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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 11

I The Present Energy Economy

II Australian Energy Consumption

III Research And Development

IV Coal

V Oil And Natural Gas

VI Solar Energy

VII Nuclear Energy
i Production of uranium
ii Australian Atomic Energy Commission

VIII Bagasse Firewood And Other Biomass

IX Electric Power Generation And Distribution electric Power Generation And Distribution

X Manufactured Gas

XI Industrial Process Heat



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Australian Atomic Energy Commission (continued)

The initial planning of the Commission's research was based on the premise that nuclear power would be commonplace in a decade or so -an optimism shared world-wide in the 1950s. Programs were aimed at developing scientific and technical expertise and concentrated on small reactors for remote locations. Subsequently, emphasis was placed on the development of large reactors of Australian design and basic contributions were made to heat transfer and the use of beryllium oxide in a pebble-bed design, but this work was later abandoned in favour of proven overseas designs. In 1970 tenders were called for a 500 MW nuclear power station to be built at Jervis Bay and site works were carried out, but the project was halted in 1971 and later abandoned, largely due to changes in economic conditions. By 1975, the largest single development program at Lucas Heights was a centrifuge enrichment project and original contributions were made to centrifuge and cascade design. Most recently, emphasis has passed to waste-disposal technology, with the development of the promising low leach-rate and very stable SYNROC, in conjunction with the Australian National University.

In 1979, the Commission sought to use its excellent facilities in a wider role of research into non-nuclear energy and a review by a committee of the National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Council (NERDDC) recommended changes to the Atomic Energy Act to permit this step -in the event, the Government decided to reserve this role to the CSIRO and in the early 1980s staff were transferred for this purpose and joint operation of the Lucas Heights site commenced. Fusion research was retained by the Commission and continues in co-operation with university researchers. Many aspects of environmental studies have a high priority in the present programs.

Although the history of the AAEC clearly has been marked by certain set-backs and disappointments, its staff have continued as the major resource of national expertise in all matters to do with nuclear science and technology, for which valuable international recognition has been gained. Such knowledge is of vital importance to governments, regardless of their degree of commitment to nuclear power development.
Contributions to international safeguards in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy have been made through active support of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and technical assistance provided to neighbouring countries in South East Asia, particularly in the training of their personnel at Lucas Heights.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australian Atomic Energy Commission; International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.); National Energy Research Development and Demonstration Council (N.E.R.D.D.C.)

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© 1988 Print Edition page 820, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher