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New research into nuclear's feasibility shows that it simply does not make for a sole fossil fuel replacement.

The death knells of the Earth's dwindling fossil fuel supply have helped to prompt a growing push for alternative fuels.  Whether it be cellulosic ethanol powering the next generation of hybrid vehicles or microbial hydrogen driving advanced fuel cells, America's top technology corporations are making massive investments in alternative energy.  Basically, alternative energy advocates remain split about what is the best solution -- solar power, wind power, biofuels, hydrogen, and nuclear power are seen as the best bets.

Not holding out much hope for an exotic solution, many have turned in the last few years to seriously considering nuclear as a potential replacement to fossil fuel demand.  The result has been resurgence in nuclear efforts.  In the U.S. an application has been filed by NRG Energy for the first new nuclear plant in 30 years.  In Canada, a nuclear research reactor taken temporarily offline was quickly brought online after swift legislative action.

However, despite the growing enthusiasm there has already been one major hiccup.  The record drought that has been plaguing the U.S. Southeast is threatening to cripple the nuclear industry in this region, as many of the plants require large amounts of water.

Now, a new research study, conducted by Physicist Joshua Pearce of Clarion University of Pennsylvania puts another dent in nuclear efforts.  Professor Pearce's research, published in Inderscience's International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology, indicates that while nuclear research and small-scale growth remain promising, large scale growth remains non-viable.

Professor Pearce is actually an advocate for nuclear power.  He warns that his research should not be misinterpreted.  Professor Pearce suggests that the nuclear power industry focuses its efforts on improving efficiency.  He gives two easy ways to accomplish this.  The first is to utilize only the highest grade ores, saving on refining energy costs.  Secondly, he suggests the industry adopt gas centrifuge technology for ore enrichment, which is considerably more efficient than the currently used gaseous diffusion methods.

Professor Pearce feels that plants must also adopt technology for capturing and distributing their waste heat.  He points out that nuclear plants dump large amounts of heat into their surroundings, a practice which both wastes energy and can cause significant harm to the environment.  Professor Pearce believes that current nuclear weapon stockpiles worldwide should be dismantled and their nuclear fuel "down-blended".  He points out that this could produce a bounty of nuclear fuel.

The not-so-good news which Professor Pearce points out is that nuclear is simply not a viable candidate for large-scale growth.  In order for nuclear power to maintain growing future power demands and the shrinking fossil fuel power supplies, between 2010 and 2050 a growth rate of over 10 percent a year would be necessary according to Professor Pearce.  This, he says, is simply not possible.

Professor Pearce points out that such a growth program would simply cannibalize older plant's power output to provide the power needed to maintain the processes involved with building the new plants and refining ore for them, leaving no power for human needs.  Large-scale growth would require massive power investment in terms of plant construction, plant operation, mining infrastructure expansion, and energy investments to refine ore.  Professor Pearce says the books simply don't balance -- these power needs could not be met by the energy produced from the refined ore.

He points to a significant problem with large scale growth.  Large-scale growth, barring the discovery of new reserves would necessitate the use of lower grade uranium.  This sets an additional limit on growth.  As Professor Pearce points out, "The limit of uranium ore grade to offset greenhouse gas emissions is significantly higher than the purely thermodynamic limit set by the energy payback time."

Professor Pearce also points out to environmentalists and global warming skeptics alike that nuclear power is hardly an "emission-free panacea", as he puts it.  All aspects of plant operation, including plant construction, mining/milling of uranium ores, fuel conversion, enrichment, fabrication, operation, decommissioning, and long-term and short-term waste disposal, require massive amounts of energy provided by fossil fuels.  The burning of these fossil fuels will create large amounts of greenhouse emissions, a criticism oft-leveled against the solar and wind power industries by nuclear advocates.

While emissions are certainly troublesome, the simple energy requirements infeasibility, if accurate, would almost certainly nix the large scale expansion of nuclear power in its current form.  If Professor Pearce's research withstands the test of review then it offers little choice but to pursue his suggested strategies -- develop more advanced nuclear power on a smaller scale and pursue other alternative energy solutions as a major source of capacity.



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Perspective
By isorfir on 3/5/2008 2:12:22 PM , Rating: 5
I'm glad to see someone that advocates for nuclear power putting things into perspective, not just saying “It will free us from dependence on foreign oil, provide cheap, clean energy and grant everyone three wishes.” It leaves behind a better taste than the usual biased arguments. Personally I'm for nuclear, but I'm also a realist and realize that it can't solve all of our problems. Thank you Professor Pearce.




RE: Perspective
By Entropy42 on 3/5/2008 2:41:06 PM , Rating: 2
For anyone who follows the link to "more advanced nuclear power" There is no way that fusion is the answer to anything but our long term power demands. Barring a massive breakthrough, commercialized fusion power is decades away.


RE: Perspective
By Polynikes on 3/5/2008 4:46:16 PM , Rating: 4
I'm looking forward to MicroFusion Cells.


RE: Perspective
By murphyslabrat on 3/5/2008 5:58:05 PM , Rating: 3
I vastly preferred the weapons that used either 4.7mm caseless or 2mm EC.


RE: Perspective
By Some1ne on 3/5/2008 9:22:43 PM , Rating: 2
You're mistaken. .223 pistol all the way!

Well okay, the M72 does kick its fair share of ass, but it only exists half of the time. The .223 is always there for you, no matter where you happen to be.


RE: Perspective
By Polynikes on 3/6/2008 10:07:40 AM , Rating: 1
.223 FTW. My favorite gun of all time in any game, bar none.


RE: Perspective
By 7Enigma on 3/6/2008 1:47:37 PM , Rating: 1
Along those lines I'll take the Bozar.

.223 BURST-FIRE, rediculously overpowered for the majority of the game. Most interesting build I've done to date was a big gun/unarmed character. Ventured almost immediately to NCR, stole the Bozar from the guard in combat armor outside the vendor that looks like a little person, then proceeded to lay waste to groups of enemies that would otherwise have outclassed my character at the beginning levels.

I then traveled to San Fran, purchased the mega-power fist from the vendor in the oil derrick, and proceeded to have some fun with my fists.

Overall it was the fastest/easiest jaunt through the game I've had to date, and VERY satisfying. Match this character up with the bloody mess trait and you'll have a gibbingly good time.

Let's just hope Fallout3 doesn't completely destroy the franchise....


RE: Perspective
By Some1ne on 3/6/2008 6:09:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Let's just hope Fallout3 doesn't completely destroy the franchise....


Agreed.


RE: Perspective
By murphyslabrat on 3/8/2008 7:35:37 PM , Rating: 2
The Vindicator made up for its initially low damage through the obscene fire-rate and the excellent damage/armor penetration qualities of the 4.7mm Caseless.

