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Topic: Nuclear Power (Read 43272 times)
Re: Nuclear Power
Reply #100 on:
May 15, 2011, 09:02:16 AM »
"Let's keep this , , , discussion alive beyond the crisis."
Re: Nuclear Power
Reply #101 on:
June 02, 2011, 12:27:34 PM »
"Panicked overreaction isn’t the right response to the partial meltdowns in Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex."
This should go under media issues, anytime the Washington Post agrees with me...
Going anti-nuclear means going hog-wild on fossil fuels, in Japan, in Germany, in the U.S. and anywhere else. Did we not just have a two decade long argument over Greenhouse gases. Maybe CO2 is an extremely minor contributor, but did we not agree that we should use them wisely and sparingly and shift where we can to economical zero emissions alternatives? I guess not.
It is the Green Party that wants us back on fossil fuels??
Editorial Board Opinion - Washington Post
Germany’s nuclear energy blunder
By Editorial, Published: June 1
THE INTERNATIONAL Energy Agency reported on Monday that global energy-related carbon emissions last year were the highest ever, and that the world is far off track if it wants to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius, after which the results could be very dangerous.
So what does Germany’s government decide to do? Shut down terawatts of low-carbon electric capacity in the middle of Europe. Bowing to misguided political pressure from Germany’s Green Party, Chancellor Angela Merkel endorsed a plan to close all of the country’s nuclear power plants by 2022.
German environmentalists cheered, apparently satisfied that the government will be able to scale up renewable energy sources and scale back electricity demand enough to compensate for the loss of the power plants, which produce a quarter of the nation’s electricity. But the Breakthrough Institute, a think tank, points out that renewables would have to generate an incredible 42.4 percent of the country’s electricity in 2020 to displace nuclear. The government could bring that number down some with very aggressive reductions in energy use. But, even then, all that will merely hold the German power industry to its current carbon footprint. The country has an ambitious goal to reduce emissions, which will require yet more drastic reforms to its electricity sector — and all, apparently, over the course of a single decade.
European financial analysts aren’t convinced, estimating that Germany’s move will result in about 400 million tons of extra carbon emissions by 2020, as the country relies more on fossil fuels. Nor is Donald Tusk, Poland’s prime minister, who ominously announced that Germany has put coal-fired power “back on the agenda” — good for his coal-rich nation directly to Germany’s east but terrible for the environment and public health.
Germany is also likely to import more power from its neighbors, regardless of how well it does in ramping up renewables, since sometimes the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine. Utilities across Europe may end up burning more coal or natural gas. Anne Lauvergeon, chief executive of French nuclear parts manufacturer Areva, predicts that after shunning nuclear, the Germans will end up buying electricity generated in nuclear plants in nations such as France.
Instead of providing a model for greening a post-industrial economy, Germany’s overreaching greens are showing the rest of the world just how difficult it is to contemplate big cuts in carbon emissions without keeping nuclear power on the table. Panicked overreaction isn’t the right response to the partial meltdowns in Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. Instead, countries aiming to provide their citizens with reliable, low-carbon electricity should ask how to minimize inevitable, if small, risks — making their nuclear facilities safer, more reliable and more efficient.
Stratfor: The future of German energy
Reply #102 on:
June 02, 2011, 09:25:18 PM »
On May 30 the German government announced the seven nuclear power reactors that had been shut down in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami would never be reopened. In fact, they went on to announce the entire shuttering of the German nuclear fleet by 2022. Germany relies on nuclear power for roughly one-third of its electricity needs and at this point, the closure of the entire nuclear sector opens a four-way power game for the future of the German economy and German loyalties. The German plan is to replace the entirety of the nuclear industry with renewable power. Unfortunate for the Germans this is not cost possible. Nuclear power is less than one-third of wind power and less than one-twentieth the cost of solar power. Replacing one-third of their total power generation within a decade is simply not feasible much less possible. Which brings us to the other three options: the first is France.
France’s entire post-World War II strategy has been about lashing itself to Germany so that Germany can never again threaten it. In the post-Cold War era, the strategy has been refined somewhat in order to make France as essential to German plans as possible. Now unlike Germany, and France’s population is remarkably pro-nuclear and so the French are going to be trying to build as many nuclear power reactors as possible so that they can export electricity to Germany to make up as much of the difference as possible. This has already been happening to a limited degree. In the aftermath of the Fukushima disasters in Japan, French power actors have been running up to the red line in order to supply power to replace those seven nuclear reactors that the Germans took off-line. So the French already have a leg up in this competition.
The second country is Poland. Poland’s concerns are little more complex. While the French are obviously concerned about what happens should Germany get too confident, the Poles are sandwiched between a resurgent Germany and resurgent Russia. There is nowhere for them to turn; economically they can’t compete with either; demographically they can’t compete with either. They need a way to shape the relations of one or both of the states. The Polish advantage, somewhat ironically, is coal — a fuel that has been steadily phased out across Europe over the last 20 years. Poland still gets 90 percent of its electricity from coal and unlike the expensive nuclear power reactors which require several billion euros and five to 10 years to construct, you can put up a coal plant for as little as a few hundred million in a year or two. Poland is actually the country, ironically then, with this old politically incorrect fuel source that actually has a chance of coming to Germany’s rescue in the shortest term for the lowest dollar amount.
The final player in the game is Russia. Russia has been attempting to secure a partnership with the Germans for decades and such a partnership would solve many of Russia’s long-term demographic, economic and military problems. A German-Russian partnership would neutralize Poland, and really, neutralize all of Europe. It would make it very difficult for the Americans put forward any sort of anti-Russian policies in the European sphere of influence as there would simply be no one to carry them out. The United States needs Germany to at least be neutral in its relations with Russia otherwise the Russians have a free hand in all the other theaters, and as powerful as the Americans are, so long as they are involved in the Islamic world they simply can’t counter Russia everywhere. Economically, the Russians see Germany as their strongest trading partner and their largest source of foreign investment. They realize that if they can get their hook into the German soul, their life simply gets easier all around. Their plan is pretty simple. There is something called the Nord Stream pipeline which bypasses all the transit states between the Russians and the Germans that is in the process of final testing right now. It should come online in 2012 and then slowly be ramped up to a full capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year. That 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas is enough to replace half of the electricity that nuclear power has recently given Germany. All that has to be done is the construction of additional natural gas-burning power plants in Germany — the fuel is already there.
And so we have a four-part race: first, the Germans, who have a politically attractive plan that is economically unfeasible; second, the French, who have a politically attractive plan that is economically expensive; third, the Poles, who have a politically unattractive plan which is economically dirt cheap; and forth, the Russians, who already have the fuel source in place.
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More on German Nuclear Power
Reply #103 on:
June 08, 2011, 06:17:30 AM »
Nuclear Power- inside Fukushima
Reply #104 on:
August 26, 2011, 12:22:34 PM »
More questions than answers still, but some interesting pictures from inside the facility, "the first photojournalist to gain unauthorised access to the power plant" here:
What I found most interesting is to take another look at the map, how amazingly close this historic earthquake and tsunami was to a massive, older nuclear facility. Click on the map for the enlargement.
If I am reading my Richter numbers correctly, the recent east coast earthquake (5.9) was 1/1000th the power and strength of the one to hit Fukushima. What the Fukushima disaster has to do exactly with potential new uses for nuclear energy where I live or in Germany, hundreds or thousands of miles from similar fault lines, is something I am unable to fully understand.
