Tamahagane steel is bliss March 30, 2008 1:16 PMSubscribe
Samurai-Sword Maker's Reactor Monopoly May Cool Nuclear RevivalThere stands the only plant in the world...capable of producing the central part of a nuclear reactor's containment vessel in a single piece, reducing the risk of a radiation leak.From a windswept corner of Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, Japan Steel Works Ltd. controls the fate of the global nuclear-energy renaissance.Each year the Tokyo-based company can turn out just four of the steel forgings that contain the radioactivity in a nuclear reactor. Even after it doubles capacity in the next two years, there won't be enough production to meet building plans. `If there are 50 to 100 reactors or more to be built, there will be a real shortage and real delays in deliveries, so it's a good hedge to get in line now,'' said Ron Pitts, senior vice president for nuclear operations at the construction and engineering company Fluor Corp. in Irving, Texas.
...Blue-clad workers, some wearing balaclavas to keep warm, draw on knowledge built up when Japan Steel made the 18-inch gun barrel -- the world's largest at the time -- for the World War II battleship Yamato. A 1945 attack on the Muroran plant killed more than 200 workers.
``Our accumulated technology for cannon barrels helped us make this technical breakthrough in forging,'' plant manager Sato said.