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« Solar-Hydrogen Fuel Cell Residence to be Built on Grand Cayman | Main | Merger of Diversa & Celunol into Verenium Completed »

June 19, 2007

Comments

Nucbuddy

Calamity wrote: if you're going to build a nuclear powerplant, you could also sell the electricity to other states/nations. Seems like you could get much more than 3 cents/kwh when exporting. Perhaps it would be more fair to compare to that income, as that's what you're missing when you use the power for these CO2 capture devices instead.

That would not be a valid reason to avoid powering the process with nuclear, since potential nuclear-capacity is not limited.


Calamity wrote: nuclear power is not very responsible (prove me wrong).

You would have to say what you mean, instead of using the latently-derogatory epithet responsible. Nuclear-fission energy presents the least-risk of the proven energy options, given that its fuel is the densest and is ubiquitous-enough to sustain centuries of energy-growth (its 40-trillion tons in the earth's crust is sufficient for five centuries of exponential energy-growth at a rate of 3.04% per annum, 20-fold per century, or 10-trillion-fold per millennium).


Regarding your outline:

1. Efficiency is risky ("The final alternative to nuclear power is conservation, doing without so much energy. Improvements in efficiency are, of course, always welcome, and there has been heartening progress on this in recent years. Waste is bad by definition. But while many people think that doing without energy is the safest strategy, it is probably by far the most dangerous.").

2. Renewables is another undefined epithet, but is usually reserved for low-density high-risk energy paths that inherently cannot scale up (humans currently use 15 terawatts and increase that use by 20-fold per century; wind is limited to 370 terawatts, so is immediately disqualified; solar is limited to 89,000 terawatts, so is limited to merely the next century).

3. Charcoal sequestration has the principal problem of being solar-powered. It has also received other criticism.


Calamity wrote: With many other advantages, including [...] jobs creation

Why would jobs creation be considered an advantage? If part of the roof of your home caved-in, would you consider that an advantage since you would then have the job of going up there and fixing it? From the preface and Page 37 of Howard S. Lichtman's 2006 whitepaper Telepresence, Effective Visual Collaboration and the Future of Global Business at the Speed of Light:

Telepresence [...] will continue to accelerate commerce, globalization, outsourcing and the creation of wealth
[...]
Outsourcing

When most people think of outsourcing, the first thing that comes to mind is the outsourcing of labor to lower cost geographies. While this trend will be accelerated by telepresence and expand to more and more white-collar occupations, it is only half of the outsourcing dynamic.

Management Guru Peter Drucker once recommended outsourcing everything for which there is no career track that could lead into senior management. This has been advice of limited value because of the cost savings that the physical proximity of employees has provided. The ability to effectively collaborate with other firms, foreign and domestic, offering specialized knowledge and services will re-engineer and virtualize the corporation even further.

“The inefficiency of knowledge workers is partly the legacy of the 19th-century belief that a modern company tries to do everything for itself. Now, thank God, we’ve discovered outsourcing, but I would also say we don’t yet really know how to do outsourcing well. Most look at outsourcing from the point of view of cutting costs, which I think is a delusion. What outsourcing does is greatly improve the quality of the people who still work for you.

I believe you should outsource everything for which there is no career track that could lead into senior management. When you outsource to a total-quality-control specialist, he is busy 48 weeks a year working for you and a number of other clients on something he sees as challenging. Whereas a total-quality-control person employed by the company is busy six weeks a year and the rest of the time is writing memoranda and looking for projects. That’s why when you outsource you may actually increase costs, but you also get better effectiveness.”

— Peter Drucker


In a March 2006 survey conducted by Patni, a technology outsourcing company and reported on by UPI, 89 percent of U.S., British, and Asian corporate technology decision makers at their annual conference expected to increase their outsourcing budget in the next 12 months. Interestingly, the survey found that price was not given as the most important factor in selecting an outsourcing partner. The two most important factors were “cultural fit” and “quality of service,” which were each chosen by 24 percent of respondents. The ability to address these cultural and quality issues through an effective collaborative experience is sure to improve and accelerate the outsourcing paradigm.


Calamity

Nucbuddy:

"That would not be a valid reason to avoid powering the process with nuclear"

That's not my point here. Just that your 3 cents estimate is probably too low, especially when other costs are considered.

"since potential nuclear-capacity is not limited."

In reality, there are capital constraints. NP plants are not cheap and neither are any other electricity generation facilities or devices. Thus generation capacity will be limited. This means that, to a certain degree, electricity will always be a scarce commodity (otherwise it has no value).