The initially low damage stops being a factor for high-luck/high-perception characters, who are smart enough to pull the Sniper perk at level 24. Considering that 2/3 of the crits bypass armor, that's a pretty sweet deal.

In the end, and with a well thought out char, the Vindicator is the most powerful weapon short of Hogan's gun. In addition to this, caseless ammo is easily farm-able around San Fran, something you cannot say for the .223 used by the Bozar.

Omigosh, I wasted a lot of time with FO2...Here's to hoping that 3 is as good.

And, for fuel, farming San Fran gets you plenty of power-cells.


RE: Perspective
By Polynikes on 3/6/2008 10:08:10 AM , Rating: 2
So did I, but portable fuel for my car wouldn't hurt. :)


RE: Perspective
By geddarkstorm on 3/5/2008 2:56:02 PM , Rating: 5
Diversity of power sources is apparently the key. We can't rely completely on nuclear, or solar, or wind, or hydro; but all those combined makes a potent force. We definitely need some new breakthroughs though.


RE: Perspective
By AngrySaki on 3/5/2008 3:17:12 PM , Rating: 3
Ahhh, the Captain Planet Approach (tm).

By your powers combined...

uhhh... yeah


RE: Perspective
By geddarkstorm on 3/5/2008 3:52:48 PM , Rating: 5
"Nuclear!" "Wind!" "Solar!" "Hydro!" "HEART!"

"By your powers combined.. I am.. GODZILLA!"

Either that, or a really horrible case of congestive heart failure.


RE: Perspective
By Haltech on 3/5/2008 10:23:14 PM , Rating: 2
unfortunetly many people dont see it this way and think if everyone puts solar panels on their houses then greenhouse gases are no more. Education is Power


RE: Perspective
By Ringold on 3/5/2008 11:21:22 PM , Rating: 2
I simply don't see the inherent wisdom in such comments. We've got diverse supplies now; oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear, and hydro in places. That the future resembles the past should just be obvious.

That said, France seems to have little trouble relying heavily on nuclear.


RE: Perspective
By BlackIceHorizon on 3/6/2008 5:42:42 PM , Rating: 2
We absolutely need to continue research into future energy technologies. But the truth is that today and for the next several decades, there is no other viable alternative that could simultaneously

1) Replace coal as the majority (or even the plurality) of our electricity production.

2) Provide this power with the high levels of up-time required for a consistent power supply.

3) Do so without incurring a massive economic cost.

For all of its nay saying, this article addresses no new issues. Notice the absence of quantified evidence for the supposed lack of nuclear's viability? Consider the following - and do your own research into the technicalities - before you make up your mind.

The main claim this article brings forth is that scaling nuclear power to supply the majority of our energy is not feasible, because it will require too much energy. First note the lack of quantitative evidence, then consider the following facts:

- For nuclear plants running on Uranium enriched through gas diffusion, the lifetime ratio of power produced:power consumed, including all mining, construction, operation and amortization costs is >30:1

- If nuclear plants run on Uranium enriched by centrifuge (easily feasible technically, just currently not used in the U.S. for overstated proliferation concerns), the energy production:consumption ratio is >50:1

- This the highest energy production:consumption ratio currently available. It's higher than coal, oil, natural gas, wind and solar. I think the ratio for coal, our current favorite, is between 20:1 and 30:1. It will only be lower for plants that have to pump CO2 underground when carbon taxes come.

- Biofuels are terrible in this regard. Ethanol produced from corn barely breaks 1:1 and even cellulosic ethanol, one of the most efficient, only increases this to around 6:1

Clearly, his assessment that the integration of more nuclear power into our energy mix is energetically impossible is either 1) incorrect or 2) there is literally no way to meet the world's future energy needs without causing brownouts or blackouts. I strongly doubt the latter.


RE: Perspective
By FITCamaro on 3/5/2008 3:00:10 PM , Rating: 4
I think it can solve our energy (read electrical power) problems. Yes it requires investment in the short term and will use resources. But so does solar, wind, or even new coal or gas power plants.

So the question is do we invest in new plants that produce far less energy, no emissions, and are unreliable for constant use(solar and wind), plants that are reliable and produce more energy but are subject to fossil fuel costs (coal and oil), or plants that produce far more energy, no emissions, and requires new fuel only every so often?

My vote is for option three. I mean if we solved the mystery of cold fusion tomorrow but it meant significant investment of materials and energy to build the plant should we just say screw it since other, less capable options are cheaper?


RE: Perspective
By spluurfg on 3/5/2008 3:13:26 PM , Rating: 2
Out of interest, an Ethanol plant producing about 50m gallons of ethanol per year will require about 250m gallons of water per year. Of course this doesn't include the water needed to grow whatever it was you're converting to ethanol. Water is just one of those incredibly useful things, but in terms of economic feasibility, it's an easier thing to price.


RE: Perspective
By BladeVenom on 3/5/2008 5:29:13 PM , Rating: 5
Maybe someone should have told France. They get 80% of their electricity from nuclear energy. They are also a huge exporter of electricity. Are you going to believe him or France?

If France is brave enough to convert to nuclear power...


RE: Perspective
By eman7613 on 3/5/2008 9:41:51 PM , Rating: 4
yes, but France began their nuclear power plans years ago, the point is nuclear is a very long term solution. The resources and cost required in getting large numbers of new nuclear facilities up in a decade would either dramatically affect - or cripple parts of the economy.


RE: Perspective
By mindless1 on 3/5/2008 10:06:03 PM , Rating: 3
So we'd spend money on things needed instead of things that aren't needed so much? Doesn't seem to be much of a problem, running out of power is not an option.


RE: Perspective
By FITCamaro on 3/6/2008 11:42:53 AM , Rating: 2
On the contrary. It would help the economy. A national push to build numerous new nuclear plants could create thousands of jobs. Yes it might drive up the costs of some materials, but at least its for a good reason.


RE: Perspective
By Integral9 on 3/10/2008 8:32:44 AM , Rating: 2
agreed. Building projects like the "Green Towns" from the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935 were excellent economy boosters. Not only providing jobs during the depression but in this case, affordable housing during a housing shortage. Fast forward to 2008 and we need jobs and affordable energy. So it only makes sense to me that we should be building nuclear energy plants.

Just remember to say 'no' to project "Boot Strap" or we might get a bunch of Homer Simpson Safety Inspectors.


RE: Perspective
By ajfink on 3/5/2008 5:55:05 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed - I'm all for the expansion of nuclear energy, but done so responsibly. While it can't account for ALL of our energy needs, and shouldn't, it can greatly supplement other means.

