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  (Source: Hyperion)

The reactor would be installed underground.  (Source: Hyperion)
Hyperion, Toshiba, others, race to produce "personal" nuclear power.

Using technology licensed from the U.S. government, an Arizona-based company is planning to bring a new generation of miniature nuclear reactors to market. The Hyperion Hydride Reactor is not much larger than a hot tub, is totally sealed and self-operating, has no moving parts and, beyond refueling, requires no maintenance of any sort. The reactor will output 27MW, enough to power a community of 20,000 homes, says Hyperion Energy, makers of the new reactor. The first models will roll off the assembly line in five years.

Unlike conventional nuclear reactors, the Hyperion design uses no water for cooling, meaning it can be sited anywhere. It is designed to be covered in concrete and then buried while in operation, to reduce the risk of tampering. The reactor must be excavated every 7-10 years for refueling, but can otherwise be left entirely undisturbed.

"Our goal is to generate electricity for 10 cents a watt anywhere in the world", says Hyperion CEO John Deal.

Deal says that more than 100 orders have already been placed, from both the oil and electricity industries, as well as developing nations. The small size of the reactor makes it ideal for smaller, isolated communities which can therefore avoid the heavy cost of high-power electricity transmission lines.

Since power is produced 100% of the time, the total energy output is more than 15 times what the world's most powerful 400-foot tall 5 MW wind turbine will produce. The total cost is estimated at $25 million USD. It generates no greenhouse gases while in operation and, when one takes into account the total amount of resources used during manufacture, is said to have much less of a carbon footprint than even wind or solar power.

"We now have a six-year waiting list," says Deal. "We are in talks with developers in the Cayman Islands, Panama, and the Bahamas".

The reactor uses a uranium hydride core, surrounded by hydrogen gas. The fuel is not enriched to weapons-grade, meaning it can't be used for building a nuclear device.

Hyperion plans to eventually have three factories mass-producing the reactors, a step which will further reduce costs and increase the number available.

Toshiba is also working on its own mini nuclear reactor, the "4S", which the company says stands for "super-safe, small, and simple". The 4S is based on a smaller 10 MW design that can last 30-40 years before refueling. The 4S is sodium-cooled, and uses liquid lithium-6 to moderate the reactor, instead of conventional control rods. Like Hyperion's design, the reactor is totally sealed and requires no maintenance or operation.

Toshiba says the reactor will make power available for as little as 5 cents/kWh. A demonstration version of the 4S is planned to be online in 2012, and will be sited in the Alaskan village of Galena. After that, Toshiba plans to offer the 4S for sale throughout North America and Europe.

Startup firm NuScale is also working on its own mini reactor design.



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Any more excuses
By FITCamaro on 11/10/2008 7:41:44 AM , Rating: 5
That we shouldn't be using nuclear energy?




RE: Any more excuses
By Bateluer on 11/10/2008 8:02:07 AM , Rating: 5
There barely were any real excuses anyway.

Seems like a power company could purchase a few of these themselves to bury on their own property to shore up capacity during peak time periods too.

Or using one onboard a space station?


RE: Any more excuses
By 3DoubleD on 11/10/2008 9:04:07 AM , Rating: 5
I think they try to limit the use of nuclear power on satellites (or space stations) in orbit is due to the inevitability that they will one day crash into our atmosphere. This will spread radioactive fuel and reactor components throughout the atmosphere. There is also the risk of the rocket exploding during launch.

HOWEVER, since the US alone has detonated over 300 atomic bombs in our atmosphere... one of the above accidents would nearly negligible. Also, if you build satellites knowing they will eventually fall back to earth, it wouldn't be too hard to build an ejection pod for the on board reactor and maybe collide it into the moon (no one better complain about moon pollution, that would be just stupid).


RE: Any more excuses
By on 11/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: Any more excuses
By 3DoubleD on 11/10/2008 11:56:26 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
Of course the big problem is most Americans have been brainwashed so there is a not in my backyard mentality.

If they made a small, community (eg. powers ~100 houses) version, I'd volunteer to put one in my backyard. I walk by a nuclear reactor every day and work ~100 meters from it. I'm not even remotely afraid of present day nuclear power sources with the insane amounts of nuclear regulation and safety (almost too much). Plus, the benefits of localized power generation are huge! Long distance, high voltage power transmission lines are not needed and waste heat from the reactor could be used to heat a hot water/steam loop throughout the community to provide heating. This greatly increases the efficiency of the system. The downside of local power generation schemes is usually de-localized maintenance, but with one of these "bury it for 10 or 40 years" designs, only local power transmission lines will require maintenance.

We have to blame extremist environmentalist groups (such as greenpeace) and sensationalist news media companies for ruining the image of nuclear power. Public opinion is often aligned with the group that shouts the loudest (or who's views are most frequently repeated). I know we can't expect everyone to learn enough physics to have an intimate understanding of radiation, but I think it is reasonable to expect the government and media companies to take responsibility for providing truthful facts such that the lay person can understand what is really happening. Perhaps one day people will come to their senses.


RE: Any more excuses
By Ictor on 11/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: Any more excuses
By Gzus666 on 11/10/2008 12:46:58 PM , Rating: 5
Cause Chernobyl was a well built and well run reactor...Oh wait, it was a pile of junk ran by morons with a poor design which no other reactor made has followed. You are a dumbass and I hope you are not allowed to breed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_mile_island

"The event was largely publicized, but the accident was not as terrible as the media made it out to be[citation needed]. The radiation leak was contained and killed no people. The event was made worse by The China Syndrome, a movie about a nuclear meltdown that was released 12 days earlier."

OH GOD NO!! ZERO DEATHS!!! WHY!!!!!

Notice how there have been no other meltdowns have ever happened? The deaths from legitimate reactors can be counted on one hand and none of them had to do with radiation.

It's not like nuclear technology has advanced any since 1968-1970 or anything. I really hope you get cancer, seriously. I honestly hate you and your smear campaign buddies, where ever they are, ruining technology for the rest of us.


RE: Any more excuses
By Ictor on 11/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: Any more excuses
By morose on 11/10/2008 1:40:12 PM , Rating: 3
You're absolutely right. I mean, no one has ever died mining coal or drilling for oil, right? Completely safe forms of power there. /facepalm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_mining#Dangers_t...

Mining is the second most dangerous occupation. I'd rather work around nuclear power the rest of my life than spend 2 weeks in a coal mine, thanks very much.

Stop. Spreading. Fear.


RE: Any more excuses
By Ictor on 11/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: Any more excuses
By 3DoubleD on 11/10/2008 2:30:57 PM , Rating: 2
You really need to educate yourself:

http://www.nucleartourist.com/

I'd recommend you spend the better part of the next week reading

As for Murphy's Law:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murphy%27s_law

Point me to the part Murphy's law is a scientific law of nature... Murphy's law is basically "shit happens". It is a funny thing to say when something crappy happens and you feel the outcome was as worse as it could have possibly been, but it is a piss-poor saying to live by.

You are a fear monger, either educate yourself or shut-up.


RE: Any more excuses
By FaceMaster on 11/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: Any more excuses
By Gzus666 on 11/10/2008 9:00:07 PM , Rating: 1
http://www.history.rochester.edu/class/EZRA/Transm...

http://www.history.rochester.edu/class/EZRA/

Duhhhh, I can't read and think waste just hangs out to kill everyone, duhhh.


RE: Any more excuses
By monitorjbl on 11/12/2008 4:05:52 PM , Rating: 1
Don't post here, man. The ratio of educated people to alarmist hippies is quite high around DT, and you're only going to get rated down if you do decide to weigh in on these topics.


RE: Any more excuses
By djc208 on 11/18/2008 11:27:26 PM , Rating: 1
I'd love to see that research, because if true it would have to be due to toxic chemicals improperly disposed of by that same facility. The chance of it being from radiation are less than zero given the shielding and exposure limits to personnel outside the facility.

I work in the nuclear industry, commercial airline pilots and smokers get more radiation exposure in a year than I do. Hell OSHA says your boss is allowed to give you ten times more radiation than I'm allowed in a year at my job. Even our most "exposed" workers are limited to less than half of what you are allowed to get per year. These are guys who go to work every day inside a shutdown nuclear reactor.

It's been proven that Navy submariners get less radiation exposure per year than the average person because being under water reduces normal background radiation. These are the guys spending 6-months working, eating, and sleeping next to an operating nuclear reactor.


RE: Any more excuses
By trisct on 11/10/2008 1:49:03 PM , Rating: 5
And coal fired power plants actually produce more radioactivity from fly ash than the nuclear waste from most reactors. Reactors can break, but the number of reactor disasters can be counted on two fingers, while the number of cancers and other deaths attributable to coal or oil based energy sources runs in the thousands, if not millions over the years. Your argument is worthless.


RE: Any more excuses
By Ictor on 11/10/2008 2:09:11 PM , Rating: 1
About the number of reactor disasters:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_civilian_nucl...

Another list:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_civilian_radi...

The militairy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_military_nucl...

Two fingers thick.

For the rest. If true perhaps Greenpeace is following this discussion.


RE: Any more excuses
By ebakke on 11/10/2008 3:49:34 PM , Rating: 1
This is a much better list, and covers more than just one industry.

http://gabe.web.psi.ch/pdfs/PSI_Report/ENSAD98App....


RE: Any more excuses
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/2008 6:46:41 PM , Rating: 2
Pretty sure a previous leader or prominent member or some sort for greenpeace is one of the largest proponents for nuclear power. He woke up and realized modern society can't run on children's pinwheels and people in dingy's ramming oil tankers. Who'd a thunk it?


RE: Any more excuses
By Viditor on 11/11/2008 12:32:32 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Pretty sure a previous leader or prominent member or some sort for greenpeace is one of the largest proponents for nuclear power


You speak of Patrick Moore...the founder of Greenpeace, and someone who used to be the foremost activist AGAINST nuclear power.
He is indeed now one of the leading proponents FOR nuclear and has been publicly apologizing for "throwing the baby out with the bathwater".


