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So what do you think of nuclear energy???

Post in 'The Green Room' started by Swedishchef, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    Hey guys

    I am not certain that this topic/thread belongs in this particular forum however it is a start.

    I am a huge fan of nuclear energy and wanted to hear other opinions. My point of view is like this: take away Chernobyl, "little boy" (nuclear weapons), Fukushima and I think we have a pretty solid energy source.

    I am not a big fan of Uranium being used as a source. I am a HUGE supporter of Thorium reactors. However this technology is not at the point of full scale commercialization yet...google it!

    Andrew

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I hear they get glowing reports. Ask Hog.
  3. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    It is the energy source of the future. I have spent plenty of time in and around nuclear powered submarines and ships, even helped scrap them. After we all get tired of pollution scattered into the air from conventional energy sources we'll be happy to know how great it is to make power with a reactor.
  4. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    AAAAAAAAAAAMEN. Finally someone who sees eye to eye with me. lol.

    Thorium reactors are much safer tha Uramium ones. They simply do not require high volumes of heavy water at high pressure to keep the reactors cool. That is the fault in CANDU reactors. If you lose water pressure or water, you lose the cooling ability and a nuclear "meltdown" ensues.

    Lots of people I know say" windmills" are they future..Realllly? Ask the people who work at a plant nearby who build 145 foot blades. Fiberglass doesn't breakdown. How do you dispose of a faulty blade? They tried shredding them: nogo. it sends fibers into the air that coats your lungs. How about cutting them into pieces? They don't decompose.

    What about solar? Well, the sulfuric acid batteries the size of small motorcycles can't be all that great once we must dispose of them...

    Also, thorium is approximately 3 times more abundant than uranium. Lots of countries have it!!

    ANdrew
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The issue is waste and the reality is hitting home in France which is highly nuclear dependent. We hear about vitrification processes etc. but the fact is that it has to be stored for 40-50 yrs in ponds, just to cool down before the vitrification process can take place. Guess what are leaking, in some cases big time into the local groundwaters there? I'll take the half life of fiberglass any day.

    That is not to say that we should continue work in this direction. Fusion may be a game changer. But right now increasing efficiency and reducing waste is our best investment with the fastest payback.

    FWIW, lead acid batteries are quite recyclable.
  6. ironpony

    ironpony Minister of Fire

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    BOOM.................actually I say go for it, nothing is fool proof and if we wait that long we will be riding horses again
  7. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    I was trained in the Navy Nuclear Power program. I was a qualified Nuc Plant Mechanical Operator and Engineering Laboratory Technician (primary & secondary system chemistry and Radiological Controls). I trained other sailors (enlisted & Officer alike) to operate Naval nuclear ship propulsion plants while on the instructional staff of the S5G submarine prototype plant on what was then called the National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho (now INEL).

    I know that a nuclear power plant can be operated safely...I've done it. The US Navy has been safely operating nuclear powered ships for 58 years. Yes, the waste problem from fission reactors is non-trivial, but it's not non-solvable. I was optimistic that the Yucca Mountain repository would be completed and put into use...alas, it was not to be. Stupid. I think that public misunderstanding, ignorance, and fear have stood in the way of exploiting this power source more widely than it has been in the US ever since the post-WWII era. Yes, I'm a fan...but I've no idea whether or not this country will ever take full advantage of the technology that we developed. I'm not particularly optimistic. Rick
  8. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Every technology has risks...steam boilers killed a lot of folks (and were protested) in the 1800s, before they got all the kinks worked out.

    Uranium fission is ok, modern cost estimates are coming in spendy at $5-15/W to build, fuel costs are low. Boosters will blame that on lawyers, impact statements etc, but I haven't seen any really reliable info....and you don't really want to cut corners. Seems some standardization in design would be nice, doesn't exist at present.

    Thorium seems to be vapor-ware. Until it isn't.

    Interesting fact about fission reactors they don't advertise....the control rods control not the rate of the reaction, but rather its acceleration. IF you lock the rods in place the reaction naturally grows (or decays) exponentially. Don't want to let those rods get stuck!

    My favorite story about nuclear fission is Enrico Fermi and the first reactors....they weren't sure how big the critical mass was, so they first built a miniature test reactor the size of a microwave oven (stacking tiny uranium and graphite bricks, with tiny manually operated control rods). Didn't do chit. Then they built another one the size of a car (same design, bigger bricks), same thing, nada. The third one (which they had estimated would go critical)... they all assembled next to it, and slowly pulled up the rods while watching a 'geiger' counter. At a certain point, the needle goes abruptly from squat to pegged, and the guy holding the (manual) rods looks at Enrico for some....guidance. What does Enrico do? He slowly looks around at the assembled people, and says, 'Ahem... gentlemen, at this moment Man has for the first time realized the controlled release of nuclear energy.' Everyone's is staring at the pegged needle. After another beat, Enrico says, 'you may now lower the control rods'.

    Biggest cajones ever.

    When they were done playing with that puppy, they trucked all the uranium and graphite bricks out to the 'burbs and dumped them there in an open lot!
  9. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Dunno where you come up with some of this stuff...but your control rod description is quite misleading, and you might want to review the real history:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Pile-1

    I highly recommend Richard Rhodes' "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" for a scholarly and authoritative history. Rick
  10. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    I will defer to your technical expertise...and it is certainly true that the control of a reactor is more complicated (and more stable) than a single exponential due to the side reactions and minor daughter species. But it is not inherently stable without very careful engineering. Not a problem...just requires a good controller, models and appropriate startup/shutdown procedures. But the instabilities are not advertized.

