Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The New Fire (movie) and the New Nuclear (people)

The New Fire movie
The New Fire and Me

Sometimes, various facets of my life come together in unexpected ways.  For example, the movie The New Fire brought two threads of my life together.

The New Fire follows four young nuclear engineers who have started companies and are designing new types of reactors. However, some of the movie is about why we need these new reactors: avoiding climate change while lifting people out of energy poverty.  Our son-in-law, Vijay Modi, is a professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia University.  He is also leader of the Sustainable Engineering Lab at Columbia. 

So, I'm watching the movie about nuclear, and there's Vijay, in the movie, describing the need for energy in developing areas. Okay, I admit it. I knew Vijay would would be in the movie. I wasn't surprised.  But it was still fun to be watching a pro-nuclear movie that included a member of my own family.  I strongly recommend the movie, but not just because Vijay is in it.

The New Fire an  Nuclear People

David Schumacher's film describes the promise of new forms of nuclear energy, specifically to mitigate climate change. He focuses on the young people who are starting companies and bringing that promise to life. The film features two companies designing new types of reactors:
  • Jacob DeWitte and Caroline Cochran have founded Oklo Inc.  Located in the San Francisco Bay Area,  Oklo keeps a relatively low profile, and emphasizes the use of small nuclear reactors in remote locations and developing countries.  Update: This is a solid fuel reactor.  An earlier version of my post described it as a molten salt reactor.
  • Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie founded Transatomic Power. Located in Cambridge Massachusetts, the company is proceeding with reactor design, materials testing and simulation. 
The film follows these two companies through crucial years of development: you will be rooting for these smart, dedicated and idealistic young people. 

Speaking of smart, dedicated and idealistic young people, Eric Meyer of Generation Atomic is also in the film.  He adds nuclear advocacy and opera singing to uplifting mix of New Nuclear people.

The New Fire and You

There are several more screenings in the near future: perhaps one near you.  The Screenings page of The New Fire website lists upcoming screenings.  At this writing, The New Fire will be shown
  • November 3, 4, 5 in Denver
  • November 4-8 in Ojai California
  • November 6 in St Louis (free)
  • November 12 at DOC NYC (New York City)
  • November 16 in Berkeley (free)
On November 12, in New York City, David Schumacher, Caroline Cochran, and Jacob DeWitte are expected to attend the showing.  Here's a link to the ticket purchase page  for that showing. 

Above and Beyond

Generation Atomic is running a Generosity Campaign to provide funds for their upcoming trip to COP23 in Bonn.  If you have significant money (over $1500) to contribute to this campaign, you will be rewarded with a private screening of The New Fire.  Yes, this is Above and Beyond.  But think about it.  Perhaps some of the people reading this blog can afford this type of contribution.  A private screening would be a lot of fun for your money, as well as helping a good cause.

Of course, you can contribute smaller amounts to the Generosity Campaign, and receive t-shirts, audio books and so forth.  It's not all-or-nothing.  Send some money!

And find a place where The New Fire is being shown, and watch it!