RE: Any more excuses
By 3DoubleD on 11/10/2008 2:09:05 PM , Rating: 5
How about the hundreds of thousands in third world countries that could directly benefit from the technology above. A maintenance-free facility that just provides power, even in remote locations. This could provide clean drinking water and modern facilities. This would SAVE lives.

Also, comparing Chernobyl to modern nuclear reactors (and even other nuclear reactors of that era) is incredibly ignorant. The design of that reactor was inherently stupid. That particular reactor operated on positive feedback, where higher temperatures intensified the reaction, which in turn increases temperature further. Don't think the people who designed that reactor didn't understand what that meant, they implemented several safety features to keep things under control. Unfortunately, the people who operated that particular power plant did not understand and went to considerable trouble to by-pass the safety features and set themselves up for disaster. The accident was then further worsened by the response of emergence response teams and the government. The fire was fought in a horribly incorrect manner, spreading large amounts radioactive material into the atmosphere (and killing many fire fighters, 47 as you mentioned below). Immediately after this accident, iodine pills should have been provided to the residents of the community, especially the children. This would have reduced the number of child casualties from 9 to 0. If this situation was handled correctly at all, from the design of the reactor, to the SEVERAL mistakes of the operating crew, to the poor training of emergency crews, to the criminally insufficient response of the government, no one would have been hurt.

This situation does not remotely represent modern nuclear power, it didn't even represent the state of nuclear power in the 80s! It was a relic design in a dying communist nation. You are horribly ignorant to wave the deaths of those poor people and say that nuclear power is the greatest evil in this world. The real tragedy was how the government let it happen and their horrible response to the crises and I'm sure all of those dead people would want you to understand that. You are the exact reason why the US is drowning itself in oil and ignorance about nuclear power.


RE: Any more excuses
By Ictor on 11/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: Any more excuses
By Gzus666 on 11/10/2008 2:44:28 PM , Rating: 2
Oh please just stop. Not only are you an enviro-nutjob, but you are religious too. These are both similar, as they are based on no real facts, just made up philosophy and dreams.

I have a feeling that if "heaven" existed, no one would give a flying fuck about whether or not the Earth was doing well, or how they died, they are in supposed "paradise". You are a hippy dippy fool.


RE: Any more excuses
By Lugaidster on 11/10/2008 5:59:02 PM , Rating: 3
I have to reply to this, sorry.

No one can certify that any event in nature will or won't occur. It is exceedingly unlikely that the Sun will explode tomorrow, it is also exceedingly unlikely that a lightning will strike the same place 5 times one after the other one, yet no one can claim to know for sure. To say that something is exceedingly unlikely to happen is the best you can hope to get.

Chernobyl while sad that happened only helped to make a reactor safer, and that particular design was a bad design as someone already noted. To condemn other better designs for this one accident is stupid to say the least. It's like condemning commercial flights because earlier planes used to fall all the time, people did learn how to make better and safer planes, and today it is the safest way to travel.

Besides how can this reactor go wrong, it's fuel isn't weapon grade so there's no way it can be transformed into a nuclear bomb. It has no moving parts, and it's completely contained in case something indeed goes wrong. Making this reactor exceedingly safe. Honestly, instead of making empty claims, use your brain and find something dangerous about this. Otherwise go do something productive (the previous statement being an eufemism for piss off).


RE: Any more excuses
By Gzus666 on 11/10/2008 2:16:18 PM , Rating: 5
Why don't you contact the morons who made a stupid reactor based on terrible engineering? That is like saying we shouldn't build bridges cause some idiot mis-engineered one and it killed some people.

Once again, there have been no radiation deaths from legitimate reactors. Legitimate being the key word here. Christ, more people die from alcohol.

quote:
Why don't you contact children with cancer or mutations as result of Chernobyl. They are probably against nuclear power too.


Next we can call up people with gun wounds and ask their opinions on guns. How about we call up some people who have been attacked by hippos and see how they feel about hippos. Maybe then we could call up some people who have got horrible poisoning and dead family members from coal plants and mines. I have a feeling they will all give a negative spin on all these things.

They can't give an unbiased opinion cause they happened to be one of the small percent of people who have been hurt by these things. People die, get over it.

Once again, name an incident of a legitimate nuclear power plant causing radiation poisoning to anyone. I will save you time, there has never been one.

Please, just die. Please go skydiving or play stupidly with a gun or go mess with large animals. Anything so you can't spread your fear mongering BS.


RE: Any more excuses
By Black69ta on 11/10/2008 4:14:49 PM , Rating: 1
Wow by your reasoning we should go back to walking too.
Idiot cause thousands of deaths by driving drunk. and talking on their phones while driving. Heck we can't even go back to horse and buggy because idiots still ran over people with them, not to mention the animal cruelty involved. Get real, Nuclear Power is the Safest, Cleanest, Power available. For the same reason America's automotive industry is failing, is why we don't have more energy provided by Nuclear power. That was the only complaint I had about Bill Clinton, he cut off funding for the fusion research reactor in TX. Now another country will be getting royalties from that instead of Us.


RE: Any more excuses
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/2008 5:47:11 PM , Rating: 5
It's easy to react in anger to individual perpetuating untruths about nuclear power, but I aim to inform and spread truthful awareness.

Yes- there were immediate deaths from the Chernobyl accident (9 plant workers and 31 firemen), and yes, radiation was released into the atmosphere and spread across Europe. And yes, there is a no-man zone around the Chernobyl site today, and will be into the future.
I do not deny there will be future health issues because of the accident either. However, assumptions based on curve-fitting, modeling and behavioral risks skew projections of the linear non-threshold model- and there isn't a 100% consensus on the overall deleterious effects of Chernobyl into the future.

I will adamantly tell you this though : The only (two) major nuclear power plant accidents in history are to blame on human failure by intervention:

At Chernobyl , operators ran a test on the LIVE reactor to see what would happen in the event of a loss of power to the plant from the grid- to see if the plant could self-sustain operating and safety mechanisms. They disabled safety restraints imposed by the designers of the plant, removed more control rods than safety guidelines permitted, and sped the plant through their test run because they were under pressure to provide timely results. No one in their right mind would run a risky simulation on a commercial reactor, let alone do so many insanely irresponsible safety-overrides; it was the soviet mentality at the time though.
The Russian RBMK reactor was fundamentally flawed in its operating design- a parameter called the 'coefficient of reactivity' or 'void coefficient' was positive; meaning, if the reactor were left alone, the reaction would steadily increase until it couldn't be stopped. The Russian RBMK is a reactor in which operators must actively suppress the reaction. In the US, every regulated nuclear power plant built is designed to have a negative reactivity coefficient- if left alone, the reaction will diminish and die- operators+plant controls must actively keep the reaction alive.
If that mess of information isn't enough... hypothetically allow the situation to occur as it did and such extent of devastation could STILL have been averted. Chernobyl's reactor was housed in the equivalent of a warehouse structure- it was not housed in a containment building like every US nuclear power plant is. If it had been, the explosion and ensuing release of radiation would have been drastically reduced, and we wouldn't be quibbling over inaccuracies of health implications. A large factor in the exposure of the public to radiation was the unwillingness of the soviet government to admit the extent of the problem. Residents living in the community near the plant were not informed of the incident and for the most part didn't know of the danger they were in, if they knew anything at all. Children were sent to school the next morning.
The occurrence of the accident was caused by human error in the improper design of the reactor, improper testing of the reactor, irresponsible overriding of multiple safety mechanisms, and a portion of the public exposure to radiation was due to the irresponsible provision of disinformation to the public.

At TMI , there was a failure in a primary system (a pump in the secondary coolant loop stopped). The reactor automatically shut down- but heat from residual fission-product decay, representing 8-10% of the operating energy, continues to be released (A 1000MW reactor would continue to produce 80MW of heat- which is A LOT of heat considering fission has ceased). The continued high temperatures led the coolant (water) to heat and boil, increasing pressure in the reactor vessel. A pressure release valve (PORV) then opened to release the built-up steam. The operators didn't know, but the valve remained stuck 'open.' The reactor wasn't getting any coolant to cool the core, as the backup pump for the failed one was inadvertently left disabled from a previous shutdown. This lead to a loss of coolant accident, or LOCA, where the reactor is losing coolant- which is very dangerous if the core becomes exposed. At this point, there is no release of radiation, and the reactor is undamaged...
This is where human intervention mucks things up. The operators assumed the backup pump was working, and when the reactor automatically released emergency-injection water (EIW)into the core to correct the beginning LOCA, they turned it off when they observed gauges showing coolant levels rising (keep in mind they didn't know the relief valve was stuck open- there was no indication). A gauge falsely indicated coolant levels continuing to rise although the reactor was still boiling off and losing coolant.
They finally discover the backup pump is disabled, and turn it on- but 3000 gallons of radioactive coolant have been released into the containment building, however the radiation alarms fail to sound. The steam moves into the turbine building and the coolant pumps, including the one just turned on, start intaking vapor and operators turn them off to prevent damage. Now there is absolutely NO coolant being supplied to the core and temperatures continue to rise as more water boils off to steam and released through the PORV. A chemical reaction between the fuel rod cladding and the steam begins to produce hydrogen gas, and 13 hours in, it ignites and causes an explosion (the containment... contained it). At about 2.25 hours later, enough coolant has boiled off and the core becomes partially exposed (big no-no). More hydrogen is produced within the coolant loops but is released from the stuck open valve, and water levels become low enough that a partial core melt occurs 5 minutes later, unbeknownst to operators. At this most desperate hour, a shift change happened, and new operators are left to handle things.
The new shift figures out the pressure relief valve (PORV) is stuck open, and they close it. At this point, the initial crisis was avoided, but hydrogen trapped in the reactor and the containment building would build further if emergency coolant is introduced. A further meltdown of the core is the primary concern as well as an explosion of the hydrogen build-up, so they release the radioactive steam/hydrogen built up in the containment building to the atmosphere.


