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November 08, 2006

Comments

George

The report sounds reasonably sane, but if Nuclear is really "cost competitive" with coal and gas, why would it need subsidy for the upfront costs in a world swimming in liquidity?

Nucbuddy

George,

If the purpose of leaning toward a particular energy solution is a common interest such as carbon reduction, the reason a subsidy would be needed is that individual investment in a common interest represents a conflict of interest. To resolve conflicts of interest among their respective constituents, groups employ subsidies.

Demesure

Nuclear energy would cost much less had it not been hampered by the generalized nimby attitude which makes installation permits to take more than 10 years to get.

BTW, it has become the problem for almost all kind of power plants, even with wind towers. It has become nearly impossible to find a site for a coal PP in the USA, not to mention in Europe.

JN2

Nuclear is a failure of the imagination, expensive, un-insurable and leaves toxic waste for generations to come. We can do better than this.

amazingdrx

Any mention of a new generation of safer nuclear power plants that recycle waste?

Any proposal for a solution to NIMBY lawsuits, such as liability insurance and evacuation and decontamination plans in case of an accident?

I doubt it. Instead the plan will probably be to outlaw objections to building plants as they are now configured in terms of safety, waste, lack of liability insurance, leaks of contamination, and huge cost over runs.

Dictatorial forms of governance to get around every reasonable objection to nuclear power in its present problematic mode will be the only research conducted. Legal research, not development of new plants.

Along with some unrealistic, under funded research into pie-in-the-sky fusion and/or a hydrogen based energy economy. The stuff of which heavily subsidized, dreamy corporate kleptocracy is made.

Nucbuddy

Drx,

Why might it be important to recycle nuclear waste?

mtburr

Nuclear plants in the United States would need subsidies because the liability for cost-overruns is so high, nobody will put their neck on the block to get one built.

And legal "research" is important because fast reactors (which recycle fuel) and mixed-oxide fuel designs are useless if you can't get them permitted and accepted by society.

But I agree that's the only way it makes sense to build new nukes -- they must be fast reactors that recycle spent fuel. Otherwise we're just going to shift the problems of the global petroleum industry to the uranium-mining and waste-storage industries, which already have their own (big) problems.

MTB

Mark

The sad history of cost over runs and delays in the US is largely because construction of 70's vintage plants was started with much of the design incomplete. Added to that was the licensing process in which the plant was not licensed to operate until it was constructed - the result was a 10-15 year construction fiasco with no guarantee that the plant would be allowed to operated.

Currently, a pre-approved designs can be licensed in such a way that all the regulatory uncertainty is resolved before digging the hole. The pre-operational review is limited to ensuring the as built plant conforms to the approved design. Several US utilities are seriously considering new plants. NIMBYism is not dead. Homeowners in Virginia are organizing against new plants at the North Anna facility because of potential impact to Lake Anna.... Lake Anna is an artificial lake built to support the North Anna nuclear plants. Another case of people moving to the country and complaining about farm smell or moving near the airport and complaining about the noise. Oh the humanity.

Umgadgklix

Newer designs of nuclear plants will be safer and less expensive to build and operate. Thorium reactors, for example, could help consume plutonium reserves while not producing new weapons grade materials.

A lot of "green" faddists have become so inflexible in their thinking that they're unable to objectively evaluate new technologies. Their minds snap shut like a steel trap.

mtburr

>"green" faddists have become so inflexible in their thinking ... their minds snap shut like a steel trap.

I know what you mean, but I'm not sure this is a fair characterization. Historically, environmental advocates have had good reason to be defensive and suspicious of industry and government claims. 40 years of mistrust and deceit cannot be reconciled overnight.

In any case, perspectives on these issues are changing with the times. Concerns about energy security and climate change transcend party lines and political labels. It's no longer constructive or accurate to paint various groups in black-and-white colors anymore.

Or to the degree it is, we shouldn't be doing it anyway, because it is divisive and impedes progress.