Now if we can just get people to give up some unused beaches and not worry about birds, wind can grow. And the new, massive solar plant being built in Arizona? Good stuff.


RE: Perspective
By FITCamaro on 3/5/2008 6:06:37 PM , Rating: 2
The "massive" solar plant being built in Arizona will put out a fraction of the energy a nuke plant would. And its far less reliable. And wind power is very unreliable as well while requiring a huge amount of space. Each turbine is only good for a few MW. And if the wind stops blowing, you've got no power.


RE: Perspective
By Ringold on 3/5/2008 11:27:44 PM , Rating: 2
If we could sacrifice the view from the balconies of condo's in Naples, we could drill for oil off the coast of Florida like there's no tomorrow, too.

But of course, NIMBY rules the day.


RE: Perspective
By emarston on 3/6/2008 10:03:35 AM , Rating: 2
True, but they are gonna get those platforms anyway since Cuba can allow drilling of those sames reserves on their side of the border. So instead of US gaining benefit from it the Cubans likely will.


What?
By clovell on 3/5/2008 3:19:24 PM , Rating: 5
A few things I was a little fuzzy on...

I. > In order for nuclear power to maintain growing future power demands and the shrinking fossil fuel power supplies, between 2010 and 2050 a growth rate of over 10 percent a year would be necessary according to Professor Pearce.

How was that supposed to read?

II. > Large-scale growth, barring the discovery of new reserves, would necessitate the use of lower grade uranium...

It's a very valid point, but some perspective on its likelihood from, say, a geologist or someone, might help...

III. > Professor Pearce points out that such a growth program would simply cannibalize older plants' power output to provide the power needed to maintain the processes involved with building the new plants and refining ore for them, leaving no power for human needs. Large-scale growth would require massive power investment in terms of plant construction, plant operation, mining infrastructure expansion, and energy investments to refine ore.

So, it would require more power to build up a nuclear-only infrastructure than we currently have nuclear power. But then, why mention:

> All aspects of plant operation, including plant construction, mining/milling of uranium ores, fuel conversion, enrichment, fabrication, operation, decommissioning, and long-term and short-term waste disposal, require massive amounts of energy provided by fossil fuels.

So, the reality is not that we'd have no power left for all us if we ramped up nuclear energy production, but that it would force us to rely on fossil fuels to power the construction and setup of these plants?




RE: What?
By Moishe on 3/5/2008 3:58:33 PM , Rating: 3
The reality is, every sort of power generation plant will require energy to setup... Largely the energy used by construction is fossil fuel. This mention in the article is... well it's OK to point it out, but I think it goes without saying.

Nuclear power is not a perfect system, but it is efficient and well known. If we are looking at an emissions to power output comparison nuclear will do well every time. It is viable, and it is useful. There is no valid reason why more nuke power plants should not be built.


RE: What?
By clovell on 3/5/2008 4:08:46 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you 100% there.


RE: What?
By masher2 (blog) on 3/5/2008 4:24:59 PM , Rating: 5
Of course, Pearce ignores the fact that we essentially stopped exploring for uranium almost 40 years ago...and we had barely begun when we stopped.

Uranium is quite abundant in the earth's crust; basing any analysis off known stockpiles is pure bunkum. Furthermore, reactors can run off thorium as easily as uranium -- and thorium is 3X more prevalent.


RE: What?
By Grast on 3/5/2008 5:03:05 PM , Rating: 5
Thanks Masher.

From an old submariner, his arguments just did not sit right with me. He is making assumtion based off exploration data from the 70's. Additionally, the issue of fresh water is only an issue obviously in land locked states. The NAVY has been using sea water for secondary cooling loops for the last 40 years. The Navy's experience with running nuclear plants in a salt water environment needs to be investigated once again by civilian sources.

In the end, I just do not buy it that nuclear can not be scaled to meet our sustained energy needs.

later....


RE: What?
By gsellis on 3/6/2008 8:31:43 AM , Rating: 2
The problem he stated was that because of the drought here in GA, there is not enough water in the rivers to cool the reactors, potentially.

It does show a lot of inefficiency in the design. It generates a lot of heat to quickly heat water to steam. There are other phased approaches that should be investigated. I think I remember 1 coal plant that was 'exporting' its heat to a local series of greenhouses. I remember the vague details of Einstein's only contribution to engineering with 7 steps of hot water to cool to do washing. You have step 1, the heat sitting there. I understand the issue of cross-contamination, but they are dumping this heat into a river... A set of industries should be included. Heck, ethanol production requires distillation (an energy requirement to make the fuel). Tie a couple industries that require heat for distillation to each plant. 2 birds, 1 ore...err stone. And, the left over heat from distillation could pass on to lesser need next door. How about sugar beet farms or hardy cellulose crops in warmed beds around the area?

And just to be fair to the prof. I think he may have been thinking also of all those electric cars added to the grid to replace the gasoline ones? But I could be reading more into it.


RE: What?
By kattanna on 3/6/2008 10:02:21 AM , Rating: 2
come now.. thats not the kind of thinking we need in this country.. its not full of fear and ignorance.

we all know that everyone should simply give up everything and return to their caves.

;>)


RE: What?
By rcc on 3/6/2008 1:24:52 PM , Rating: 2
As for coastal plants, the surfers love the waters off San Onofre


RE: What?
By BlackIceHorizon on 3/6/2008 5:46:05 PM , Rating: 2
The most important claim made in this article, I think, is that we're somehow close to running out of nuclear fuel. This is, frankly, untrue. We do need to wisely steward our nuclear resources, but more on that later. Nuclear fuel is, uniquely, the only fuel-based energy generation method where the fuel is not one of the main costs. The vast majority of the price of nuclear energy goes to plant construction, safety oversight, amortization, waste disposal fees, etc. Nuclear energy presents certain inherent dangers and should be implemented with great care and monitored very closely. In its present manifestations, it is, and this high level of precaution represents the majority of the costs. In the rare instances of nuclear accidents, the cause has always been a lack of these measures.

As any good economist can tell you, cost is a function of supply and demand. Uranium is currently a relatively cheap fuel because 1) it is not extremely scarce:

- It is about 40x as abundant in the Earth's crust as silver (Columbia Encyclopedia).

and 2) because we don't need very much of it to produce a lot of power. This is due to its extremely high energy density compared to chemical energy sources:

- Pound-for-pound, uranium produces 3 million times as much electricity as coal.

- Converting 5.4 ounces (0.34 lb) of Uranium to fission products will release enough heat to generate a lifetime supply of electricity for an average American .