RE: Any more excuses
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/2008 5:47:35 PM , Rating: 4
The incident began with a double-failure of primary systems- the coolant pump and the pressure relieve valve. The two primary component failures were naturally occurring, but the backup pump being disabled w/o operator knowledge, faulty gauge readings, and no indication of the stuck valve lead the operators to follow procedures that inflamed the true situation.
If operators had allowed the automated safety mechanisms to act without intervening, the reactor would have contained the situation when water levels in the core dropped; resulting in a drastically smaller amount of radioactive steam being trapped in the containment building where it would have condensed, allowing for safe cleanup with no contamination- there would have been no damage to the reactor, and no environmental release of radiation. The automatic safety devices worked as planned even with a double-failure of primary systems. The actions of the operators would have led to a disaster if they were in sole control, but the automated safety systems contained their actions resulting in a minor release of radiation and the prevention of what could have been a complete meltdown.

Even with the release of radiation, off-site exposure was about 83 millirem and an actual individual on a nearby island would have received about 37 millirem. To put this in perspective, the average annual radiation dose in the US from background radiation is about 300 millirem. So an individual in the public would have only received ~10% of what they would going about their lives over the course of a year.
It is likely an individual who moved from a city at sea level to Denver Colorado, begins eating more bananas and Brazil nuts, and lives in a brick home with granite counter-tops in their kitchen would receive a radiation dose increase from those changes in a year > 37 millirem. After the incident was contained, President Carter issued the 'Kemeny Commission' to investigate. They determined there might be one additional cancer case in a 30 year period.
Aside from the occurrences within the plant, the situation was perceived in a fearful panic for a number of reasons-> almost all of which were determined to be the result of further human error. The utility did not communicate well with the public- they provided differing statements as the event progressed, and did not inform the public of radiation release when it initially occurred. It wasn't solely the utilities fault- the greatest problem that escalated the situation was that the control room in the plant was only equipped with 2 telephones which were busy to outside callers throughout most of the incident. The NRC couldn't reach the operators, the Pennsylvania government couldn't either and was left guess how to handle the situation, having no knowledge. Even worse, the plant fabrication company couldn't get through to the operators to tell them to let the plant handle everything. Because of this, a partial evacuation of pregnant women and chldren was issued. The release of the film "The China Syndrome" days before didn't help public opinion; even if it did feature Jane Fonda.
The final report found fault in deficient operator training, poor control room design (operators were left in a daze of confusion when hundreds of audible alarms went off, control panels flashed all over in alarm, the two phones were continuously busy, and measurement indicators went off-scale providing operators with no information). Furthermore, a similar incident of a PORV becoming stuck in the open position occurred earlier at a plant of the same design at the Davis-Besse nuclear installation with no formal filing to the NRC and no dissemination of such pertinent information across the industry.

Had probabilistic safety assessment and analysis of the industry incorporated human-caused failures, if information was shared across the industry, and had better internal reporting alerted the operators to the disabled backup pump, and the control room designed better... a pump would have failed, the reactor would have shut down, and secondary systems would have engaged with no incident.


Relatively, TMI was certainly not as bad as Chernobyl. Even so, the nuclear industry holds an 'ALARA' principle- exposure 'as low as reasonably achievable'; and the exposures in either case are not considered acceptable.
Both accidents in the nuclear power industry have fueled contempt, fear, and misguided opinion by the public. However, putting the results into a relative perspective, both accidents are overshadowed by such industrial accidents as the Bhopal chemical plant accident in India, in which a release of toxic vaporous chemicals without an alert to the public resulted in 3000 immediate deaths and 8000 more in the weeks following . Yet few people have heard of Bhopal, and fear remains in the shadow of hyperbolic cooling towers across the United States and the world as a whole.

An important note: Designs of coming nuclear power plants to be constructed feature redundancy to primary systems in the event of a primary failure. If a dual failure of the primary and redundant mechanism occurs, reactors will feature passive safety features which engage nearly instantly and independent of operator commands without a dependency on supplied electrical power. For an incident to occur in forthcoming power plants, multiple independent systems must fail in different ways. Even then, operator actions further the safety inherent in plant designs. Such passive safety systems are: a high volume and wide-swathed spray of water from the top of the containment building to cool all contained components and instantly condense steam releases, flooding of a pool the reactor core sits in to provide cooling around and below, injection of emergency coolant into feedwater systems and the core itself, automatic insertion of control rods in a fraction of a second, and multi-staged sealing of piping leading outside the containment building to prevent radiation release and contamination outside the containment structure. Operator training includes disaster training and regular retraining and drills run in identical mock control rooms that can simulate nearly any event including multi-system failures. Design of control rooms is more streamlined with redundant sensors to provide redundant readings. And there are more than two phones.


RE: Any more excuses
By Vanners on 11/10/2008 11:35:43 PM , Rating: 3
Your description of coincidental events, human error and poor procedures in the three mile island case remind me of the piper alpha disaster in the North Sea.

Piper Alpha was an oil platform that through a series of failures burnt down to the waterline and resulted in the deaths of 211 (if memory serves, could be 214?) workers.

It is interesting to compare the two; particularly the outcomes.

The problem is perceived risk as opposed to actual risk. Think of Piper Alpha as "just a big fire" and Three Mile Island as "a nuclear explosion in the making" and you have pretty much captured public opinion. The reality is one caused hundreds of deaths and the other caused the possibility of one - ironically the "big fire" was the killer, not the "nuclear bomb".


RE: Any more excuses
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/2008 11:49:13 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not familiar with that incident. But I completely agree that the context of an incident with nuclear technology draws a lot more stigma than comparably more disastrous accidents. I suppose it stems from the public's generally fear of something they have little understanding of- giving them a sense of helplessness, or being victims in waiting for a catastrophic accident. I guess the unfortunate bumps along the way have only enforced their feelings and opened the door for them to be applied. That, and media coverage of any industrial accident usually doesn't help things.


RE: Any more excuses
By TA152H on 11/10/2008 6:59:57 PM , Rating: 1
I'm for nuclear power, but you're a thoroughly repulsive human being, and more than that, an idiot.

No one can say how many people died from Three Mile Island. There were no immediate deaths, but there was a release of radiation, and ionizing radiation, in case you didn't know, can cause cancer. Since it would be impossible to link this event with what happened many years after, it's entirely inconclusive about how many deaths Three Mile Island caused.

Any nuclear power plant poses a potential risk, but the risk is so statistically insignificant that it really approaches zero this day and age. I am definitely for nuclear power, but your vile language and behavior and your obvious lack of understanding regarding the long term effects of ionizing radiation are obvious. Despite this, I would never wish cancer even on a malicious twit like you. I don't know if anyone deserves such a fate, but you would more with your malice than someone ill-informed media junky, who manifested no malice towards anyone, but just does not understand just how statistically insignificant the risk really is. I think sometimes people forget that life, every day, is a risk, and if you can accept driving in a car, then you accept increasing the risk of death. Nuclear power is so much less than this, but the negative emotion generated by it is so powerful, it is very difficult to get people afraid of it to view it rationally. I am not sure what the answer is, but I do not think it is a quick solution, but one that will take time.


RE: Any more excuses
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/2008 7:08:37 PM , Rating: 2
Exposure and absorption are different things. Taking measurements of radiation levels at varying distances from the plant is a fairly accurate way to determine the health effect on the public. The release was quite small, and it dispersed- so unless someone was hanging off of a helicopter when they let the gas release, the equivalent dosing to the public is negligible compared average annual doses from background sources like K-40 found in food and natural decay of radon to name some. If the plant workers that received .3rem during the incident, which exceeds the quarterly limit allowable for nuclear workers, I think others much farther away are fine.


RE: Any more excuses
By Gzus666 on 11/10/2008 7:44:16 PM , Rating: 2
I believe Comdrpopnfresh summed it up perfectly below you. Blow it out your ass, fear mongers need to die.


RE: Any more excuses
By Ringold on 11/10/2008 11:48:50 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Blow it out your ass, fear mongers need to die.


Duke Nukem? Is that you?!

If thats you, Duke, I think you once said the solution for environmentalists: "Nukem 'till they glow, then shoot 'em in the dark!"


RE: Any more excuses
By Gzus666 on 11/11/2008 9:02:42 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, I'm here to kick ass and chew gum and I'm all out of gum (yes, I know it was originally from They Live, but he quoted it in 3d). Also, I'm going to rip off your head and shit down your neck. God I miss that damn game. Duke Nukem Forever, why must you tease me?


RE: Any more excuses
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/2008 12:30:00 PM , Rating: 3
Oil accounts for less of a share in energy generation in the US than wind. It has declined drastically since the 60's. The 20% production share it represented at the beginning of the 70's has been replaced with nuclear.


RE: Any more excuses
By lucasb on 11/10/2008 2:28:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Nuke + Hydro + Coal + Wind + Solar

Yup. Clean coal, hydro, wind, nukes, solar and geothermal power have place in a sound power matrix which has to be able to attend base demand, peak demand and off-grid generation. A sound power matrix, off-grid generation, a smart grid and the increase in efficiency in lighting, electronics and other equipement are the base of a sustentable power policy.
But be aware of the high-costs and special welfare of nuclear power:
http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9740
http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa036.html
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode42/us...
Without welfare, tax credits, tax subsidies and government-backed research, nukes seem to be uneconomic.


RE: Any more excuses
By lucasb on 11/11/2008 2:16:02 PM , Rating: 2
Mmmm, where are the pundits who proclaim that nuclear energy is outrageously cheap?


RE: Any more excuses
By phxfreddy on 11/10/2008 4:28:05 PM , Rating: 2
man made global warming == religion <> science! .... you are a bonehead!


