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On Biomass: The World's Biggest Provider Of Renewable Energy

Robert, This is an excellent, well-written, documented article. I had no idea that growth of biomass energy in Germany was triple that of wind and solar.

April 24, 2014    View Comment    

On Why a Climate Treaty or Carbon Tax Is Unlikely

I strongly agree with the premise that carbon taxes are unlikely. Even if wealthy countries such as the US could agree to them, the developing world so desparately needs affordable electricity they will burn what ever is cheapest -- now coal. But you discount the possibility that advanced nuclear power can provide energy cheaper than coal, writing Nuclear power cannot overcome "not in my backyard" objections to siting generation or waste facilities. Objections are becoming overcome. Support for nuclear power is increasing. In Nevada two candidates for the US House or Representatives are supporting the Yucca Mountain waste depository. Politicians in Texas are rallying support for a waste isolation facility in West Texas. Just this week, China announced negotiations with Westinghouse for eight (8) more AP1000 reactors.

April 23, 2014    View Comment    

On Russian Gas Exports and Western Encroachments on Russia

Yes, we brought this crisis on ourselves by overreaching to expand NATO to Russia's borders. Better would have been to invite Russia into NATO.

April 17, 2014    View Comment    

On Powering to Climate Mitigation

Jim, nothing can instantaneously roll back the risks cited in the IPCC paper. Even if we develop a new industry that can produce small modular reactors in factories, the way Boeing produces airliners, it will take many decades to produce enough units to displace fossil fuel burning worldwide.

The waste heat of all thermal/electric power plants, including nuclear, is a necessary byproduct of the thermodynamics of the conversion of thermal energy to electricity. But that heat is small in comparison to the heating of the earth from the COw-caused imbalance of solar radiation onto and infra-red radiation from the earth. The OTEC wouldn't stop that, but it would, as you say, move the heat to the relative safety of the deep ocean. It will all get there eventually, though it might take centuries; it wouldn't stop the heat additions, however.

April 4, 2014    View Comment    

On Powering to Climate Mitigation

You wrote "Although all clean energy sources are an improvement over fossil fuels, only hydroelectricity and ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) have the potential to instantly rollback some or all of the environmental damage that is currently occurring and threatens to increase." But nuclear power is a proven option.

April 3, 2014    View Comment    

On Dollar a Gallon Gasoline

I applaud the focus on costs. It's critical that costs be addressed at design time, not by subsequent cost-reduction efforts. Costs are a focus of the book, THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal.

You rule out dollar-a-gallon gasoline from nuclear power because achieving that price will require electricty costing 1-2 cents/kWh. However new designs for thorium molten salt reactors promise costs of 3-4 cents/kWh, so two-dollar-a-gallon gasoline might be achievable. These new reactors should cost ~$2/watt of capacity. Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear power plants today in China are being built at $2/watt, much better than the $5/watt stated.

Skylon looks cool.

April 3, 2014    View Comment    

On It's Passion That Will Lead to Brighter Nuclear Future

The Passion of Alvin Weinberg also illustrates your point.

Many people do not realize the motivations, responsibilities, and passions of those who are striving to improve the world with nuclear energy.


March 31, 2014    View Comment    

On Court Rules for Cape Wind, Ending a Decade of Failed Opposition

Financing is possible only because the State of Massachusetts requires the utility companies to buy Cape Wind power at above-market prices growing from 16 to 24 cents per kilowatt-hour. That's 3 to 5 times the cost of power from Pilgrim nuclear power plant or natural gas. Electricity prices will rise for consumers and industry.

March 21, 2014    View Comment    

On Radiation: The Facts

Building a nuclear power plant doesn't take 10 years in China. Figure about 5 years for the first-of-a-kind AP1000, to be operational this year. Because of designs that have already been developed for MSRs by several ventures, a first-of-a-kind MSR can be built in 4-5 years, but not in the US where the NRC refuses to license anything at this time. TerraPower and other ventures have been driven out of the US to other countries to build new designs. You wrote "Almost all air pollution here is created by cars." What country do you mean by "here"?

March 14, 2014    View Comment    

On Secretary Kerry Makes Climate Change Top Priority in New Policy Directive: Some Key Actions to Deliver on That Policy

Kerry, Clinton, and O'Leary torpedoed the US Integral Fast Reactor project at Argonne; it was nearly ready to demonstrate the use of U-238 fuel, 100X more abundant than today's LWR U-235 fuel. Nuclear power is essential, essential to satisfy expanding energy requirements while reducing fossil fuel burning. Kerry didn't mention nuclear power. The administration opposes it.

March 13, 2014    View Comment    

On Radiation: The Facts

Posting total lies about relative energy density of solar and nuclear destroys your credibility. You wrote "The land footprint (some nuclear folks state 'power density') of wind and solar is much better than that of nuclear" but this example illustrates a 50:1 advantage for nuclear power.

March 13, 2014    View Comment    

On Flying Without Fossil Fuels: The Need For High Energy Density

From pp 378-9 of THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal...

Hydrogen can power airplanes.

With extensive development, hydrogen may become a possible commercial airplane fuel. For the same amount of energy, hydrogen fuel has only 1/3 the weight of petroleum XE "petroleum"  jet fuel, very advantageous to aircraft performance. Containing compressed hydrogen at 350 atmospheres of pressure (5000 psi) is possible with lightweight carbon-fiber tanks, but higher densities would require heavy steel tanks. At this pressure hydrogen’s energy density XE "energy density"  of 2.8 MJ/liter compares unfavorably to jet fuel at 33 MJ/liter, so the volume occupied by hydrogen tanks will be 12 times more than jet fuel tanks, reducing cargo or shortening flights.

Experimental Tupolev TU-155

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March 11, 2014    View Comment