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THE Nuclear Power Thread pt 8 (merged)

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Nuclear power...Can it save the world??

Unread postby CanadianCrude » Tue 08 Feb 2005, 12:58:08

To survive in a world of supply and demand we must know when to stock up and when to let our surplus diminish in favour of another good. There are just a few necessities that each and every one of us must have to survive in an ever increasing world of haves and have nots.

Water is a resource that every one of us must have if we are to survive. This resource is not one that can be bargained, it is as vital to our survival as is the air that we breathe every second of the day. Just to have a supply of water is not enough though. The water must be one that can be drunk and that will not cause an epidemic. All nations must be able to turn water into potable water for consumption. To accomplish this, Desalinization plants, sewage treatment plants as well as storage containers to hold the now precious resource will be a must. To achieve this life saving process, energy must be harnessed. The search for oil has led the world on a collision course of violence. The U.S.A has taken its first step to insure its energy supply for the future. It has taken the vast supplies of oil and the country holding it, Iraq. While its conquest of the Iraqi oil fields have given the U.S.A an increased supply of oil, it has also helped to isolate the U.S.A from its other suppliers. Countries who have an abundance of oil these days are concerned that the U.S.A’s ever increasing thirst will, come a knocking! Iran, was advised by the late President Regan to harness the power of Nuclear energy due to the ever decreasing supply of oil. This move has seemed to backfire on the Iranians, now that the U.S.A is breathing down their necks threatening them with war if they continue with their nuclear program. Iran however, insists the nuclear program is peaceful and not for weapons of mass destruction. Convincing Iran to strive to achieve nuclear power could be seen as a clever ploy to ensure the right to fight for oil.

The search for energy does not stop with the thirsty U.S.A. China has become ever increasingly hungry for energy, now surpassing Japan in its consumption. China has taken another route to ensure its energy needs as of this date. She has been buying up supplies anywhere she can, Iran, Venezuela and Canada have all become targets for the industrial mammoth China. If energy is a necessity of life as I believe it is, we have only then to assume that we will one day witness the collision of the masses maneuvering to ensure survival.

India, has just recently shown its desire to ensure its energy survival as well. India’s Prime minister has asked the world to help it unleash its untapped offshore oil reserves. His explained this in a manner in which he stated he wished to keep his dignity so he will not fall to his knees and beg. This looks as if India's needs could also be growing at a pace our world cannot sustain.

Oil cannot be the resource that the world puts all its energy needs into. As we know, life is suffering and suffering is caused by scarcity, we cannot have it all. There are other means to achieve our energy needs which must be explored before we choose war.

Nuclear power is a viable option when it comes to our energy needs. Uranium is used to fuel nuclear power plants and is as abundant on Earth as Tin. We have the capability to achieve safe and efficient nuclear power, we just need the will. France achieves up to 60% of its energy need via nuclear power.

Nuclear power has been looked upon by the world in general as the quickest way to destroy our selves. I believe it could actually be one of the only ways to achieve peace. Abundant resources, everyone having the liability of a remote but possible Chyrnobel, would that cause us to be a little more co-operative?[
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Re: Nukes...Can they save the world??

Unread postby eric_b » Tue 08 Feb 2005, 16:44:37

Well, I definitely agree with the gist of what you're saying.

Nuclear power does have advantages - namely it produces
energy in it's most anonymous and useful form to our
society - electricity. And it doesn't release the megatons
of CO2, heavy metals, and natural radioactivity (someone
once told me a coal fired electric plant spews out more radiation
from its smokestack than a nuclear plant releases) that
burning coal does.

There's a lot of hysteria over nuclear power though. And,
there is the problem of waste disposal too. I don't think
the problem of waste disposal is an intractable one though -
and as mentioned above, modern coal fired plants produce
a tremendous amount of pollution. Most people don't care
about it as it's largely invisible

And the problem of uranium scarcity can be ameliorated by
building breeder reactors.

It's just the magnitude of the problem. If we are going to
switch over to nuclear, it must be done NOW. While we
still have some time and some resources. Even at this
point it may be too late. And it we wait until PO has past
it seems unlikely we will be able to switch. It can take on
the order of decades for a new nuclear power plant to come
online.

-Eric B
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Unread postby Terran » Thu 10 Feb 2005, 21:24:03

Nuclear power is great but theres the limitations.
It is really expensive to maintain, and due to the terrorism risk, this makes things more expensive.

There is also the cost of the energy input required to build the plant, which is really expensive, then the fuel cost itself. Although the cost of uranium fuel has nearly doubled due to the demand from China, and India, it still dosn't affect power production cost much, due to the cost of the fuel. Uranium is the 50th most abundent element found on the earths crust.

