Archives for posts with tag: nuclear

I assert we will burn everything that will burn until we have a better source of energy. Hydro is good but past maximized, and environmentalists want to tear down the dams we have. Solar is a wimp. It has its place, but not on the grid, and anyone telling you otherwise doesn’t understand the engineering and physics of it. Wind is simply a scam, snake oil. Wind-based power generation drives up costs in the grid and in transmission and in maintenance. It cannot be made better. It is disruptive to our power usage and needs. Turbines kill insects by the millions, bats by the thousands (maybe by the millions), and rare and endangered birds by the hundreds. Wind has no net benefits, only pain. Wind turbines do violence against our neighbors with flashing lights, flashing shadows, vertigo-inducing rotation, incessant noise, fire and throw hazard, and property devaluation.

Thus, we burn.

It is immoral to burn edible food while people starve. Biofuels do more harm than good.

There is no alternative to petroleum for a few applications, but we can convert most of our power needs to electricity, which we can renewably generate with nuclear fission for millennia.

We will convert to nuclear electricity generation. It is our only possibility. If we allow fear to continue to drive us, we will increase suffering caused by other power generation methods until we wise up. It will be painful. The longer we wait to convert to essentially 100% nuclear, the greater the pain and suffering we impose on ourselves and our posterity.

As an aside, persuasion is an illusion. Manipulation is a thing, but not persuasion. Compulsion is real enough (and evil), but it is not persuasion. The only true persuader is pain. The fellow who is convinced he can walk through walls may never admit he is delusional, but after a broken nose or two, when he claims he can walk through walls, he will take the doorway, explain that it is much easier. When our pain from wind power generation is too high, we will quit. (Who will clean up the mess?) Likewise, the large solar installations. Inevitably, we will power our lives with nuclear generated electricity.

Coal is a finite resource, and it is environmentally burdensome, even with modern technology. We will wean ourselves off it, even China and India, long before we run out of it. though. The net benefits from coal are too low to justify using it when we have better alternatives like natural gas and nuclear fission.

Natural gas may be finite. (Well, it is eventually, but odds are we will be extracting it from the earth even a few centuries from now.) Natural gas has substantive net benefit, but it is still somewhat burdensome on the environment, and nuclear fission is far better. We will be using natural gas for many generations to come, but we will see it specialized into small niches. It will become inconsequential to our earthly environment.

Petroleum, well, we are probably going to use it for as long as we have machines. We are probably going to have machines for hundreds, maybe thousands, of generations. Of course, we could have paradigm-shifting technological advances that make it easier to make what hydrocarbons we use more inexpensively with nuclear-generated electricity than by continued mining (drilling, fracking, and other modern extraction techniques, which I think of as mining). {“If it can’t be grown, it must be mined,” is a truth-statement today.} Also, it doesn’t actually seem likely petroleum is a finite resource. That is, for practical purposes, it may be as plentiful as rock. It is reasonable to suppose we will never run out of oil in the earth’s crust. We are not sure, but there are theories that we can’t test significantly yet. Regardless, the extractable oil is more than enough to remain useful for generations to come. We are just as far from peak-oil as we’ve ever been, and every time prognosticators start doomcasting we blow right past their deadlines.

For generating large amounts of stable electrical energy, coal is the most sensible from the engineering standpoint, but the other burdens of its extraction, use, and disposal are too significant. Natural gas is only sensible because we can get so much of it so inexpensively. That situation will not hold indefinitely, but I suspect it will hold for the rest of my generation (let’s assume 40 years). Natural gas is relatively clean, and direct use of it is exceptionally beneficial in terms of benefits to our lives versus the burdens of extraction and use. It takes three times more natural gas to boil your tea kettle with an electric stove top (assuming natural-gas turbine generated electricity) than it does with a direct natural gas stove top. It is quite counterproductive from any standpoint to restrict or ban the use of natural gas in residential or commercial or even industrial use. Natural gas is first choice for direct fuel applications. One could argue for liquid fuels, but it is much harder to deal with liquid fuels in open-flame applications.