RE: Any more excuses
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/2008 6:42:33 PM , Rating: 2
If Obama plans on reducing our nation's carbon emissions, he'll have to at least put up with nuclear power- it's coming into a renaissance, and should be self-supportive; so aside from enacting a nuclear ban and finding a way to provide 20% of the nation's electricity over night, it's a go. And as a guest lecturer in one of my classes put it- 'President Obama said he would assemble of team of experts to make a decision about Yucca mountain.... if he does get experts, they're going to approve it- and then what's he going to do but support it?'


RE: Any more excuses
By FITCamaro on 11/11/2008 7:43:02 AM , Rating: 3
If he did get real experts he'd respond, "This is not the change you're looking for" and with a swipe of his hand, erase their suggestion from their memories.


RE: Any more excuses
By mherlund on 11/10/2008 11:57:26 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Or using one onboard a space station?


Or on the Moon


RE: Any more excuses
By quiksilvr on 11/10/2008 12:12:38 PM , Rating: 2
Don't give THEM weapons of mass destruction!

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/brainiac/MO...


RE: Any more excuses
By BladeVenom on 11/10/2008 12:32:02 PM , Rating: 2
I guess you never saw Space: 1999. :)


RE: Any more excuses
By Denithor on 11/10/2008 8:41:19 AM , Rating: 2
Still just the old standard - What do we do with the waste?


RE: Any more excuses
By FITCamaro on 11/10/2008 8:45:37 AM , Rating: 4
Reprocess it back into fuel. Next excuse.


RE: Any more excuses
By Doormat on 11/10/2008 10:45:58 AM , Rating: 2
Where is the technology to do so?


RE: Any more excuses
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/2008 10:51:13 AM , Rating: 5
Overseas. The french took it and ran. non-military reprocessing is banned in the US. I believe carter killed it.

Besides reprocessing spent fuel, running a leg of breeder reactors supplies fuel for thermal reactors to use. When that fuel is spent, it is reprocessed, and a portion goes back into the cycle.


RE: Any more excuses
By randomly on 11/10/2008 3:32:09 PM , Rating: 2
Actually all the technology does not yet exist. Fuel reprocessing doesn't make any economic sense yet unless you can burn the minor actinides and plutonium in Fast Reactors. The French tried to build a commercial class sodium cooled fast reactor, the SuperPhoneix, but there were many technical problems, corrosion problems, sodium leaks, etc. The project was eventually abandoned.

The French fuel reprocessing system has performed very well though, with no accidents I'm aware of.

Unfortunately without the fast reactors to make use of the reprocessed fuel it doesn't make any economic sense since MOX fuel they make now from the reprocessing is much more expensive than fresh uranium fuel, is a once through fuel, and the spent MOX fuel is much hotter than spent uranium fuel and so is harder to handle, reprocess, and store. There is no advantage in reduction in size of the waste either. Spent MOX fuel must spend about 6 years in a cooling pond before it can be handled.

The US abandoned reprocessing because of proliferation concerns. Reprocessing is not currently cost effective anyway at current uranium prices. The dramatic reduction in nuclear waste that reprocessing has the potential for can't be realized without Fast Reactors to burn the actinides.

We still need to develop commercially deployable fast reactors, and that will take 20-30 years.


RE: Any more excuses
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/2008 6:55:08 PM , Rating: 3
Our chipper neighbors to the north do more than make backwards named meats and utterly delicious maple syrup. The Canadian CANDU reactor is an exemplary specimen of a breeder reactor. They also have the highest capacity factors in the world, because they allow for online refueling. They run them off of natural uranium ore- so no enrichment is necessary. The reactors take fertile material and create fissile fuel. The Canadians are also one of the world's leading supplier of radioisotopes that provide many beneficial applications- such as medical imaging uses.


RE: Any more excuses
By randomly on 11/10/2008 7:20:47 PM , Rating: 3
The CANDU definitely has some unique advantages. Wide range of fuel types that can be used even unenriched uranium, efficient fuel burnup, and continuous refueling to approach a 100% capacity factor.

However it a moderated thermal reactor, not a fast neutron reactor. So although it can breed fuel it does not efficiently burn up the minor actinide wastes. Also it's use of heavy water as a moderator makes it fairly expensive, and necessitates dealing with the Tritium emissions.

We still need a good commercial fast reactor design.


RE: Any more excuses
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/2008 7:34:20 PM , Rating: 2
Uh... if it can run on U-238 and produces plutonium, it is most definitely a breeder reactor. U-238 is not fissile, it is fertile, meaning, the U-238 doesn't readily absorb thermal neutrons and fission, but when it does absorb a neutron, it becomes fissile PU-239. The other fertile->fissile process is Thorium 232-> Uranium 233. Just because a reactor with those properties has a non-liquid metal coolant doesn't mean it is not a breeder.

Tritium? More night-sights for glocks, illuminated watches and exit signs to go around! lol


RE: Any more excuses
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/2008 7:48:14 PM , Rating: 2
my apologies- seems the CANDU is a jack of all trades and classified as a 'near-breeder'


RE: Any more excuses
By randomly on 11/10/2008 9:47:48 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't say it wasn't a breeder reactor, my point was that it is a thermal reactor. The neutrons are slowed down by a moderator to increase the probability of capture by u235 so you can achieve criticality with low concentrations of U235 in the fuel. This makes it unsuitable for getting rid of Plutonium and the minor actinide high level radioactive wastes.

A Fast reactor doesn't use a moderator, the neutrons have a much higher energy spectrum and you need a higher density of neutrons to attain criticality with the same fuel. However Fast reactors burn up plutonium and minor actinides easily and so get rid of most of the problematic radioactive waste isotopes. If you want to get rid of plutonium, you need a fast reactor.

Making plutonium is fairly easy, the problem is getting rid of it.

You can continue to reprocess the fuel and feed it back into the fast reactor. The end waste product is much easier to deal with since the volume is drastically reduced, and the remaining isotopes are either short lived or have very long half lifes so the radiation decays off to safe levels in hundreds of years instead of thousands. On these time scales this kind of waste can be stored in geologic repositories with very high confidence.

The big problems with Fast reactors though is proliferation, since you can make plutonium out the wazoo with them and they go hand in hand with fuel reprocessing which separates out the plutonium which puts you just a step away from nuclear weapons.

This is why the US doesn't use or promote them. The US stance is a once through fuel cycle using enriched uranium, and storing the waste. No fuel reprocessing. Probably an even better position would be using CANDU reactors on unenriched uranium with no reprocessing and avoiding any enrichment capability at all. Enrichment technology gives you access to bomb grade material.

The tritium issue with CANDU reactors can certainly be managed, it's just an additional worry and incremental cost issue. Cost is a dominant issue with reactor designs.


RE: Any more excuses
By elFarto on 11/11/2008 4:32:00 AM , Rating: 2
My personal favourite fast reactor is the Integral Fast Reactor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_Fast_Reactor


RE: Any more excuses
By FITCamaro on 11/11/2008 7:52:53 AM , Rating: 2
Why do we need to get rid of plutonium? Oh right because the terrorists might get it.

How about instead we use it to power our deep space probes?


RE: Any more excuses
By randomly on 11/11/2008 9:49:30 AM , Rating: 2
Apparently you only have a cursory understanding of Nuclear power.

Plutonium 239 is the problem. Half life 24,000 years.

The plutonium in RTGs for space probes is Pu238. Half life 88 years. Different stuff.

Plutonium 239 is the biggest waste problem in spent fuel, it's also a security and proliferation problem. It's highly toxic, radioactive, and hangs around for hundreds of thousands of years, and there's lots of it in spent fuel.

It's nasty stuff. Put a fragment of it in a glove box and the decay energy is so large that it blows tiny bits of plutonium off the surface, and those bits blow off more bits when they have decays. Pretty soon the whole inside of the box is coated with the stuff.

To effectively get rid of nuclear waste you want to only end up with short lived isotopes or really long lived isotopes (millions of years). Now if you store it in a repository the long half life isotopes are hardly radioactive to begin with, and the short life ones like Pu238 would decay away fairly rapidly (only 1/2500 left after a 1000 years).

And yes, you don't want terrorists and rogue states to get their hands on the plutonium. Every single nuclear power agrees on that and they all go to great lengths to avoid it. Since it's chemically different you can separate it out of spent fuel which is vastly easier than isotopic separation to obtain u235.

So it is highly desirable for a number of reasons to get rid of the plutonium by burning it up in fast reactors. Besides it makes an excellent fuel. The less plutonium around in the world, the less likely for problems.


RE: Any more excuses
By geddarkstorm on 11/10/2008 3:33:46 PM , Rating: 2
Glassify it into a non radioactive compound as has been successfully done at the Hanford reactors in Washington State. The spent nuclear fuel problem has already been solved last decade.


RE: Any more excuses
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/2008 7:00:17 PM , Rating: 3
I think glassification is a process used to cast the fuel in itself. Making a non radioactive compound like you suggest is called transmuting of waste- which is decades out in the future


RE: Any more excuses
By dreddly on 11/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: Any more excuses
By FITCamaro on 11/10/2008 10:13:13 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
How about when a bomb lands on it and scatters the water and waste over a small area?


Are you serious? That's actually a concern to you?

quote:
How about the dirty bomb arguments?


How do you get to the material when its buried underground. And it's not like you'll be able to dig it up in the middle of the night. I'm sure if one of these were used, there would be some security in the area where its buried.

quote:
How about radiation exposure from malfunctioning units?


It's buried underground and encased in concrete.

quote:
How about the substandard concrete used in remote locations?


That's an issue for anything. Guess we shouldn't build highways or even wind towers either then?

quote:
How about the excuse that countries are actively seeking nuclear programs, and this makes 'competition' a cover for enrichment programs?


Don't sell them to certain countries.


