage will cost all of $15-20 by mail order from any of the major online vendors. You can set up your eBook reader to automatically store books on the SD card which can vastly expand the storage for the device.

Examples of eBook readers include various Kindle[tm] models from Amazon, Nook [tm] eBook  from Barnes & Noble, and Android type tablets from Samsung, Levono, and Vanko.  If you buy an Apple iPad just for reading books, you are paying too much just for this capability.

THE BOOK LIST

Three must reads – Start here

The Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy, by Gwyneth Cravens

Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century, by Scott L. Montgomery (New)

Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto, by Stewart Brand

Recommended reading for generalists

Nuclear Energy: What Everyone Needs to Know, by Charles D. Ferguson

Nuclear Energy in the 21st Century, by Ian Hore-Lacy  (Updated to new edition in 2020)

The Reporter’s Handbook on Nuclear Materials, Energy, and Waste Management, by Michael Greenberg et.al

Histories

Nuclear Firsts: Milestone on the Road to Nuclear Power Development, by Gail Marcus

The Rickover Effect: How One Man Made a Difference, by Ted Rockwell

Plentiful Energy: The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor, by Charles E. Till and Yoon Il Chang

Nuclear Silk Road: The Koreanization of Nuclear Power Technology, by Byung-Koo Kim

Before the Fallout: From Maire Curie to Hiroshima, by Diana Preston

Nuclear Emergencies

Station Blackout: Inside the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster and Recovery by Charles A. Casto (new in 2019)

Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters: From the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima by James Mahaffey (new in 2019)

Nonproliferation

Physics for Future Presidents, by Richard A. Muller

The Making of the Atomic Bomb, by Richard Rhodes

The Spread of Nuclear Weapons, by Scott D. Sagan and Kenneth N. Waltz

Single Issues

Radiation and Reason, by Wade Allison (2015 post Fukushima edition); download full text for free at link)

Uranium: War, Energy and the Rock that Shaped the World, by Tom Zoellner

Thorium Energy, Cheaper than Coal, Robert Hargraves

Super Fuel; Thorium, the Green Energy Source for the Future, Richard Martin

The Star Builders: Nuclear Fusion and the Race to Power the Planet – Arthur Turrell  (new in 2021)

Sustainable Development / Climate Change / Environment / Advocacy

Storms of my Grandchildren, by James Hansen

The GeoPolitics of Energy: Achieving a Just and Sustainable Energy Distribution by 2040, by Judith Wright and James Conca

Sustainable Energy – Without The Hot Air, by David JC MacKay

Why We Need Nuclear Power – the Environmental Case – Michael H. Fox

Campaigning for Clean Air: Strategies for Pro-Nuclear Advocacy – Meredith Angwin (new in 2018)

A Bright Future:  How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow  Joshua S. Goldstein & Staffan A. Qvist (new in 2019).

A Matter of Scale, Untangling the Titanic Challenge of Humanity’s Clean Energy Future, Preston Urka (new 2021)

Reports / Studies by Nongovernmental Organizations

Strategies for Advanced Nuclear Reactors

In February 2021 two leading U.S. think tanks released a joint strategy for the development of advanced nuclear reactors. The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) and Partnership for Global Security (PGS) released a joint report defining a comprehensive strategy for the U.S. to become the global leader in advanced nuclear power. Based on extensive stakeholder engagement, the strategy outlines the domestic and international activities that will be required to ensure the United States can lead in the development and deployment of next generation nuclear technologies through collaboration between government, industry, civil society, and other nations.

At the domestic level, the strategy explores how public-private partnerships can drive innovation to commercialize advanced reactor technologies. The Biden Administration and Congress have critical roles to play in leading government innovation efforts and funding demonstration projects. An emerging group of advanced reactor innovators must continue their work to design next generation technology that can deliver low-carbon competitive power. At the same time, federal policy must address environmental justice concerns and engage local communities.

