There are plenty of problems for those in charge of nuclear power stations to worry about when they look out to sea, from rising sea levels, erosion, storm surges, even in some cases tsunamis, but few are as ever present, or as irritating, as jellyfish. Swarms of them have plagued coastal power plants worldwide by clogging their water intakes and cooling systems. In June 2011, Torness in the east of Scotland was forced offline for a week after moon jellyfish blocked its filters. Yet they are fiendishly difficult to stop, track or predict because jellyfish have no hearts and thus avoid any attempts at heat detection. Scientists at the University of Bristol aim to overcome this by using a supercomputer to analyse gridded maps and ocean conditions to predict the probability of a bloom arising and when it will hit the coast. The system will simulate jellyfish behaviour and locate areas of the North Sea from which swarms of jellyfish are likely to attack. It will be tested at Torness, which produces a third of Scotland’s electricity, and could be rolled out across the country. Even if jellyfish do not cause a total shutdown, the reduction in cooling water can reduce a power plant’s efficiency and add to its costs.
Times 17th Oct 2016 read more »