RE: Any more excuses
By QuantumPion on 11/10/2008 10:19:59 AM , Rating: 4
Dirty bombs are just a scare tactic. The explosion used to disperse even the most potent radioisotopes would be more deadly then the radioactivity released itself. In other words, in order to receive a lethal dose of radiation from a dirty bomb, you would have to be so close to it that the explosion itself would kill you anyway.


RE: Any more excuses
By rykerabel on 11/10/2008 3:53:41 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently you didn't even read the article.

Good try at FUD though.


RE: Any more excuses
By JonnyDough on 11/10/08, Rating: 0
RE: Any more excuses
By Ringold on 11/10/2008 11:58:01 PM , Rating: 4
How do we know that vast solar farms in the desert won't shine intense beams of light in to space and attract a curious massive alien armada that decides to enslave us?

I hope you were kidding.


RE: Any more excuses
By Amiga500 on 11/10/2008 9:25:37 AM , Rating: 3
Nuclear is quite slow at reacting to changeable demand patterns.

It is an excellent base power provider, the best we have, but not so good at filling the final plus-minus 10% or so which can fluctuate depending on consumer demand.

Nuclear should be used much more than it is currently, but it also should not be shoehorned into jobs for which it is ill-suited (as that would push up the energy price relative to optimal distribution).


RE: Any more excuses
By FITCamaro on 11/10/2008 10:16:20 AM , Rating: 2
At least there was one response that wasn't a fear inspired response. And I think many nuclear sites have some backup capacity.


RE: Any more excuses
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/2008 10:43:48 AM , Rating: 2
That's not how production+distribution works. Steady operating production methods like nuclear operate on a determined output level above demand. Methods like pumping water uphill or into towers serves to supply a bit more in excessive cases (the water flows downwards and produces electricity)- but nearly, if not any production methods vary with consumer demand. Crappy distribution on the electrical grid is the reason for wasted electricity. The idea, in America at least, is that consumer demand varies during intervals in the day. So when the eastern seaboard is stuck in rush-hour traffic and not toasting toast or what-not, some other potion of the country is- the idea is to distribute the power to the demand, not throttle production based on local demand.


RE: Any more excuses
By Amiga500 on 11/10/2008 1:06:13 PM , Rating: 2
Erm... a few points on that.

(1) Operating above demand is below optimal, hence why I hinted it would be better to make up the final 10% or so of generation through non-nuclear means which can be throttled quicker. In France, which is one of the few countries to use mostly nuclear, the electricity prices fluctuate strongly through the day to try and make the consumer use off-peak times for things like the washing machine - to try and even out the demand spikes.

(2)You want to minimise the transmission length from source to sink to minimise transmission losses.

(3) I'm talking in a global context, since it is a global problem. Not many countries have the time variance within their borders that the USA has. Indeed, off the top of my head only Russia and maybe Australia could compare.


RE: Any more excuses
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/2008 1:49:29 PM , Rating: 5
Agreed. However, there are no real negative aspects of having nuclear power generation marginally outstrip demand. The plants run at steady-state, so rates wouldn't fluctuate enough to warrant using other production methods. Granted, wind and solar are also towards the clean end of the spectrum, but they're variably generating methods, and you can't rely on them to make up the difference during a demand spike.
With baseload production, such as coal and natural gas, a sudden spike in demand cannot be instantly met with increased production output: the power must be borrowed from elsewhere on the grid to prevent incident if the demand spike is long-lived. Even if nuclear power wasn't in existence, fossil fuel power generation would run at nearly the same 'above demand' margins that nuclear does.
For any baseload production method, one way to provide surplus power during peak hours and during high demand times (cold winter nights, hot summer middays), is to pump water up hills or into water towers during low-usage periods, and let gravity bring it down, producing power, to provide said surplus. Ultra-capacitors and future battery technologies should improve the efficiency of this storage while minimizing the footprint of such methods.

I'm not sure if France's peak hour rates are due to power demand approaching output threshold- but I'm highly inclined to believe that isn't the case. It's more likely they want to even out power usage so they can make money from cross-boarder power exporting to neighboring countries. Their grid may also have sufficient inefficiencies to lead them to avoid stressing it by having to route power across long distances. But much more likely, they want to lower the peak demand levels so their production levels don't have to run at a high level all the time- that'll increase efficient use of the power provided, and is something done with any baseline production. I'm not as familiar w/ France, although you are most certainly right about their nuclear production: ~80% of total production!


RE: Any more excuses
By Samus on 11/10/2008 3:54:23 PM , Rating: 2
What do we do with the waste byproducts? Ohh yea! Build dirty bombs!


RE: Any more excuses
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 11/10/2008 4:32:50 PM , Rating: 3
Depleted Uranium Ammo & Armor.


RE: Any more excuses
By Gzus666 on 11/10/2008 4:35:36 PM , Rating: 1
It is apparently also used in the medical industry and has a few more uses. Forget them all now, was on a special on History I believe.


RE: Any more excuses
By randomly on 11/10/2008 7:59:46 PM , Rating: 3
This company press release is almost meaningless with regards to the pros and cons of nuclear power.

This is not a product, it's an idea. Like this one
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_nucleon

All nuclear reactors have very high power density, so the small size is nothing new.

The quoted price is also probably just for the thermal source itself, not the rest of the equipment that take up to 50 times the space of the reactor like turbines, generators, cooling systems etc that make up a working power station. You can't make a useful price comparison because there is not enough information.

They do not even have a working prototype, just theory. It's vaporware.

This is almost certainly just a PR press release in an effort to get more funding.

Small reactors like this are also a potential proliferation and security risk since there will be many more of them out there, they will not have good security and they are inviting targets. Some may even end up abandoned like these Soviet Radioisotope generators full of Strontium 90.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d9/Sovi...

Nuclear power has great potential, but it is not problem free. The biggest immediate problem is the high capital cost of construction. That makes Nuclear power only economically viable for providing base load power.

Proliferation, security, and waste disposal need better solutions also. We definitely need more development of GEN IV reactors, especially molten salt and fast reactors which show potential to greatly reduce the waste problems and make fuel reprocessing viable.

Nuclear power is just one piece of the energy puzzle.


RE: Any more excuses
By Gzus666 on 11/10/2008 9:04:10 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Small reactors like this are also a potential proliferation and security risk since there will be many more of them out there, they will not have good security and they are inviting targets.


So, ninja diggers will somehow come and dig through probably somewhere around 20 or more feet of land overnight without anyone noticing? Then removing a couple ton reactor, again, with no one noticing? Then move it somewhere no one will notice it? Then taking the non-weapons grade nuclear material and I assume turn it into a nuclear pipe bomb?


RE: Any more excuses
By randomly on 11/11/2008 1:47:46 PM , Rating: 2
More likely is that they get installed in areas of marginal political stability. Local or government control breaks down and they are readily available for some faction to come in and dig them up and use them for whatever. They could have all the time in the world to accomplish this and access to all the equipment they'd need. Maybe to sell to terrorists for the nuclear material to fund their militia, or break open and dump into the water supply for a major metropolis etc.

If you have tons of these things all over the place it becomes very difficult to monitor and control them from a security standpoint.

The spent fuel from one of these reactors would probably contain enough plutonium to make at least one bomb, and since that can be chemically extracted it's much easier to get at than isotopic separation. So although a new reactor wouldn't have bomb grade material in it, an old one would.


RE: Any more excuses
By lco45 on 11/11/2008 9:27:26 AM , Rating: 1
Will these reactors produce waste? The risk of contamination would be higher for multiple small reactors over a single large reactor.
I'd rather have 15 windmills than a nuclear reactor, waste being the only issue.


How long till...
By aegisofrime on 11/10/2008 8:00:50 AM , Rating: 5
These things get miniaturized enough for use in Power Armors?




RE: How long till...
By bobny1 on 11/10/2008 8:15:52 AM , Rating: 2
Hopefully it will get small enough to put one in my back yard. Can you imagin not having to worry about hurricanes, fire, flood,etc. No maintenance for 10 years. Sweet!.


RE: How long till...
By ebakke on 11/10/2008 10:06:32 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
Can you imagin not having to worry about hurricanes, fire, flood,etc.
Yes, I can. Though, I can't imagine how a mini reactor in your backyard would shield you from any of these. Or were you planning on building an impenetrable force field (around your house) coupled with an instantaneous oxygen remover (inside your house), each with an insatiable demand for electricity?


RE: How long till...
By QuantumPion on 11/10/2008 10:16:13 AM , Rating: 2
If you want a perpetual source of power on a small scale, for a single home, you'd be better off with a radioisotope thermal generator. They are much simple and safer to design and use.


RE: How long till...
By dflynchimp on 11/10/2008 8:17:03 AM , Rating: 2
around the same time the master self repelling beam weapon tech.


RE: How long till...
By rpsgc on 11/10/2008 8:17:24 AM , Rating: 1
ROFL!


RE: How long till...
By pnyffeler on 11/10/2008 8:22:53 AM , Rating: 4
I'm waiting for the fusion version I can load into my Delorean...


RE: How long till...
By FITCamaro on 11/10/2008 8:44:51 AM , Rating: 2
This won't generate 1.21 jigawatts or run on nearly empty cans of beer and egg shells.


RE: How long till...
By killerroach on 11/10/2008 8:29:04 AM , Rating: 2
Somebody a bit too eager to found the Brotherhood of Steel, methinks?


RE: How long till...
By FITCamaro on 11/10/2008 2:32:36 PM , Rating: 2
I just want Marines in Iron Man v1.0 style suits.


RE: How long till...
By rdeegvainl on 11/14/2008 3:06:28 AM , Rating: 2
sorry, we wouldn't see them till about 20 years after the air force had their fun.


RE: How long till...
By pixelslave on 11/10/2008 10:22:13 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
These things get miniaturized enough for use in Power Armors?


Yeah, if you don't mind walking with at least 8" of concrete.