Dezakin
The report sounds reasonably sane, but if Nuclear is really "cost competitive" with coal and gas, why would it need subsidy for the upfront costs in a world swimming in liquidity?
It doesn't. It needs licensing parity and government support parity with alternatives. That coal and gas have far easier licensing procedures and huge subsidies distorts the field in favor of fossil fuels. I would prefer that we get rid of the subsidies alltogether, but politicians being what they are...
But I agree that's the only way it makes sense to build new nukes -- they must be fast reactors that recycle spent fuel.
You dont have to be a fast reactor to do fuel recycling. Liquid fluoride reactors are thermal or epithermal in nature, and they have completely closed fuel cycles. In fact, its highly desirable to avoid fast reactors often because the swings in neutron flux are so big they are often hard to control. Liquid chloride reactors can be good for actinide incineration though.
Otherwise we're just going to shift the problems of the global petroleum industry to the uranium-mining and waste-storage industries, which already have their own (big) problems.
Waste storage is a political problem, not a technical problem. Theres nothing hard about sealing spent fuel in a concrete cask and sticking it in an empty lot.
Rod Adams

If I had my druthers, there would be no subsidies for energy production facilities. However, since subsidies exist, they should be as sensible as possible. Encouraging the development of nuclear electricity production facilities that can then manufacture many decades worth of emissions free electrical power is a smart decision for governments.

An important thing to consider when it comes to energy production is the effect of supply and demand. We obviously need cleaner power to help alleviate the effects of current energy related pollution, but without some kinds of new market structure there is a considerable risk of market disruption caused by over capacity. That situation can lead to dramatic drops in power prices and throw economic projections into a region of great uncertainty.

With long lead time projects like nuclear plants in the mix, it is possible that the power price used in initial projections will change enough to cause the developer/owner to decide to abort the project in midstream due to poor economics. That response is especially likely if the existing capacity that is producing income is owned by the same owner as the new, not yet completed capacity that is simply consuming investment dollars. Even if the new capacity has lower emissions and lower projected operating costs, it can be an economic disaster to continue building in the face of dropping prices.

This situation occurred in several markets in the US during the first nuclear building boom. It is certainly possible for the same thing to happen again without solid, sustainable reasons to complete the clean new plants and shut down the old, dirty ones.

We do not want another situation where projects consume a lot of resources and never get completed or get stretched out so long that the total construction cost is doubled or even tripled. US nuclear power plant experience is that at least as many nuclear plant delays were caused by this kind of economic analysis as by anti-nuclear intervenors.

amazingdrx

"Theres nothing hard about sealing spent fuel in a concrete cask and sticking it in an empty lot."

Then why all the trouble with Yucca Mountain and why are there used nuclear fuel rod storage "swimming pools" all over this country?

Could terrorists manage to open a concrete cask, with or without explosives? Could an earthquake or a 300 mph tornado?

Why recycle waste n-buddy? Because if you can't treat it, recycle it, or store it safely and cheaply, the danger of nuclear power and the expense of producing new fuel renders it useless as an alternative to fossil based energy.

Either develop safe, cost effective reactors that neutralize waste and produce their own fuel or fuggetaboutit.

What we have so far just is not a good alternative. Prove you can beat wind, water, and solar on cost and safety, without subsidies and along with your overdue liability insurance and waste disposal bills paid, or go back to the drawing board and reseach reactors.

Why not back my proposal to drop all subsidies and start from scratch on new designs at nuclear facilities like Yucca. Give it 10 years and then prove you can compete without subsidies.

You all must realize that any design you might favor will need to be tested and proven, right? And that will take at least a decade.

Mikey

Guys and Gals,

Nuclear is not CO2 free!

Look at the life cyle the CO2 spent digging up uranium, refining it, enricing it, transporting it all.......... you will see that Nuclear using uranium (They all do up unitl now) isn't going to be CO2 posititve for much longer (the ore grade is steadily dropping).

I have read a book so now I'm an expert :-) But Jeez Loiuse, if half what's stated in it is true (read Toxins Toxins did I say Toxins) let's put lid on this nuclear thing once and for all.

For the amount that gets spent on nuclear, why not put it into todays solar tech and superconductor transmission lines. Put a billion watt hours of these new flywheels in the middle of the country to such up the solar and do the night load.