The amount of waste isn't much of a problem, but when the plant if decommisioned, the plant itself has to be disposed of safely. Radation from the nuclear reactions causes embritterment of the plant itself. The reaction turns brittle from the constant radation bombardement, and become radioactive itself. So where will you leave your plant decades and centures from now?
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Unread postby Malthus » Fri 11 Feb 2005, 09:49:04

Sure nukes will save us but simply not the one you think of. I d rather go for the idea of those 40-50 MT monsters being used to wipe out west &east coast ,east china, western europe, arab slum cities , india , and in fact any town with population over 500k. This is the only thing that will save us
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Unread postby gg3 » Sat 12 Feb 2005, 22:59:06

"Save the world" is always a big claim, and even hyperbolic.

That being said, yes, a massive nuclear construction program starting now, is clearly a good thing. There's no good reason we can't have nuclear supplying something like 60% of our energy mix, and wind supplying about 15%, solar 10%, biomass 10%, etc. While this is going on, massive conservation and efficiency efforts, which will enable us to close the gap between production and consumption more quickly.

What to do with decommissioned nuclear reactors: If the turbines are in a separate building, they wouldn't be subjected to embrittlement or residual radiation, so they could potentially be run by non-nuclear sources such as biomass. Perhaps there are design changes that can be made in the overall plant design that would facilitate this change-over.

Meanwhile the nuclear portion of the plant, decommissioned as it was, could serve as a useful training facility ("dry runs" w/o actual fuel present) for nuclear engineers and technicians who are getting ready to take jobs at plants that are under construction. (Even if the new plants are substantially different from the old ones, any kind of hands-on is good supplementary training.)
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Unread postby DamianB » Sun 13 Feb 2005, 14:27:07

Any solution that does not take into account the difference between energy capital (coal, oil , NG, uranium) and energy flow (solar, tidal, wind) is only putting off the problem.
"If the complexity of our economies is impossible to sustain [with likely future oil supply], our best hope is to start to dismantle them before they collapse." George Monbiot
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Unread postby brentmeister » Sun 13 Feb 2005, 19:06:04

DamianB wrote:Any solution that does not take into account the difference between energy capital (coal, oil , NG, uranium) and energy flow (solar, tidal, wind) is only putting off the problem.


While I see what you're getting at here, in this context I disagree, because "putting off the problem" is the absolutely best we can do, so we should. Also, the "capital" base of uranium in the oceans is pretty massive - millions of years worth - and Japan has done a fair bit of research to show they could mine this resource for an energetic profit, (and a financial profit once uranium is over $200 a pound, which is a long way off today's $21/lb, but watch this space.) For the mean time it makes way more sense to just buy uranium mined the normal ways, but the price is about to go crazy over the coming years.

Also with the dodgy but useful breeder reactors that produce fuel, you could look at it as an energy flow rather than as energy capital.
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Unread postby brentmeister » Sun 13 Feb 2005, 19:12:16

As for the threat of terrorists to nuclear power plants, it occured to me that you could just build the buggers five stories underground, plus with your ususal mega-high security such plants should have, terrorists would have no hope. Add to that the alleged inherent safety of the new pebble-bed reactors, and there's relatively little to worry about. Relatively.
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Unread postby savethehumans » Sun 13 Feb 2005, 22:27:30

Well, if we mean nuke BOMBS, yes, they WOULD save the world...from human beings! Might take a few million years for life to get a grip on living there--but, hey, at least they'll GET there. With human beings, life on this planet was doomed, anyway, even without nukes.

If you're talking nuke POWER PLANTS, and put aside the limited amounts of uranium--well, a handful of mistakes, and the results would be pretty much the same as with nuke BOMBS, except it'd happen more slowly and more painfully.

Too bad human beings just won't choose to put the nuke GENIE back in the bottle--or maybe they CAN'T.... :shock:
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Unread postby TrueKaiser » Sun 13 Feb 2005, 22:36:46

simple awnser: not on your life.

complex one: do a fourm search this already has been covered. nuclear power has major limitations includeing but not limited too
amount of recoverable uranium(breeder reacters do not work)
radiation
security
waste disposal(the stuff is leathely radioactive for several times longer then we have been a species)
costs includeing upkeep
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Unread postby brentmeister » Mon 14 Feb 2005, 02:37:52

TrueKaiser wrote:amount of recoverable uranium(breeder reacters do not work)


Nah rubbish, there's shitloads of uranium out there. When you consider that pound for pound uranium can produce about 20,000 times more energy than coal, and that uranium is a relatively abundant element in the earth's crust, you really don't need very serious concentrations to make a deposit energetically viable, (and economically viable too with the coming $100+/lb prices.) And then there's the oceans, which contain amazing amounts of the stuff, but which of course need very high U prices to be viable. Uranium is such a small percentage of the overall cost of nuclear energy that the price could rise to $100/lb but the electricty it makes wouldn't even double in cost.