I have a hunch that energy "costs" will be much higher than you calculated it to be, as it is more fair to compare to potential revenue earned. That is, how much income you're missing if the electricity is not sold but used to power the devices instead.

Electricity is worth more in the market than just the costs to generate it. If it isn't, there will be no financial incentive to generate electricity.

"You would have to say what you mean, instead of using the latently-derogatory epithet responsible"

Fair enough, I didn't mean to be judgemental. No doubt, many problems that NP has can be mitigated if not solved by technology. The catastrophality issue could mostly be solved. Maybe the waste disposal issue too, at least in time. How about geopolitical considerations? Not to be derogatory again, but somehow the idea of countries like North-Korea and Iran going full nuclear doesn't exactly sound like music in my ears. Even if technology can make NP safe and clean, what guarantee do you have that all states will indeed use the tech like it's supposed to?
And also, do you think NP in general will be good for the world's geopolitical stability? That's not even talking about proliferation of nuclear weapons. If the USA can kill countless civilians, women and children, with just a few relatively tiny a-bombs on Hirosjima/Nagasaki, I shudder to think what some other countries might do, especially in war-time.

If nuclear is the global panacea that you make it sound like, it definately requires further validation.

"Nuclear-fission energy presents the least-risk of the proven energy options, given that its fuel is the densest and is ubiquitous-enough to sustain centuries of energy-growth"

No, risk is a far broader concept. Energy security and growth potential are just a few aspects. Geopolitical instability may very well increase.

"...sustain centuries of energy-growth (its 40-trillion tons in the earth's crust is sufficient for five centuries of exponential energy-growth at a rate of 3.04% per annum, 20-fold per century, or 10-trillion-fold per millennium)."

That line of thinking is not sustainable anyway; exponential growth? How long would that be sustainable? It's also naive to think this growth will continue ad infinitum. It's hardly scientific to extrapolate any real-world graph anyway. Even if all world citizens will adopt a luxurious lifestyle, the energy demand would not be that great.

"But while many people think that doing without energy is the safest strategy, it is probably by far the most dangerous."

You seem to have confused efficiency with conservation. Efficiency means still doing what you want only with less energy. Conservation is simply not doing what you want to do. And yes, conservation can be dangerous, especially when pushed too hard.
I don't see how efficiency would be dangerous.

"Renewables is another undefined epithet, but is usually reserved for low-density high-risk..."

Again, you have defined risk too narrow.
low-density? Don't see how that's a death blow for renewables, unless you'd want that "infinite exponential growth" of yours...

And charcoal sequestration? Compare it to atmospheric capture: complex, requires electricity input, no good storage for the CO2 (potential leakage). Seems like figuring out a way to make the fabled terra preta would not be more difficult than solving the problems that the alternative has (= atmospheric capture and sequestration). Let's not forget that the people who made the terra preta were relatively primitive. Surely, we can do better today?

About jobs creation: renewables create more jobs per MW installed than conventional fossil generation. That's including manufacturing and O&M jobs, which every country will have need of in the forseeable future.

Calamity

"10-trillion-fold per millennium"

And where, prey do tell, is all that energy going to be used for? Annihilating the milky way?

"its 40-trillion tons in the earth's crust"

Are you casually suggesting we can mine this all without significant:
1. Energy inputs
2. Environmental impact
3. Social-economic damage
4. Geopolitical instability

Nucbuddy

Calamity wrote "10-trillion-fold per millennium"

And where, prey do tell, is all that energy going to be used for? Annihilating the milky way?

It might be put toward risk management ― the same process it is put toward presently. Part of that risk-management might be in the form of 1. recycling the contents of previous-generation's landfills (to extract the useful ― and, by that time, more-valuable ― resources contained therein), and 2. cleaning-up/keeping-clean the environment.

Incidentally, at that 10-trillion-fold/millennium growth-rate, our power-draw one millennium from now would only be about half the output of our own sun ― so it would not be enough to annihilate the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way has a power-output of 100 billion times that of the sun, so two millenniums from now our power-draw would still only be 50 times that of the Milky Way.

Calamity wrote "its 40-trillion tons in the earth's crust"

Are you casually suggesting we can mine this all without significant:
1. Energy inputs

Energy inputs would not be necessary since, as the provided-link indicated, the EROEI is at least 1.6 for almost all of the 40-trillion tons of uranium (that is, all of the crust's uranium down to 1 part-per-million (ppm), most of which is incorporated in average crust, granites, and shales-and-phosphates).

That is also assuming that future reactors operate only at the current average thermal efficiency of 1/3rd. If, instead, future reactors increase their average thermal-efficiencies to 2/3rds, the EROEI for 1-PPM crust-uranium would double to 3.2 ― and we would therefore have access to most-of another 6-trillion tons of uranium (in the form of evaporites, siliceous ooze, and chert). Since the uranium resource would then add up to about 38-trillion tons, and since the web page I referenced lists those uranium resources in metric tons, the non-metric uranium resource would then be some 42-trillion tons.

Calamity wrote 2. Environmental impact

Not all of it would need to be mined. 1% of that 40-trillion tons of uranium ― plus 1% of the crust's 120-to-160-trillion tons of thorium ― would be sufficient to last for those five centuries. Therefore, we would have plenty of leeway for choosing 1. locations for mining, vs. 2. locations for preservation. Also, as I mentioned above, having access to abundant energy partly means being more-able to keep the environment clean.

The power of the waste-heat from energy-use would surpass that of the sun's luminance intercepted by the earth around three centuries from now. It would be necessary to manage that waste heat. Two ways would be to 1. passively move the heat off-planet by reducing greenhouse-gas levels below their normal levels, and 2. actively move the heat off-planet by concentrating it ― with heat-pumps ― in radiators that would beam it ― with the help of parabolic reflectors ― into deep space.

Kit P.

Calamity, efficiency and renewable energy are not quite the easy solution that you suggest. Anti-nukes have been claiming for 30 years that nuclear power can be replaced using theses methods.

While I am a great advocate of efficiency and renewable energy, it not very realistic to think that they have not reached the point of diminishing returns. It is unlikely that efficiency and renewable energy can keep up with increasing demand

averagejoe

Why not use some of each? Nuclear, biomass, and geothermal (not the heatpump kind) for new base load power plants, while solar would be fine for peak loads. It doesn't have to be an either/or situation. In the short term, there's not going to be a perfect answer. Fifty years from now, one of the long shot technologies will probably become feasible and supercede most of the current choices. Instead of framing the discussion in terms of the next thousand years, we should be thinking in terms of what gets us through the next 50-100 years.

Nucbuddy

Averagejoe wrote: we should be thinking in terms of what gets us through the next 50-100 years.

...Then why did you not mention coal, natural-gas, and petroleum?

Averagejoe wrote: Why not use some of each?

...Because some options are less risky than others. Density of fuel strongly-codes inversely for risk, such that the ultra-dense energy option nuclear fission is the least-risky of the proven options. For the next 50 years, coal, natural-gas, and petroleum will probably continue to also be low-risk options.

Averagejoe wrote: geothermal (not the heatpump kind) for new base load power plants

This might dampen your enthusiasm for geothermal:
gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/6/20/235257/524/#40

averagejoe

I didn't mention fossil oil or natural gas because I would like to see us move in the direction of energy independence. It's a pet peeve of mine.

If nuclear and renewables won't do it alone, then by all means, build new coal plants. I have no problem with that...if it's needed. In fact, I'd love to see a coal to liquids infrastructure implemented to help us through the next fifty years. It would be nice to have some backup for biofuels, even after PHEV's have become common.

Perhaps we define risk differently, but a mix of energy technologies tailored to current needs doesn't seem overly risky. As conditions change, the composition of the mix can be varied.

As far as geothermal goes, the objections raised in the gristmill article are mostly based on old technology. The newer binary cycle geothermal plants address most of the previous problems. It's not a totally perfect single solution, but it's certainly good enough to figure prominently in the mix.

http://www1.eere.energy.gov/geothermal/powerplants.html


Calamity

Nucbuddy:

"It might be put toward risk management ― the same process it is put toward presently. Part of that risk-management might be in the form of 1. recycling the contents of previous-generation's landfills (to extract the useful ― and, by that time, more-valuable ― resources contained therein), and 2. cleaning-up/keeping-clean the environment."

What’s ironic about this is that the cure IS the disease.
The disease is generating all that energy, the cure is using that energy to fix things.
And anyway, that, by itself, does not explain a 10 trillion fold increase of our current energy use.

Again, it is a fallacy to extrapolate contemporary exponential growth curves to infinity. Stock investors know this all too well: results from the past do not offer any guarantee for the future. Do you think China will continue to grow for 100 years with double digit growth rates? 1000 years? 10.000 years?

Let me illustrate with some numbers:

The total mass of the visible universe is estimated at 10^52 kg. Following from E=MC^2 with a speed of light of 299,792,458 km/s this yields an estimate of ~8.99 x 10^68 joules of contained energy. Current world energy use is 4.71 x 10^20 joules. Using your continuous growth rate of 3.04 percent per year, in one year, humans will use the total energy equivalent of the visible universe in about 3700 years from now. (I calculated 3712 years).

So it appears to be more than just the milky way you’re annihilating.

Your infinite exponential energy growth thesis appears wrong; if it is correct, humans are all screwed no matter what.

“That is also assuming that future reactors operate only at the current average thermal efficiency of 1/3rd. If, instead, future reactors increase their average thermal-efficiencies to 2/3rds…”

More irony! Do you realise what you’re saying here? It’s an efficiency improvement! Seems like we can both agree on the importance of efficiency. Not the marginal, incremental improvements, but the big steps that will be needed in the future.

However, I’ve actually assumed 100% conversion efficiency with 100% annihilation of matter. That’s absurd, and humans are still going to be in trouble in less than 4000 years from now.

“The power of the waste-heat from energy-use would surpass that of the sun's luminance intercepted by the earth around three centuries from now. It would be necessary to manage that waste heat. Two ways would be to 1. passively move the heat off-planet by reducing greenhouse-gas levels below their normal levels, and 2. actively move the heat off-planet by concentrating it ― with heat-pumps ― in radiators that would beam it ― with the help of parabolic reflectors ― into deep space.”

I suggest the third option: not using such utterly ludicrous amounts of energy at all. It is not sane to think this level of energy use will come with acceptable impact, no matter how it is generated, no matter how you deal with it. Radiating it into space? Show me, quantitatively, that you can do it with that level of waste heat.

Those parabolic reflectors? Use them for CSP, which can generate more electricity than we’ll ever WANT to be using.

“...Because some options are less risky than others. Density of fuel strongly-codes inversely for risk, such that the ultra-dense energy option nuclear fission is the least-risky of the proven options”

You seem to have a rather deviant definition of risk. Risk is not just about having the energy potential or not. It’s not even an objectively defined phenomenon. Paul Slovic has done excellent work in this field, e.g. “Trust, emotion, sex, politics, and science: surveying the risk assessment battlefield”.

Kit:

"Anti-nukes have been claiming for 30 years that nuclear power can be replaced using theses methods."

NP has been around for longer than that, and has received much more total funding than renewables. And yet it represents less than 17% of the total electricity generation right now. Deductively, nuclear isn't as good as you claim. It has problems: financial, safety, pollution, social, (geo)political etc. It's very difficult to internalise all those factors in an LCA. Moreover, nuclear has far more powerful lobby’s than renewables, so that nuclear has historically been pushed far harder than renewables. In the absence of a least-cost mix, the choice of power plants is subject to lobby’s.

"While I am a great advocate of efficiency and renewable energy, it not very realistic to think that they have not reached the point of diminishing returns."

Only when you think in-the-box. 20% efficient ICEV could be made 25% efficient, but ICEV is archaeic technology. It's time for something new. SPHEV sounds very promising overall. And check out the CSP link above. Not exactly "diminishing returns".

The way I see it, nuclear could be a great way of producing electricity, but it’s large range and severity of externalities doesn’t make it a silver bullet, especially not on a global scale. On top of that, NP will always have government involvement because of health and safety issues. Renewables require a large initial push, but are autonomous afterwards and have huge potential. Nuclear can also not be decentralised. Unless you can convince people to put “little tsjernobyls” in their basements. (ok that was a bad joke)

Calamity

The link didn't work, probably been linked here before. Here's the report:

http://www.trec-uk.org.uk/reports/MED-CSP_Full_Report.pdf

Kit P.

Calamity, thinking out of the box is great fun. The basic problem with much of renewable energy is ‘government involvement because of health and safety issues’. It is still not acceptable to kill workers or children with renewable energy just because you think renewable energy is better. Someone like me has to show that renewable energy meets safety standards. I can not show renewable energy is better than nuclear but I can show that it can be safely used as part of the solution.

If Calamity kills the family while heating with wood the NYT will not cover the story. I would like to convince people that decentralized energy producing systems in the basement is a bad idea compared to a centralized power plant (of any kind).

It is a free country. If Calamity wants to brew biodiesel on the kitchen stove with children playing on the floor, that is her right. It is not very difficult for me to compare the externalities of making electricity with nuclear power compared with renewable energy because nuclear power has very small externalities compare to renewable energy.