The result is that the current world price of Uranium is only 74$/lb (http://www.uxc.com/). Now, to be fair, less than 1% of natural Uranium is currently used in nuclear power plants, so to obtain 5.4 ounces of fissile U235 you have to mine 58 pounds of Uranium. Thus, as prices increase, this may become a more significant fraction of nuclear plant costs. Still compare that to the amount of coal you have to burn to produce a lifetime supply of energy: 1,136,000 pounds of coal . Further, as current sources become more expensive, there are other sources of Uranium to turn to. The oceans contain 4.5 billion tons of uranium, sufficient for over 30,000 years of power production with advanced reactors. Extraction from seawater has already been shown to work on large scales. It hasn’t been used to date because it’s a bit more expensive than land-based mining, but if Uranium prices skyrocket (the natural economic result of a severe reduction in supply as Pearce suggests), this method will become economically viable and support world energy production for many years to come. Further, if Uranium does run out, we could switch to reactors that run on Thorium. Earth’s mineable reserves of Thorium are 3X as abundant as those of Uranium . In the hundreds or thousands of years it takes us to use all of that, we’ll have had time to develop fusion power, or something better.


How about fusion?
By SlyNine on 3/5/2008 2:21:16 PM , Rating: 3
From the International Academy of Science:
The fusion process recommended by Dr. Bussard takes boron-11 and fuses a proton to it, producing, in its excited state, a carbon-12 atom. This excited carbon-12 atom decays to beryllium-8 and helium-4. Beryllium-8 very quickly (in 10-13 s) decays into two more helium-4 atoms. This is the only nuclear-energy releasing process in the whole world that releases fusion energy and three helium atoms -- and no neutrons. This reaction is completely radiation free.

I know efficiency is a problem with fusion, but this actually produced more energy then it used. It wasn't using Boron 11 though as his funds were running out and he needed something to show his designs quickly. Unfortunately his research isn't being funded anymore and he's reaching old age.




RE: How about fusion?
By Entropy42 on 3/5/2008 3:02:33 PM , Rating: 2
The wiki on this is well cited and pretty informative:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aneutronic_fusion

This type of fusion is not really "radiation free" as there are significant energetic x-rays released. It's also currently a very large net loss reaction; much more so than standard D-T fusion.


RE: How about fusion?
By SlyNine on 3/5/2008 3:31:12 PM , Rating: 3
The last test was a short test , however the reaction rate was around 100X higher then before. They said scaled up though it would produce a net gain in energy. Just no one wanted to fund his research.


RE: How about fusion?
By Chernobyl68 on 3/6/2008 11:46:47 AM , Rating: 2
Neutron radiation is pretty easy to block - all you need is a tank of water. of more concern would be embrittlement of the structure, over the long term.


RE: How about fusion?
By geddarkstorm on 3/5/2008 3:11:31 PM , Rating: 2
Then what sort of energy does it release if it's radiation free? Gotta have some sort of energy release if you are harvesting energy from it, unless it's all just heat? Wouldn't there be some form of high energy particle or photon evolved, especially when the beryllium-8 splits? I'd like to learn more about this process.

Apparently Dr. Bussard died in October of 2007 :(


RE: How about fusion?
By SlyNine on 3/5/2008 3:21:04 PM , Rating: 2
That is really to bad, I did all my research online awhile back. But most of it is over my head. Even the original team that worked on his reactor said their was only about 5 people in the USA that really understood the research.

Now we will probably never know.


RE: How about fusion?
By geddarkstorm on 3/5/2008 3:58:22 PM , Rating: 2
It is really too bad. His method of fusion has such great potential, especially since you can convert the reaction directly into electricity via induction, instead of having to be a glorified steam kettle like with a D-T reactor. The design also seems to be the current best. I guess we'll see if it gets picked up or not. Maybe there are even better stuff in the pipe we don't know about, which would be a reason to why this isn't being paid much attention to.


RE: How about fusion?
By TheDoc9 on 3/6/2008 10:48:10 AM , Rating: 2
something doesn't add up here guys, if this is so good there would be funding for it esp. now. I think we don't know the whole story of this. And that only 5 people understand it? It's possible, but seems more like a script from a movie.


RE: How about fusion?
By johnsonx on 3/5/2008 4:19:03 PM , Rating: 2
Something doesn't add up there. I'll need to read the stuff on it of course, but at first glance it just doesn't add up. Fusing a proton to Boron-11 should release energy, but fisioning Carbon-12 and then Beryllium-8 should actually consume energy, so at a glance the net energy output should be negative.


RE: How about fusion?
By geddarkstorm on 3/5/2008 4:44:47 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently the process does produce energy. Here's an interesting string of letters from Science back in 1997. If you read carefully, they talk about p-11B verses D-T reactions. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/278/534...


RE: How about fusion?
By johnsonx on 3/5/2008 5:26:18 PM , Rating: 1
Yes, p+11B fusion does produce energy, just precious little. Without understanding the physics behind it, one wonders why the 12C nucleus has to fision immediately. Under normal conditions, 12C is perfectly stable. I guess all the energy that results from the initial p+11B fusion forces the resulting 12C nucleus to fision immediately. If only there were a way to get the energy out before the fision occurs... then you'd have lots of energy, and plenty of carbon for pencils!


RE: How about fusion?
By Comdrpopnfresh on 3/5/2008 6:01:22 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe neutron-release free, but if you're getting energy out of that sort of reaction, typically something more than thermal release is occurring.
Helium atoms are alpha-radiation- the meekest of the bunch
no neutron release is good...
what about Beta-radiation? high-speed electrons..
Or Gamma-ray release? Pure energy that makes x-rays look like a pinto scooting along on the highway....

neutron release is chemical in basis. Neutrons alone to not fall into any such category of "radiation"


By MatthiasF on 3/5/2008 2:19:45 PM , Rating: 3
Most of his arguments are based off current commodity prices. Had the United States not stopped development of nuclear plants when such commodities were cheaper (70s,80s even early 90s), Nuclear would have been our best bet at hitting CO2 emissions cuts necessary to meet environmental's and Climate Change witch doctor's expectations.

USEC has been building a gas diffusion plant in the South East, to be completed in the next year or two, and has been reselling nuclear material from the Megatons for Megawatts program with Russia for the last decade. France was ready to start dumping nuclear material at cheap rates recently as well on US soil, but Congress stopped them.

So, the fuel is available (even cheaply) but we can't afford to take advantage of it because we lagged behind so much in production capability.

I see this as another huge mistake in US history caused by environmentalist worriwarts. I wonder what problems we'll have in 40 years when the current changes in energy policy really start to show symptomes.

We keep screwing up like this, we'll never get off the planet.




By geddarkstorm on 3/5/2008 2:59:47 PM , Rating: 5
Long term planning is not the strong suit of humanity as a whole.