RE: How long till...
By Clauzii on 11/10/2008 12:37:19 PM , Rating: 2
"Walking" is probably too optimistic.


RE: How long till...
By mcrex77 on 11/10/2008 12:38:24 PM , Rating: 2
I could really use a couple of these babies out in the wasteland right about now.


10 cents a watt?
By Nyu on 11/10/2008 5:46:31 AM , Rating: 2
"Our goal is to generate electricity for 10 cents a watt anywhere in the world" -> $100 per kw/h. Either a typo or extremely expensive.




RE: 10 cents a watt?
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 11/10/2008 5:53:59 AM , Rating: 2
RE: 10 cents a watt?
By Amiga500 on 11/10/2008 6:06:46 AM , Rating: 2
Well, just quickly:

24hrs * 7 days * 52 weeks * 27,000 KW = 235,872,000 KW/hr over the lifetime of the project.

Divide that by $25,000,000 gives you:

9.435 KW/hr per dollar, or approx 10 cent per KW/hr

I reckon the 10 cent per watt is a typo. :-)


RE: 10 cents a watt?
By Amiga500 on 11/10/2008 6:08:58 AM , Rating: 2
Shit, thats wrong - forgot to include the 10 year fuel cycle.

So that would be 94.35 KW/hr per dollar.

Or 1 cent per KW/hr.

Which makes the 10 cent per watt even more unlikely.


RE: 10 cents a watt?
By nah on 11/10/2008 6:18:06 AM , Rating: 1
A bit more slowly...

24 hrs * 365 days * 7years (before refueling) * 27,000 * .90 (av output) = 1 490 076 000 Kw-hrs -1.67 cents per Kw-hr (divide 25 000 000 00 cents by the KW-hr)---unless it won't be in operation 24/7


RE: 10 cents a watt?
By AnnihilatorX on 11/10/2008 6:53:58 AM , Rating: 2
There is no such unit as kilowatt per hour
Killo watt is Joules per second, it is the energy transferred per second.
It makes no sense make up a unit of KW/hr = Kilo Joules per second per hour.
I suppose KW/h you meant KiloWattHour (KWh), a standard unit of measure of household electrical energy usage.

It outputs 27MW for 7-10 years
$25 million USD total cost

Total cost per hour = $25 million/8.5 years say/52 weeks/24/7=
$336
27MWh of energy in an hour, operating cost $336 per hour
assuming 20% profit margin:
Let's say $400 per hour for the consumer
Therefore 27MWh/h / $400 per hour=67.5kWh per dollar
= $0.01
1 cent per kilowatt hour (KWh)
If the profit margin is 5 times this consumer will only pay 5 cents for a kilowatt hour.


RE: 10 cents a watt?
By Amiga500 on 11/10/2008 7:36:04 AM , Rating: 2
Yeap, I've always wrote it as KW/hr - even though I know its incorrect, its a bad habit I've yet to break.


RE: 10 cents a watt?
By energy1man on 11/10/2008 8:34:09 AM , Rating: 2
kWh


RE: 10 cents a watt?
By MozeeToby on 11/11/2008 5:20:46 PM , Rating: 2
Well... you could say that your power usage is increasing at a rate of one KW/hr. I'm just sayin :)


RE: 10 cents a watt?
By masher2 (blog) on 11/10/2008 9:39:32 AM , Rating: 5
> "Our goal is to generate electricity for 10 cents a watt anywhere in the world" -> $100 per kw/h. Either a typo or extremely expensive"

You're confusing power and energy. Hyperion wants to eventually sell a 20MW reactor for $2M: that's 10 cents/watt, based on power output.

A Kw-h is a unit of energy. Hyperion hasn't disclosed the energy costs of their reactor, but Toshiba's 4S is shooting for a goal of 5c Kw-h.


RE: 10 cents a watt?
By zpdixon on 11/11/2008 1:59:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:

You're confusing power and energy. Hyperion wants to eventually sell a 20MW reactor for $2M: that's 10 cents/watt, based on power output.


I cannot find the $2M figure anywhere, where did you find it ?

Also, as one of the few people in this thread who understands the difference between power and energy, I would have expected you to conclude your post by explaining it is completely pointless for this CEO to say "10 cent/watt" anyway because it tells you nothing (eg. for a device continously consuming 1W, do you pay 10 cents every day, month, year... ?).

Franlky talking about cent/watt is so pointless in this context that I rather think the CEO has been misquoted by these news outlets.


RE: 10 cents a watt?
By zpdixon on 11/11/2008 2:02:23 AM , Rating: 2
Haha! Look, they even screwed up a stupid division:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/nov/09/...
quote:

This article was amended on Monday November 11 2008. $25m divided by 10,000 is $2,500 not $250. This has been changed.


Clearly it now looks much more probable they misquoted the CEO as well.


Erm...
By abitofgo on 11/10/2008 6:01:58 AM , Rating: 3
Unless I'm mistaken...

The reactor is just something that is very hot. It doesent actually generate electricity directly.

You still need to heat up water and make steam to drive a turbine of some sorts? That will require maintenance.




RE: Erm...
By Durrr on 11/10/2008 6:27:59 AM , Rating: 2
Doesn't necessarily need to. There are thermocouples and other such "direct conversion" devices that either translate heat or neutron flux into electricity.


RE: Erm...
By ViroMan on 11/10/2008 7:21:44 AM , Rating: 2
perhaps you haven't noticed the picture but, it show clearly that there are tubes going into the device and up to tanks that say "portable water".


RE: Erm...
By Denithor on 11/10/2008 8:38:51 AM , Rating: 2
Um...no. It says "potable water" which is completely different. (Drinking water if you're too lazy to look it up.) I think what they're getting at is using the electricity to provide clean drinking water in poor areas of the world.


RE: Erm...
By InterestedReader on 11/10/2008 8:48:13 AM , Rating: 2
Quote from Hyperion "Equally important is Hyperion’s ability to bring heat for industrial uses and electricity for infrastructure and homes to remote locations with no reasonable access to reliable energy. For example: over 25% of the world’s population does not have access to clean water. Hyperion can solve this appalling situation by providing the power to pump, clean, and process life’s essential element, thereby turning the tide on disease, poverty and social unrest"


RE: Erm...
By Ringold on 11/11/2008 12:27:10 AM , Rating: 2
I'll point out that the World Bank has identified that even before clean water, reliable electricity is the most important thing an impoverished area needs to develop. Clean water often comes in short order -- along with business and jobs. This could be a godsend to the billion or so people living as though the year is still 1500 -- or even 1500 BC, for that matter. Well, 1500BC + ubiquitous AK47s. This solves clean water and power at the same time. I wont launch in to a bleeding-heart rant or economics discussion, but this sounds like it could be a potential silver bullet, because I seriously doubt the capacity of African nations to build, operate and safeguard conventional nuclear plants. Nuke-in-a-box bypasses all those problems.

And... could be a huge export item for the United States.


RE: Erm...
By FITCamaro on 11/11/2008 7:46:02 AM , Rating: 2
I would be a little wary of sending portable nuclear reactors to war torn African nations. At least not without a 100 or so Marine's backed by tanks and Apaches to safeguard each one.


RE: Erm...
By marvdmartian on 11/12/2008 10:48:39 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, the tank would have to be on wheels for it to be portable water!! ;)

Funny thing is, I actually saw a potable water tanker truck, when I lived in Guam, that someone had painted (in big ol' 24" tall letters) on the side, PORTABLE WATER !!
What was even funnier is when someone pointed out their error, instead of spending the money to make it right, they just scrubbed off the R, so it said PO TABLE WATER. ;)


RE: Erm...
By InterestedReader on 11/10/2008 9:10:02 AM , Rating: 2
They've been proposing one of these in Alaska for 5 years now... Steam generation it is...

"The 4S reactor being considered for the Galena facility is a pool type fast neutron reactor that, when coupled to power generation equipment, has an electrical output of 10MWe (30MWt). The primary heat transport system (PHTS) consists of the containment guard vessel, reactor vessel, intermediate heat exchanger (IHX), electromagnetic (EM) pumps, internal structures, core and shielding, all of which are located below grade. Heat from the intermediate heat transport system is exchanged in a steam generator (also located below grade) to produce steam, which drives conventional steam turbine generator equipment. In the standard plant the ultimate heat sink designed to be air cooled heat exchangers, although district heating may be possible as a plant modification."


RE: Erm...
By djc208 on 11/18/2008 11:47:48 PM , Rating: 2
Glad to see someone else noticed that too. If you go dig through their web site it states that the reactors are good for 70 MW of heat or 25 MW of electricity via steam turbine.

So yes the reactor would require no maintenance or upkeep but whatever is feeding off of it will. I doubt the prices they are quoting would include the generation system either.

This is just a thermal generator, it will simply set there and be hot. How you use that heat is up to the person buying it.


Too cheap to meter, all over again
By Paxus on 11/10/08, Rating: 0
RE: Too cheap to meter, all over again
By whiskerwill on 11/10/2008 9:54:11 AM , Rating: 5
When Areva signed the contract for the Finnish nuclear plant, they agreed to use Finnish suppliers for construction. Those local companies supplied faulty materials, which delayed construction. No big deal really, the plant is still going to be completed. Trying to turn this into some mass failure of the nuclear industry is rather silly.

A lot of US plants were delayed also, because of lawsuits from environmental groups blocking construction. Again, not a problem with the technology itself.


RE: Too cheap to meter, all over again
By XnoX on 11/11/2008 7:34:53 AM , Rating: 2
Actually the project has more than 1000 suppliers from 25 countries - through public sourcing. It's just that Areva hasn't been actually in charge of a construction project.

Suppliers have been using outdated design papers without proper guidance - it's not like the suppliers themselves have recent experience from nuke projects.


By QuantumPion on 11/10/2008 10:42:39 AM , Rating: 2
According to the NRC's website the design is currently in pre-application review and scheduled for manufacturing license review between 2012-2015.

http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/comm...


