SAIMechE John Orr Memorial Lecture 2016

The history of this prestigious lecture dates back to 1961 when the first lecture was initiated to honour Professor Orr. We are pleased to announce that the 2016 John Orr Memorial Lecture will be presented by Prof Johan Slabber (BSc. B. Eng (Electrical) (SU), D. Eng (UP), Pr.Eng), Lecturer at University of Pretoria; well-known industry expert. The topic for the Lecture will be:

"A case for Nuclear Power in South Africa” by Prof Johan Slabber

Online registration and more information can be found at

John Orr Lecture Notice 2016 noticeAbout Prof Johan Slabber
Professor Johan Slabber is currently working in the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Pretoria where he is involved in giving a nuclear flavour to the degree in Mechanical Engineering. Before joining the University he was the Chief Technology Officer at PBMR (Pty) Ltd. In his earlier career he held the positions of General Manager, Reactor Technology at the Atomic Energy Corporation of South Africa, Chief Systems Engineer at the company Integrators of Systems Technology (IST), where he led a small team which completed the first conceptual systems design of a small Demonstration High Temperature Reactor. In 1994 he joined the Safeguards Department of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna where he completed a contract period of 5 years before joining the company PBMR (Pty) Ltd in 1999. He holds a Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pretoria, and studied at the Oak Ridge School of Reactor Technology in the United States.

Increased growth in the South African economy has long been hailed by politicians as the solution to the problems of job creation and poverty alleviation. It is well understood that politicians have a role to play in creating the necessary environment for economic growth, by providing those resources which are critical to industrial growth - particularly electric power. This is the correct foundation on which the economy can be made to grow. One of the key enablers of economic growth is sufficient, reliable and affordable electrical power. Notwithstanding the importance of renewable energy sources (solar, wind, etc), a base-load supply of electrical power is necessary to accommodate for those times when electrical power from renewable sources decreases or is unavailable. There are only two viable energy sources for this base-load supply: the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) and nuclear fission. Power generation using a heat source requires two important resources; the fuel; and an efficient way to cool the working fluid used in the thermodynamic power cycle. With the foregoing introduction as point of departure, both the base-load power generation options available in South Africa will be discussed with emphasis on the factors that have an important bearing on a rational and objective choice. These factors will be distilled into the groupings of safety, economics and waste production. This information will then be overlaid on the South African scenario, and an argument put forward for the use of nuclear power satisfying balanced development of the entire South African landscape, both from a point of the physical location and the availability of fuel and cooling capability. Utilising nuclear power along the long coastline of South Africa will realise not only the production of reliable electric power, but also the supply of potable water generated by the cooling process, both resources in short supply in South Africa. Nuclear power thus stands to deliver on two key resources - electricity and potable water. The South African government has taken the bold step to include nuclear power in its energy mix for the future. This step is to be applauded albeit somewhat late in the day. The words of Henry Kissinger come to mind: “In decision after decision, policymakers have failed to grasp the significance of the problem of conjecture, sometimes underestimating the benefits of pre-emption and sometimes underestimating the costs of inaction.”




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