Nuclear Power - Fukushima aftermath revisited
Reply #105 on:
March 04, 2012, 11:12:54 AM »
Death toll from earthquake-tsunami: 20364.
Deaths directly resulting from the nuclear accident: 5
Time magazine, of all places, is noticing that the risk for those exposed to the Fukushima release of dying from cancer has increased 0.001%.
Meanwhile we hopefully learned: a) how to build to withstand the worst earthquake imaginable, and also b) not to build in a known, worst-imaginable earthquake zones.
"scientists have begun to compile early assessments of the health impacts of Fukushima—and the conclusions are less than catastrophic. Researchers speaking at a conference for the Health Physics Society said that the health threat to Japanese from radiation exposure looks to be extremely low. Even the brave workers who stayed behind at the plant had radiation exposure that was more than 10 times lower than that levels received by the half-million people who helped entomb the Chernobyl reaction more than two decades ago. They estimated that the risk of getting cancer for those exposed would increase 0.002%, and the risk of dying from cancer would rise by 0.001%. “I received more radiation on my transcontinental flights from Tokyo to Washington than I did at the reactor site,” said John Boice, a professor at Vanderbilt University and the incoming president of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements."
Nuclear Power - Bill Gates on 4th generation nuclear
Reply #106 on:
April 08, 2012, 11:56:49 AM »
“The part of uranium that's fissile—when you hit it with a neutron, it splits in two—is about 0.7%. The reactors we have today are burning that 0.7% . … The concept of the TerraPower reactor is that in the same reactor, you both burn and breed. Instead of making plutonium and then extracting it, we take uranium—the 99.3% that you normally don't do anything with—we convert that and we burn it. The 99.3% is cheap as heck, and there's a pile of it sitting in Paducah, Kentucky, that's enough to power the United States for hundreds and hundreds of years.
MR. MURRAY: What's the timetable for this?
MR. GATES: By 2022, if everything goes perfectly, our demo reactor will be in place. And by 2028, assuming everything continues to go perfectly, it will be a design that could be replicated.
MR. MURRAY: How often does everything go perfectly?
MR. GATES: In nuclear? If you ignore 1979 and 1986 and 2011, we've had a good century. No, seriously. Nuclear energy, in terms of an overall safety record, is better than other energy."
Tokyo Electric and the Fukushima station blackout, 40 years in coming
Reply #107 on:
April 21, 2012, 11:28:46 PM »
Long story, well researched, published in Fortune yesterday. Short excerpts:
"how could the accident at Fukushima Daiichi have happened—and how, in particular, could it have happened in Japan, a country once known, not so long ago, for its sheer management and engineering competence?"
"When the licenses for the Fukushima Daiichi generating stations were granted in 1966 and 1972, they called for the plant to be able to withstand a wave cresting at 3.1 meters in height—a figure based on the size of a tsunami in Chile in 1960."
"There was no precedent for the magnitude of the quake and tsunami that wreaked havoc at Fukushima Daiichi. But the disaster wasn't unimaginable."
"As recently as 2008, according to the Japanese government's interim report into the accident released at the end of last year, TEPCO reevaluated the tsunami risks at the plant. New simulations the company ran showed waves could reach as high as 15 meters—chillingly, almost the exact height of the biggest wave that smashed into the coastline on the afternoon of March 11. (a 46 ft. wall of water at hundreds of miles per hour?)
TEPCO didn't believe the simulation was reliable."
"...they did have redundant power sources in place—the on site diesel generators that also eventually failed after the tsunami struck. (Despite sitting within a few hundred yards of the Pacific ocean, the generators were not designed to withstand flooding.)"
"we spent ten times more money for PR campaigns than we did for real safety measures. It's a terrible thing."
"The fact is, we still don't know what's going on inside the reactors."
WSJ The Panic over Fukushima
Reply #108 on:
August 20, 2012, 01:01:51 PM »
I do not know enough to have an opinion, but this does seem interesting,
Denver has particularly high natural radioactivity. It comes primarily from radioactive radon gas, emitted from tiny concentrations of uranium found in local granite. If you live there, you get, on average, an extra dose of .3 rem of radiation per year (on top of the .62 rem that the average American absorbs annually from various sources). A rem is the unit of measure used to gauge radiation damage to human tissue.
The International Commission on Radiological Protection recommends evacuation of a locality whenever the excess radiation dose exceeds .1 rem per year. But that's one-third of what I call the "Denver dose." Applied strictly, the ICRP standard would seem to require the immediate evacuation of Denver.
Physicist Richard Muller discusses the panic over the Fukushima accident and the need to put nuclear risks in perspective with WSJ
A collection of the nuclear panic that has occurred over the years from Hiroshima to the Fukushima nuclear power plant today
It is worth noting that, despite its high radiation levels, Denver generally has a lower cancer rate than the rest of the United States. Some scientists interpret this as evidence that low levels of radiation induce cancer resistance; I think it is more likely that lifestyle differences account for the disparity.
Now consider the most famous victim of the March 2011 tsunami in Japan: the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Two workers at the reactor were killed by the tsunami, which is believed to have been 50 feet high at the site.
But over the following weeks and months, the fear grew that the ultimate victims of this damaged nuke would number in the thousands or tens of thousands. The "hot spots" in Japan that frightened many people showed radiation at the level of .1 rem, a number quite small compared with the average excess dose that people happily live with in Denver.
More from Richard Muller
Comparing Fukushima to Chernobyl
What explains the disparity? Why this enormous difference in what is considered an acceptable level of exposure to radiation?
In hindsight, it is hard to resist the conclusion that the policies enacted in the wake of the disaster in Japan—particularly the long-term evacuation of large areas and the virtual termination of the Japanese nuclear power industry—were expressions of panic. I would go further and suggest that these well-intended measures did far more harm than good, not least in limiting the prospects of a source of energy that is safe, abundant and (as compared with its rivals) relatively benign for the environmental health of our planet.
If you are exposed to a dose of 100 rem or more, you will get sick right away from radiation illness. You know what that's like from people who have had radiation therapy: nausea, loss of hair, a general feeling of weakness. In the Fukushima accident, nobody got a dose this big; workers were restricted in their hours of exposure to try to make sure that none received a dose greater than 25 rem (although some exceeded this level). At a larger dose—250 to 350 rem—the symptoms become life-threatening. Essential enzymes are damaged, and your chance of dying (if untreated) is 50%.
The Saturday Essay
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Decoding the Science of Sleep (8/4/12)
Why Capitalism Has an Image Problem (7/28/12)
The Customer as a God (7/21/12)
The Big War Over a Small Fruit (7/14/12)
The Crushing Cost of Care (7/7/12)
The Medication Generation (6/30/12
Nevertheless, even a small number of rem can trigger an eventual cancer. A dose of 25 rem causes no radiation illness, but it gives you a 1% chance of getting cancer—in addition to the 20% chance you already have from "natural" causes. For larger doses, the danger is proportional to the dose, so a 50-rem dose gives you a 2% chance of getting cancer; 75 rem ups that to 3%. The cancer effects of these doses, from 25 to 75 rem, are well established by studies of the excess cancers caused by the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. (A recent study of butterflies near Fukushima confirms the well-known fact that radiation leads to mutations in insects and other simple life-forms. Research on those exposed to the atomic bombs shows, however, no similar mutations in higher species such as humans.)
