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On Post-Carbon Future: Nuclear Energy and Scalability

To David Newell:

 

For every individual who cares a little bit about the future of the human race and the planet, there are 10,000 individuals who don't give a you-know-what where the energy comes from as long as it's there 24/7/365. Why else do you think we commit 2 million people a year to premature deaths, from our addiction to burning fossil fuels.

 

The fortunate ¼  of us who now use ¾ of the energy produced are already witnessing the other ¾ of the population striving for our standard of living. By 2050, when there are 10 billion of us, the fight will be on for energy security and resources. We will need 3 or 4 times the amount of energy being used now, for international peace and stability. In this world, you can forget the irritating white noise of the renewables lobby; all they are doing right now is delaying the introduction of the only technology with the answer.

 

Arithmetic done on the back of a fag-packet proves that the technology of the breeder reactor can provide an energy-rich future for 10 billion people, for all of time - from inexhaustible uranium and thorium fuel sources.

 

If or when the lights start to stutter, anti-nuclear sentiment will evapourate and that apathetic, vast majority, who just want energy on demand, will be screaming for their local Small Modular Breeder Reactor.

 

To the politicians, charged with getting energy planning right, for only 2 or 3 decades ahead, the message should be clear: "It's the Energy-Security, stupid"!

 

February 26, 2013    View Comment    

On Updates on UK Nuclear New Build

16 GW of electricity and 32 GW of waste heat going into heat pollution of cooling water - that's what you get from the PWRs proposed for all the UK's 'New Nuclear'.

 

Using high temperature breeder reactors instead of PWR technology, with all its safety and waste baggage,  would give us 16 GW of electricity + another 16 GW of high quality process heat, which is just as saleable and profitable as the electricity. Twice as much bang for our bucks!

 

I've written to Mr Cameron to see if he would care to follow this path and halve the price of electricity to domestic users, to put the cash in our pockets to spend on other goods and services, and industrial users, to make them more competitive at home and abroad.  http://lftrsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/david-cameron-could-halve-price-of.html

July 3, 2012    View Comment    

On After Fukushima, will a new feed in tarriff solve Japan's energy issues?

A sneaky little segue into breeder reactors. After a ministerial pronouncement of Japan’s options for its nuclear future, Nuclear [R]evolution starts to roll:   http://lftrsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/this-is-japan-were-talking-about.html

 

Any industrialised nation needs 24/7 base load electricity for its urban dwellers, its industry and commerce and, resource-less Japan needs energy security more than most. Inherently safe, affordable and emission-free breeder reactors are the inevitable answer for Japan,with deployment capable of commencement in the 2020s.

 

The only decision Japan's electricity consumers have to make is:  will it be LMFBRs or MSBRs: - http://lftrsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/breeder-reactors-it-is-but-will-it...

May 4, 2012    View Comment    

On After Fukushima, will a new feed in tarriff solve Japan's energy issues?

Japan does have to find other alternatives to 'conventional' nuclear, but political expediency and Japan's essential need for the energy independence and energy security which can be derived from breeder reactors, is on the move, behind the scenes and in a low-key fashion:  http://lftrsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/this-is-japan-were-talking-about.html

 

For urbanised, industrialised nations in the developed world and for such aspiring nations of the developing world, deployment of breeder reactors, for 24/7, emission free, base load electricity, is inevitable. From an electorate perspective, PWRs and BWRs will be ditched because of their safety frailties and as sources for anti-nuclear rhetoric. Emissions-free, inherently safe breeder reactors will be offered as the safe and affordable alternative to maintain a nation's industrial competitiveness. Acceptance will be driven by the insatiable energy demands of the urban populations, in the face of depleting and ever more expensive energy from hydrocarbons. It will happen in the 2020s and accelerate into the 2030s and I'd place a bet that Japan's vulnerability in matters of energy security and independence, will make it a front runner of breeder reactor deployment.

May 3, 2012    View Comment    

On Feed-In Tariff Sets Up Japanese Solar For Growth

But you do know from the point of view of fuel resources, it's got to be breeders. EBR-II operated for 30 years and in 1986, 3 weeks before Chernobyl, it underwent a Fukushima-style common-mode failure, when all electrics were lost and safety systems switched off. The reactor shut itsself down according to the laws of physics, and it hardly made the news. 3 weeks later, the anti-nukes were screaming about Chernobyl, the politicians were grandstanding their anti-nuclear views and the rest is anti-nuclear history - along with decades of the worst planetary pollution ever. See:    http://lftrsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/1986-us-medias-coverage-of-chernobyl.html

April 27, 2012    View Comment    

On Feed-In Tariff Sets Up Japanese Solar For Growth

Japan does have to find other alternatives to 'conventional' nuclear, but political expediency and Japan's essential need for the energy independence and energy security which can be derived from breeder reactors, is on the move, behind the scenes and in a low-key fashion:  http://lftrsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/this-is-japan-were-talking-about.html

