Nuclear bottleneck: Renaissance depends on a single steel mill

Those counting on new nuclear plants to help slow global warming may have to pull back their expectations, way back. Worldwide about 240 new reactors are slated to be built by 2030 including two dozen in the US. Yet those new projects all depend on a single steel mill in Hokaiddo, Japan, the only facility in the world that can fabricate the massive 600-ton cylinders in which the nuclear reaction occurs. The plant’s prowess in making these 30-inch thick cylinders traces back to WWII when it fabricated the then-largest ever canon barrels for Japanese battle ships. Today, its capacity to build these specialized vessels is a mere four per year. Even if it can double that output in the next few years, as it hopes to, it would take about 30 to 40 years to meet today’s demand for new containment vessel, let alone meet future needs. Check out more details on this story at

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