By Moishe on 3/5/2008 4:07:03 PM , Rating: 2
As usual, it's a shame that something worth doing can be harmed by a minority of mouthy citizens and legitimate progress can be setback so easily.


By Noya on 3/5/2008 10:01:53 PM , Rating: 3
Just like the Bible thumpers hampering stem cell progress.


By clovell on 3/6/2008 10:50:36 AM , Rating: 2
Nice trolling attempt.


By BlackIceHorizon on 3/6/2008 5:52:06 PM , Rating: 2
The factor that I suspect Professor Pearce's analysis really fails to consider is that we (still) have the ability to utilize virtually all natural uranium, not just the less than 1% (U235) we use now. All nuclear reactors convert a portion of the U238 (the "other" Uranium that doesn’t support chain reactions, still composing 97% of fuel after U235 enrichment) in their fuel into Plutonium 239. This isotope is fissile like U235, that is, it can support a nuclear chain reaction. It can then go on to fuel the reactor in the same manner as Uranium. In traditional reactors the ratio of this fuel "breeding" is fairly low, say around 0.3. Thus, the fuel eventually becomes less effective and must be disposed of as high level radioactive waste. It still consists of over 95% unreacted Uranium! It is possible, however - and with present technology - to produce reactors with breeding ratios greater than 1.0. That is, they produce as much or more fuel than they consume. These could use depleted Uranium (DU) as fuel. By using less than 1% of the Uranium we mine, we in fact could deplete present reserves somewhere after mid century (http://nuclear.inl.gov/gen4/docs/gen_iv_roadmap.pd... Breeding fuel from U238 would multiply our reserves by 2 orders of magnitude, allowing for the scaling of nuclear power to become the major energy source for at least the next century.

How abundant is depleted Uranium? It's so cheap that we currently form it into solid projectiles (bullets) and shoot it at enemy tanks for its armor piercing abilities. Even with this and other uses we're constantly accumulating more as a byproduct of enrichment. The U.S. government currently stores 470,000 metric tons of the stuff (http://web.ead.anl.gov/uranium/faq/storage/faq16.c... They can't get rid of it. This is hardly surprising considering that it composes over 99% of the Uranium we mine. If we devoted a small portion of the energy budget (just taking away half of the fossil fuel industry's current $10billion in annual subsidies would do it - it’s currently less than a 10th of that) to supplementing research on 4th generation nuclear reactors of the breeder type, any fuel supply issues would be definitively solved. Our nuclear waste production would also be reduced by over an order of magnitude. That's right, even if we switched all electricity production in the United States to advanced nuclear, a 5X increase over present levels, we would produce less nuclear waste than we do now. And remember, when I say advanced I don't mean pie-in-the sky down the road nuclear (I’m all in favor of long term research, but come on Mr. Pearce, do you honestly think Fusion can be assured to produce commercially and economically viable power on global scales in the next 30 years?), I mean now. Full scale (1200MW), functional advanced breeders have already been built, and they worked . If we started now we could introduce this technology in the U.S. on a commercial scale within a decade (http://nuclear.inl.gov/gen4/docs/gen_iv_roadmap.pd...

Professor Pearce is absolutely right that we should switch from diffusion based enrichment to centrifuge based enrichment. He’s also right that we should reprocess old weapons stockpiles into fuel. These will only increase the efficiency of nuclear power further. The second can’t be done until the U.S. reworks its defunct cold war era policies and starts a serious reprocessing RD&D program. This, coincidentally, is integral to the viability of the extremely promising breeder reactor technology.

The reasons breeders haven’t been used significantly to date have been twofold:

1) Fears of nuclear proliferation.

2) In the past it has cost more than just using enriched Uranium.

We have solutions to both of these problems. First, breeder reactors can be designed to make them useless for producing weapons grade materials (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast_breeder_reactor - see “Possible technology risks” section). Second, as Uranium supply becomes tight and prices increase while improvements in breeder technology decrease breeding costs, it will make economic sense to switch to breeder reactors, which use their fuel over 100X more efficiently and can transform our already massive stockpiles of DU from a liability into a resource.


Time Scale
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 3/5/2008 3:04:12 PM , Rating: 3
Nuclear reactors scale very well over time. I don't think they are factoring that into their analysis. Once you build it, maintaining and improving effeciency costs very little.




RE: Time Scale
By Comdrpopnfresh on 3/5/2008 6:09:45 PM , Rating: 2
I was told in a class once that it takes 20 years of full-scale uptime to recoup the cost of construction of Nuc plants. I suppose a similiar argument could be used for anything that is built- but I don't think any other source (solar, geotherm, wind) has such a long period...


RE: Time Scale
By Tsuwamono on 3/5/2008 8:46:44 PM , Rating: 3
Dont believe everything you're told. My Teacher told me my text book was blasphemy and if i believed in evolution and science i would go to hell.

Again... just cause someone says it. doesnt make it fact.


RE: Time Scale
By Comdrpopnfresh on 3/5/2008 11:32:06 PM , Rating: 3
This was the Doctorate Professor who helps run the reactor at my school...


RE: Time Scale
By Hoser McMoose on 3/5/2008 9:09:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I was told in a class once that it takes 20 years of full-scale uptime to recoup the cost of construction of Nuc plants.

I suspect that's probably pretty close.

A new 1,000MW plant will cost somewhere in the order of $3B to build these days. That includes all the planning, environmental assessments, procurement, etc. etc.

Now that new plant would produce a theoretical maximum of 8.76 TWh of power per year, but in practice it will probably run at a capacity factor of 90%, so 7.884 TWh. The plant could sell the electricity for about $0.05/kWh, or total revenue of just shy of $400M/year.

Now, the tricky part that I don't know is what gross margins are at a nuke plant, I can't find any good reference for this. However they should be pretty good. A wild guess might say 50% gross margins (ie it costs them $200M/year for staffing, material, maintenance, taxes, etc for the above $400M/year revenue).

This translates into $200M/year profit. If there was no interest on the loan that would work out to paying off the $3B upfront cost in 15 years. Factor in interest vs. inflation and 20 years is probably not too far off.

That being said, new nuke plants have a 50-60 life cycle. Add to that the fact that most people guess energy prices will exceed general inflation over the near to medium term and it's not too bad of a prospect.

The payback time or the other forms of power you mention is HIGHLY variable. The cost to implement and the amount of power produced will vary considerably depending on just where they are produced, especially for solar. A solar setup up in north-west of Washington would probably produce less than half the power of one in the Arizona desert while costing as much or more to build.