TrueKaiser wrote:radiation


Nuke plants release much less radiation than the coal plants which we depend upon today.


TrueKaiser wrote:security


You could make them as secure as anything else in this world. Try securing an LNG terminal.

TrueKaiser wrote:waste disposal(the stuff is leathely radioactive for several times longer then we have been a species)


Well some of it is this toxic, but not most of it. The overall size of the waste output is suprisingly small. If this issue is the main point against nukes, then they look pretty good compared to the options.


TrueKaiser wrote:costs includeing upkeep


And the cost of freezing in the dark???
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Unread postby gg3 » Mon 14 Feb 2005, 08:04:18

Limited uranium: Even if that's true, there's enough to provide a bridge to other technologies. I tend to agree that the energetically viable supply of uranium is larger than conventional estimates of "economically" viable uranium at today's prices.

Nuclear waste: That was the reason I was opposed to nuclear power for a while. Then came the early 1980s EPA report on climate change, and at that point I realized that nuclear waste is hardly a problem compared to greenhouse gases. At least with nuclear waste, if you have reasonable security you know where the stuff is.

Fuel recycling: If I recall correctly, France is already doing it. The drawback is economic cost; it's still energetically viable. It will also give us time to start developing viable fusion and possibly ZPE applications.

Security issues: Can be solved. Do you know what it takes to go through six feet of reinforced concrete that's produced to an 8,000 psi specification or above? That's a breaking strength of 8,000 lbs. per square inch.

Though, as far as PBMRs are concerned, it would be nice to find a way to recover & recycle the spent fuel before we go whole-hog for that technology. I tend to like the CANDU design, and there are a couple of other promising ones in the pipeline.

I'd live next to a reactor any day. Not so for an LNG terminal. Coal is too valuable for industrial feedstock applications (particularly post-PO) to burn the stuff, but if we try, Ma Nature is going to whack us hard. And wind, having worked in the industry, is quite good but still limited to at most 20% of a grid's generating capacity due to intermittency and surge issues.

Or we can keep fighting over oil...
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Unread postby EnergySpin » Mon 01 Aug 2005, 22:25:27

Bedevere wrote:
PenultimateManStanding wrote:Wouldn't the ocean provide all the deuterium and tritium we could ever use?

Ocean water is an incredibly large source of deuterium, but not tritium. Tritium is unstable and is produced as a by-product in heavy-water fission reactors. This is currently the only viable source.

Japs are about to use OTEC plants and wave energy to extract uranium from the sea water, if one is to believe the OTEC page at NREL
"Nuclear power has long been to the Left what embryonic-stem-cell research is to the Right--irredeemably wrong and a signifier of moral weakness."Esquire Magazine,12/05
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Unread postby Andy » Mon 01 Aug 2005, 22:42:11

Are you talking about fusion specifically, or simply nuclear energy? We can harness nuclear energy. And its better then about any other option by miles.


Your resident forum antinuclear person now chips in. What makes nuclear better than any other option? What criteria do you use?
environmental acceptability :- Efficiency and Solar in its various iterations is better
Sustainability :- efficiency, solar is better
cost :- efficiency clearly better, some solar (wind and some biomass) already better. Others rapidly approaching that point
security :- solar is better
scalability :- efficiency combined with solar in its various iterations is as good

Now tell me under which criteria is nuclear better by miles.

For clarification, when I say solar, I am referring to solar thermal, photovoltaic, photoelectrochemical, photochemical, hydroelectric (large and small), OTEC, wind, wave, biomass. Add in geothermal that can be nominally regarded as renewable and tidal, also renewable for completeness.
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Unread postby EnergySpin » Mon 01 Aug 2005, 22:55:04

Andy ... nuclear are useful for base load.
And thorium reactor designs are extremely safe (the reaction is subcritical).
Unfortunately a degree of breeding will be required to create Pu for the core, long before U235 runs out, but ..... There are certain applications (i.e. sea transport) that nuclear enabled propulsion could make a big difference since it gives the best performance at the lowest cost (economical and environmental). So not all nuclear is bad ... the French and the Japs have had an excellent safety record. We f..d it up in the US when we let private utilities do the deed, but the safety record on reactors operated by the government (usually in the military) is superb, much better than any other energy plant (with the exception of hydro)
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Unread postby Andy » Tue 02 Aug 2005, 00:21:10

Energyspin wrote:Andy ... nuclear are useful for base load.
And thorium reactor designs are extremely safe (the reaction is subcritical).
Unfortunately a degree of breeding will be required to create Pu for the core, long before U235 runs out, but ..... There are certain applications (i.e. sea transport) that nuclear enabled propulsion could make a big difference since it gives the best performance at the lowest cost (economical and environmental). So not all nuclear is bad ... the French and the Japs have had an excellent safety record. We f..d it up in the US when we let private utilities do the deed, but the safety record on reactors operated by the government (usually in the military) is superb, much better than any other energy plant (with the exception of hydro)


Energyspin, we need to be thinking decentralized energy for sustainability, energy security, resource efficiency. Nuclear meets none of those goals.