One last point, ICE is the standard for energy conversion for transportation. Therefore, ICE is not archaic technology. Nuclear fission and external combustion is used on some ships. As a mechanical engineer I can emphatically state that PHEV, EV, and fuel cells do not work. Wood burning steam locomotives is an example of archaic technology. Will thinking out of the box make ICE archaic technology? It is more likely that thinking out of the box will be applied to ICE and the fuel sources to keep them around for a very long time.

Calamity

Kit:

"The basic problem with much of renewable energy is ‘government involvement because of health and safety issues’."

What's that? Bumping your head into a windmill? Getting blinded by the reflection of the mirrors in a CSP plant? Governments are involved in renewable energy for lots of reasons, of which health and safety issues are one of the easiest to solve.

"It is still not acceptable to kill workers or children with renewable energy just because you think renewable energy is better"

I wonder how many children have been killed by renewable energy so far. You give a hypothetical argument, completely ignoring empiricism.

"I can not show renewable energy is better than nuclear but I can show that it can be safely used as part of the solution."

Some aspects of NP cannot be quantified. Which makes such a comparison impossible.

"I would like to convince people that decentralized energy producing systems in the basement is a bad idea compared to a centralized power plant (of any kind)."

If you want to convince people, use evidence. Especially when you make statements like that.

"It is not very difficult for me to compare the externalities of making electricity with nuclear power compared with renewable energy because nuclear power has very small externalities compare to renewable energy."

Yes, I expected you to say something in this fashion. However, there is no evidence to support this bold statement.

About ICE's: they work fine. Which is dangerous, as it hides the fact that they are:

1. Almost completely dependent on oil
2. Inherently inefficient.

We should be looking into ways to solve these two problems. Or do you want to wait until ICE's don't can't do the job anymore?

"As a mechanical engineer I can emphatically state that PHEV, EV, and fuel cells do not work."

You cannot yet say that SPHEV's don't work, but given it's great potential it's certainly worth a shot.

"It is more likely that thinking out of the box will be applied to ICE and the fuel sources to keep them around for a very long time."

If SPHEV does work, ICE's can still be used as backup genset. So most improvements on ICE's are good. You may be right about ICE's being around for a long time. I have no problems with that.

You've made some pretty serious claims here. I suggest you find yourself some evidence to support them, my carnivorous feline quadruped friend.

Kit P.

Calamity, while making the most fantastic claims about some futuristic world you demand that I provide evidence to support well established facts.

First, you may not understand my position. I am an advocate of nuclear power, renewable energy, and conservation. I am generally against comparing the practical to the impractical.

For the record, workers have died at nuclear power plants, CSP, and wind farms just as they do in farming, mining, and fishing. Usually something stupid like falling on their head. Industrial safety is not easy contrary to what Calamity thinks. Safety standards are very strict in the US and protecting the environment is not an acceptable reason to relax them. The electricity generating industry has a very good record with fatal accidents being rare. However, one worker has died this year at an explosion at a coal plant in Ohio.

So far this year entire families have died from house fires and CO poisoning while trying to produce or conserve energy.

Parent dying at work and children in body bags are not externalities. It is a fact that whatever electricity can not be produced by renewable energy, can be produced by nuclear energy. France is an example.

Calamity takes the position that nuclear has replaced renewable energy because of lobbyists. Wood burning cook stoves have been replaced by various electric appliances even where there is an adequate supply of fire wood. Historically, coal and nuclear power because they are better ways to produce electricity.

People who make electricity like boring safe ways to make electricity. People who do not make electricity seem to like interesting but less safe and environmentally friendly ways to make electricity.

Nucbuddy

Nucbuddy wrote: 2. Renewables is another undefined epithet

Calamity wrote: I wonder how many children have been killed by renewable energy so far.

Please stop using epithets, such as renewable, in your comments.


Windpower-expert Paul Gipe has been cataloging wind deaths. Here is a comment by GRL Cowan on Paul Gipe's work in this area:

Can't turn the wind off

An accident in September 2004 involved a maintenance rig being hit by a turbine blade. In November 2005 a worker was caught by a turbine fire; why it burned is not revealed, but dragging a brake and setting it on fire seems like a plausible way for wind turbine fires in general to start.