RE: Time Scale
By JustTom on 3/6/2008 2:16:26 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The plant could sell the electricity for about $0.05/kWh


The average retail price for electricity is closer to $0.09 than it is $0.05 and in parts of the country it is closer to $0.20. Adjusting for a higher price would significantly lower how long it would take an utility to recoup its initial inverstment.


RE: Time Scale
By elessar1 on 3/6/2008 10:44:32 AM , Rating: 2
And pebble bed reactors???

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.09/china_pr....

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.09/china.htm...

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

They seem cheaper and safer than most of the designs currently in operation...

At least China is trying to go that way...


Certifified pure bunkum
By masher2 (blog) on 3/5/2008 4:10:59 PM , Rating: 5
Joshua Pearce is an assistant professor at Clarion and environmental activist whose primary focus is solar power. It's not surprising to find him down on nuclear power and indeed, his conclusions are ludicrous. Nuclear power is hundreds of millions of times more energetic than chemical power; the idea that there's some net "energy imbalance" from mining ore is laughable at best.

Hundreds of physicists with actual experience in nuclear power have long since pointed out that the technology is sustainable for many thousands of years of power generation.




RE: Certifified pure bunkum
By masher2 (blog) on 3/5/2008 4:14:05 PM , Rating: 2
For those wondering what exactly "certifified" means, I'll leave you with Lewis Carrol's famous quote: "a word means exactly what I intend it to mean, no more, no less".


RE: Certifified pure bunkum
By clovell on 3/6/2008 10:58:47 AM , Rating: 2
I'm glad you brought that up, Michael, because I got the idea this guy was an environmentalist the second he started making a big deal of having to use power from fossil fuels to build nuclear infrasture.

I mean, come on - you've got to use fossil fuels to build ANY type of infrastructure right now.


RE: Certifified pure bunkum
By theflux on 3/6/2008 11:48:42 AM , Rating: 5
Wrong. Solar power plants are built using rainbows.


RE: Certifified pure bunkum
By rcc on 3/6/2008 1:19:05 PM , Rating: 2
and lollipops!


"Nuclear Not Viable" but "Solar is our Savior"
By dever on 3/5/2008 3:05:11 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Nuclear Not a Viable Alternative Energy Solution?
With this sort of sensationalism about nuclear energy, and counter posts dripping with enthusiastic aching and longing for solar scientists to overcome all obsticles, it surprises me that Mick's blog posts escape into the main "news" area.

I mean, really: nuclear already produces a large percentage of the worlds power... and it's "not viable?"




By VahnTitrio on 3/5/2008 5:26:37 PM , Rating: 1
It certainly can produce more of the world's energy, but it can't produce all of it. I remember my professor saying things like scheduling generators and such is difficult and must be done carefully to avoid poisoning the fuel. If the load people used was static nuclear would be a much better solution, but the power system is only stable so long as the energy it produces is used up in load (or pumped storage and such). This is why power companies like reliable sources of energy.


By rcc on 3/5/2008 5:55:32 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not buying this. If you think the power load on a nuclear sub or carrier is constant, you need to revisit that thought.


By Comdrpopnfresh on 3/5/2008 6:14:17 PM , Rating: 3
Poisoning occurs when a plant's production is lowered by a lot abruptly. It is the result of Zenon gas forming- which halts the fission reaction- the fuel itself isn't "poisoned."
Regulation of power levels through moderators such as boric-acid in the coolant is probably a more prevalent technique then shoving in the control-rods when power isn't needed. People don't throw water on a fire when it gets to warm- you spread the logs out, or don't continue to stoke- this analogy is somewhat fitting with fission processes.


Ok, even more bunk than I first thought
By masher2 (blog) on 3/5/2008 4:49:51 PM , Rating: 5
I found this statement in the original news release on the story:
quote:
In addition, nuclear power produces a lot of heat as a byproduct and this directly heats the Earth...
While I got a nice giggle out of this, I find it shocking anyone with even a basic understanding of science could make such an alarmist claim.

The earth receives a constant 174,000 terawatts of heat energy from the sun (plus an unknown amount more from geothermal sources).

Total world electricity production is under 2 terawatts. Assuming 40% efficiency (most reactors run well above this), that works out to a grand total of 5 TW of heat energy.

Add that to the solar constant, and it works out to to an increase factor of 0.00002. According to the Stefan-Boltzmann law, temperature rises by the fourth root, meaning a temperature differential of 1.000004. Good luck measuring that!

Furthermore, the true value is even lower, as any nuclear plant replacing a coal or gas-fired one replaces its waste heat as well, resulting in essentially zero increase for all those.




By rcc on 3/5/2008 5:58:45 PM , Rating: 3
Free hot water for everybody!


Clarion University of Pennsylvania?
By whickywhickyjim on 3/5/2008 2:18:40 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
a new research study, conducted by Physicist Joshua Pearce of Clarion University of Pennsylvania


How hard did you have to look to find this guys research? I think I'd probably rely on research from a school that actually has a nuclear engineering program or a research reactor. If a researcher from MIT or Michigan said the same thing, it might actually mean something.




By Entropy42 on 3/5/2008 2:36:19 PM , Rating: 2
We no longer have an (operational) research reactor at Michigan :-(


By Xodus Maximus on 3/5/2008 2:43:23 PM , Rating: 2
What would have been great, a report by Regent University (Pat Robertson Evangelist School) on Nucular Energies .

Nobody researches from the Nucule's viewpoint anymore :p


By Keeir on 3/6/2008 5:11:20 AM , Rating: 2
I have no idea why you were rated down for this

We have a PhD (I assume in Physics) writing a paper on the economics of Nuclear Plant production based on current geology , construction methods, etc.

The person also happens to be an associate professor at a school that is little more than a Community College type level. (I know. I have been to Clarion. And California. And IUP. And Dozens of other small schools the same size in Western Pennsylvania)

This doesn't discount his research as invalid, but I strongly recommend everyone to read the paper carefully as on the surface at least the Author is not "The Expert" or even "Well-Known" in the field of Nuclear "Economics". Nor can I find mention of a credible co-author. A truly comprehensive study on feasibility of Nuclear Power should include at least co-authors who are experts in the field.

He also seems to have a strong bent towards Solar Energy and goes so far as set up idyllic industrial situations to allow Solar to be viable economically. “Industrial symbiosis of very large-scale photovoltaic manufacturing”, Renewable Energy, Volume 33 (2008) pages 1101–1108. Industrial Symbiosis is best summarized as constructive recycling of waste or near waste by-products of manufacturing. I believe DailyTech had an article on IBM recycling used Silicon. Again, I question his technical backing to writing this article solo. Such a paper should be co-authored by an expert in Industrial Engineering/Industrial Economics.