I'll dig up the name of the book and author.

amazingdrx

Yep mikey. You are thinking of super conducting energy storage rings on the "flywheels" reference?

The public utility here in northern wisconsion is the first utility in the world to use them, saving 15% on fuel. They use the storage to handle papermill power loads, without firing up extra generating capacity.

Without heavy subsidies I believe nuclear can never compete with renewables, but let them try a few experimental reactors at Yucca Mountain or another already contaminated site. That will take at least ten years.

In return all subsidies for fossil and nuclear power need to be dropped. And in order to level the unfair, subsidized competition from nuclear and fossil power; solar, wave, wind power, electric plugin battery and hybrid cars, and geothermal heat pump heating/cooling ought to recieve half those savings from cuts in energy corporation welfare payments as individual tax credits to consumers for renewable power investments.

Use the other half of energy company corporate welfare to pay down this deficit built up over the latest round of oil wars.

That's a good compromise and sound energy policy. Now how to get the new congress to back it?

Kirk Sorensen

Nuclear is not CO2 free!

Look at the life cyle the CO2 spent digging up uranium, refining it, enricing it, transporting it all.......... you will see that Nuclear using uranium (They all do up unitl now) isn't going to be CO2 posititve for much longer (the ore grade is steadily dropping).

drx, I've repeatedly encouraged you to go to the anti-nuclear site WISE and use their life-cycle emission calculator. They will grant conventional uranium nuclear no advantages and yet the CO2 emissions of the nuclear life-cycle are a tiny fraction of coal, oil, or gas. Things will improve even more when we can build liquid-fluoride thorium reactors.

Paul Dietz

Then why all the trouble with Yucca Mountain and why are there used nuclear fuel rod storage "swimming pools" all over this country?

Increasingly, fuel is being placed in dry casks, despite efforts of anti-nuclear forces to block this (because it would gut the waste issue as a roadblock to use of nuclear power).

As for Yucca Mountain -- it makes no sense, has never made any sense, and should be shut down. It was an attempt to apply the wrong technical solution to a political problem.

As for fuel recycling, thorium reactors, molten salt reactors, etc. -- these are stupid solutions to non-problems. We don't need to reprocess spent fuel now, and it's prohibitively expensive to do so relative to the benefits. We can just seal spent fuel away and deal with it in a few centuries when it's much less radioactive. The only reason we might want to recycle would be if uranium were too scarce for once-through cycles to work for very long, but it's increasingly clear that this isn't the case. There's lots of uranium waiting to be discovered on land, and extraction from seaater (4 billion tons!) looks economical at prices only a few times higher than today's.

Thorium-containing fuel elements might make sense to extend burnup in certain kinds of once-through cycles.

The non-scarcity of uranium is also part of why nuclear fusion is a stillborn technology -- it attempts to save on the cheap part of the process (fuel, waste disposal) while exacerbating the dominant costs (capital cost, costs associated with reliability). Back 50 years ago when the fusion program was sent lurching into motion, they thought uranium was going to be much less abundant than it turned out to be.

Jimmi

I tend to agree with Kirk. Technology has been and always will be a driving force to influence pricing and cost effectiveness. I would hope we would try to utilize all avenues of possible energy alternative resources and hope an advance in whatever sector, being it nuclear, wind, wave, solor, etc. will come as quickly as possible. Personally I am rooting for solar. But if there are advances in nuclear, I'm all for it as long as we can be responsible enough to maintain it. Which comes down to waste management. I wonder if it would be cost effective now to just launch nuclear waste to the sun. A friend of mine turned me on to Obital Sciences Inc. ORB (stock ticker symbol =) actually recycles old booster stage rockets from ICBMs from the cold war era. Atleast our tax dollars from the cold war era isn't going to be a total waste. Just aim for the sun. They actually do mid-air launches also to save on rocket fuel costs. I wonder if this would be feasible.

