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On Is it Really Necessary to Have a Deep Geologic Repository for Used Nuclear Fuel?

@Peter

You have obviously not read much of my material. There are perhaps 3000 posts on Atomic Insights, no more than a handful talk about carbon pricing. It is a topic of interest, not a focus.

Most of my time during the past 25 years has been aimed at pointing out and getting rid of the artificial barriers that have been erected on purpose to slow nuclear energy development. That is my real focus.

I think you have vastly overestimated the difficulty of a simple fee and dividend approach to CO2. It is quite easy to administer and to calculate with good precision. It's also something that would gain public support the minute the checks began arriving.

September 12, 2014    View Comment    

On Is it Really Necessary to Have a Deep Geologic Repository for Used Nuclear Fuel?

@Peter

I read your submission. While a carbon price in Australia may have no effect, if one could be established in just three places - the US, the EU and China - it would cover more than 60% of global emissions. Extend it to 6 places by adding Russia, India and Brazil and you have a 90% solution.

Good enough.

What do you have against cherries?

September 12, 2014    View Comment    

On Is it Really Necessary to Have a Deep Geologic Repository for Used Nuclear Fuel?

Peter:

I am confused by your two comments. The carbon pricing that I advocate is one way to approach the fee on fossil fuels to pay for the cost that storing their waste in the atmosphere imposes on all of the rest of us. There may need to be additional fees that vary depending on the specific fossil fuel to pay for other components since each type of fuel has a different waste stream in addition to CO2.

The effort to price carbon has not reached the stage where I believe it is too hard. The specific program that I like - the fee and dividend approach - has the potential to be wildly popular with the people who use less than the average amount of hydrocarbons because they would be receiving a payment on a periodic basis for the use of their share of the atmosphere as a storage area.

As far as I can tell, there is some momentum building for this type of plan, but the promoters have not yet invested in the type of communications that would help the public become more aware of its potential benefits for leveling the fuels playing field and for providing some payment for an activity that intrudes on their property.

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

PS - I don't think I have ever many any comments about you personally, though I certainly have engaged in discussions with you about your opposition to government policies. Challenging comments and ideas is not the same as challenging a person.

September 12, 2014    View Comment    

On Russia Continues Sustained Fast Breeder Reactor Effort

@Job001 Gibson

I am no Malthusian and I have a great deal of faith in human ingenuity. However, no matter how clever humans are, they still need to follow natural laws of physics, chemistry, meterology, and material science.

The technologies that the "renewable" energy industry promotes are a technological dead end, even if you assume the invention of almost magical materials.

The sun never provides much concentrated power; even if you cover a mini-van sized automobile with 100% efficient solar panels, the instananeous power production at noon on a clear day near the equator would be about 3-4 kilowatts (about 5 hp). That would make a very slow automobile unless you assume a large amount of storage, which always adds considerable weight to the vehicle.

As a long time sailor, I can testify to the fact that trying to collect and use wind power is challenging, fun, and complete unsuited for any application that needs to deliver on a schedule. There is a reason that highly refined clipper ships lost out to primitive, inefficient coal burners in ocean trading more than 150 years ago.

If you understand the potential of nuclear energy and the natural abundance of the fuel - which is an essentially inexhaustible resource - you will have great hope for humanity and our future prosperity.

Malthusian predictions could have come true if the proponents of doom had been able to convince the world that the Haber-Bosch Process should be banned or severely restricted and placed under strict government regulation because it enabled the production of explosives as well as fertilizer.

http://www.princeton.edu/~hos/mike/texts/readmach/zmaczynski.htm

July 6, 2014    View Comment    

On Russia Continues Sustained Fast Breeder Reactor Effort

@wind smith

Fission is actually more responsive to changes in power demand than combustion. Submarines and aircraft carriers can vary their power level faster than similarly sized oil burners.

The machines I propose would be competitive even without a carbon tax. The complete cost of the manufactured fuel should be less than $2/MMBTU in the early stages of commercial operation, with a lot of room for cost reductions as the manufacturing process is refined and scaled up. (The required fuel is quite different from the traditional light water fuel, so there is a very small installed production base currently limited to Chinese manufacturers. There are pilot scale production facilites in other countries, including the US.)

July 6, 2014    View Comment    

On Russia Continues Sustained Fast Breeder Reactor Effort

@Job001 Gibson

Let me rephrase - we could not wait that long and maintain any kind of organization. The ideas and the designs still exist and are under careful protection, waiting for the availability of fuel.

I admire Chinese culture and history. I admire their engineering. I do not admire their business practices or their current government. I'm not interested in having the Chinese government as a partner, no matter how much money is involved.

Patience is a virtue.

July 5, 2014    View Comment    

On Russia Continues Sustained Fast Breeder Reactor Effort

@Job001 Gibson

Interestingly enough, I founded a company in 1993 called Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. based on a design for a closed cycle gas turbine using a pebble bed reactor, nitrogen as the working fluid and a simple Brayton cycle using compressors and turbines that were designed for the combustion turbine market.