First line of the article threw me off...
By Etsp on 3/5/2008 2:34:31 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
The death knells of the Earth's dwindling fossil fuel supply have helped to prompt a growing push for alternative fuels.
After reading that I almost didn't continue as I assumed that this article would be biased beyond anything I would consider productive reading...but the rest of the article was surprisingly non-biased. I am pro nuclear, but this article really puts things into perspective in regards to the feasibility of the technology.




RE: First line of the article threw me off...
By tmouse on 3/5/2008 3:12:48 PM , Rating: 2
I agree but I have also always felt it was a fool’s errand to look for a single solution to “replace” fossil fuel. A mixed layered approach is required to avoid the quagmire we are in today. I do not know if I feel all of his negative arguments are equally strong since very little research has been published on the costs associated in the fabrication and operation (which I assume also includes maintenance) in many of the other current energy options versus the energy return, so they could also be a wash (although for differing reasons). One thing people will have to accept (well they do not have to but should) is everything will have a price, and associated negative impacts. The trick is to minimize these and I think it cannot be done with a one size fits all mentality.


By Grast on 3/5/2008 5:10:49 PM , Rating: 2
tmouse,

A mixed approach is currently available now if we could get U.S. citizen to actually go to school and learn something about their power consumption.

Nuclear if new policies were created could provide the 90% of the electical grids peak power requirements. Solar and Wind can be used to further suppliment off-hours/unschedued needs. Hydro is our emergency power needs. If a really large spike hits such as a heat wave or cold snap, the hydro plant can kick in and provide the needed power. As a very last step, fossil fuels could provide any last ditch method for power generation.

the only goal we should be pushing is to replace gas and coal power plants with nuclear. The rest of the energy market is already in place.

The only issue which i thinks really needs to be debated is the authors comment about how much heat is wasted in current nuclear designs. I believe this needs to be resolved by increasing the efficiency.

later..


So really what he is saying is:
By Sea Shadow on 3/5/2008 3:16:13 PM , Rating: 2
So let me get this straight, if I understand this correctly (and correct me if I am wrong):

Basically what he is saying is that we SHOULD use nuclear power, but that currently we are physically unable to transition any significant amount of power production to nuclear. Mostly in part to the lack of infrastructure and research.

We just don't have the infrastructure in place right now to deal with a major transition to nuclear power. Given the current methods used for producing and refining ore, it would take the construction of several new "fossil fuel" power plants just to supply enough power for the processes needed to bring a new fission reactor online. But if we were to work on using more efficient processes for mining and refining ore we could at least transition some of our grid over to nuclear.

Makes sense to me, basically we shot ourselves in the foot with past choices and now we are in a position where we are faced by a lose-lose situation. I am a strong supporter of nuclear power, but given his argument it really does make sense. Though what really ticks me off is how our gov't has been dragging its feet about helping fund the research and development of new energy sources or improving the efficiency of known renewable sources.

Now I can't remember where I heard this,(might just be a rumor) but I heard that it was like pulling teeth to get the US to contribute a paltry $200 million to the ITER project. Now I realize that $200 million is most definitely not anything to sneeze at, but given how much money we spend on other pursuits (see below) you would think that the US would easily contribute at least that much and should be contributing much much more to the ITER project.

($100 billion for a new tanker fleet for the Air Force?)
http://www.dailytech.com/Northrop+Grumman+EADS+Win...




RE: So really what he is saying is:
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 3/5/2008 3:46:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
($100 billion for a new tanker fleet for the Air Force?)

It's actually around 35 billion, but point well taken.


By Janooo on 3/5/2008 4:25:02 PM , Rating: 3
$35 billion is part one of three stages. It's $100 billion in total.


Minovsky reactors anyone?
By nugundam93 on 3/5/2008 2:10:39 PM , Rating: 2
heheheh. if only we could have minovsky reactors running on He-3.

oh wait, getting He-3 is another issue...

going back to the topic, focus should really be on those renewable energy sources. the earth's about 70% (give or take a few percent) water, winds are anywhere, and unless humanity decides to blacken the skies when unimatrix 01 goes beyond human control, we have abundant sunlight. :)




RE: Minovsky reactors anyone?
By SlyNine on 3/5/2008 2:23:49 PM , Rating: 2
Dr. Bussard's use of Boron 11 was very interesting, but they dont seem to want to give it a chance. I think He-3 is just a way to make it look harder then it is.


Doesn't make sense
By Discord on 3/5/2008 2:42:49 PM , Rating: 4
Really doesn't make sense. By his logic all current energy production methods would be worthless to expand because their startup costs are higher. So basically we shouldn't try. Build no new power plants at all, we should just use what we have and make them more efficient (btw, almost every nuclear power plant has increased its' efficiency/output tremendously since being built).
We all know initial build costs and resources are high especially for starting up a nuclear reactor but I'm betting that a new plant would return an overall net gain in a year or two.




????
By Tsuwamono on 3/5/2008 8:27:31 PM , Rating: 2
Why does nobody ever mention Geo-Thermal Energy.... Seems pretty damn renewable to me since our planet is stuffed with magma...




RE: ????
By rcc on 3/6/2008 1:32:11 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know that this is technically renewable energy. Since the planet is cooling internally anyway. You'd just be bleeding it off a tiny bit quicker.


Nuclear power
By Entropy42 on 3/5/2008 2:32:06 PM , Rating: 2
Is the claim that nuclear simply isn't the "silver bullet" to eliminate coal burning plants? There is no technology that could single-handedly keep up with new energy demands, while also replacing coal-burning plants.




By Carter642 on 3/5/2008 3:41:50 PM , Rating: 2
There's nothing that annoys me more than the arguement that new nuclear, solar, wind, hydro etc will cost more to build and maintain in fossil fuel usage than they will save. Of course that's a true statement and will continue to be if we don't ever replace fossil fuel plants with alternatives!

We really just need to get off our thumbs and commit to a plan of action. There will be no magic bullet technology for power generation that will cost less in carbon footprint than it saves in the short term.

The concept that needs to be addressed is the displacement of existing carbon power infrastructure. If we only build enough power plants to cover new energy needs (and the current trend in the US is to build oil and coal because they come online quicker) we'll never displace enough fossil fuel based power to make any new power generation technology viable.

The concepts of carbon footprint and overall energy consuption for processes are good and all but we have to make compramises to make real progress and invest existing energy reserves in construction of future energy sources. If all we do is rabidly conserve our fossil fuels then we'll just watch them dwindle to nothing a little bit slower with nothing to replace them.




Best Article Picture EVER
By daftrok on 3/5/2008 5:05:26 PM , Rating: 2
Its what must've happened to him between the second and third movie.