    I got the story from someone who was there....I suppose he was pulling the kid's leg.
  11. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    one time I ate a whole bunch of these cheese stuffed hot peppers that my wife makes....it was like a nuclear reaction a few hours later. This is my only first hand experience with atomic energy. Impressive stuff. All "sciency" and whatnot.
    Realstone likes this.
  12. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

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    safetysign_thumb.png
  13. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    lol
  14. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    BeGreen: I understand your point. But go ask anybody working in a windmill blade plant if they enjoy themselves, most would rather work in a coal mine. Serious health issues from the resin of the fiberglass, always working with a suit on, etc. And the fact if are still very dependant on one issue that you can't control: wind. Vitrification is a bit of an issue but just imagine how little waste there is vs the amount of energy we receive from it. Considering the amount of coal the US burns, I would rather see modern day Thorium salt bath reactors. How about those wonderful Tar Sands that we send down your way for refinning?? Ever see what a tar pond looks like? It aint pretty. Large companies receive fines year after year for not scaring birds off efficiently. They must scare birds off. The minute a bird lands in a pond, it's over.

    I agree Lead based batteries can be recycled. However, my understanding is that it is the lead that is recycled and not the acid. The fact is, where does this acid end up? They don't add baking soda to try and neutralize it. I think if we compared the amount of environmental damage from nuclear energy, batteries, coal burning, etc I am certain nuclear produces the least amount. Nuclear simply received a bad name because of bad examples on how to use it. It's kind of like saying I went to get an MRI. There's one letter that they forget to use: NMRI: it is nuclear medicine.

    I agree fossil: public misunderstanding, fear, misinformation and ignorance are blocking us from developping technologies and advancing in the nuclear world. According to the web, Advocates estimate that five hundred metric tons of thorium could supply all U.S. energy needs for one year.[12] The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the largest known U.S. thorium deposit, the Lemhi Pass district on the Montana-Idaho border, contains thorium reserves of 64,000 metric tons of thorium

    Woodgeek: the story was a little off but either way they set off a nuclear reaction without any backup in a HUGELAY populated area. It could have gone wrong...all in the name of science and did it without computer's calculations! BIG CAJONES is right!

    Here's an amazing video you should all check out:
  15. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    I do not like it! It is much too dangerous when things go wrong and they are expensive to build and operate plus the waste has to be dealt with forever!

    Ray
  16. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    Ray, watch the video I just posted. There is a BIG misconception that all nuclear plants are/should be Uranium ones. This video is pretty easygoing and explains alternatives. "Is Nuclear Energy Safe?" Which ones? "It's like saying, is a car safe? Which ones?"

    Andrew
  17. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    OK Andrew I did watch the video and it appears that Thorium is safer than other nuclear fuels and also plentiful. I am still not convinced of the safety system. One thing that is not talked about in the video is the waste and how it's handled.. This part is dangerous and very expensive over time..

    Ray
  18. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm movin' this outta the Inglenook over into the Green Room. Rick
  19. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    Tks RIck. I just didn't think it necessarily fit into the "green" room ;)
  20. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Some 'greens' def think nuclear is green b/c it is low carbon.
  21. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    I don't know Rick.
    There is this part of me (a little devil on my shoulder) that hopes it was done just as WG typed (retold) it.
    Wildwest at it's best. Just friggin do it, we will figure out what happened later.:eek: If anyone survives that is.
    Thanks WG, very hearty ;lol on my part.
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    And I imagine the waste disposal was still hot!
  23. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    LOL a real flame thrower for sure! ;lol

    Ray
  24. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    In general I am pro-nuclear if its done right. I'm all for solar/wind/hydro but I seriously doubt we can ever scale them to replace 100% of whats currently supplied by FF (and future demand growth). I think nuclear HAS to be part of the solution.... and I get worried by backlash from events like Fukushima resulting in a resurgence of coal,etc.

    On the other hand the risks are non trivial for sure. In spite of so many good intentions the solution to the waste issue seems to be "store it in big pools at the plant" :( And then look what happens when we get a Fukushima event :( :( Also I believe that even if its low carbon its not necessarily low impact... what about all the waste heat killing off wildlife in rivers used for cooling water etc?

    I think thorium breeders or better yet real working fusion could truly be a game changer and get us out of a tight spot but they both seem to be perpetually 50 years away....
  25. Adabiviak

    Adabiviak Feeling the Heat

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    Nuclear reactions could mean any number of things. The uranium reactors that we're all largely familiar with can certainly be done right, but compared to other technologies, they're messy (leftovers are a drag to deal with), and they often deal with weapon-grade radioactive materials, so there's inherent security risks (which can also be managed). Uranium must also be mined somewhere, and, like oil, won't last forever. Modern fission reactors (not our current crop of, what, 40+ year old designs?) can certainly get more, safer, and cleaner bang for your uranium dollar, but as was mentioned earlier, thorium reactors are better due to a higher abundance (cheaper) fuel, and shorter half lives for the waste product.

    The nuclear power we should be after is fusion. We're currently operating fusion reactions where we get more energy out than was put in. The trick is that to translate these reactors into something reliable enough to go onto the grid, there are other problems to solve. For example, you'll want a duty cycle of maybe a year for one of these reactors. Our current test reactors couldn't reliably be expected to run non-stop for a year. You'll also want much more than, say, twice the return on your initial energy investment for this application. For something running on the grid like this, you'll want higher returns than that, which means fine tuning these reactions in ways we haven't yet figured out. Needless to say, they're much safer to operate than fission reactors (major failures aren't catastrophic, there's no security issues with the (cheaper) fuel, and the waste is much cleaner). The link below points to an interview with some of the MIT researchers working on fusion from April of this year - it's about as good a description of exactly where this technology is at as any I've come across (and gets into some wonderful details about handling the plasma).

    http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/12/04/11/0435231/mit-fusion-researchers-answer-your-questions

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