Internationally, the strategy highlights how advanced nuclear energy can be imbued into U.S. foreign policy and international relations. The imperatives of climate change, as noted by the Biden Administration, underscore the importance of climate friendly technologies in U.S. foreign affairs. Domestic innovation is the foundation for global leadership and will enable the U.S. to open markets for U.S. exports and establish global norms in safety and non-proliferation.

The report was publicly released along with a webinar moderated by Dean Scott of Bloomberg Industry. It features presentations by Judi Greenwald and Ken Luongo along with comments from Jennifer Gordon of The Atlantic Council, Jessica Lovering of Good Energy Collective and Niko McMurray of Clear Path.   (Download the report)  (Watch the video of webinar about the report)

Charting the Future Course of Nuclear Energy R&D in the U.S.

A task force commissioned by the American Nuclear Society (ANS) issued an assessment of U.S. nuclear energy research and development funding needs for the 2020s.

The study is a prospectus for appropriations as Congress and the Biden administration consider ways to support and expand America’s largest carbon-free energy technology, nuclear energy.

The study, titled “The U.S. Nuclear R&D Imperative,” outlines the level of federal investments for meeting nuclear energy R&D needs and enabling a commercial scale-up of U.S.-designed advanced reactors in the 2030s. The report also looked at maximizing nuclear energy for decarbonization, economic growth through high-paying nuclear jobs, and preservation of U.S. influence in global nuclear safety and standards.

The Task Force’s requested nuclear R&D levels would fully fund and sustain programs already authorized by Congress, including:

  • Demonstrations of two designs by 2027 under Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) cost-sharing partnerships with private developers.
  • Demonstrations of additional designs expected to mature from the current ARDP Risk Reduction for Future Demonstration award recipients.
  • Support for early R&D concepts through the ARDP Risk Reduction and Advanced Reactor Concepts programs.
  • Construction of the DOE’s Versatile Test Reactor by 2030 to provide the U.S. with a fast-neutron capability required for accelerated testing of advanced nuclear technology.
  • Build out of the National Reactor Innovation Center for testing and demonstrations.
  • And the construction of an advanced light-water reactor by 2029 through the UAMPS/NuScale Carbon Free Power Project at INL.

American Nuclear Society – Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

On Friday, March 11, 2011, one of the largest earthquakes in the recorded history of the world occurred on the east coast of northern Japan. This earthquake also generated a major tsunami, causing nearly 20,000 deaths. Electricity, gas and water supplies, telecommunications, and railway service were all severely disrupted and in many cases completely shut down. These disruptions severely affected the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing a loss of all on-site and off-site power and a release of radioactive materials from the reactors.

The leadership of the American Nuclear Society commissioned the American Nuclear Society Special Committee on Fukushima to provide a clear and concise explanation of what happened during the Fukushima Daiichi accident, and offer recommendations based on lessons learned from their study of the event. The American Nuclear Society, a professional organization of 11,600 nuclear science and technology professionals, has a strong tradition of advancing nuclear safety, and the Special Committee on Fukushima was organized to further its members’ interests in this important professional obligation.

The release of this report is the culmination of a nearly year-long effort by Special Committee members to analyze a range of factors related to what happened at the Fukushima Daiichi facility. The report was officially released at a press conference held  at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. ANS Executive Director Robert Fine made opening remarks and introductions. Drs. Dale Klein and Mike Corradini, the Special Committee co-chairs, lead the discussion of the report and the Q&A session. Special Committee members Paul Dickman — who also served as study director — and Jacopo Buongiorno, lead for regulatory issues, also appeared on the discussion panel.

The report, special videos from the press conference, and other materials can be found here.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – Nuclear Energy in China

In The Future of Nuclear Power in China, Mark Hibbs identifies and analyzes the challenges facing Chinese decision makers in developing and deploying nuclear power technology through mid-century. Will China succeed where others have failed in transitioning from existing reactor designs to advanced technologies? Can China’s nuclear program continue to expand at the rapid pace of the last two decades? Or will reduced growth, market forces, and corporatism slow reactor building to a crawl, as in Western countries? How will China manage greater nuclear risks? What will emerging Chinese nuclear leadership mean for multilateral nuclear governance?