By Comdrpopnfresh on 3/5/2008 5:51:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In order for nuclear power to maintain growing future power demands and the shrinking fossil fuel power supplies, between 2010 and 2050 a growth rate of over 10 percent a year would be necessary according to Professor Pearce. This, he says, is simply not possible.

This isn't fully true- as stated in the article, no new plants have been built for 30 years, yet despite an increase in electric use across the US, Nuclear power has been steady around 20% of our generational whole. How is this so? Plants have a power rating- a certain amount of electrical generation they are rated for- which represents 100% efficiency. Some of our plants run at >100% efficiency because they run at higher temperatures, generating more power per unit time. Many Canadian plants run at >100% as well, because the Candu reactors can be actively refueled.

As for the mining and enrichment...
There is a whole pile of Uranium sitting in the ground in VA, that is untouchable because of local measures. When we have to fight to get fuel out of the ground- that obviously causes problems.
Furthermore, enrichment isn't completely necessary- the Canadian Candu reactors run on natural uranium ore. No extensive enrichment required.

Another thing not mentioned in the article is recovery. Fuel rods are removed and put in storage when the percentage of readily-fissile material reaches a certain fraction. There is still usable Uranium in the rods, which currently, in the US is not acted upon. Also, many of the fission-products, plutonium for one, may be placed into different types of reactors to further make use of spent fuel rods. There used to be a company in the US that did active recovery on used fuel, but in the midst of proliferation scares, the government dropped subsidies in that sector, and the company was wiped out...

I'm also surprised that the relative scarcity of Uranium wasn't mentioned... I read once that at current worldwide operations, there was a calculated amount of Uranium that could be mined to last 70-100 years. Not exactly so bad, but not something for the long-run either...

Although the constructive and destructive emissions should not be ignored, nuclear is still one of the least-emitting electrical generation methods (waste-water aside). Nuclear power plants release less radiation than coal-burning power plants, on a level of magnitude.




why not the car?
By DoeBoy on 3/5/2008 10:21:00 PM , Rating: 2
Why not just use that sweet retro car to just run down all opponents.. oh no wait.




Powersat
By soxfan on 3/6/2008 7:42:10 AM , Rating: 2
Provided we can figure out how to build it efficiently, powersat FTW

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




perspective
By CMontgomeryBurns on 3/6/2008 12:19:55 PM , Rating: 2
Let's not forget that the sun is a massive nuclear device.
Yet I dont hear anybody complain about it. Except maybe, Mr. Burns
when he tried to block out that sun from Springfield.
( more revenues for the power plant... incessant hooting of owls...
ekkk...sellent!) then he got the ff. review:

waylon smithers: "he jumped from everyday villainy to cartoonish evil supervillainy.
i think i'm going to get drunk, stagger my way home, and shoot someones' wooden leg"


seacaptain: "tis' will earn ye a one-way passage to the boneyard"

grounskeeper willy (read with a scottish accent): "i'll killll
that burrrrns... and wouuuuuund that misterrr smitherrrs"


tito puente: "mr. burns- con un corazon del pero"

marge simpson: "mmmmmmhhhhhh"

and where's lionel hutz to unravel the mystery of MS and WS?




By kattanna on 3/6/2008 12:30:38 PM , Rating: 2
http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/?nd...

quote:
TOKYO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Toshiba Corporation (TOKYO:6502), a leading global enterprise in diversified energy and electronics businesses, today announced that it has established a new company in the United States to enhance its nuclear power businesses.


so if big business can see a future for it, then how come others cant?




So much better than coal
By BlackIceHorizon on 3/6/2008 6:04:53 PM , Rating: 2
We need to act now to set ourselves on the right energy course for the next century. The third world is rapidly developing and represents a massive new energy demand. Globally, energy demand is set to increase 60% over the between 2002 and 2030 (http://www.iea.org/textbase/nppdf/free/2004/weo200... Electrical demand will likely rise even faster as we start using electricity for our other energy needs to solve fuel shortages in other areas (think plug-in hybrids). Our only other proven, economically viable technology, coal, is nasty whether you think global warming is a big issue or not (I’ll personally be cautious and listen to the majority of climate scientists who currently say we should be concerned. Better safe than sorry). But even if they’re wrong, consider the following:

- A Harvard School of Public Health study found that coal-burning electric power plants have fouled the air with enough heavy metals, carcinogenic particulate and other noxious pollutants to cause 15,000 premature deaths annually in the US alone . The public should be outraged at this. If these effects were locally concentrated instead of insidious and widespread, the news media would be outraged. Case in point: The Three Mile Island incident released a tiny quantity of radioactive material - for comparison, that year the U.S. coal burning industry released 155 times as much radioactivity into the atmosphere (http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~aubrecht/coalvs... Experts estimate that the TMI release killed either 1 or less than 1 person. The story was pounced on and is still heralded as the worst U.S. nuclear disaster ever. Exactly.

- Believe it or not, a coal-fired plant releases 100 times more radioactive material than an equivalent nuclear reactor - right into the air, too, not into some carefully guarded storage site.

- The mercury from those plants damages neural function and development, especially in the brains of young children, all over the world.

- Fly ash from coal fired power plants is full of plenty of other toxic material too: Cadmium, Radium, Lead, Arsenic, Uranium, Thorium, the list goes on. It’s radioactive enough that if you take it into a nuclear power plant and then try to remove it from the site, it will set off the strict regulatory equipment. Legally, it must then be disposed of as low level radioactive waste . Ask to walk the grounds of a coal plant sometime. You’d be amazed at how many acres the barren, toxic mountains of ash cover. And you don’t even see the majority of the emissions; they’re released into the atmosphere. Sure, coal can be cleaned up to an extent. But the waste has to be put somewhere, and it’s in massive quantity. There’s no getting around that.

- In contrast, a nuclear plant can store 30 years of spent fuel in the volume of a medium sized swimming pool.




Fusion Reactors?
By TimberJon on 3/6/2008 10:45:14 PM , Rating: 2
If I remember correctly, the ITER reactor uses very little nuclear fuel and produces almost no waste. When it IS industrially or commercially viable and ready to be scaled up (or down) and the project sites multiplied... that would pretty much solve nuclear reactors, and provide scalable energy.

Can't wait.




Killer article
By ShadowZERO on 3/5/2008 2:53:02 PM , Rating: 1
I certainly don't read every article on here, but this one was very informative and fun to read. Keep up the good work Jason :)




Energy Independance
By TITAN1080 on 3/5/08, Rating: -1
RE: Energy Independance
By jonnyrocket on 3/5/2008 4:17:14 PM , Rating: 2
So the solution to the energy shortage AND global climate change is for Al Gore and his true believers to drink the kool-aid(r).


"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone














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