RE: Too cheap to meter, all over again
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/2008 1:23:46 PM , Rating: 4
Ummmm... You are seriously perpetuating gross misconceptions and mistruths about the nuclear power industry that wrongly influence public opinion!

First off, it takes a long time to get a plant built. Forget the physical construction- there is a multitude of licensing. There is a site permit, a reactor/plant design certification, construction certification, and operating license to name a few. The whole process of licensing + certification alone is 10-12 years currently in the US (the final stages haven't even been fully developed by the NRC). That, and in a deregulated state, utilities aren't allowed to offset their construction costs by incorporating them into delivery rates- they have to absorb the costs until the plant starts running.
Add to that the chaotic economy in the US, and attaining the loans for the capital to construct a plant is difficult because of the risk of defaulting should the economy become worse, or costs exceed budget because of interference and a plan is scrapped.
On top of all of that, there are numerous windows in the certification and licensing process before plant construction can even finish in which legal suits can be filed- which halt progress, costing money from delays in the project as well as legal fees.

And those plants that weren't finished? The 1974 energy policy act instated a flawed licensing system, in which companies couldn't get an operating license until the plant was nearly complete. If an operating license was denied, all the sunk capital had to be absorbed by the utility. Not to mention the Chernobyl incident souring public opinion of nuclear power.
The nuclear industry actually told congress another plant wouldn't be built in the US under the 1974 scheme. It was remedied in the 1992 energy policy act, which introduced combined construction and operating licensing- minimizing the risk and allowing for a pro-construction climate. On top of that, the government makes money off of guaranteed loans granted for plant construction- because of the construction and licensing timetable, interest on the loan builds and the government ends up getting back more than it delivered in the first place.

Nuclear fantasies!? When viewing levelized costs, nuclear power is about even to coal (partly because coal has a ~70% capacity factor, whereas nuclear is ~90% CF). With a strong likelihood of cap+trade CO2 programs being implemented in the near future, nuclear will then far surpass coal as a more economical solution.

It is a universal truth that unless you live in Iceland and can get almost all your electricity from geothermal, that CO2 emissions goals CANNOT be met without relying on a large backbone of nuclear power. This is why Italy and Australia are repealing their nuclear power bans. Wind and solar are variable production methods, and must be supplemented by a backup baseload production source, which is typically natural gas- in which fuel prices are very volatile, and the electrical production from that natural gas baseload is expense. The carbon emission of wind + solar's backup baseload production is factored into wind+solar emissions- so even those production methods which have no releases during generation contribute to carbon release.
Nuclear power is the lowest carbon-emitting source of electricity over the entire production process and across the operating lifetime. Current generation plants have had a majority of their original 40-year operating licenses renewed to add an additional 20 years; a 60 year operating lifetime. Upcoming plants will have an initial 60-year operating license. Nuclear power produces no carbon emission at generation, and refueling is infrequent enough that it is far below initial and maintenance-related releases by solar, wind, and hydro. Also, nuclear power plants do no release radiation to the environment during operation. Burning coal releases natural radioisotopes at such levels that the EPA doesn't allow a coal-fired power plant to be built on the premises of a nuclear facility because the radiation release would be higher than that allowed at a nuclear facility.

Why would water be a "huge" issue? This design by Hyperion doesn't use circulated cooling, doesn't contain water or use it as a moderator. Sure water can diffuse through concrete/cement, but not so much when you have an internal operating temperature of hundreds of degrees Celsius releasing heat to the surrounding ground. These modular designs are for isolated places like Alaskan towns and developing countries where the electrical grid doesn't reach portions of the population. Current plans in the US are to build plants of up to 1600MW production capacity- not to build a mess of these 27MW reactors. These are very specialized reactors- not the mainstream plants for US electrical production.


By randomly on 11/11/2008 2:31:01 PM , Rating: 2
The water issue is the need for water as the cold thermal resevoir. You either need a large source of cold water, or large amounts of water for use in evaporative cooling towers. You have to get rid of the heat somewhere and water is the way to do it most effectively and economically.

The production cost (Fuel costs + operations and maintenance) of Nuclear energy is about the same as Coal, but the actual cost of Nuclear energy is much higher than coal because of the very high capital costs of build a nuclear plant. The cost of that capital is about 3 times the nuclear energy production costs.

The very high capital costs also makes nuclear energy only economically competitive as Base Load power where the plant runs at 100% capacity all the time. If you run it at 50% capacity the energy cost will be almost double since fuel costs are such a small part of the overall costs.

Despite the high capital costs (which are unfortunately going up rapidly due to supply and demand) nuclear reactors can have a 60 year operational lifespan so they can be competitive if you take the long view. They are also fairly immune to fuel cost changes. Capital costs will also come down as more reactors are built and the trained construction workforce expands.

All that being said, I would much prefer Nuclear power over coal. Modern reactor designs are very safe and cannot fail like the RBMK Chernobyl reactors. The Westinghouse AP1000 does not even have sufficient core material to achieve prompt criticality under any conditions.


5¢/kW-h...
By skyyspam on 11/10/08, Rating: 0
RE: 5¢/kW-h...
By Ordr on 11/10/2008 7:33:27 AM , Rating: 5
There was almost nothing in your post that would make you not sound like a douche.


RE: 5¢/kW-h...
By Smilin on 11/10/2008 9:32:00 AM , Rating: 4
Literal LOL are so rare these days. Thanks for that one.


RE: 5¢/kW-h...
By skyyspam on 11/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: 5¢/kW-h...
By Spivonious on 11/10/2008 8:09:07 AM , Rating: 2
My rates are about 6 cents per kWh. Try again.


RE: 5¢/kW-h...
By Veerappan on 11/10/2008 5:29:29 PM , Rating: 2
And mine are currently almost $.40/kWh when generation/delivery charges and taxes are combined.

Yay east coast?


RE: 5¢/kW-h...
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: 5¢/kW-h...
By JakLee on 11/10/2008 12:32:18 PM , Rating: 2
Well that depends on location - where I live the power company has to buy back electricity if I can put it into the power grid - mainly for things like solar & wind but if I can just convince my bank to give me a small loan for this I could make a profit in no time!


What happens if the company goes broke?
By CurtOien on 11/10/2008 8:16:20 AM , Rating: 5
What happens if these things get forgotten and left in the ground? How long will it contain it's content safely and how dangerous is the contents?




RE: What happens if the company goes broke?
By FITCamaro on 11/10/2008 8:47:39 AM , Rating: 2
Well its sealed in concrete. So its doubtful it would cause any problems at all. They're not going to risk ruining their company with lawsuits over that kind of thing.


RE: What happens if the company goes broke?
By CurtOien on 11/10/2008 9:02:13 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not worried about the short term. What if they get left behind? Cement does not last as long as the radioactivity.


RE: What happens if the company goes broke?
By Ordr on 11/10/2008 9:15:41 AM , Rating: 2
Depends on the cement, actually.


By Parhel on 11/11/2008 1:04:14 PM , Rating: 2
No, any man-made structure buried underground will eventually give way to the forces of nature. Consider how tree roots break through metal sewer pipes, and how the seasonal swelling and contraction of the ground will inevitably put cracks in the foundation of every home. I'm 100% for nuclear power, but I'm a bit suspicious of the idea of burying mini-reactors underground.


Dare I say...
By nah on 11/10/2008 6:07:51 AM , Rating: 5
that Masher has already pre-ordered one ?




RE: Dare I say...
By AnnihilatorX on 11/10/2008 6:55:47 AM , Rating: 4
Finally I can have a true high end UPS for my uber octo-core quad graphics card PC.


RE: Dare I say...
By dflynchimp on 11/10/2008 8:15:26 AM , Rating: 2
hopefully by then I will have upgraded to a room temperature super-conducting neural learning computer


RE: Dare I say...
By BruceLeet on 11/10/08, Rating: -1
Blogger wars
By VaultDweller on 11/10/2008 8:30:33 AM , Rating: 2
This looks very promising, and I hope that both this and Toshiba's reactor see great success.

This sentence (and to some extent the rest of the paragraph), does irk me a bit:

Since power is produced 100% of the time, the total energy output is more than 15 times what the world's most powerful 400-foot tall 5 MW wind turbine will produce.

A person could argue that this is relevant information, and the argument wouldn't be without merit... but I can't help but think this bit is just there for some kind of pissing contest with Jason Mick. Mick does the same thing too, and it hurts the articles.

So, please... you both bring interesting news, and it would be better if the two of you reported on it without trying to prove who has the biggest cock on the block.

Will there ever be an end to the Blogger Wars? Perhaps at least a period of détente?




RE: Blogger wars
By straycat74 on 11/10/2008 9:36:12 AM , Rating: 2
What would you prefer he compare the power generation to? People need facts to go on, not fear of power generation. I am amazed at how much progress is lost on energy generation based on feelings. This is not an attack on wind power, but a reality check.


RE: Blogger wars
By Klober on 11/10/2008 10:43:49 AM , Rating: 2
Personally, I'm a numbers guy, so I like it when they put things into perspective like this. And since they generally know the specifics of the industry and what they're reporting on better than I do, I would rather rely (in many cases anyway) on their numbers than try to calculate them myself. This is a large part of the reason why I read the comments section for particular subjects - other DT readers do calculations relevant to the article which were not present in the original article.

Keep the numbers coming! :)


RE: Blogger wars
By Keeir on 11/10/2008 6:30:32 PM , Rating: 2
You confuse me

Its fairly typically to compare alternate solutions or products when discussing technology...

Is there a more apt comparison that Wind Energy? (After all, uses many of the same materials, can be built locally, produces "carbon free" power...)


RE: Blogger wars
By 67STANG on 11/11/2008 12:19:46 AM , Rating: 2
Research is everything an someone as anti-wind as masher is talking about wind is about as credible of a source as a Kennedy talking about tax cuts....