Petroleum is not a good fuel for large electrical power generation, which is why we use it for only a small fraction of a percent of our total electrical generation. It is good for small applications, and quick-start applications, but not much otherwise.

We need petroleum for mobile fuel. Liquids are easily stored in tanks for direct transportation usage. It is probably indispensable for aircraft, at least medium- and long-distance flights. It is good with ground transport, but there are several advantages to electrically powered transportation, but the limits of batteries are prohibitive, and will be for the near future. Edison advanced battery technology more than anyone before him, and advancements since have been at a snail’s pace with the significant, but small, advancement of lithium batteries. It looks like 15 to 25 years will bet us that much ahead again. That will give us batteries about twice as good as Edison could make. We need batteries that are 50 times better.

We have a variety of reasonable engineering solutions, but none that will be easy or inexpensive, and some would require significant changes in our societies. We shall see.

Another aside: If we can prove out fully automated transportation, we may switch to all electric vehicles, including short-flight aircraft, by switching to an entirely automated transportation system that would incorporate plains, trains, automobiles, and trucks scheduled to maximize battery life and transportation efficiencies. If so, personal ownership of vehicles would probably be relegated to hobbyists, and we’d generally just tap our phone app to have our ride pull up for us in a matter seconds, zipping us without traffic snarls to our destinations (with, perhaps, stops to transfer to a second transport with fresh batteries if our distance requires).

As an engineer with expertise in physics, I have no reservations asserting we will burn all we need to until we have excess electricity generated from nuclear power sources. Windmills will run their course, and our descendants will curse us for the hardships caused by them. Large-scale solar will be the same, but some solar applications may prove out, but solar power generation will never supply a significant fraction of our overall energy usage.

We will switch to nuclear. It is the only reasonable possibility. There may be some genius-level technological breakthrough, but there is no evidence to support such speculation, and it may be centuries from now even if it is possible.

We will use nuclear fission with uranium and thorium for generations, and we will eventually solve the engineering challenges of nuclear fusion and the materials required to build power production facilities. That might be a century or two (or a couple decades, but my money is on 100 years).

There is no existential threat other than the unknown. There is a plant-killing rock out there, but it may not approach for several centuries. (Of course, if we spot it tomorrow and realize it will hit us in 15 years, we’re probably going to join the dinosaurs and the other 99.9% of species how’ve run their course on our planet. I bet a few survive, or some new species will eventually attain what we call sentience, and life will continue to find a way, at least until the next unknown catastrophic event overtakes them.)

We will burn fossil fuels until nuclear power generation makes it impractical. We will not tip earth’s climate into anything catastrophic for humans or the rest of life on this planet.

Do keep in mind that there are three essential ingredients to life on our planet, water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. The first two are demonstrably the most destructive aspects of our environment. As long as oceans remain, water and oxygen will remain the most significant drivers of maintenance and repair and rebuilding. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is an essential ingredient to life. It cannot exist in nature in quantities that are dangerous to us or other life. Even corals have experienced carbon dioxide levels multiples higher than our current levels. CO2 is only dangerous on our planet in its absence. We must have it, or photosynthesis is impossible. If carbon dioxide gets too low, all plants will die and all remaining life will starve, all of it (well, fungus might manage).

So, are you willing to acknowledge that nuclear is best? If not, you will relegate the next generation to undue suffering, and they will.

We will switch to entirely nuclear-power generated electricity. It is only a matter of time and how much suffering it takes to overcome our irrational fears of it.

I started reading the article here, https://nei.org/news/2019/viewers-guide-to-hbo-miniseries-chernobyl, A Viewer’s Guide to HBO’s Chernobyl Miniseries. A few comments are in order.

I fully support the first few paragraphs. Then the author , Matt Wald, seems to go overboard on simplification. Overall good job, but Wald didn’t take the pains necessary to keep things accurate.

The lead up to the accident includes many tedious details. Authors are justified in oversimplifying the preliminaries. However, “The reactor was designed in classic Soviet fashion: gigantic, cheap and unsophisticated,” is simplistic and inaccurate. It gives the wrong impressions.