The energy race has gotten pretty intresting in the last 5 years. It seems this might be a start of an energy shift toward the alternatives. Too many advances have been made recently across the whole spectrum of alternative energy solutions for nothing to happen to the oil, coal, and gas market share. China's pollution problems should be evidence enough that a shift away from the major 3 is needed. All that pollution accumulation in a matter of 2 decades. What a shame. Atleast their government has made considerable changes to try and maintain it. I wouldn't be suprised if China became a world leader in alternative energy solutions while they take over the US economy and become #1.

Kirk Sorensen

I wonder if it would be cost effective now to just launch nuclear waste to the sun.

Extraordinarily difficult, even if there were no safety concerns. To get something to crash into the Sun, you have to kill off all of the Earth's orbital velocity around the Sun (roughly 30 km/s) and then let the package "fall in". To escape the solar system only requires about 12 km/s (beyond the 9 km/s it took to launch in the first place). It's one of those ideas that sounds great on paper but just isn't at all practical.

As for fuel recycling, thorium reactors, molten salt reactors, etc. -- these are stupid solutions to non-problems.

Resource scarcity isn't the main reason I advocate thorium reactors. Nor is reprocessing or waste concerns. Those are all nice, but the most attractive feature of the fluoride reactors is their deep, deep inherent safety and their potential for low capital costs. To get off fossil fuels, we will need to build thousands of nuclear reactors. The reactors we can build today cannot be built cheap enough to build thousands in a few decades. Nor will you find enough locations to site them. The fluoride reactor, fueled by thorium, coupled to a helium gas-turbine power conversion system, has the potential for huge reductions in capital costs while achieving new heights in fundamental safety.

Paul Dietz

Those are all nice, but the most attractive feature of the fluoride reactors is their deep, deep inherent safety and their potential for low capital costs.

Molten salt reactors are already melted down! The fission products are distributed throughout the primary loop. This cannot be easier to maintain than conventional reactors, in which essentially all the radioactive material remains confined in sealed fuel elements. Disposing of the waste products from this reactor is going to require additional processing, which will also add to the cost.

Fluoride reactors also have new interesting failure modes, like concentration of 233U by volatility from radiogenic molecular fluorine. This actually happened at the storage facility for the salt from MSR program at Oak Ridge. Criticality accidents, anyone?

The waste from thorium reactors is also considerably more alpha toxic than that from uranium reactors, since it ends up containing substantial amounts of 232U, which is a couple of orders of magnitude more active than plutonium. Uranium is also much more mobile in earth surface oxidizing conditions, so if it escapes into the environment this isotope will tend to migrate around.

And what does all this get you? Not a whole lot over existing, proven reactor technologies.

The reactors we can build today cannot be built cheap enough to build thousands in a few decades.

Innumerate nonsense. Thousands of reactors would be expensive, but so what? It's still a small fraction of world (or even US) economic output over the relevant period. This is a major chunk of the energy supply we're talking about, and any source of that much power is going to costly.

And, if you really think building reactors over the next few decades is the deciding point, then advocacy of new reactor types is a nonstarter, since those reactor types won't be proven enough for widespread adoption until the first generation has been run through its lifecycle. Look how long it took to work the kinks out of LWRs. People spending gigadollars are intensely conservative. So it's already too late.

Jeremy

I have a very simple answer to all of this. No government assistance or penalties for any type of energy, with the exception of a standard methodology to include a tax on production generation that would account for externalities not already captured in the market price (i.e a carbon tax to account for environmental damage). Then get out of the way and let the market decide which is best.

As far as nuclear being CO2 free, it is with respect to generation. And unless people are carrying by hand raw materials to factories with no machines in them that make power generation equipment then neither is any other form of "CO2 Free" generation.

Kirk Sorensen

Molten salt reactors are already melted down!

It seems paradoxical, but that is the very basis of the safety. As a fluid, the fuel can easily change geometry in the event of an accident to achieve passive cooling. If you stop cooling a solid fuel rod, it decides pretty soon that it wants to be a liquid too, and melts through its cladding and potentially its containment--but it's not intended to do this, so fission products are released unintentionally. With fluid fluoride fuel, fission product gases are continuously removed (including iodine, one of the biggest concerns in radioactive release). Furthermore, the chemical stability of the fluoride salts keeps other nasties like strontium and cesium bound up tightly and as the fuel cools it solidifies.

