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The New Fire 2018

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Good Docs
Produced by David Schumacher, Derek Wieshahn, Yuanyuan Chen
Directed by David Schumacher
DVD, color, 84 min.

High School - General Adult
Engineering, Science, Nuclear Engineering, Nuclear Power Plants, Nuclear Energy, Entrepreneurship, Sustainability, Climate Change, International Relations

Date Entered: 12/11/2018

Reviewed by Bonnie Jo Dopp, Librarian Emerita, University of Maryland

This hopeful, informative film depicts young nuclear engineers designing small, safe, advanced nuclear plants and starting new businesses to sell them to investors who aim to build them as soon as possible wherever sustainable non-carbon energy sources that do not pollute the atmosphere are welcome (currently in Canada, China, and India).

People who have never known there is such a thing as a nuclear start-up will learn about three of them here: Oklo, Transatomic, and TerraPower, which gained heavy investment from Bill Gates. (Note that Transatomic, founded in 2011 by MIT graduates, closed in fall 2018, after this film was made.) General audiences who mainly know of nuclear power via news stories about accidents and disasters (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and most recently Fukushima Daiichi; the BBC lists seven others) and fear the idea of building more plants will learn how “The New Fire” of advanced small modular nuclear reactor technology shows great promise for future environmentally benign energy demands that cannot be met simply with wind and solar power. (In Fall 2018, US bipartisan support for making the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act a matter of public law proved that politicians are moving in the direction of making it easier to bring practical applications of this technology to the US.) The wisdom of older engineers like James Hansen is shown here but because the emphasis is on young women and men doing important things about their future, even middle school science enthusiasts would find this program inspiring.