In the early days, several reactor designs were put forth. Only one of those early designs was inherently stable. All nuclear reactors put into operation were based on the stable designed except the Chernobyl-type reactors, which only the Soviets built. While I suspect Mr. Wald could defend most every point and simplification in his article, I don’t like dismissing Soviet engineering. Obviously, Soviet priorities depreciated safety, but we err when we discount the professionalism of the engineers. My point in writing here is to object to implying engineers were unsophisticated. Engineers innately understand people’s lives depend on their work. Decent engineers never take that fact lightly.

I’ll be making this post tedious by addressing the NEI post line by line, but that is why I’m writing.

The reactor was in a containment building, but it was hardly like western designs. Mr. Wald is right in pointing out most containment structures are designed to be even airtight. Nuclear power containment structures are typically designed to be impervious and impregnable, even to deliberate attack. The Chernobyl building lacked improvements intended to withstand most any scenario.

Graphite is practically charcoal. Does anyone need me to point out that charcoal is flammable? Graphite bricks, hand stacked, were how the researchers built the first nuclear reactor, well, first manmade sustained fission chain reaction, in a basement at the University of Chicago during the Manhattan Project. It is correct to point out that graphite is good and safe in most conditions. Using graphite inevitably provides fuel for fire. High-temperature power production leaves only oxygen wanting. That is, if the provisions for keeping oxygen from reaching the graphite are compromised, an enduring fire will result. Most of the injuries and deaths at Chernobyl in 1986 were from the fire.

“Workers and lower-level managers were afraid to raise objections when they saw something wrong. And, the accident occurred when an electrical engineer was running an unauthorized, unanalyzed and unsupervised experiment on the reactor.” True enough, but it leaves out very important details. Politics and bureaucratic clout were the keys. There were expectations to meet and VIPs to impress. My information isn’t thorough and suffers from passage of years, but the unwise “test” was driven by hubris in the high officials and fear in the operators. Operators had families to feed, and none of them were eager to violate safety or other protocols, but in the old Soviet system, speaking up could result in transfer to the Gulag.

The politics and bureaucratic control were probably as bad as could be imagined, but “denial” had nothing to do with it, and I don’t appreciate the swipe at climate realists. If you fear CO2, you have an obvious and excellent fix, nuclear.

I’m not sure what Ward means when he describes the steam explosion as unprecedented. The unwise “test” of the reactor set several problems in motion that resulted in an extreme increase in power generation within the reactor, and the high pressure water was heated well above the boiling point, even for those pressures, and initial boiling led to increases of power production, and extreme overheat and overpressurization became inevitable. The explosion was just steam, but anyone with boiler experience can vouch for the power potential. Again, the reactor design is unique, and other nuclear reactors cannot set up runaway heating. If unprecedented meant no other steam explosion had been driven by such an energetic heat source, okay, but without checking, I expect there have been worse steam explosions. I do suppose there hasn’t been a steam explosion with more energy, more Btu or J output.

I only just found this, https://chnpp.gov.ua/ua/home. It looks like an excellent source. I notice this https://chnpp.gov.ua/ua/about/labour-glory/heroi-likvidatory I prefer to think of those who sacrificed as heroes.

Regarding the immediate deaths, I reiterate the primary factor was fire. There were survivors of astonishing dose (without burns from the fires). Our regulations are based on overly conservative estimates based on our only actual extreme radiation event, the atomic bombs ending WWII. Since, we have learned better, but our fear of radiation remains irrational and driven by factors other than health and safety.

The Soviets have much blame, even shame, in the handling of the accident, but their medical personnel proved their worth. Many medical reports assumed radiation or other accident factors that were not warranted. Their paperwork and records were lacking, to say the least, but those medical personnel never shirked their duty. The did all they could and then some, and they were trained and ready because nuclear war was still a significant fear there.

I second Mr. Ward’s assertions that nothing like Chernobyl can happen in the US. His explanation is solid.