Disposing of the waste products from this reactor is going to require additional processing, which will also add to the cost.

Yes, the fuel requires reprocessing, but it is a tiny fraction of the difficulty of reprocessing solid fuel elements, which have to be physically disassembled, turned into a liquid, and then proceed through an abundance of reprocessing steps. At the end of this process they have to be converted back to solids again and fabricated into new fuel elements. This is so complicated that it all takes place at dedicated fuel reprocessing and fabrication plants (if we were to recycle solid nuclear fuel) and that means moving hot spent fuel around the country.

The waste from thorium reactors is also considerably more alpha toxic than that from uranium reactors, since it ends up containing substantial amounts of 232U, which is a couple of orders of magnitude more active than plutonium.

Compared to the intense gamma radiation coming from fission products, alpha radiation from actinides isn't much of a concern, so this isn't really a distinguishing factor. It's like lighting a Bic in a burning building. Doesn't make much difference. At any rate, the reprocessing schemes you use in fluoride reactors keep all actinides and alpha-emitting wastes out of the final waste stream. This is easily done through fluorination.

Fluoride reactors also have new interesting failure modes, like concentration of 233U by volatility from radiogenic molecular fluorine. This actually happened at the storage facility for the salt from MSR program at Oak Ridge. Criticality accidents, anyone?

I know a chemist who worked on both the MSRE reactor and the remediation process. The migration of U-233 happened over decades because they didn't take the time in 1969 (when they shut down the MSRE) to fluorinate the fuel and remove the U-233. It is not a failure mode of fluoride reactors, unless you plan to walk away from one for a few decades. As long as the salt stays above about 150 C, UF4 is the chemically favored state. What happened with the MSRE was that several decades after shutdown, the fuel finally cooled below that temperature and radiolysis (from gammas) caused molecular fluorine to move through the fuel and mobilize UF4 to UF6 which is gaseous. But this is an accident that takes a very long time and incredible neglect to allow to happen.

And what does all this get you? Not a whole lot over existing, proven reactor technologies.

On the contrary, it gets you a reactor that is a complete nuclear fuel cycle, accepting abundant thorium as a basic fuel and rejecting only (relatively) short-lived fission products as waste.

And, if you really think building reactors over the next few decades is the deciding point, then advocacy of new reactor types is a nonstarter, since those reactor types won't be proven enough for widespread adoption until the first generation has been run through its lifecycle. Look how long it took to work the kinks out of LWRs. People spending gigadollars are intensely conservative. So it's already too late.

Alvin Weinberg, the inventor of the LWR, knew what the "kinks" would be from the moment he put his idea to paper. He knew that the LWR was a stop-gap reactor, and that's why he told Eisenhower not to build them as civilian reactors. At that point he was working fluid-fueled thorium reactors.

You have to start with a reactor that can get you where you want to be. LWRs were never that reactor. The folks who built them knew that. If we want a safe, nuclear-powered world, we have to build reactors that can actually reach that goal.

Dezakin
The fission products are distributed throughout the primary loop. This cannot be easier to maintain than conventional reactors, in which essentially all the radioactive material remains confined in sealed fuel elements.
And in LWRs, radiactive xenon and krypton migrate all over the place before decaying into other fission products. MSRs dont require refueling downtime, so the required maintenance burden is significantly lower.

I'm really not sure why this spectre of the hot loop maintenance nightmare is repeatedly trotted out, but it seems overstated at best.

Disposing of the waste products from this reactor is going to require additional processing, which will also add to the cost.
The waste product processing is almost entirely distilation in a two fluid reactor, which more than offsets the cost of the fuel fabrication regime and the downtime of the plant during refueling. The fission products suspension in molten salt mediums offer relatively easy chemical separation also, where many fission products can be sold on the spot market, especially the xenon.

Honestly Paul, you seem like a very bright guy. Your apparent opposition to fluid fuel reactors just doesnt make sense in light of their vast advantages over solid fuel reactors.