Here's another way to calculate the danger of radiation: If 25 rem gives you a 1% chance of getting cancer, then a dose of 2,500 rem (25 rem times 100) implies that you will get cancer (a 100% chance). We can call this a cancer dose. A dose that high would kill you from radiation illness, but if spread out over 1,000 people, so that everyone received 2.5 rem on average, the 2,500 rem would still induce just one extra cancer. That is, even if shared, the total number of damaged cells would be the same. Rem measures radiation damage, and if there is one cancer's worth of damage, it doesn't matter how many people share that risk.
In short, if you want to know how many excess cancers there will be, multiply the population by the average dose per person and then divide by 2,500 (the cancer dose described above).
In Fukushima, the area exposed to the greatest radiation—a swath of land some 10 miles wide and 35 miles long—had an estimated first-year dose of more than 2 rem. Some locations recorded doses as high as 22 rem (total exposure before evacuation). Afterward, the levels of radiation dropped quickly; the largest component came from iodine, and its level dropped by 50% every eight days.
How many cancers will such a dose trigger? To calculate an answer, assume that the entire population of that 2-rem-plus region, about 22,000 people, received the highest dose: 22 rem. (This obviously overestimates the danger.) The number of excess cancers expected is the dose (22 rem) multiplied by the population (22,000), divided by 2,500. This equals 194 excess cancers.
Let's compare that to the number of normal cancers in the same group. Even without the accident, the cancer rate is about 20% of the population, or 4,400 cancers. Can the additional 194 be detected? Yes, because many of them will be thyroid cancer, which is normally rare (but treatable). Other kinds of cancer will probably not be observable, because of the natural statistical variation of cancers.
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Sadly, many of those 4,400 who die from "normal" cancer will die believing that their illness was caused by the nuclear reactor. That is human nature; we search for reasons behind our tragedies. Of the roughly 100,000 survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts, we can estimate that about 20,000 have died or will die from cancer. But in only about 800 of these cases was the cancer caused by the bombs. We know that by looking at similar cities. Hiroshima and Nagasaki have experienced an increase in cancer among those exposed, but it is only a small increment of the natural rate. Yet far more than the estimated 800 victims attribute their cancers to the bomb.
What about the outlying regions of Fukushima? The next radiation zone around the reactor had a population of about 40,000 and an average dose of 1.5 rem. This yields a total dose of 60,000 total rem (40,000 times 1.5), making the number of expected extra cancers 24 (60,000 divided by 2,500).
These numbers are tragic, but they are smaller than the impression that people got from much of the news coverage in the wake of the disaster. Thanks to the early evacuation, the total number of deaths from the radioactive release in the Fukushima region will almost certainly be less than my figures above. A more reasonable estimate, using average exposures rather than the maximum ones, is 100 extra cancer deaths. That is bad, to be sure, but that number is minuscule compared with the 15,000 deaths caused by the tsunami.
What about more distant regions? Even a tiny bit of radiation averaged over a huge population could conceivably cause cancer. But we are immersed in "natural" radioactivity from cosmic rays (radiation coming from space) and from the earth (uranium, thorium and naturally radioactive potassium in the ground). These natural levels are typically 0.3 rem per year. We also are exposed to an additional 0.3 rem if we include average medical exposures from X-rays and other medical treatments. Some areas, like Denver, have even higher natural levels.
[image] Photo Illustration The Wall Street Journal; iStockphoto (flag)
Radiation levels in most of the region were quite low compared with the average excess dose that people happily live with in Denver.
The most thoughtful high-number estimate of deaths that will be caused by the Fukushima disaster comes from Richard Garwin, a renowned nuclear expert. He has written that the best estimate for the number of deaths is about 1,500—well above my estimate but still only 10% of the immediate tsunami deaths.
Dr. Garwin uses the same numbers that I use, but he extrapolates forward in time 70 years to the continuing damage that residual radiation could cause, assuming that the radiation cannot be covered, cleaned or washed away, and that the population of Fukushima doesn't change. Moreover, he ignores the sort of argument that I have made about the Denver dose and includes in the calculation the numbers of deaths expected from tiny doses, assuming that even small exposures are proportionately dangerous. (This is an assumption that has also been adopted by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.)
I don't dispute Dr. Garwin's number, but I believe it has to be understood in context. If you apply the same approach to Denver, you have to take into account the fact that the Denver dose is delivered every year. Over 70 years, it sums to 0.3 rem times 70, or 21 rem per person. If you multiply that by 600,000 people (the current population of Denver) and divide by the cancer dose of 2,500 rem, you get the expected cancer excess in Denver. That figure is 5,000, over three times higher than Dr. Garwin's number for Fukushima.
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I am uncomfortable with these large numbers of predicted deaths. They are based on a theory that assumes proportionality in the way that radiation increases the likelihood of cancer—a theory that has never been tested, will not be tested in the foreseeable future, and which is known to fail for leukemia.
I can't be sure that the theory is wrong, but I consider these relatively large numbers for Denver and Fukushima to be misleading. Remember that Denver has a lower cancer rate than the rest of the U.S., not a higher one. There is a strong argument for ignoring radiation dangers below the level of the Denver dose. In doing so, we would be ignoring risks that are unobservable and which we routinely ignore (and properly so) in other circumstances.
Even though Dr. Garwin predicts 1,500 eventual deaths from the nuclear accident in Japan, he says the figure is small enough that the long-term evacuation of Fukushima itself would probably cause more harm than good. Evacuation causes disruption to lives that is hard to quantify but very real.
Some people believe that the proportionality assumption about radiation should be made because it gives a "conservative" estimate of possible risks. But beware of that adjective. What is conservative depends on your agenda. Is a conservative estimate one that likely overestimates deaths? If so, then it is likely to lead to more disruption through evacuation and panic. Is that truly conservative?
Another way to overestimate the deaths is to use a much higher value for the induced cancer risk than has been determined by the best scientific studies. I think the most useful estimate is the one I've given: From the radiation so far, perhaps 100 induced cancers. Residents of Fukushima who are concerned that residual radiation will cause additional risk can avoid that by leaving, but they need to recognize that any additional cancers will be statistically unobservable, hidden well below those of natural cancer and the other dangers of modern life.
The tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011 was horrendous. Over 15,000 people were killed by the giant wave itself. The economic consequences of the reactor destruction were massive. The human consequences, in terms of death and evacuation, were also large. But the radiation deaths will likely be a number so small, compared with the tsunami deaths, that they should not be a central consideration in policy decisions.
The reactor at Fukushima wasn't designed to withstand a 9.0 earthquake or a 50-foot tsunami. Surrounding land was contaminated, and it will take years to recover. But it is remarkable how small the nuclear damage is compared with that of the earthquake and tsunami. The backup systems of the nuclear reactors in Japan (and in the U.S.) should be bolstered to make sure this never happens again. We should always learn from tragedy. But should the Fukushima accident be used as a reason for putting an end to nuclear power?
Nothing can be made absolutely safe. Must we design nuclear reactors to withstand everything imaginable? What about an asteroid or comet impact? Or a nuclear war? No, of course not; the damage from the asteroid or the war would far exceed the tiny added damage from the radioactivity released by a damaged nuclear power plant.