Overall, Mr. Ward presented a good article, but there are vast amounts of data on the subject, and simplifications are necessary but generally overdone.

In closing, I’ll point out how electrical power has vastly improved living conditions in the world. The biggest factor in remaining poverty is lack of reliable electricity. There is only one “scare” I allow for in electrical power, and that is the potential harm that will result for not having it. The other problems of electrical power generation are trivial compared to having no power at all. Pollution is a significant problem, but even those harmed live better, fuller lives before pollution mattered to them.

One can call me names, and one can pretend my credentials aren’t adequate, but it isn’t my opinion and expertise that matters. Physics matters. Whether this or that result might occur is nothing compared to what does occur, what has occured. Politics driving taxes and coercive programs has always caused harm. Weather has always changed. Review of the data clear shows all aspects of weather and effects resulting from it are stable or improving. None are worsening.

The overarching fact is we must have electricity. All the people of earth need ever increasing electrical power production. The only reasonable means of generating all the power our billions of neighbors need is nuclear. We have done it safely for generations. We must acknowledge its supremacy and build out. We will burn everything we can for fuel until we no longer need to. We will need to until we have more than enough atomic power. That is the fact.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_Nuclear_Power_Plant

If you want to save the earth, save the people first. If you want to save the people, get power to them. Affordable fuel and electricity will do more for the environment than anything else anyone can do, and it will save the humans and eliminate needless pain and suffering while doing so.

James Conca, writing for Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2015/04/20/the-ten-biggest-power-plants-in-america-not-what-everyone-claims/, points out some interesting facts about electrical power in the USA.

The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station generates most of the electricity for Phoenix, Arizona, coal makes up the rest. Kinda cool, really.

Mr. Conca provides this table:

Energy Source         average cf         high cf

Coal                              65%                   75%

Natural gas                50%                   85%

Nuclear                       90%                   98%

Wind                           30%                   45%

Solar PV                     20%                   30%

Solar thermal            24%                   40%

Hydro                         40%                    45%

Geothermal               70%                   75%

It should really drive home the pitiful uselessness of all varieties of wind and solar. Read the rest of this entry »

Good article here at The Breakthroughhttp://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/issues/nuclear/five-surprising-public-health-facts-about-fukushima.

My summary is that the scare over the nuclear incident harmed many immediately and long-term, the data and facts show little danger ever existed from the nuclear plant problems and long-term danger is too little to detect. The reaction was the problem, not the nuclear fallout. Fukushima was tragic for several reasons. The nuclear problems were minimal, and our engineering was sound. It was simply overwhelmed by the forces of nature, forces which we are now accounting for better. The net result is this nearly inconsequential contribution to the horrific disaster will be even less in the future.

Journalist Will Boisvert said of the forced evacuations and initial restrictions imposed by officials, “another instance of alarmism that causes more harm than the risk it’s trying to avert.”

That statement is particularly important. The ancient truism, “First, do no harm.” Don’t make matters worse when there is no real and quantifiable likelihood of making matters better in the long run.

Not only were people directly and immediately harmed by the forced evacuations, substantial resources were diverted from obvious use in alleviating immediate suffering of thousands. We really need better education in these matters. The information is available. We don’t need research and grants. The information is already accumulated. It is a matter of personal initiative. And I’ll state frankly that LNT is false and its use and imposition causes harm, harm that cannot be justified.

We live in a radiation filled environment. Millions of years, and we are going strong. There is a threshold for all types of radiation, and most of what we encounter with all sorts of radiation exposure are simply not dangerous. We will live longer and die happier if we just don’t worry about it.

Of course, yes, that can be taken too far, but we have a long way to go from where we are before we need to start worrying about not worrying enough.

I posted this to Facebook, and as I seem often to do, I decided to record it here:

Nuclear is inevitable. We are going to use uranium. We will eventually use, and probably switch entirely to thorium, but regardless, we are going nuclear. Fission for decades, perhaps centuries, then fusion, but don’t hold your breath. Good points here, and toward the end it discusses Washington (the state) specifically.