Paul Dietz

Yes, the fuel requires reprocessing, but it is a tiny fraction of the difficulty of reprocessing solid fuel elements,

You miss the point -- that reprocessing is required in the MSR. In an LWR, reprocessing can be skipped entirely. There will inevitably be leaks and contamination in the salt processing, or even during normal operation. Minor leaks are unavoidable in any real reactor system, and major leaks are not unheard of. A major leak that dumps a substantial amount of the fission product load of the reactor loop would be financially devastating to the reactor operator.

the reprocessing schemes you use in fluoride reactors keep all actinides and alpha-emitting wastes out of the final waste stream.

I like fairy tales, but your use of the word 'all' is too hard to swallow. Just what fraction remains? Even .1% (much better than achieved in any current reprocessing scheme) would render the waste sufficiently contaminated that the alpha activity could not be neglected.

it gets you a reactor that is a complete nuclear fuel cycle, accepting abundant thorium as a basic fuel and rejecting only (relatively) short-lived fission products as waste.

And my point is that is basically not worth much. It's solving a problem that doesn't need solving. We don't need a closed fuel cycle. We don't need reactors that burn thorium. Sure, it's technically interesting, but why should the average utility executive care?

Alvin Weinberg, the inventor of the LWR, knew what the "kinks" would be from the moment he put his idea to paper.

Which is basically nonresponsive to the point. If you want to build nuclear reactors over the next few decades, MSRs are a nonstarter, Alvin Weinberg's supposed prescience notwithstanding.

As McPherson wrote in 1985 in a retrospective on the MSR program:


it should be remembered that the development of large engineering components for the MSCR is in a primitive state and that any future development program would surely reveal new difficulties of uncertain magnitude. Furthermore, the high degree of radioactivity of the MSCR's primary system will present problems of design for remote maintenance.

In the real world of engineering, concepts mature only through extensive, hard-won experience. This has happened with LWRs, but it has taken decades. These points are red flags for anyone planning to spend gigabucks on new reactors. Why take these unnecessary risks when there is no real gain?

Paul Dietz

And in LWRs, radiactive xenon and krypton migrate all over the place before decaying into other fission products.

Most of these gases remain in the sealed fuel elements. In a MSR, all the fission products become distributed in the loop.

MSRs dont require refueling downtime, so the required maintenance burden is significantly lower.

But when maintenance is required, it will be incredible fun, since you can't do hands-on maintenance of the primary loop.

Commercial LWR operators have gone to great lengths to remove even traces of radioactivity from the primary loop (for example, moving away from using inconel in components there, where traces of cobalt can become dissolved and activated), because rem-years of maintenance worker exposure are incredibly expensive. The radioactivity of the primary loop of an MSR will be astronomically higher.

Dezakin
A major leak that dumps a substantial amount of the fission product load of the reactor loop would be financially devastating to the reactor operator.

This isn't obvious. A major leak of the flouride salt freezes, as all the volitiles are pulled out online. The giant chore is scooping it up and putting it back in the reactor while patching the leak. If this is the biggest worry I'm sure defense against this could be engineered, especially when its the largest risk a MSR faces.

Why take these unnecessary risks when there is no real gain

I think you underestimate the political gain alone from closed fuel cycles to say nothing of the vast potential economic gain from waste harvesting, eliminating fuel fabrication costs, refueling downtime, inherent safety features.

Certainly CANDU and LWR cycles are far more mature, and fluid fuel reactors require further development to attain that maturity, but you seem to be searching for excuses for avoiding development of what is clearly a superior technology.

Do they offer enough advantages for industry to spend money on development? I somewhat doubt it.

Nucbuddy

Dezakin writes: the vast potential economic gain from waste harvesting, eliminating fuel fabrication costs, refueling downtime, inherent safety features.