It is remarkable that so much attention has been given to the radioactive release from Fukushima, considering that the direct death and destruction from the tsunami was enormously greater. Perhaps the reason for the focus on the reactor meltdown is that it is a solvable problem; in contrast, there is no plausible way to protect Japan from 50-foot tsunamis. Do we order a permanent evacuation of the coast to 20 miles inland? Do we try to build a 50-foot-high sea wall all around the eastern coast, including Tokyo Bay?
Looking back more than a year after the event, it is clear that the Fukushima reactor complex, though nowhere close to state-of-the-art, was adequately designed to contain radiation. New reactors can be made even safer, of course, but the bottom line is that Fukushima passed the test.
The great tragedy of the Fukushima accident is that Japan shut down all its nuclear reactors. Even though officials have now turned two back on, the hardships and economic disruptions induced by this policy will be enormous and will dwarf any danger from the reactors themselves.
—Dr. Muller is a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. This essay is adapted from his new book, "Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines."
A version of this article appeared August 18, 2012, on page C1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Panic Over Fukushima.
Nuclear Power: Thorium To Be Used In a Working Reactor
Reply #109 on:
November 27, 2012, 10:39:12 AM »
Addressing the issue of nuclear waste:
"thorium-based nuclear fuel has several advantages over uranium-based fuel, including better waste characteristics, improved proliferation resistance, and abundant raw material supply"
"With plutonium seed in the fuel mix, the reactors would not only generate power, but they would also eliminate dangerous waste left over from other nuclear operations and thus help address the problem of what to do with that waste."
Thorium To Be Used In a Working Reactor
November 26, 2012
A Norwegian company led by Alf Bjørseth will start burning thorium fuel in a conventional test reactor owned by Norway’s government with help from U.S.-based nuclear giant Westinghouse.
Bjørseth is now running his private company Scatec AS, and establishing new companies within Scatec based on the latest technologies in the areas of renewable energy and advanced materials, including a thorium fuel effort through a holding company called Thor Corporation.
Thor Corporation owns Thor Energy and also has shares in businesses related to thorium fuel, thorium mining and separation of rare earth elements. Fen Minerals holds the mining rights to the Fen deposits in South Norway, which are rich in thorium and rare earth elements. The third company is Norwegian Separation Technology, a company in the process of developing a novel separation method for rare earth elements.
Natural Thorium Ore. Click image for more info.
The company has completed a 2-year thorium fuel cycle feasibility study which concludes that thorium-based nuclear fuel has several advantages over uranium-based fuel, including better waste characteristics, improved proliferation resistance, and abundant raw material supply.
Thor Energy has established a consortium that will fund and run a 5-year thorium irradiation project to be conducted at the Norwegian government owned Halden Nuclear Reactor. Halden, typically described as a “test reactor,” also provides steam to a nearby paper mill. The move should bring thorium closer to replacing uranium as a possible safer and more effective nuclear power source.
Thor’s chief technology officer Julian Kelly explained Thor Energy will deploy a mix of solid thorium mixed with plutonium – a blend known as “thorium MOX”.
The plan isn’t the one most thorium enthusiasts have been hoping for. Many professionals believe thorium’s advantages are most pronounced in alternative reactor designs such as molten salt reactors and pebble bed reactors, rather than today’s conventional solid-fuel water-cooled reactors.
Some thorium fans have realized it may be best to insert thorium into the energy scene by first putting it to use in reactors that already have regulatory approval.
Halden Heavy Water Reactor Flow Diagram. Click image for the largest view.
Best or not, Thor is testing the thorium fuel in a conventional reactor at Halden cooled by “heavy water”. This is not the same as regular light water reactors built commercially around the world. The cooling is by deuterium or water with an isotope of hydrogen.
With plutonium seed in the fuel mix, the reactors would not only generate power, but they would also eliminate dangerous waste left over from other nuclear operations and thus help address the problem of what to do with that waste.
The consortium reaches pretty far. Thor will fabricate some of its own thorium MOX in partnership with Norway’s Institute for Energy Technology. Britain’s National Nuclear Laboratory – owned by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change – will also provide some, as will the European Commission’s Institute for Transuranium Elements.
Westinghouse is helping to fund the project, as are other of Thor’s industrial partners including Steenkampskraal Thorium Ltd., a South African company that is developing a thorium-fueled pebble bed reactor. Other partners include the Finnish utility Fortum and the French chemicals company Rhodia.
That news ought to cheer all the thorium enthusiasts.
Yet Westinghouse doesn’t like to discuss its thorium activities publicly. It is likely the firm believes working alternatives could undermine the company’s conventional nuclear business. Rumors have it Westinghouse has at least a few thorium-connected and alternative nuclear projects in the works. One is out now and it isn’t a direct competitor as such.
Westinghouse is also known to be the commercial adviser on the U.S. Department of Energy’s collaboration with China on developing a molten-salt cooled reactor. Westinghouse has also helped organize many of the alternative nuclear sessions at the American Nuclear Society convention just held in San Diego California.
This is great news worthy of Norway and her citizens. The element thorium was named by the region’s ancestral God Thor, they have rich deposits, and a great deal of competency and intellectual prowess. The test will very likely work out and that could offer reactor operators an alternative to uranium and ever more plutonium.
It will be fascinating to see the results. The wait will be long though; it takes quite a while to burn through nuclear fuel.
Thorium Nuclear Power
Reply #110 on:
April 01, 2013, 10:40:36 AM »
(from ~7-8 years ago)
Safe Nukes — No, Really!
By Wil McCarthy
One great thing about science fiction is that there are so many cool futures to choose from. You've got your robots future, your biotech future, your hardscrabble colonies out in the planets and asteroids. ... Of course, the real world of yet-to-come probably includes all of these and more; it's as complex a place as the world of today, and never loses the ability to surprise us. One thing all hopeful futures have in common, though, is clean, abundant energy. Without that, some people imagine we could sink back into a pleasant sort ofLittle House on the Prairie world, only with better medical care, longer lifespans and picturesque windmills dotting the landscape. But considering the population growth since 1880 (6.5 billion people now vs. about 1.5 billion then), and the difficulty of growing food without machines and energy-rich fertilizers, we're more likely to descend into a retro-dystopian Road Warrior-ville of bad haircuts and short, violent lives.
But that's a long way off, right? We don't really need to worry about it, right? Even when the oil runs out, the world has abundant supplies of coal, natural gas, crop waste and garbage to cushion us while wind and solar technologies become efficient enough to fill all our needs. Well, hopefully. One thing the world could really use, though, is a clean, efficient source of nuclear power. Fusion—the power source of the sun, which bangs hydrogen atoms together to produce helium and carbon and eventually iron—is by far the best of the alternatives, since it produces huge amounts of energy from tiny amounts of fuel, and leaves almost no waste behind. But we've been working on that for 50 years, with no real progress toward useful energy output. The physics work out just fine—hence sunburn, the H-bomb and lingering questions about cold fusion—but the engineering somehow eludes us. No matter what we do, our fusion reactors take in more power than they put out. C'est la vie.
That leaves fission, the nuclear power that works by breaking big atoms into little ones. These reactions are a lot easier to control, putting their abundant energy within easy grasp. Unfortunately, they produce high-level radioactive waste, which is immediately lethal and lasts for months or years, and also low-level waste, which is slow poison that can last for millennia. By itself this might be a tractable problem—the Earth's interior is a red-hot, radioactive hell, and there's no particular reason why we can't just sink the wastes in "subduction zones" where the movement of tectonic plates will carry them back down into the mantle whence they came. This may not be a politically viable solution, but it's a sensible one that would certainly work.