“Nuclear energy accounts for 63 percent of carbon-free electricity in the U.S. and people need to know that,” Brown said.

Most of the 37% remaining is hydroelectric. (Look it up for yourself if you wish. Something like 2% is wind and solar. Hard to pin down given various complicating factors, including incentives to be disingenuous in reporting.)

Washington has tremendous hydroelectric resources. Grand Coulee Dam and the system on the Columbia is awesome. It is, however, max’ed. Also, enviros, including Algore, hate the dams. They even brag when they get one of them torn down. So, there is good reason for Washington to not offer incentives for hydro. However, nuclear is another matter. I don’t like incentives, but if they are going to give them for stupid stuff like windmills, they might as well provide them for smart things like SMRs.

Final thought on this article, carbon dioxide is an essential ingredient of life on earth. Carbon dioxide is not detrimental in any way. It is plant food, and plants are animal food. Water and oxygen, the other two essential ingredients, are far more damaging to humans and our infrastructure. Water kills millions, including hundreds of young children, every year. Carbon dioxide ensures we have enough food to feed ourselves. We will burn until we have no need. We will burn everything that will burn until electricity is inexpensive and readily available for all energy needs. We will burn for decades to come. If burning worries you, become an activist for nuclear. Educate yourself and get busy.

I was referring to this Forbes article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2015/03/12/cant-all-nuclear-just-get-on-the-same-page/

 

I agree with Dr. Shughart, but he misses the point.

http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=5027

The alternative to coil, oil, natural gas, and nuclear is not wind and solar. Heaven knows it is not wind! Despite the assurances of prominent science communicators, solar cannot and never will provide significant amounts of the power we need to survive.

See, the alternative to coil, oil, natural gas, and nuclear is slavery and death.

Before the energy era, primarily based on fossil fuel, life was hard, brutish, and short. Those who lived in a poor semblance of affluence did so at the direct expense of others: slaves, serfs, vassals, subjects, whatever the name, culture, and time. Note, we pretend that is still the case, but that is a lie. Everyman in the developed world is free to own his own stuff and work for his own benefit, not his lord’s. The liberals and progressives are working diligently to make us a feudal system again, but most of the time I don’t believe they are succeeding.

Regardless, energy for machines and technology have freed us from the misery that was life for most of human history.

The only alternative to coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear is misery. There will always be powerful people. Our current system of politics and readily available, reasonably inexpensive energy is the only attainable way to keep the powerful from enslaving and killing the rest of us.

Our collective history skews us to fear the powerful. Our recent history of the success (to a poor extent, but the illusion is powerful) of the masses, the labor movement, and some of the popular uprisings make us think we can collectively control the powerful. We cannot.

Our only defense against the powerful is readily, reliably available energy (fuel, power, electricity) at affordable prices for the people. Then the individual is empowered to defend himself. (Ladies, you are included. Don’t get political over grammar rules.)

Dr. Shughart suggests that CO2 is problematic. It is not.

Carbon dioxide is plant food. Anyone against feeding plants is also against feeding people. More plant food means more plants. More plants means more to eat and fewer people starving. The other factor in ending starvation is readily available fuel and electricity to get the food to the starving and refrigerate it until they get to eat it.

Again, being against coal especially, but coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear collectively, is to be for slavery, starvation, and death. This goes for oil infrastructure too, like the Keystone Pipeline.

Got it? If you act against coal, you are acting in favor of enslaving and starving people, your brothers, your fellow-man.

Power to the people means coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear.

In my opinion, Ralph Nader is personally responsible for more human pain, suffering, and death than any other person in all of history. It makes no difference his motives. He was and is wrong, especially regarding all things nuclear.

http://timothymaloney.net/www.timothymaloney.net/Blog/Entries/2013/10/18_missive_to_Ralph_Nader_regarding_his_nuclear_opposition.html

The common everyday poison nicotine is far more dangerous than plutonium. Even the dreaded dihydrogen monoxide accounts for more deaths per year. In fact, nothing accounts for more destruction than when that substance (water, to be clear) cooperates with life-giving oxygen to corrode our metals and deteriorate our structures.