Could you please state more explicitly what the economic gain would be? Right now, the costs of raw uranium, conversion, enrichment, and fuel-fabrication total less then half a penny per kWh.

http://www.nea.fr/html/ndd/reports/efc/
http://www.nea.fr/html/ndd/reports/efc/efc06.pdf


Refueling downtime is used for reactor maintenance, and besides that is continuously diminishing as burnup rates are improved -- mainly through the use of improved fuel assemblies and improved fuel-placement strategies (see above-linked report).

Safety is becoming less economically valuable over time as the science of chemo-radioprotection advances. Safety may even have reverse value since domestic radioactive insults upon a nation reduce the value of an enemy's potential radioactive insults. In other words, if we did not have accidental radioactive leaks, in terms of the security of the nation from foreign insult we would profit from intentionally creating radioactive leaks. Unsafety can be valuable.

amazingdrx

Nice job buddy!

But please state this more clearly!

You meant, nuclear contamination is a good thing since it deters terrorism? If our country is already contaminated, terrorists won't bother to use radioactive dirty bombs against us?

What about using dirtier bombs, full fledged nukes, or spreading radioactivity where it will produce panic? Terrorists have vast resources of lightly guarded radioactive material already, but somehow giving them more will deter them?

Anyway thanks for your honesty! The public ought to know what the real attitude of nuclear power advocates is.

Nucbuddy

Drx writes: please state this more clearly

OK.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaccine#Developing_immunity

"Developing immunity

The immune system recognizes vaccine agents as foreign, destroys them, and 'remembers' them. When the virulent version of an agent comes along, the immune system is thus prepared to respond, by (1) neutralizing the target agent before it can enter cells, and (2) by recognizing and destroying infected cells before that agent can multiply to vast numbers.

Vaccines have contributed to the eradication of smallpox, one of the most contagious and deadly diseases known to man. Other diseases such as rubella, polio, measles, mumps, chickenpox, and typhoid are nowhere near as common as they were just a hundred years ago. As long as the vast majority of people are vaccinated, it is much more difficult for an outbreak of disease to occur, let alone spread. This effect is called herd immunity.
"

Kirk Sorensen

The public ought to know what the real attitude of nuclear power advocates is.

Stop it, drx.

Dezakin
Could you please state more explicitly what the economic gain would be? Right now, the costs of raw uranium, conversion, enrichment, and fuel-fabrication total less then half a penny per kWh.

The value of fission products such as rhodium, ruthenium, palladium, and xenon, and so on are quite large... over $10 million per GW year.

Half a penny per kw isn't a tiny amount either, when your looking to get economic benifit.

Nucbuddy

The value of fission products such as rhodium, ruthenium, palladium, and xenon, and so on are quite large... over $10 million per GW year.

How could $10 million per year be a lot of money for a gigawatt power plant? That would be between one and two tenths of a penny per kWh.

Those four elements are all available in seawater:
http://www.google.com/search?q=rhodium%2C+ruthenium%2C+palladium%2C+xenon+seawater

They could be mined from seawater with the necessary power provided by inexpensive light-water reactors running once-through uranium fuel cycles.

Kirk Sorensen

I think xenon could be a valuably-extracted fission product for several reasons: one, it's very easily to get out of a fluid-fueled reactor and there's a strong performance incentive to do so (xenon-135 poisoning).

Two, it's extremely rare and difficult to extract from atmospheric mining, but a substantial fraction of fission events result in xenon formation.

Three, the longest-lived radioactive isotope of xenon formed in fission is xenon-133 with a five-day half-life. After about 50 days of isolation, Xe-133 will have all decayed to cesium-133, leaving only stable isotopes of xenon (126, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 134, 136) behind. There's no long-lived radioactive xenon isotope to "corrupt" your product.

Fission Product Decay Chain Simulation

Dezakin
How could $10 million per year be a lot of money for a gigawatt power plant? That would be between one and two tenths of a penny per kWh.
I dont think you really understand the accounting if you're being so dismissive of $10 million per year of free product and tens of millions more in enrichment and fuel fabrication. This amounts to a very significant amount of operating expenses.
They could be mined from seawater with the necessary power provided by inexpensive light-water reactors running once-through uranium fuel cycles.

