Archives for posts with tag: nuclear

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 »

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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.[…]

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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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