Again, Ralph is wrong.

I routinely say that persuasion is an illusion. We will power our world with nuclear once the pain associated with doing the other things is greater than the fear of nuclear. I cannot persuade poor Ralph, nor anyone else, but we will wise up once the harm is obvious. (Hat tip to Homer–the Greek poet, not the yellow dude.)

Only the beginning. All power production will eventually be nuclear. First fission, then, perhaps centuries from now, fusion.

Double nuclear by 2040 says Exxon.

All current power sources except nuclear are ultimately solar. The earth stored that energy for hundreds of millions of years. We are using it too fast to keep using it. All “renewable” efforts will fail. None will prove more than niche application. Finally, it is sin to burn our food for fuel while people starve!

I have a quote below that I pulled from Anthony’s site (WUWT: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/01/26/newsbytes-global-warming-downgraded-james-lovelock-recants/), which he pulled from Bishop Hill (link below), with additional credits, from James Lovelock.

I love that Lovelock says fundamentalists have taken over environmentalism. I think despite the fact that he is a zealot himself, he finally noticed just how religious and dogmatic it all has become. Gaia, Mother Nature, or some ideal of greenness has come to replace God in the modern religion, which is a hybrid of the faith of our fathers, the love of nature, and simple self-worship. Read the rest of this entry »

The Guardian claims, “Nuclear Fusion – Your Time Has Come” (Jeff Forshaw), Wired claims it is, “One Step Closer to Breakeven” (attributed to ScienceNow). Well, unfortunately, “practical commercial” fusion power generation has been “perhaps as little as 20 years away” for a little over 70 years now, and that is still true, and, in my humble opinion, will still be true 40 years from now. Sooner or later, we will figure it out. It is almost certainly the primary energy source for all functions on earth and in space for our posterity. We owe it to them to work at it in good faith, but in good sense too! Fusion will not solve our current problems, nor will it help our children. We will have to work something else out for now, and perhaps our great grandchildren will see it come on line in practical ways that make societal life better. It seems to me reasonable to speculate that the first practical fusion power station will be built on the moon. I doubt anyone thinks we will have a moon base started in as little as 20 years.

The Wikipedia article covers things reasonably, but I’ll add my first hand knowledge here. My biggest gripe about fusion is all the articles perpetrate the fantasy that fusion power will be “clean and inexhaustible.” If you believe that, I have a bridge I could sell you cheap.

What is clean about a system that uses radioactive tritium? What is clean about a building, a whole freaking building, becoming radioactive? Read the wiki for the basics, but get it through your head that this ain’t clean. Safe is a relative term. I think the fusion systems I have studied should be safe enough, as long as you don’t nap in them during refurbishment cycles. Waste disposal with ITER will be a problem. JET will be a problem. They are already using remote handling for everything there. Several minutes of Google search haven’t found me any documentation, so from memory, and I’ll appreciate comments that correct me or point me to documentation, but the TFTR of Princeton Plasma Physics, while a solid overall success, ran for only several seconds of actual fusion, and when they shut it down, it was over two years before they could safely go in and decontaminate and decommission it. They ended up burying nearly the entire lab full of equipment (barge loads) in the Hanford desert. Battelle ran it if I recall, and it was done on time and under budget. Stellar for government work! (Though Battelle has a good record for such. Good on ’em.)

Now to “inexhaustible,” did I mention tritium? Oh, yes, I did. Where do we find tritium? Oh, I remember, we don’t! There isn’t any. We have to make it out of lithium via neutron radiation. So far, we do that in regular nuclear fission reactors, but it seems certain we will be able to produce it in place within the fusion reactors, well, at least notionally it will work. The engineers still have to find a way to make it practical. Since it is not hard to make tritium, no problem, right? Think again. Lithium is just a little bit rare, and we have lots of uses for it besides just burning it up in fusion reactors. So, it certainly is NOT inexhaustible. Of course, deuterium is the other fuel component, and D-D fusion is probably not much harder than D-T fusion, so maybe we can do it without the tritium, but don’t forget that deuterium is still relatively scarce, being only a tiny fraction of the hydrogen on our planet. Good thing the planet is mostly covered in water. Certainly there is plenty of deuterium, but we do have it chemically tied up in our oceans. That is an easy engineering problem, but it is still energy intensive to get it out.