These machines could be made available in a variety of power outputs by choosing the appropriate reactor internal volume, filling it with the appropriate number of pebbles, and choosing compressors and turbines that were already being manufactured, thus avoiding the costs of design and creating whole new supply chains for unique machines run on some kind non standard gas like helium.

It is a well proven and testable fact that pebble bed reactors using TRISO fuel particles can be made so that they can withstand a complete loss of cooling without scram and still maintain all fuel temperatures below the temperature that will damage any of the elements. That statement holds true up to a thermal power level of about 300 MW, so it is not terribly interesting to people who think in terms of reactors with thermal power of 3,000 to 5,000 MW. 

However, since large combustion turbines are generally in the power range of 100-150 MWe, it is a very useful characteristic for someone interested in closed Brayton cycles that are intended to compete against combustion turbines and diesel engines.

Anyway, you can find out more by perusing the documents available at http://atomicengines.com and http://atomicengines.blogspot.com.

Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. by the way, was never successful in raising enough capital to move off of our computers and into actual machinery. Part of the problem was that the TRISO fuel particles that we initially thought had been proven to be good enough were not available anymore. There was, and remains, a very credible fuel manufacturing and testing program that is designed to meet NRC expectations being run by the DOE and the NGNP partnership. That program is scheduled to have licensable fuel ready by 2021 or 2022. We couldn't wait that long.

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

July 5, 2014    View Comment    

On Russia Continues Sustained Fast Breeder Reactor Effort

@Bas

Germany's electricity reliability statistics are interesting but irrelevant in a global sense. Germany is a well developed, relatively densely populated country with an existing grid and neighbors that are quite willing to sell it power when needed or to take its excess production -- though the willingness to purchase the excess is becoming saturated.

For example: If your goal is to power a moderately sized city in the American Southeast, you would be daft to believe that wind or solar would be a significant contributor. Geothermal is a non-starter. Hydro works, but there is virtually no available waterway left to dam. (There are many places in the world with similar challenges.)

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

July 3, 2014    View Comment    

On Russia Continues Sustained Fast Breeder Reactor Effort

@Bill Hannahan

Since you reference Ray Haroldsen’s story about blowing up BORAX, I presume you actually read it. Do you recall the portion where he described in detail the creative engineering he had to invent in order to cause the rod ejection, high reactivity rate to begin in the first place?

There are many protections that prevent such an even from happening in any reactor that can be licensed and built today.

July 2, 2014    View Comment    

On Russia Continues Sustained Fast Breeder Reactor Effort

@Job001 Gibson

People are also willing to pay more for energy that is available when and where they need it. No matter how popular it might be to think that the wind and sun are all you need, no human has figured out how to control when the sun shines or the wind blows. Long transmission lines are just as vulnerable to interruption by aggressors as any other kind of fuel delivery system.

If someone owns a nuclear power plant, they are not terribly vulnerable to extortion since they can stockpile several fuel reloads if desired and each reload lasts for 18-24 months.

There are several independent fuel suppliers that are not in any kind of cartel.

July 2, 2014    View Comment    

On Russia Continues Sustained Fast Breeder Reactor Effort

@Nathan Wilson

I would put the line of demarkation in a different place. Those nations that have technically compenent, respected advisors who can do math in decision making or decision influencing positions like nuclear energy. Several of them - Sweden, France, Russia, India, South Korea, China, Iran, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and others are keenly interested in building and operating nuclear power plants and taking advantage of their impressive energy output. 

Those nations that are dominated by a love of money rather than a love of humans seem more interested in maximizing profits for their already wealthy members who have learned to prosper in a hydrocarbon-based economy. Those nations tend to have decision makers who think that laws and policies trump math and thermodyamics.

Some of the countries that can do math are not admirable and are also in the nuclear game for the benefits that it can bring to people at the very top, but at least they have not ignored the technical reality that fission is superior to combustion in a number of applications.

Sadly, at least one of the countries that recognizes the value of nuclear energy would prefer if only its friends used the technology, so it has invested time and money supporting movements that discourage nuclear energy by spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

July 2, 2014    View Comment    

On IPCC Working Group III Recommends Nearly Quadrupling Nuclear Energy

@Willem Post

I am not getting my hopes up just based on the IPCC report, but on what I see as a growing consensus among honest scientists and engineers who are justly concerned about the continuing effects of unrestricted CO2 dumping. People like Hansen, Wigley, Calderia and Emanuel are finding a voice and telling people the truth that needs to be repeated - climate change is a big risk and the most important available solution that is ready today to tackle the problem is nuclear energy.

Wind is playing a role today and may continue to grow, but it cannot do the job that we need our power sources to do. It cannot provide power when and where we need it; it is more of an opportunistic, fair weather power source that is destined to play a minor role.

April 22, 2014    View Comment