BURN: Marketplace Stories

LISTEN || Japan’s lesson for U.S. reactors: Disaster is possible

A new turbine is installed at the Dresden nuclear plant in Morris, IL. Photo Courtesy Exelon Corp.

BURN Host Alex Chadwick reports on concerns over how well dozens of US nuclear reactors – built like those that melted down in the Fukushima crisis – would withstand natural disasters.

February 21, 2013 more »

Innovators: Building an electric car for speed

Pethel For Homepage Cropped (1)

Mike Pethel has pieced together what may be the fastest electric car anywhere, using enough batteries to power 750 homes. The inventor and race car buff is on a never-ending quest to make his pristine 70s BMW super powerful and totally green. LISTEN.

January 30, 2013 more »

Amy Prieto & The Elusive Mighty Battery

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Batteries are essential energy storage devices for anything touted as clean tech but right now they’re limited to a few hours of performance. Chemist Amy Prieto has designed a battery that seemingly has the right stuff, but she still has to solve some big challenges. Alex visits Amy Prieto and her team to learn just what the Prieto Battery is about and why creating a better battery is so difficult.

December 23, 2012 more »

For a town in need of jobs, going nuclear was easy call

The oil town of Eunice, N.M., welcomed a uranium enrichment plant for its steady jobs. A canister of raw uranium awaits processing at the plant, operated by the European company Urenco.

To understand how a nuclear facility came to rest at this far edge of the high plains, you first have to understand what else is here. Hear that sound? That’s the rhythmic squeak of a horse head oil pump. There’s a pump jack every few blocks in Eunice, and thousands more stretching east, all the way past Odessa, Texas.

September 5, 2012 more »

What happened to the oil from the BP spill?

The "oil mats" are slightly darker than the sand, almost chocolate, and many of them pock the surface of the beach.

In 2010 the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico — 11 people were killed, the rig was destroyed, and by the time the wellhead was capped 87 days later, nearly 5 million barrels of crude had poured into the Gulf. One of the big questions people are trying to answer is where all the oil went.

August 19, 2012 more »

Where to put all our nuclear waste?

Visitors at a research area inside the the Gorleben salt dome exploratory mine in Germany.

We have, in this country alone, something like 70,000 tons of high level nuclear waste — 250,000 worldwide, give or take. What we don’t have, here or anywhere else, is a place to put it all. And figuring that out means you have to convince people it’ll be okay to store nuclear waste where they live.

July 17, 2012 more »

The smell of prosperity or illness?

Roxana, Illinois

Oil’s been good to Roxana, Ill.. Once upon a time, three refineries, along with steel mills and manufacturing plants, employed tens of thousands of people. But then the factories and two of the refineries shut down. And in 1986, a pipeline broke and the town has been living with the consequences ever since.

June 29, 2012 more »

This is the oil business

Sid Jansma at Covenant 17-1, the discovery well.

Nothing actually about oil is a sure thing. Least of all: finding it. Companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars leasing land and drilling wells based on what’s basically some very educated guesswork. The biggies, BP and Chevron and Exxon, go drilling all over the world. But there are hundreds of smaller companies poking around right here in the United States looking for the next big find.

April 20, 2012 more »

Lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster

Fukushima cleanup: man in suit and mask

In March 2010 a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami hit the northeast coast of Japan. That in turn made the Fukushima Daiichi power plant famous as the site of one of the worst nuclear accidents we’ve ever known. We’re airing a series of stories looking back at what happened and trying to figure out what, if anything, has been learned since then.

March 8, 2012 more »

Interview: Witness at Fukushima Daiichi

Fukushima Witness, engineer Carl Pillitteri

When the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan and the Daiichi nuclear plant last March, an American technical crew with 40 workers was on site. Among the crew was Carl Pillitteri, a maintenance supervisor who was on the floor of one of the four turbine buildings — enormous structures that house the gigantic turbines that produce energy.

March 7, 2012 more »