You dont pull PGM from seawater... If you're going to mine it, terrestrial ores make far more sense. But it makes even more sense to pull it out of the spent fuel where its highly concentrated.

amazingdrx

"Herd immunity?"

Are we all cattle now?

I don't hear you critiquing buddy's point of view kirk.

Basically it seems to be that any means to the end of promoting nuclear power is justified. Even mass radioactive contamination of the US and its population done on purpose.

Terrorists would do it for jihad, and buddy would do it to promote nuclear power.

Brian Wang

Terrorists can attack or sabotage any infrastructure and generate deaths.
Blow up a hydroelectric dams, you get flooding and a lot of deaths. The terrorists are small time and they caught people napping on 9/11. But even with that overall they should not drive energy policy.

Risks are all around. Blow up a oil refinery and a lot of deaths happen. If a particular site is more resistant then you use the bombs on other targets (transportation, etc...) So we need to take reasonable steps to reduce that risk. Spending a trillion+ dollars to ineffectively try to prevent unlikely situations is a waste. Spend money on things that work. Spend the money on the personnel, programs and the research to find saboteurs and their weapons. Breakdown their financial and political support structure.

Radiation is not a good thing but keep it in perspective. Coal already causes radiation and pollution contamination that is 100 times more than nuclear power. No blasting open casks needed. Just turn on the plants and radiative materials are spread in the air. This is where the mass radioactive contamination and mass poisoning (mercury, arsenic etc..) of the US and the world is happening.

The subsidy argument is wrong. Solar is subsidized and so is wind. Energy is subsidized, and it is happening in dozens of countries and thousands of state and local governments. The issue is what can we build fast enough (that is cleaner) with subsidies that we can afford. The current situation is a lot more coal plants and natural gas. With nuclear, hydro, wind and solar making up the rest.

Costs vary by world location. Most places have cheaper coal and some have cheaper wind. Overall with the rise in oil, gas and coal prices, things are pretty close for nuclear and wind.
http://economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=4149623

But that is overall.

At the locations that you plan to build is what matters for what actually makes sense to be built.

All of the non-coal options need to be pushed until coal is eliminated then we can start on reduction of the next worst thing. Manage the big pollution and global warming problems first over the next 40 years. Save 400,000 lives per year from coal and ramp up to reduce the need for oil for reduced oil wars.

Paul Dietz

Certainly CANDU and LWR cycles are far more mature, and fluid fuel reactors require further development to attain that maturity, but you seem to be searching for excuses for avoiding development of what is clearly a superior technology.

Ooo... 'excuses'. Wonderful ad hominem word there.

I've presented arguments and reasons why the claim that this technology is wonderful are inflated. I even presented a quote from someone involved in the first MSR effort debunking your outrageous claim that Weinberg had figured out all the kinks.

Frankly, your advocacy of this technology has pushed you beyond where rational arguments will support. You need to get self-critical and understand that engineering is intensely hardnosed and unforgiving of self-delusion.

Dezakin
I've presented arguments and reasons why the claim that this technology is wonderful are inflated.
A great deal of engineering challenges exist certainly. Its an immature technology. I think it has a great deal of promise, more than most other next generation reactor designs.
I even presented a quote from someone involved in the first MSR effort debunking your outrageous claim that Weinberg had figured out all the kinks.
I believe you're a bit confused... You would have to take that up with Kirk. I made no such claim.
Frankly, your advocacy of this technology has pushed you beyond where rational arguments will support.
I respect your opinion Paul; Over the many years you've earned credibility through intelligent posts. But I really think you're overreacting here, and it appears to me that you are being unnecissarily dismissive of the reactor technology that holds the most promise for the future for improving on the LWR. I think that this technology is more deserving of advocacy and research than any other breeder and most other high temperature rectors.

You've highlighted what you feel to be the most obvious problem in fluid fuel reactors, and its an open question to whether its a showstopper. I believe that it can be engineered to be tolerable at an acceptible cost, but maybe it cant.

So Paul, how would you deal with the primary loop being hot if you had to make fluid fuel reactors work? Do you think this is a showstopper for fluid fuel reactors, or just an engineering challenge?

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