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September 23, 2006


Kirk Sorensen

And a couple of nuclear reactors submerged in the San Francisco Bay could produce a couple of 1000 megawatts of power and take up a lot less space. Their only environmental impact would be heating the water.


Heating the water is the only environmental impact of using underwater nuclear reactors?


the next earthquake and the nukes would terminally pollute everything in the bay, but nuclear power advocates don't mind.

go with the underwater "wind" mills. Norway has them and they work very well. No fuel, no pollution, no waste to store for centuries.

Antiquated Tory

I think nuclear power has its place, but next to a major city and a famously active fault line is not it.

Kirk Sorensen

I know it's pointless to try to change the mind of an anti-nuclear troll like "amazingdrx", who has an amazing ability to believe fantasies like a modern world powered only by wind, but for the benefit of others who might be reading, you might find it interesting that an underwater nuclear reactor would probably be the most earthquake-proof, disaster-proof, terrorist-proof power concept ever conceived.

Peruse these previous concepts and note some of my own ideas and you'll see that the reactor is not attached to the bottom of the lake, river, or bay, but rather attached by cables. During seismic events, the reactor will simply sway gently. During hurricanes, tsunami, etc...same thing.


Oh they're coming kirk. Bush met with Putin on the notion.

Putin wants to build Chernobyl clones on barges and park them off every coast on the planet. Your idea, sink the barges? Call Putin he will love that!

Then the benevolent KGB/mob ruled Russia will control your electric power. you can trust them not to pollute, dump the waste in the ocean, and charge reasonable rates, honest.

Kirk Sorensen

Chernobyl clones are pressure-tube, graphite-moderated, RBMK reactors. They are no longer manufactured. There are no Chernobyl clones coming.

Yes, Karen, heating the water would be the only environmental impact of an underwater nuclear plant.

Tory, considering the seismic situation of the Bay Area, an underwater nuclear plant, anchored to the bottom of the bay by flexible cables, would probably be the only design I would consider safe enough to build. Even in a horrendous seismic event, the reactor would not experience an upset any greater than seeing its electrical load "go dark".



Tidal turbine in Norway. No nukes suspended underwater on cables needed, hehey.

Antiquated Tory

To be fair guys, Kirk has a point in that a nuke plant cranks out a heck of a lot more wattage.
Now if we had the same ratio of population to hugely fractal, strong tide coastline as Norway, then hey, tidal turbine probably could provide a big chunk of our electricity. Maybe close to all. Maybe even more, in which case they can sell the surplus.
The kind of plant Kirk is talking about isn't even on the drawing board. There isn't even a proof of concept model. (Thorium/liquid flouride AND underwater/underground?) I Am Not An Engineer Or A Scientist, so I can't comment really on whether it's potentially useful or not, but if anything is going to come of it, its proponents will have to convince somebody with a lot of money and a staff full of engineers and scientists to start some 10-20 year program to get to the point where there will be something commercially feasible at the end. And it would *really* have to be well-proven, to the point where it would be politically as well as technically and economically feasible, before there was one in SF Bay. amazingdrx, I wouldn't be investing in lead lined swim trunks just yet.

I used to teach English to nuclear engineers, and they thought that, even more than the waste issue, the big problem with nuke is that it went commercial before the technology was mature. Thus 'safe' and 'too cheap to meter' became 'er, safe if you don't mind us shutting it down unexpectedly' and 'hugely over budget.' (Chernobyl was an example of 'REALLY not safe if you override all the automatic safety features so you can get more wattage, and your plant is old and its tech was never wonderful') But they were pretty confident that the technological solutions for nuke are out there; just that the industry has poisoned the well of PR, so to speak.

Kirk Sorensen


While I will grant you that a liquid-fluoride thorium reactor in submarine form is not something that you are going to order off the shelf today, the basic technology has been proved, and proved very well.

The first liquid-fluoride reactor was the Aircraft Reactor Experiment, which went critical in 1954 and ran for nine days. It showed the fundamental stability of the fluoride reactor concept and its versatility in operation. Papers on the concept, design, physics, and operation of the ARE are all available.

Then in 1965 the Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment went critical for the first time. This reactor was much closer to the eventual fluoride reactors I envision. It used the right type of fluoride salt (LiF-BeF2) and operated on all three types of fissile fuels (235U, 239Pu, 233U)--a versatility that still has never been matched. It had excellent operating characteristics and gave the ORNL engineers that designed it great confidence in the future success of fluoride reactors.

But they had made the fatal political mistake of showing how safe and economical a breeder reactor could be (if you used thorium), thus threatening the stranglehold that the fast breeder reactor concept had on AEC funds. Hence, the program was quietly put to death in the mid-1970s.

It should be resurrected.


Kirk you sound like a very smart person. How are your plans for those reactors coming along these days?


Then the benevolent KGB/mob ruled Russia will control your electric power. you can trust them not to pollute, dump the waste in the ocean, and charge reasonable rates, honest.

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