 

For urbanised, industrialised nations in the developed world and for such aspiring nations of the developing world, deployment of breeder reactors, for 24/7, emission free, base load electricity, is inevitable. From an electorate perspective, PWRs and BWRs will be ditched because of their safety frailties and as sources for anti-nuclear rhetoric. Emissions-free, inherently safe breeder reactors will be offered as the safe and affordable alternative to maintain a nation's industrial competitiveness. Acceptance will be driven by the insatiable energy demands of the urban populations, in the face of depleting and ever more expensive energy from hydrocarbons. It will happen in the 2020s and accelerate into the 2030s and I'd place a bet that Japan's vulnerability in matters of energy security and independence, will make it a front runner of breeder reactor deployment.

April 25, 2012    View Comment    

On Will Cheap Energy Storage Come to Coal and Nuclear's Rescue?

Wall-to-wall breeder reactors for base load power are inevitable in 2 or 3 decades:  http://lftrsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/breeder-reactors-it-is-but-will-it-be.html

The only decision to make, if you wish to enter the debate , is - do you want a breeder cooled by explosive liquid sodium or low-reactivity molten salts? Oh, and Molten Salt Breeders using gas turbine generation can load-follow, so no need for storage.

March 22, 2012    View Comment    

On Nuclear Fission Can Help Solve George Monbiot’s Environmentalist Dilemma

Rod,

I am a great fan of yours and listen repeatedly to your podcasts, particularly those with a Kirk Sorensen/LFTRs content. I do admire your support of and defence of LWRs, but in light of Fukushima and the speed of escalation of the catastrophic meltdowns, I now believe civil authorities should phase out reactors requiring active safety operations, with all possible urgency.

Alvin Weinberg, the inventor of and patent holder for LWRs railed against their use for civil electrical and process heat generation, because he foresaw the likelihood of loss-of-coolant/meltdown accidents. Coolant has to be delivered to the core and in the event of total loss of electrics this will not happen on the 360 or so PWRs and BWRs currently in operation.

Weinberg wanted widespread use of Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs), with their perfect passive safety characteristics. If the core overheats or all electrics is lost or the reactor vessel leaks or is breached, the hot salts drain into a non-critically configured dump-tank, designed to safely and continuously disperse the decay heat

May 18, 2011    View Comment    

On Fukushima Rated At INES Level 7 - What Does This Mean?

And neither do you!

 

But thanks to you and your fellow anti-nukes, you've managed to energise the power (without responsibility) of the unelected media, to atrophy the one industry which could have neutered greenhouse gasses emissions. Over that 30 year period, you need to see the part you have played in the premature deaths of 1½ million people PER ANNUM, from air and environmental pollution and the destruction of ecosystems and species; as a consequence, humankind is degraded. Thank you so much. 

April 15, 2011    View Comment    

On 10+ Days of Crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant – 22 March 2010

Not a lot of people know that Alvin Weinberg invented and held the patents on Light Water Reactors, of which Fukujima is the Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) version and Three Mile Island is the Pressurised Water Reactor version. Although highly unlikely, core-meltdown and loss-of-coolant accidents, theoretically possible with LWRs, greatly concerned Weinberg. 

Weinberg railed against the use of LWRs for civil purposes, because of his awareness of their safety-fallibility. As Director of Research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), conducting experiments and operations of Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs),he argued vehemently for the use of one such MSR, the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR). LFTRs operate at atmospheric pressure and have no pressure 'driver', or any other form of driver (such as highly reactive chemicals, e.g. sodium), to expel radioactive substances into the environment. Weinberg went head-to-head with the political and military paymasters of the nuclear programme, in the criticism of LWRs and the promotion of the safety superiority of LFTRs, and for this, he was asked to leave the nuclear industry. His loss to ORNL, meant that his work had a short-lived legacy, withering on the vine until funds were withdrawn in the early 70s. 

Until his dying day, Weinberg though that the Earth's inexhaustible thorium resources would be the future of energy supply for all of humankind.

In his autobiogra­phy Weinberg confessed:
“I became obsessed with the idea that humankind’­s whole future depended on the breeder. For Society generally to achieve and maintain a standard of living of today’s developed countries depends on the availabili­ty of relatively cheap, inexhausti­ble sources of energy.”

In saying ‘breeder’, he was talking about the transmutat­ion of thorium232 to fissile Uranium233 in a LFTR.

The Enrico Fermi Award is an award honoring scientists of international stature for their lifetime achievement in the development, use, or production of energy. 1980 – Alvin M. Weinberg.

 

Surely the sagacious views of such an individual should be most seriously considered by energy decision makers.

March 22, 2011    View Comment