Alas, there are other problems with fission: meltdown and the Bomb. Uranium-235 breaks down in a chain reaction that feeds on itself, in the same way that fire feeds on itself. And like fire, it can occasionally run out of control if we aren't careful (think Chernobyl). Also, thanks to the same factors that make uranium power plants easier to build than helium ones, uranium bombs are also pretty simple. If you had access to the right materials and instructions, you could just about build one in your garage. And that's a huge problem, which forces governments to keep track of every gram of nuclear material running loose in the world. No one wants to live in a police state, but when the alternative is the sudden vaporization of random cities, strict measures may in fact be the lesser evil.
There's no fuel like a new fuel
This Promethean triple whammy has made nuclear power understandably unpopular in North America, with a popular sentiment that the world is simply better off without it. And that may be. But energy-rich countries like the United States and Canada can afford an opinion like that—at least for now. But with the Kyoto accords forcing Europe and Russia away from fossil fuels, the equation is not quite so simple, and in Third World countries, where ambitions run high and energy resources run low, it isn't even the same equation. Think of places like Nigeria, where a wealth of precious uranium lies waiting in the ground; it's no joke when people come around telling you not to dig it up. What else are you supposed to do for light and heat and money? But the poorest countries are also the least stable, and often the most corrupt. It's a bitter irony indeed, that nuclear power is needed most in the places we trust the least. That's bound to cause resentment all the way around.
But what if nuclear fuel were as common as lead, as nonpolluting as wind, as safe to handle as coal, and as terror-useless as ordinary concrete? Science fiction, you ask? Nope. Just science—soon to be everyday business.
At the bottom of the periodic table, eight steps over from lead and two back from uranium, sits thorium, a heavy metal used in gas lamp mantles and as an additive for alloys, glasses and ceramics. Named for the Norse god Thor (bringer of thunder and lightning), it's mildly toxic and even more mildly radioactive, but considered generally safe. About as safe as lead, anyway, and certainly much less dangerous than sunlight, which after all can cause radiation burns in under an hour and kill an unprotected human in a few days. Thorium is a much more common material than uranium, being found in most rocks and soils throughout the world. It's a component of ordinary granite and concrete, for example, and its slow breakdown is the reason those materials emit small amounts of radon gas, which can slowly build up in our cellars. (Radon is radioactive and contributes to lung cancer, so, on a completely tangential note, it's good to have your basement checked every now and then.)
Anyway, it turns out that if you bombard thorium with low-energy neutrons, it turns into an isotope of uranium which rapidly decays, releasing energy. This is not a chain reaction, so in special power plants called subcritical energy amplifiers, the breakdown can be controlled precisely, in a process that simply can't run away or melt down the way ordinary reactors have been known to. Even better, the decay of thorium produces no weapons-grade materials of any kind. The worst you could do is make a radioactive "dirty bomb" from the reactor waste. But even here you'd run into problems, because thorium waste—while highly radioactive—doesn't last nearly as long as uranium waste. You still want to be careful with it, but it loses the worst of its punch within 10 to 20 years, and after just 500—the blink of an eye, in geological terms—it's as harmless as coal ash.
In fact, energy amplifiers can be used to break down normal reactor waste, and even bomb-grade materials like plutonium, making them more radioactive but much shorter-lived. (If that sounds paradoxical, just remember a simple rule: Isotopes with a short half-life emit more radiation because they break down faster. The ones with long half-lives emit fewer particles. Stable, nonradioactive atoms have infinite half-lives. The hardest wastes to store are actually the ones in the middle, which are radioactive enough to be dangerous but long-lived enough to outlast any reasonable disposal method.) So in one fell swoop, thorium addresses all three of nuclear power's main weaknesses, and offers a number of interesting benefits on the side, including cheap, abundant energy that could easily dwarf the output of uranium and fossil fuels combined. It's like discovering you can heat your house with sand!
Nuclear power to the people
The next question to ask here is why we aren't building thorium-based power plants on every street corner. It's a good question, with no definitive answer. The basic design has been around since 1993, when Italian physicist and Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia published a report at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research. The underlying physics have actually been known for decades, and confirmed by experiments all over the world. A few commercial nuclear plants have even used thorium as an adjunct fuel in standard U-235 reactions. But pro-nuclear countries have little incentive to switch away from uranium, while the anti-nuclear ones have no interest in developing new reactors, and of course poor countries couldn't build an energy amplifier even if they wanted to.
Nestled in the middle, though, are a handful of countries with the courage, cheap labor and freewheeling spirit of the Third World, but the education and capital resources of the First World. India in particular has positioned itself as the next likely superpower, with a capable military, a number of rapidly growing cash industries and a burgeoning appetite for energy of all kinds. No strangers to nuclear power (they got the bomb in '74), the Indians are drawn to its luminous promise and little dissuaded by the problems and accidents of the 20th century. And as luck would have it, they're also sitting on some of the richest deposits of thorium in the world—a coincidence that isn't lost on their scientists.
At the Bhaba Atomic Research Center near Kalpakkam, nuclear eggheads like Anil Kakodkar have been noodling with thorium since 1995, and are currently building a pilot plant to work the bugs out of Carlo Rubbia's design. If all goes well, the reactor should begin producing continuous power by the end of the decade, and should pave the way for nine commercial workhorses due to come online between 2010 and 2020. If the scheme works—and there's no scientific reason why it shouldn't—it could well pave the way for a global migration to fission technology safe enough for urban areas and Third World dictatorships. So, far from ignoring the problem or playing the politics of half-measures, India is positioning itself for the realities of Kyoto and the decline of fossil fuels, and plans to be a leader in 21st century energy technology. I say, more power to 'em!
Sources used for writing are:
"The Periodic Table in Earth and Sky," 3rd edition, Jenner Scientific LLC, 2005
Wikipedia: ("thorium","Carlo Rubbia","energy amplifier", "overpopulation"):
"The Energy Amplifier: Carlo Rubbia's solution to world energy demand": CERN Courier, April/May 1995
"Kalpakkam to get next generation fast reactor", The Hindu 09 March 2003
"A mission at Kalpakkam," Frontline, Volume 17 - Issue 26, Dec. 23, 2000
The Encyclopedia Britannica, 2004 Edition ("thorium," "thorium processing")
Japan and the fate of Nuclear Power
Reply #111 on:
September 11, 2013, 08:51:37 AM »
With radiation leak news still coming out of Japan, I wonder how many people know that nuclear power is still the cleanest, safest major source of energy in the world. Zero CO2 emissions, manageable waste issues, better information than ever available as to how to construct safely, and as this thread began - there is no need to build on a fault line or in a tsunami zone. Zero CO2 emissions compares with coal which accounts for nearly half of the world's fossil fuel CO2 emissions.
Oxford University physicist Wade Allison: "one could drink 12 gallons of contaminated groundwater directly from the Fukushima site right after the accident—before getting a single CT scan's worth of radiation."
Japan and the Fate of Nuclear Power
Radiation phobia prevents a rational response to Fukushima.
By HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR. September 10, 2013
Nuclear power might well be a competent civilization's solution to its theoretical carbon-dioxide problem. Now if only humans had a competent civilization.
