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Comments by Robert Hargraves Subscribe

On How to Read a 2015 Article About Electric Power

The article says "Electricity can be converted and stored as potential chemical energy (batteries)". As you mention, electrcity can be used to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen; it can be recombinded chemically (burned) to recover the energy, but the efficiency is well below 50%. Making the burning ammonia, NH3, is another way to convert electrical energy to chemical energy, then back. Fuel cells are another way of harvesting stored chemical potential energy.

January 3, 2015    View Comment    

On Launching a New Way to Explore Energy and Human Development

Also see

November 11, 2014    View Comment    

On Examining Nuclear Energy as Climate Option, Part I

Great analysis and exposition. I'll look forward to Part 2. If you want to see an MSR design in detail, visit

November 11, 2014    View Comment    

On Still No Sign of the Rational Middle?

"Coal is good for humanity, coal is good for prosperity, coal is an essential part of our economic future.." is the mantra of Australia and more importantly the more populous developing nations. The development of molten salt reactors with energy cheaper than coal will change all this. Economics always wins out. This Facebook page shows how close we are to achieving this.

October 20, 2014    View Comment    

On Energy Use of a 100-Watt Light Bulb per Year by Source

The full-time 100-watt light bulb gives a convenient reference. Providing 100 watts of electricity won't solve the energy poverty problem, even substituting LEDs for incandescent light bulbs (which is a good idea in any case). US consumption averages 1683 watts per capita. My own recommended miniumum for developing nations is 228 watts. Here are the averages for a few countries:

US 1683 watts

Canada 1871

EU 688

India 90

China 447

Norway 2603

Germany 861


Australia 1114

To solve this we need clean, safe, reliable, abundant energy cheaper than coal.

October 9, 2014    View Comment    

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