My point is that fusion, like fission, like burning carbon fuels, has plenty of waste products to deal with, and it will always take lots of effort to get the active ingredients away from mother nature, and into our reactors. So, TANSTAAFL.

As to the physics, that is fairly easy. Keep experimenting, and keep the mathematicians working it, we will do it. However, then the engineers have to take over and actually design and build one of these things, and engineers go to jail when things go wrong because people die. Accordingly, engineers are predominately practical and safety minded.

First extreme engineering problem with a tokamak is extracting energy from vacuum–no, not zero point, but superheated plasma at hard-vacuum pressure levels. It will work, but it is a hard problem, which means expensive and likely requiring lots of maintenance. Second extreme problem is plasma instabilities that blast the inner walls. Same as the first problem. We will come up with good solutions with an acceptable set of compromises, but it will be costly both initially and in upkeep. The third problem is harder, and so far, intractable. We must build the system to tolerate 14 MeV neutrons. Lithium blankets may be part of the solution, as the lithium will absorb many of the neutrons and generate the tritium we need, but 14 MeV neutrons do things that seem unbelievable. The wiki article talks about it, but just know that we don’t have materials that can meet the needs of dealing with such energetic and destructive missiles. The simplified version of what happens is that in less than two years, most of your structural components will embrittle to the point that they are no safer than if they were made of plate glass. Of course, these neutrons cause the atoms to become radioactive themselves. Thus, the whole building becomes radioactive waste.

I’m getting rather rambly at this point, so I will stop. I will add that I support fusion research. We will do it some day. It will be all we do for power eventually. In the meantime, we need more fission nuclear reactors (uranium, plutonium, and thorium), and we need to keep working on our efficiencies of burning carbon fuels. Drill, dig, pipe, and burn, baby, burn.

CO2 is an essential ingredient of life. So, CO2 is a good thing. Besides, cold kills, warmer is better.

 

http://www.learningaboutenergy.com/2012/07/some-facts-about-radiation.html

Quoting:

Some Facts About Radiation

God’s good green earth was created out of the radioactive waste products of the great nuclear reactions that spawned the galaxies and the planets. Life arose out of, and adapted to, a much higher level of natural radiation than exists today. Nuclear radiation (ionizing radiation: alpha, beta and gamma radiation) is essential to Life; without it, organisms wither and die. […]

Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants. […]Even with all the radioactivity released, not a single lasting radiation injury occurred. Not one! This includes the dedicated operators who worked in the dark to get the plants shut down and secured in a safe condition. These operators were characterized as a “suicide squad” and are under a cancer scrutiny that might actually worry them into a medical problem. But the fact is, that the radiation doses they received are well within the beneficial range.[…]

For over 100 years, the science has been clear and unambiguous: Low-dose radiation in the range of interest is beneficial, not harmful, and repeated attempts by regulators to hide or deny this fact are indefensible scientifically. The relevant scientific organizations have made this position part of their public policy. The extensive report published in connection with the 2012 ANS President’s Special Plenary summarizes the scientific knowledge on low-dose radiation effects. Regulators owe deference to this fact. Distortion of the science for political purposes is not only harmful to the advancement of nuclear technology; it is harmful to the public health and should no longer be tolerated.[…]

—————————-

So, isn’t it clear that politics supersedes science in general? Why do so many wonder about global warming? Of course it is political. The scare of it is politically expedient. We have decades of experience with nuclear that prove it a good option, yet it is still demonized. Decades from now when the earth is still green, and still cool, and still filled with hurricanes, tornadoes, and droughts, fossil fuels will still be demonized. Hopefully it won’t be colder, because cold kills. Warmer is better.

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