The largest turbine (to be installed in 2010) is actually 10MW.... But I would expect masher to downrate pretty much anything to do with non-nuclear options. It doesn't really matter though-- Obama doesn't like nuclear, so it's a moot point.

Anyhow, it's nice that there is a pro-renewables (Mick) and pro-nuclear (MAsher) to keep the balance. It gives you nice balance.


How is the electricity produced?
By SnakeBlitzken on 11/10/2008 9:19:38 AM , Rating: 2
I was trying to figure out from the original article in the Guardian how the juice is produced. It never says. The article did mention the weapons issue though:

"The miniature reactors will be factory-sealed, contain no weapons-grade material, have no moving parts and will be nearly impossible to steal because they will be encased in concrete and buried underground."

I would like to know more detail.




RE: How is the electricity produced?
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/2008 10:37:08 AM , Rating: 2
Most likely a thermocouple- which is why it is buried under ground. The 4-S is a self-contained PWR design, so it has a pressurizer and turbine built in. If this has no circulating coolant, it probably uses the geothermal properties at the given depth to create a sink that allows a thermocouple to operate.

The weapons-grade portion is marketing fluff though- no reactors need to run on weapons-grade enriched fuel.


By randomly on 11/12/2008 9:28:53 AM , Rating: 2
I believe they are only describing the Nuclear heat source in the article. There is no mention of how that is used. A tremendous amount of support equipment taking up many times the space of the reactor itself would be required to generate electricity, just like in all normal nuclear power generating stations.

Thermocouples have dismally poor efficiency. Clearly they are implying a steam turbine system since they quote 25 Mwe and 75Mw thermal power, and steam turbines run around 33% efficient.

The best bet is a standard brayton cycle steam turbine and either an evaporative cooling tower or cold water source.


By QuantumPion on 11/10/2008 10:40:32 AM , Rating: 3
The article says the core is made of Uranium Hydride. This is a special fuel mixture, similar to that used by university research reactors. The design is basically fool-proof because it is temperature self-regulating. The fuel itself is the moderator, and is only critical when at a precise temperature due to the extremely strong doppler coefficient.

You can see an example of this in action here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6I3JKYdGWTE
The reactor is pulsed to 1 GW for a millisecond by ejecting a control rod. As the fuel heats up the reactivity instantly decreases, causing it to shut back down on its own.


Nuclear Power
By prospectfactory on 11/10/2008 6:13:18 PM , Rating: 2
France has 59 Nuclear fission power plants that provide 77% of the country's electricity. The US has 104 plants that supply 20% of our electricity. France has never had an accident and the only "near" accident we have had was almost 30 years ago (3 Mile Island)?

Tokamak fusion reactor is almost a reality for providing fusion.If you want more information try this website www.generalfusion.com

The main application for fusion is in making electricity. Nuclear fusion can provide a safe, clean energy source for future generations with several advantages over current fission reactors:
Abundant fuel supply - Deuterium can be easily extracted from seawater, and excess tritium can be made in the fusion reactor itself from lithium, which can be extracted from the Earth's crust. Uranium for fission is rare, and it must be mined and then enriched for use in reactors.
Safe - The amounts of fuel used for fusion are small compared to fission reactors. This is so that uncontrolled releases of energy do not occur. Fusion reactors make less radiation than the natural background radiation we live with in our daily lives.
Clean - No combustion occurs in nuclear power (fission or fusion), so there is no air pollution.
Less nuclear waste - Fusion reactors will not produce high-level nuclear wastes like their fission counterparts, so disposal will be less of a problem. In addition, the wastes will not be of weapons-grade nuclear materials as is the case in fission reactors.

Vote Democratic:It is easier than thinking?




RE: Nuclear Power
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/2008 7:28:40 PM , Rating: 2
Fusion does show promise- it's the horse I'm betting on. The the tokamak reactor is more proof of concept- i don't even think it is supposed to achieve a net output. The next generation is supposed to do that, and the gen. after that viable for commercialization.
Fusion reactions in tokamak reactors don't produce high-level fission product wastes, but the reactor vessel becomes highly irradiated from the neutron flux, and has to be dealt with along the lines of high level waste.
The amounts of fuel used in fusion reactors is less because of temperatures and pressures necessary to start the reaction make scaling up of size require better confinement and more input power. They also need less mass of fuel per power output- the energy from fusion is ~3x that of fission.

I'm preferential to the Li-B cycle. Less neutron irradiation, and a direction conversion of produced helium nucleons to electricity- so no more turbines. That, and the sustainability of the Li-B fuel is nearly endless. We're talking 1000's of years. Admittedly, the confinement requirements are higher with that reaction, and power output is lower.

Only fast reactors, aka breeder reactors, produce material usable in weapons- thermal reactors do not


RE: Nuclear Power
By randomly on 11/12/2008 9:21:51 AM , Rating: 2
It's a misconception that only breeder reactors produce material suitable for weapons, thermal reactors also produce plutonium, just not as fast. Spent thermal reactor fuel is about 1% Pu239. A breeder reactor just generates fuel faster than it uses it up.

The attraction for Fusion power is all about security, avoiding nuclear proliferation, and radioactive waste disposal.

From a safety perspective with modern reactor designs there is probably no significant advantage of fusion over fission.

Fuel costs and availability are almost irrelevant.

The fuel costs for both Nuclear and Fusion are minor. The energy cost is defined mostly by the capital costs of the plant and the operations and maintenance costs. There is enough uranium and thorium around to last for the foreseeable future.

They both have similar cooling requirements for a given power output.

The big question is can fusion be made cost effective. That's a big if. and when....


No control rods?
By AssBall on 11/10/2008 12:00:52 PM , Rating: 2
Someone know how the lithium moderation works? Or have a link?




RE: No control rods?
By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/10/2008 7:18:39 PM , Rating: 2
If it uses liquid metal as a coolant, than it is in all likelihood a breeder reactor. So the goal is to have less efficient moderation than a thermal reactor, because you want the neutrons to be slowed some, but not to thermal speeds. The fuel in breeders needs higher speed neutrons to run the fission reaction. Lithium probably has somewhat okay cross-sections to reduce the momentum of the neutrons.


Personal Force Shields!
By akugami on 11/10/2008 1:29:45 PM , Rating: 3
With the advent of portable nuclear generators, we're well on our way for Hober Mallow to one day sell us a personal force shield.




Want one for my car!!!
By DeepBlue1975 on 11/10/2008 7:43:27 AM , Rating: 2
E- Where to, Marty?
M- To yesterday!!!

(BTTF soundtrack here)




Fallout 3
By VooDooAddict on 11/10/2008 11:55:40 AM , Rating: 2
One step closer to Fallout 3. Mini reactors powering trains and semi-trucks.




Power In My Pocket>
By snownpaint on 11/10/2008 6:03:08 PM , Rating: 2
I want one of these..

In Middle School I had to give a presentation on a made-up product.. I decided "Box of Fission".. It was a AL foil covered box with a Outlet on the front and Iron nails on top.

"Power anywhere, anytime, for 1500 years" "can be used as a defibrillator in a emergency"

It had 4 D batteries inside hooked to the outlet and a camp light with a power cord wired to it.. When plugged into the Box-of-Fission, the camp light would light up. Would you believe that students believed it worked.





Nuclear Hummer
By Black69ta on 11/10/2008 7:36:57 PM , Rating: 2
Finally, my dream of a fuel efficient Hummer, will be reality! Enough power to make my Hummer H1 Limo a true Hot Rod, and power my 3MW audio nirvana and Disco Lights. Muh Ha Ha, P. Diddy got nothing on This Ark. redneck. SPL competions look out. Seriously, wouldn't this power things like Trains, Tanks and Weapons such as the ones "The Incredible Hulk"?




ITER Reactor
By TimberJon on 11/11/2008 10:52:38 AM , Rating: 2
Just a little more dough and attention to the ITER please. While I'm not against Nuclear reactors dotting the landscape, it would be much nicer to have something that won't blow up and scatter radioactive dust, etc..

Mini/commercialized fusion reactors could power trucks, cars, helicopters, jets, space stations, spacecraft, homes, Etc... city-wide wireless power grid testing, etc...

Can't wait. But they need to hurry up. Yay super steel though.




***Yawn***
By amanojaku on 11/10/2008 8:29:54 AM , Rating: 1
Yeah, this is cool and all, but my flux capacitor puts out 1.21 jigowatts!!!




Caution
By andrinoaa on 11/10/2008 4:37:59 PM , Rating: 1
Ok, before anyone has a conorary, shouldn't we get a bit more information about the FULL life cycle of this thing?
I don't want to dismiss this out of hand, but I think it needs to be safe AND seen to be safe. We need to know what the back end costs are. So far its all front end costing and glossy brochures - something Americans are renouwned for. If its all true I will give my support, but as we have already seen so many times, if it looks too good to be true, it probably isn't.




Two words...
By PrinceGaz on 11/10/2008 6:50:40 PM , Rating: 1
Dirty bomb.




You are all victims of a PR scam.
By Surak on 11/11/08, Rating: -1
By icanhascpu on 11/12/2008 4:12:29 PM , Rating: 3
Shut up.


By dream caster on 11/14/2008 10:06:24 AM , Rating: 1
I think this underrated post is one of the very best posts in this thread; I have been enjoying this thread very much; it is much more interesting and full of information than most.

Maybe a little pessimist, but very informative and a needed balance for other postings that are also good and thought fuel.

If I could vote for it I would rate with max points. (I think this is my second post)


Where are the lies?
By monoape on 11/10/08, Rating: -1
RE: Where are the lies?
By Ringold on 11/11/2008 12:12:49 AM , Rating: 2
They both say basically the same thing, though Masher did a better job portraying the information imho. Nice way to be mean spirited for no apparent reason though. Didn't get to unleash some anger at Republican's yet today?


"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein











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