Japan's government, in its latest solution for the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, will do what it likes doing anyway: spend money on extravagant public works projects. A network of supercooled pipes will freeze the ground around the plant. This presumably will stop groundwater from flowing through the partially melted-down reactors and draining into the Pacific. Water from coolant operations, which are preventing a more serious meltdown, would also remain contained on-site.
Even so, contaminated water would continue to accumulate in rickety tanks. A necessary solution will be emptying this water into the Pacific, after filtering out as many radioactive particles as possible. Unfortunately, not only does Japan's fishing lobby, which like just about any lobby in Japan is entitled to paralyze action, refuse to countenance such a step. It won't even let the plant operator use an existing system to route non-contaminated groundwater past the plant into the sea. Thereby hangs a stalemate that may doom any hope of a nuclear revival in our world.
Japanese Trade Minister Toshimitsu Motegi inspects storage tanks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, Aug. 26.
As long as Fukushima wastewater contains radioactive elements, particles would end up in fish, causing some number of hypothetical human malignancies according to the questionable theory that radiation is dangerous in direct proportion to dose.
In fact, a considerable body of research holds that increased cancer risk becomes statistically perceptible only at a dose level of 100 millisieverts. This is five times the standard Japan used to order local evacuations, and in many evacuated areas the practical exposure risk was far less than the standard—just a fraction above natural background radiation.
Amazingly, Japan actually cut its allowable food-exposure limits in half in response to the crisis. Oxford University physicist Wade Allison, who has written and spoken widely against exaggerating radiation risks, estimated that one could eat a ton of such slightly contaminated food—or even drink 12 gallons of contaminated groundwater directly from the Fukushima site right after the accident—before getting a single CT scan's worth of radiation.
Alas, Japan is unlikely to abandon its supercaution anytime soon. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has quietly begun restarting a handful of the country's 54 reactors shut down after Fukushima. The last thing he wants is to court public controversy by hinting the government has gone soft on radiation risks.
Now with Tokyo's victory this week to host the 2020 Olympics, expect, if anything, a doubling down on crazy cleanup priorities. Japan won't be accused of trying to give cancer to visiting athletes.
Blame or credit is typically charged to Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the country's hypersensitivity. A more relevant culprit may be the well-meaning campaigners against atmospheric bomb testing in the 1950s, who embraced what's known as the Linear, No Threshold hypothesis—the idea that radiation is unhealthy at any level.
Belatedly, an authority on such matters, the U.N.'s Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, has tried to lead a climbdown from a dubious risk formula that it once championed. Perhaps trying to rescue nuclear energy to fight global warming, the group last year warned against "multiplying low doses by large numbers of individuals to estimate numbers of radiation-induced health effects within a population."
Even more annoying to anti-nuke activists, the agency also declared that no radiation-caused illness had appeared even in Fukushima plant workers, some of whom received as much as 600 millisieverts, and none was expected. The result: a deluge of vilification upon the U.N.
The U.S., of course, has nothing to brag about in this regard. Yucca Mountain, the waste repository on which Washington has spent $12 billion, likely has been permanently blocked by Nevada politicians whose imagined heroism on behalf of local voters is the precise corollary of exaggerated radiation risk models. Hooray for Harry Reid, but is this any way to make nuclear policy? (More at the link above)
Re: Nuclear Power
Reply #112 on:
November 12, 2013, 11:24:58 AM »
Are we really going to just use less energy, or switch back to fossil fuels, bumping up our CO2 emissions, or pay 15 times too much with solar-wind strategies? Nuclear power has by far the safest track record including its setbacks. No one died at 3 Mile Island, Chernoble was a lesson in Soviet failure. Fukushima Daichi was caused a massive earthquake-tsunami, not likely in most locations, and provides the opportunity to build future facilities safer and stronger. Meanwhile we dither on nuclear and bark up the wrong trees on energy policy.
Enviros Suffering Nuclear Meltdown (by Steven Hayward)
I’ve written before here about the documentary film Pandora’s Promise, in which prominent environmentalists have changed their mind about nuclear power. Then a couple weeks ago several prominent climate alarmists, headed by the egregious James Hansen, put out an article advocating a return to nuclear power. Naturally this has upset the retrograde/reactionary environmentalists who are stuck in 1979 and can’t get over Three Mile Island.
Last Thursday CNN decided to broadcast Pandora’s Promise, and pair it with an episode of Crossfire about the topic between the fossilized Ralph Nader and my stylish pal Michael Shellenberger. Michael had called me in advance of the debate, saying he was a bit nervous about debating Nader, but I expressed confidence that he’d wipe the floor. If you have 10 minutes or so to spare, here are two of the Crossfire segments:
How they learned to stop worrying and love nuclear
Reply #113 on:
November 12, 2013, 11:27:55 AM »
How they learned to stop worrying and love nuclear
By KYLE SMITH
Posted: 10:25 PM, June 8, 2013
‘Nobody can look you in the eye and say you shouldn’t be worried” about nuclear energy, says British environmentalist author Mark Lynas in the new documentary “Pandora’s Promise,” which opens Friday.
Lynas is shown putting on a hazmat suit and visiting the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, where three nuclear reactors melted down completely in 2011 after being ravaged by an earthquake and a tsunami. A huge area was evacuated due to the fear of radiation poisoning and cancer.
“There’s no other energy source that can do this,” Lynas says, referring to the fallout. As his radiation detector beeps madly, he says, “I would say I’m having a wobble.”
Who wouldn’t? Nuclear energy isn’t like coal or gas or oil or even wind turbines or solar panels. It’s complicated. To most of us, it’s opaque. And from the lonely bald man in Sector 7G on “The Simpsons” to “The China Syndrome,” the no-nukes movement and many environmental groups, the anti-nuke camp blasts us with the notion that nuclear power plants are going to give us cancer, poison our water, create demon mutant fish and, every so often, melt down catastrophically as thousands, maybe millions, die or are seriously sickened. Most of us simply don’t follow nuclear power closely enough to have an informed opinion about it. So we let the culture do the work for us.
And the culture is unanimous: Nuclear power is scary.
But we love our iPhones, each one of which (when you account for the harvesting of the materials that went into it, its production, the servers that feed it, etc.) uses as much energy as a refrigerator. The rich world keeps consuming more energy, and hundreds of millions in Brazil, India and China are joining the global middle class. Worldwide, energy use is projected to triple, or perhaps quadruple, by the end of the century.
So we keep on burning more coal — not only the leading fuel on the planet but still the fastest-growing one.
New York City filmmaker Robert Stone, like the five experts who are the principal subjects of his documentary, began with the same impeccable environment-first attitude they did. Stone was nominated for an Oscar for his 1988 anti-nukes documentary “Radio Bikini,” about the dire consequences of American bomb testing on the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.
Now Stone, who will be debating Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on nuclear power at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY, tomorrow night at 7:30, sheepishly admits that he confused what nuclear bombs do with what nuclear energy does. So many of our ideas about fallout and cancer rates are tied to the former, not the latter.
What the culture doesn’t tell you but “Pandora’s Promise” does is that:
* There is no way to produce energy that’s entirely safe.
* Worldwide, some 3 million people die each year from causes related to fossil-fuel use. The nuclear industry, which causes only a handful of deaths, is far less deadly than even the solar-panel business. The only energy source that is causing fewer annual deaths than nuclear power is wind.