Download the Executive Summary or the Full Report (PDF files) here.

Federal Government Reports

Spent Nuclear Fuel

A good starting point to understand spent nuclear fuel is the Blue Ribbon Commission report which is a useful volume. It is an excellent report and is accessible, for the most part, for people who have no technical background in nuclear energy.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) was formed by the Secretary of Energy at the request of the President to conduct a comprehensive review of policies for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle and recommend a new strategy. It was co-chaired by Rep. Lee H. Hamilton and (the late) Gen. Brent Scowcroft.

The Commission and its subcommittees met more than two dozen times between March 2010 and January 2012 to hear testimony from experts and stakeholders, to visit nuclear waste management facilities in the United States and abroad, and to discuss the issues identified in its Charter.

Additionally, in 2011, the Commission held five public meetings, in different regions of the country, to hear feedback on its draft report. A wide variety of organizations, interest groups, and individuals provided input to the Commission at these meetings and through the submission of written materials.

This report highlights the Commission’s findings and conclusions and presents recommendations for consideration by the Administration and Congress, as well as interested state, tribal and local governments, other stakeholders, and the public.

In 2016 the Department of Energy is pursuing a “consent based” approach to locating a site for final disposition for spent nuclear fuel.

& & &

If you have a favorite news source, or best book on nuclear energy, please post your suggestions in the comments or send me a Tweet @djysrv

20 Responses to Nuclear Energy Reading List for the Curious

  1. Eric Schmitz says:

    I found “Nuclear 2.0” by Mark Lynas interesting, easy to read, and well-sourced. Just a couple bucks on Kindle.

    Like

  2. Todd De Ryck says:

    Technical examination of energy return on energy invested “Energy in Australia” http://bravenewclimate.com/2014/02/09/book-review-energy-in-australia/

    Quick read with many (I believe) credible references Greenjacked! http://www.amazon.com/GreenJacked-derailing-environmental-action-climate-ebook/dp/B00MN7UPH6/ref=sr_1_1

    Good overview of the pros and cons of all electricity generation sources “Why We Need Nuclear Power – The Environmental Case” Oxford University press http://blog.oup.com/2014/08/environmental-case-nuclear-power/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Nuclear Reading List | A Public Eye on Energy

  4. Edward Kee says:

    Dan:

    Robert Bryce has written a few books, including “Power Hungry” and “Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper”

    Kim Byung-Koo’s book on the South Korean nuclear industrial development effort, “Nuclear Silk Road”

    Rupp and Derian’s “Light Water” presents a view about technology dominance of light water reactors – this is old and out of print, but worth a read

    Thomas Neff’s “The International Uranium Market” is also out of print, but still a good read

    Ian Bremmer’s “The End of the Free Market” is not a nuclear book, but provides an excellent overview of the rise of state capitalism that is seen in government nuclear vendors

    Like

  5. Dan:
    I just finished another book that should be on the list:

    Why We Need Nuclear Power: The Environmental Case, by Michael H. Fox

    Like

  6. Michael Mann says:

    Atomic Accidents, A history of nuclear meltdowns and disasters from the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima by James Mahaffey would be a great addition to the “Histories” list

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ikemeister says:

      On the list, perhaps added? I recommend any of Mahaffey’s “Atomic” books. I’m just finishing up his “Atomic Awakening: A New Look at the History and Future of Nuclear Power” that has an excellent coverage of nuclear energy from its discovery, to early adoption, ongoing issues, and shaping of the energy future.

      Like

  7. virgilfenn says:

    Leslie Corrice deserves more than an honorable mention for his chronicle.
    http://hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-the-first-five-days.html

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. Chris Bergan says:

    The online library at WNA has a new section which looks like an excellent primer for nuclear energy – they also update articles quarterly so this info should remain current.
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Current-and-Future-Generation/

    Like

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  11. Willis Shirk says:

    I would also like to offer my own recently published book entitled “A History of the Atomic Space Age and Its Implications for the Future” (Indianapolis: Dog Ear Publishing, 2018). https://www.wshirk.com

    Like

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