The problem is that no matter what fission cycle you conceive of EnergySpin, any use of nuclear pollutes radioactively with elements that are not naturally ocurring and have deleterious health effects on biota. (There are those who disagree with that statement but I stick to it based on what I have seen and read) Nuclear's problems don't just lie in the catastrophic incident. The day to day and odd incidents are very damaging to our health as well. I am going to go out on a limb and state that the present worldwide cancer epidemic is partially caused by the nuclear enterprise including x-rays for medicine by the way in cahoots with its chemical pollution cousins. Hence, I refuse to call nuclear green or safe especially considering other alternatives that need far less research are available.

Let's look at security for instance. Let's say we put reactors in commercial shipping vessels. What happens when the inevitable sabotage occurs? What happens when the inevitable accidental sinking occurs especially in shallow water near populated areas? The 2nd scenario means you will have to recover the ship. Compare that with the present case where the ship is left at the bottom of whatever body of water of its unfortunate demise. The military can use nuclear given that they can be acceptably defended. How do you defend thousands of merchant nuclear vessels against mischief? Remember now, we are likely to be heading into a more volatile world with increased piracy etc.
For ionizing radiation “…the human epidemiological evidence establishes—by any reasonable standard of proof—that there is no safe dose or dose-rate…the safe-dose hypothesis is not merely implausible—it is disproven.” Dr. J.W. Gofman 4
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Unread postby EnergySpin » Tue 02 Aug 2005, 00:33:51

Andy ... there is still a need for energy generation technologies that provide baseload 24-7. Renewables will never be able to do that without investment in storage (and big time storage is not gonna come in an environmentally cheap way ,dams and pumped hydro are the ones we currently have for big time storage).
So till we get room temp superconductivity nukes will be a big player in providing the base load electricity (the stuff that we need to keep together) along with big hydro. Using them to provide 100% of the demand is not sustainable in the long run.
In addition check the literature on the Thorium reactors. Radioactivity of spent fuel goes down to background in 500 years.

Nuclear is needed for other things as well (probably not the GW reactors) like medical or industrial isotope generation.

Cancer is going up, because the average life expectancy is going up. I'm glad that at least you have an opinion, but my professional opinion (and even bias) is that the health industry is not responsible for the widespread increase in cancer. Smoking , high fat diet and high meat diet and the increase in longevity contribute much much more (and they have been quantified in epidemiological research). In terms of the medical profession ... we have been able to quantify the risk of yearly mammograms in causing breast cancers but at the population level you find more cancers with this technology than the ones you cause. So the deal is good.
Regarding the naval industry ... there is no way to steal the fissionable material from a 30MW reactor ... without an industrial infrastructure (and if you had that you could buy the stuff in the free market). Scientific exploration of the deep oceans, the artic would not have been possible without nuclear reactors in ships.

P
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As globe heats up, nation warms to nuclear power

Unread postby Graeme » Wed 16 May 2007, 01:40:09

As globe heats up, nation warms to nuclear power

Regulators gave the green light Tuesday to restart an old Alabama nuclear power plant, signaling the rebirth of an industry put into the deep freeze by a 1979 accident at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island nuclear plant that spewed radiation for miles.

The Tennessee Valley Authority's decision to restarting the Browns Ferry 1 unit in Athens, Ala., at a cost of almost $2 billion, breaks the pattern. But it is just one of several markers measuring how much has changed.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approved the Browns Ferry restart, expects applications for as many as 11 new units this year, and for as many as 28 by the end of 2009. This comes as electricity demand is projected to jump more than 40% by 2030 — not including potential demand from a shift to plug-in hybrids and other forms of electric cars.

Solar, wind and other renewable energy sources are more desirable than nuclear — but they're not ready to produce the huge amounts of electricity the USA consumes. Nuclear power isn't a perfect answer, but safely managed and regulated, it needs to be a bigger part of the nation's energy future.


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Re: As globe heats up, nation warms to nuclear power

Unread postby Sys1 » Wed 16 May 2007, 04:52:13

I see a great investment opportunity in uranium... 120$ now, 200$ by end of the year, and i bet 500$ by 2012.
Thanks to peak uranium (!) :twisted:
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Re: As globe heats up, nation warms to nuclear power

Unread postby Newsseeker » Wed 16 May 2007, 07:08:59

Sys1 wrote:I see a great investment opportunity in uranium... 120$ now, 200$ by end of the year, and i bet 500$ by 2012.
Thanks to peak uranium (!) :twisted:


Wouldn't it be great if talking unicorns could bring us all the finite materials we needed instead of just running out? Either that or a leprechaun. Just a thought.
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