* At Chernobyl, an extremely poorly designed facility made primarily for weapon fuel, hundreds of thousands participated in the cleanup after the 1986 disaster. Yet the UN, the WHO and other international organizations can tie only about 50 deaths directly to the disaster. Perhaps 4,000 lives will be shortened by cancer (a 3% increase) in an area where 5 million people were contaminated by the radiation. At the three neighboring reactors in the same building, people simply went back to work. Villagers returned to their homes nearby.
* All the nuclear waste generated in US history could fit in 10-foot-high barrels covering a single football field. Only about 1% of that material has a scary half-life.
* Next-generation nuclear reactors will be able use recycled nuclear waste for fuel, making nuclear power a renewable resource and massively reducing the amount of waste on Earth. These reactors can also be built so that there will be no danger of overheating.
* The widely advertised fallout disaster after Fukushima never happened. Zero deaths resulted from the plant explosion or the radiation leakage from the accident, though some died in the panicky evacuation of the area.
* Twenty percent of America’s energy is already nuclear. New Jersey and Connecticut get about half their energy from nukes. In Vermont, it’s 75%. In France, 80%.
Stone’s film is very much structured as a sequel to “An Inconvenient Truth,” complete with images of hurricanes and an overheating planet. But the idea that the entire world is going to sign up for a Kyoto-style treaty that massively cuts down on emissions, at a gargantuan price, is “a hallucinatory delusion,” says one environmental activist interviewed in the film, Michael Shellenberger.
But the anti-nuke camp is full of desperate dreamers like the absurd environmentalist Bill McKibben, who envisions turning back the clock on human progress in a world where health, quality of life and longevity are directly related to energy consumption.
He wrote in The Guardian: “We might decide that the human enterprise (at least in the West) has got big enough, that our appetites need not to grow, but to shrink a little, in order to provide us more margin. What would that mean? Buses and bikes and trains, not SUVs. Local food, with more people on the farm so that muscles replace some of the oil.”
Sorry, but only a few hippie hipsters want to raise their own chickens and pedal to work, and even they aren’t giving up their iToys. Meanwhile, the peasants of India and China want meat and electricity and cars and hospitals, in the tens of millions. A planet that uses less energy is not an option. And solar and wind, which bring their own well-documented problems (hello, transmission lines) cannot scale up quickly enough to meet the challenge. “I’m honestly quite angry at others who were propagating that myth,” Shellenberger says in the film.
Yet the most obvious zero-emission solution is already here.
Stone’s interviewees are serious people who have thought about these problems and changed their minds about nuclear power. They include, in addition to the highly regarded Brit blogger Mark Lynas, liberal Democrat author Richard Rhodes, the Pulitzer-garlanded author of “The Making of the Atomic Bomb”; Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog and a kind of Abraham Lincoln of the Age of Aquarius; author Gwyneth Cravens, who worked at The New Yorker and Harper’s, and Shellenberger, a green crusader labeled a “hero of the environment” by Time magazine.
All five, after much consideration and weighing of the facts, decided that nuclear is the future.
“I’m against nukes,” says Brand. “But what I’ve been thinking all this time, and what my friends have been thinking all this time, is wrong.” Adds Shellenberger, who allows that the culture made him biased against nuclear power, “You start to wonder: What was I thinking?”
Around the time of the Three Mile Island accident and the coinciding release of the anti-nuclear Jane Fonda-Michael Douglas film “The China Syndrome,” irrational fear of nuclear power became a frenzy.
“We will see more Harrisburgs,” Fonda is seen screaming at a no-nukes rally around that time. “We will see more leaks. We will see an increase of the cancer epidemic.”
In fact, the Harrisburg Three Mile Island mishap, a contained partial meltdown, killed no one, and the American Journal of Epidemiology concluded there was no increase in radiation-linked cancer in the six years following the 1979 “disaster,” which history will more properly label an “incident.”
Stone has great fun explaining, with a Geiger counter in hand, that nature generates background radiation that is all around you at all times. The release of radiation at Three Mile Island was so small that, in the worst-affected neighboring areas, the dose was only about a third of the natural radiation Americans receive.
After the Fukushima meltdown, where the amount of radiation released into the air was about one-fifth that of Chernobyl, George Monbiot, another environmental writer with a huge following, pointed out in The Guardian: “A crappy old plant with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami. The electricity supply failed, knocking out the cooling system. The reactors began to explode and melt down. The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting. Yet, as far as we know, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation.”
“Atomic energy,” Monbiot continues, “has just been subjected to one of the harshest of possible tests, and the impact on people and the planet has been small. The crisis at Fukushima has converted me to the cause of nuclear power.”
Casual observers, though, think: “Fukushima! Yet another reason to fear nukes!” Even though sifting through the facts produces the opposite reaction.
The Indian Point nuclear plant 30 miles north of Manhattan is facing the strong possibility of being closed down by Gov. Cuomo, who has also extended the now 5-year-old moratorium on harvesting relatively clean natural gas by fracking.
Both of these moves, of course, would have been lustily supported by a Manchurian Candidate whose real purpose was to increase coal usage in the Empire State. Cuomo isn’t going to prevent New York from continuing to consume more energy, and today New York City is about 25% powered by Indian Point nukes. (Do you glow in the dark? Does your goldfish have two heads?)
Germany, which has vowed to ditch nuclear power in an irrational post-Fukushima panic, has massively ramped up its solar usage (to about 5% of the country’s power) but is building huge coal plants to make up the difference. Germany already emits double the greenhouse gases per capita as its clean-fuel neighbor, France.
So France is swearing to cut back massively on nuclear power, too. And the coal industry smiles.
“A madness is taking hold,” Lynas wrote in The Guardian. “More people die each day from coal pollution than have been killed by nuclear power in 50 years of operation, and that is even before factoring in the impact on global warming.”
If there’s one idea in today’s energy discussion that’s head-in-the-sand reactionary, morally obtuse and anti-science, it’s the anti-nuclear position. May “Pandora’s Promise” explode the myths and unleash a mushroom cloud of facts.
Re: How they learned to stop worrying and love nuclear
Reply #114 on:
November 13, 2013, 10:42:13 AM »
I drove past the closest nuclear plant to us during the Fukushima catastrophe on a clear, still, beautiful, sunny day. This plant has produced over 4 trillion W·hr of electricity annually since 1971, a mind boggling amount, with a stellar safety record - and no harmful emissions. Try producing electricity at that cost and safety record with any other known source - it can't be done. But due to one tsunami in the Pacific, other countries are closing plants and scuttling plans to build new ones.
It is hard to express how safe nuclear energy is while Fukushima is still wrapping up, but the piece Crafty posted does a nice job of putting that disaster in proportion:
"The widely advertised fallout disaster after Fukushima never happened. Zero deaths resulted from the plant explosion or the radiation leakage from the accident, though some died in the panicky evacuation of the area."
Importantly, a new plant can be built to withstand that natural disaster, and most nuclear sites have no real possibility of ever facing such a test.
As stated in the article, people "confuse what nuclear bombs do with what nuclear energy does. So many of our ideas about fallout and cancer rates are tied to the former, not the latter."
Also well presented is the context of nuclear energy, "There is no way to produce energy that’s entirely safe. Worldwide, some 3 million people die each year from causes related to fossil-fuel use."
The magnitude of the show-stopping, nuclear waste issue is much smaller than we are led to believe: "All the nuclear waste generated in US history could fit in 10-foot-high barrels covering a single football field. Only about 1% of that material has a scary half-life." "Next-generation nuclear reactors will be able use recycled nuclear waste for fuel, making nuclear power a renewable resource and massively reducing the amount of waste on Earth."
