U. S. A—Way the Best Way?

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    07-Feb-2017

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GOVERNMENT Pressurized water reactor at Shippingport, Pa.? scheduled for completion this year. Russian version will not b e ready until 1960 U. S. -Way the Best Way? Russian atomic power program looks more and more like United States program, AEC official says JL HE highly-touted Russian atomic power program seems to be bogged down. The Russians claimed that by 1960 they would be producing 2 to 2.5 million kw. of electricity from nuclear power plants. Now the Russian program calls for no more than 1 million kw. of atomic power. The 1960 target date? Russia expects to have only one 200,000 kw. plant in operation by then. These are some of the things AEC's director of reactor development, W. Kenneth Davis, told the Council of State Governments in Cleveland last week. Where does Davis get his figures? From U. S. S. R. reports to the United Nations and from Russian papers presented at the Belgrade meeting of the World Power Conference. Warns Davis, "It would be a mistake to discount the abihty of the Russians too far." But, he says, the Russian atomic power program now appears to b e of a reasonable size and character compared with the highly exaggerated claims made last year. Remarkably Similar. The new Russian program looks more and more like the U. S. program, Davis says. The Russians plan full scale power reactors of the pressurized water and water cooled graphite types. Reactor experiments are planned for four other typesaqueous homogeneous, fast breeder, sodium graphite, and boiling water. The Russian water cooled graphite reactor is similar to the production reactors operated at Hanford for many years, Davis says. The other Bve types are identical with those AEC picked three years ago for the civilian power reactor program. The Russian pressurized water reactor, Davis says, is "remarkably similar to our Shipping-port PWR in about every respect." It is significant, he says, that the Russians have not picked different types of reactors from ours. Missing from the Russian plans is the gas cooled, deuterium moderated reactor, a type heavily emphasized in the past. Davis speculates that this situation might b e the result of feuding between the Ministry of Power Stations and the Academy of Sciences which is pushing the gas cooled reactor. Says Davis, "Apparently w e are not unique in our debates over wha t type of reactors should b e built." Facts of Life. Reason for the scale-down of the Russian atomic program, Davis thinks, is tha t the Russians are lagging in atomic technology. In fact, h e says, they may hope to get guidance from U. S. advances in reactor technology. In 1956, when the Russians announced their ambitious atomic power program, Davis says, they were naive about the proposed program. There is good reason to believe, he says, that they were not far enough along in their program to realize what the difficulties in development and manufacture would really be like. In the past year, the Russians have come face to face with the real difficulties of the announced program. It is AEC's experience that the reactor development business looks simple and easy until you get into it, Davis says. The Russians must be finding that there are very formidable technical difficulties in building even the simplest nuclear power plant . We should not be complacent about activities of the U. S. S. R. in any field, Davis warns. However, h e says, a rational estimate of their capabilities is likely to be correct in the long run. U. S. Outlook. Ra te of growth of a U. S. nuclear power industry, h e says, depends on a number of factorsspeed and success of development work, transition to industry under favorable circumstances, realization of competitive costs. If everything is favorable, this is the way Davis thinks the U. S. atomic power industry will grow. By 1962 there will be 1 million electrical kw. of nuclear power stations in operation, 7.5 million kw. by 1967. By 1977, atomic electric power should hit 133 million kw., the total electric generating capacity in the U. S. today. Says Davis, "Nuclear power is going to be one of the facts of life during the corning years." Pb-Zn Tariffs Going Up Congress is studying an Administration-backed bill which would increase tariffs on lead and zinc imports. Sen. Arthur V, Watkins (R.-Utah) , sponsor of Senate bill 2736, says he is sure Congress will find a way to save a vital U . S. industry. Last week, the Senate Finance Committee held hearings on the bill to test reaction to the proposed sliding scale of import taxes. The committee learned: 3 4 C & E N A U G . 5. 1 9 5 7 NEW BULLETIN on Laboratory and Pilot Plant HIGH PRESSURE REACTORS Pilot HKt ^^W A Pilot Plan* . 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Chicago Cleveland Detroit New York Philadelphia Pittsburgh St. Louis Washington IN CANADA Edmonton Montreal Toronto America's Largest Manufacturer-Distributor of Laboratory Appliances & Reagent C/iemicc/t GOVERNMENT U. S. lead and zinc imports have reached 1409c of total domestic production. Lead has dropped to 14 cents a pound and zinc to 10 cents a pound. Peril pointslowest prices that will keep domestic mines goingof 17 cents for lead and 14l/2 cents for zinc are acceptable to the industry. Proposed taxes, which would increase as prices drop below the peril points, are too low to satisfy U. S. producers. Recommended in S. 2736: one to three cents on lead and one-half to two cents on zinc. Strongest opposition to the proposed tariffs comes from American lead and zinc interests in Mexico and Peru. As Finance Committee chairman Harry F . Byrd (D.-Va.) opened the hearings, Congressmen from western states lined up to express approval of S. 2736. Sen. Watkins told the committee lead and zinc ghost towns are springing up throughout the West. He said domestic use of lead and zinc is increasing, hut the industry cannot take advantage of this growth because cheap imports have flooded the market. With backing from the President and Secretary of Interior, h e says Congress, for the first time in 24 years, may be able to help the industry (C&EN, Ju re 17, page 34 ) . Sen. Gordon Allott (R.-Col.) and the Emergency Lead-Zinc Industry Committee asked for an increase in the taxes proposed in S. 2736. They say an additional tax of two cents a pound on both metals is needed at all price levels to equalize costs paid by American producers over those paid by foreign operators. They also want the excise rate determined monthly instead of quarterly as called for in S. 2736. On the quarterly basis, they say, importers could take advantage of time lags to upset t he purpose of the bill. The Peruvian-American Association and W. R. Grace Co. objected to the proposed increases in tariffs. They hold passage of the bill would shut out Latin America from trading in lead and zinc in the U. S. Domestic mines, according to the Senate committee, cannot produce all the lead and zinc needed in the U. S. Therefore, Latin America can still do a sizable business here but at slightly higher prices. The House Ways and Means Committee, which must officially introduce the bill, plans hearings on the new tariffs next week, but action at this session is doubtful. Meanwhile, Office of Defense Mobilization has directed General Services Administration to step up purchases of lead and zinc for the government stockpile to take advantage of current low prices. The Big Grow Bigger Industry is bracing for possible stepped-up action from trustbusters Cause for concern is a new report or: concentration in American industry from the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly. The massive report indicates that the 50 biggesi manufacturing companies increasec their share of the American marke from 17% in 1947 to 2 3 % in 1954 Of 60 industries shipping over $1 bi l lion in 1954, 12 were dominated b^ four or fewer companies. Figures ar< based on data from Census of Manufac tures for 1954 and earlier. The repor makes no attempt to show what cause concentration. Figures for the chemical industry point out a couple of things. In mam major product categories the 20 big gest companies apparently contre nearly 100% of the market. In som< categories, eight or even four com panies share the entire market, meas ured in dollar value shipped. Fo example, four companies ship 949 of all cyclic crudes. Figures for othe product groups show eight companie ship 9 5 % of all sulfuric acid, 9 7 % c synthetic fibers, 90% of all tires a n tubes, and 9 S % of carbon black. But the list is fairly long at the othe end of the scale. The eight biggef pharmaceutical houses ship only 44