Given that nuclear power is safer and we need the energy, it comes back to costs and emissions - and nuclear wins. Yet, at the expense of our economy and the environment, we dither instead of building new, state of the art facilities.
Last Edit: November 13, 2013, 10:46:05 AM by DougMacG
Re: Nuclear Power
Reply #115 on:
January 02, 2014, 02:53:12 PM »
This is NOT a reliable site. Caveat lector!
Nuclear Waste Storage
Reply #116 on:
February 10, 2014, 11:43:10 AM »
Re: Nuclear Power
Reply #117 on:
February 10, 2014, 12:34:29 PM »
The nuclear waste storage problem is one of emotion. I offer this country my garage to store properly containerized waste in exchange for ownership of its future energy potential.
WSJ: Cancer fallout from nuclear bomb test
Reply #118 on:
September 16, 2014, 08:33:46 PM »
Yucca Mountain Safe to Store Nuclear Waste
Reply #119 on:
February 02, 2015, 09:36:47 PM »
Yucca Mountain Safe to Store Nuclear Waste
Best safety record, even with Daichi, etc. Now we know how to build them tsunami-proof. Zero carbon emission, waste can be safely stored. What is our next excuse to reject our best energy source?
Did we almost lose NY?
Reply #120 on:
May 16, 2015, 12:13:22 PM »
Re: Did we almost lose NY?
Reply #121 on:
May 16, 2015, 12:17:06 PM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on May 16, 2015, 12:13:22 PM
Not exactly a unbiased source.
Re: Nuclear Power
Reply #122 on:
December 02, 2015, 11:05:57 AM »
The right answer to emissions issues is not to put the brakes on our economy or to expand the use of hobby sources like wind and solar unless they can stand on their own two feet without subsidy. Nor does diverting our food supply into ethanol solve anything.
While the elite meet in Paris to talk about false solutions to man's increased contributions to CO2 emissions, a tax to enrich the unproductive and penalize the productive, we might talk here about real solutions.
What has worked so far is to substitute natural gas from fracking for oil and coal for a gain of 30-50%. CNG (natural gas) can also replace diesel and gasoline for shorter range transportation uses.
But the obvious solution to go further with emission reductions is to increase the use of safe nuclear power for generating electricity.
1. Nuclear power has zero CO2 emissions. Also zero CO, zero sulfur emissions etc. into the atmosphere. Do we care about this or NOT?
2. Because of the recently seeing perhaps the worst imaginable scenario with the tsunami, we know how to build them safer and stronger than ever before.
3. And because of data from Daiichi Fukushima, Chernoble, etc. we now know that trace levels of radiation are not harmful as previously thought. There is a threshold where cells can't handle ambient radiation, not a linear relationship.
4. Storage for spent fuels can be made safe or made unnecessary.
There is no need to burn fossil fuels at a power plant except as an emergency backup source.
There is a wsj editorial on this subject today if anyone has access... )
There have been no fatalities linked to short term overexposure to radiation reported due to the Fukushima accident, while approximately 18,500 people died due to the earthquake and tsunami.
Thorium and other aspects of nuclear
Reply #123 on:
December 03, 2015, 05:39:52 AM »
Peter Thiel follows on what Dines has about nuclear energy for years.
From David Gordon:
1. Is India About to Alter the World's Energy Future?
2. Chinese going for broke on thorium nuclear power, and good luck to them
Reply #124 on:
February 08, 2016, 11:14:51 AM »
Sen. Alexander for Nuclear Power
Reply #125 on:
December 22, 2016, 09:30:08 AM »
If 20 fire marshals came around and told us our houses were about to burn down, we’d buy some fire insurance. So when the leading science academies in 20 developed countries, along with several major American corporations and the national security community, all tell us that burning fossil fuels is causing dangerous changes to the climate, we think it’s time for the United States to get serious about clean energy. It also means supporting safely operating nuclear power plants that produce carbon-free electricity.
Already, 60 percent of our carbon-free electricity comes from the 99 nuclear reactors that dot the nation’s map, from Avila Beach, Calif., to Seabrook, N.H. These reactors provide low-cost, reliable electricity for the United States, which uses nearly 20 percent of the world’s electricity. But over the next decade, at least eight of these reactors are scheduled to shut down. That will push up carbon emissions from the American electricity sector by nearly 3 percent, according to the United States Energy Information Administration.
In California, the closing of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in 2012 contributed to a 24 percent increase in carbon emissions from the electricity sector, according to data from the California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board. Carbon emissions from the electricity sector in New England rose 5 percent in 2015, the first year-to-year increase since 2010, largely because of the closing of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in December 2014, according to ISO New England, the region’s grid operator.
In roughly two decades, the United States could lose about half its reactors. That’s because, by 2038, 50 reactors will be at least 60 years old, and will face having to close, representing nearly half of the nuclear generating capacity in the United States. Without them, or enough new reactors to replace them, it will be much harder to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.
Continue reading the main story
Unfortunately, some of our federal policies to encourage clean energy, such as the Clean Energy Incentive Program within President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, do not explicitly include or incentivize nuclear power. Likewise, some states have chosen to adopt policies, such as renewable portfolio standards, that do not include or incentivize nuclear power.
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At the same time, our energy markets do not currently account for the value of carbon-free power, a failure that puts nuclear power at an unfair and economically inefficient disadvantage to fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.
We come from different political parties, but we agree on the overall goal of leveling the playing field for nuclear power, and the need to find a bipartisan solution to achieve it. This matters because the investments we make today, in new plants and transmission infrastructure, will be around for decades. Every time new fossil energy replaces nuclear, we’re locking ourselves in to a more carbon-heavy energy mix for years to come.
Some states and utilities are working to reduce carbon emissions with the understanding that nuclear power can be part of the solution. In the Southeast, there are four new reactors under construction that will provide 4,470 megawatts of carbon-free electricity — enough for 3.3 million homes. New York established a clean-energy standard in August that might help the state’s reactors stay open, including one that had been announced as closing. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office explained that “maintaining zero-emission nuclear power is a critical element to achieving New York’s ambitious climate goals.” And the private sector is pitching in, too: According to Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz, there are dozens of entrepreneurs focusing on ways to improve and expand the nuclear power industry.
The federal government should support these efforts.
For one thing, we should extend existing reactor licenses from 60 to 80 years, in cases where the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it is safe to do so.
We should also invest more in research to develop advanced nuclear reactors, including small modular reactors and accident-tolerant fuels. Advanced reactor designs may substantially reduce the threat of a meltdown. Many new, modular designs are much smaller than their predecessors, meaning they can be built in factories at lower cost and plugged into the grid as needed.
Some of these new reactor technologies could actually use waste from traditional reactors as fuel, helping to alleviate a major challenge facing the industry. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing framework, developed to support the last generation of reactors, should be updated to encourage and promote new investment in the next wave of advanced nuclear technology. And finally, we need to resolve the stalemate over where to store used nuclear reactor fuel.
If we want to clean the air and reduce carbon emissions to deal with climate change, we need a stronger, not weaker, nuclear energy sector. Congress, federal agencies and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must work with utilities to preserve our existing reactors in the safest possible way, and to develop the next generation of reactors that will provide cheaper, reliable, carbon-free electricity.
Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is a Democrat from Rhode Island.
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