Paul Gipe assembled some statistics up to the turn of the millennium and concluded,

it appears that the current mortality rate of wind energy of 0.15 deaths per TWh is roughly equivalent to that of mining, processing, and burning of coal to generate electricity according to some researchers. (This data doesn't include increases in mortality from the air pollution that results from burning coal.) Data from other researchers indicates that wind's mortality rate is about half that for the occupational mortality rate for coal.

This UIC news summary says US windpower production now is 31 TWh per year, so if those fatalities were the only ones for 2004 and 2005 and there were none in 2006, and we approximate 93 TWh production for those three years, the body count is 0.02 per TWh, down about 85 percent from Gipe's figures. But US nuclear electricity production in the same three years was ~2,200 TWh, with no lost workers as best I recall.

--- G. R. L. Cowan, former hydrogen-energy fan
Oxygen expands around B fire, car goes

by GRLCowan at 6:32 PM on 01 Mar 2007


The general principles of nature that explain the above are as follows:

Fuel density codes for inverse risk per unit of energy produced. This is because application of human-resources codes for risk, and because fuel-density additionally codes for efficient application of human resources.

Nuclear-power fuel is dense. Windpower fuel is diffuse. In special instances the latter will be less-risky. In general instances the former will be less-risky.

The way energy-density codes for inverse-risk generally, but not always specifically, can be related to the way gravity codes for humans being stuck to the surface of the earth. In special cases, such as when aircraft are employed, humans can break the gravitational code and enjoy freedom of movement beyond the confines of the earth's surface. Despite those special instances, gravity's general code that humans must remain stuck to the surface of the earth remains in effect.

As with gravity and earth-stuckness, so with fuel-density and inverse-risk.

Calamity

Kit:

"Calamity, while making the most fantastic claims about some futuristic world"

That was not my idea, it was Nucbuddy's. I merely showed that the mentioned growth rate would annihilate the observable universe within 4000 years. Which is not "sustainable" by any definition, description or characterisation. For arguments' sake, I also made impossible assumptions, including 100% conversion efficiency, 100% annihilation of matter, and physical access to all of the observable universe. You might call it fantastic. I say it’s just impossible. So it's clear this growth theory is wrong. Energy use will not grow exponentially forever, because of demand stabilisation caused by the maturing of developing economies, and the fact that population will not continue to grow at these rates forever.

"you demand that I provide evidence to support well established facts."

Kit, "nuclear power has very small externalities compared to renewable energy" is NOT a well established fact. And that's an understatement. So yes, provide evidence.

Nucbuddy:

Your fuel density argument is valid. What is invalid, is that this constitutes all of the total risk related no NP. This is your omission. For example, you are not discussing geopolitical risks. Since you suggest breeder reactors, it will be easy to make plutonium bombs. And since you think nuclear is a good idea for every country on this planet, every country on this planet could also build a large nuclear arsenal with relative ease. Like it or not, the scenario you're advocating goes hand-in-hand with nuclear weapons on a global scale. Technology cannot solve this indirect effect of your NP scenario. In fact, there is good reason to assume it will make it worse, as technology can make it easier to make plutonium bombs, making it more available to most, if not all countries. Do you think that will add to geopolitical stability and safety? There is risk of world-wide nuclear war. Unlikely in peaceful times, but in war-time things escalate, and potentially really fast. You cannot guarantee, with so many different countries, all with different world-views and interests, and most if not all of them armed with nuclear weapons, that there will be no chance of a large scale - perhaps even global - nuclear war.

This is what might be called "catastrophic risk". Obviously, the consequences are so severe that even the smallest chance of the risk-event is unacceptable for the public. Wind does not have a catastrophic risk at all, directly (i.e. relating to all actual power generation activities) or indirectly (i.e. geopolitical risks).

On the generation side, my immediate concerns are for the reactors that have a positive void coefficient. There are still quite a few in Russia. These reactors are not inherently safe, you need a negative void coefficient otherwise the nuclear reactions could get out of hand. There are also serious waste disposal and storage issues, Russia doesn't have adequate facilities and strict regulations etc. Russia has had a breeder reactor for a long time, with an equally long poor safety record.

Kit P is not very world-wise. He thinks that, because the USA has had an excellent safety record on power generation, this will apply to the rest of the world as well. Typical USA-centrism viewpoint, besides short sighted also very dangerous.

Nucbuddy and Kit P may be excused for their fallacious arguments and omissions. But energy organisations and institutions need to look at all angles, taking into consideration all the possible impacts of their decisions, directly or indirectly, short term and long term. In this light, a global nuclear fission renaissance scenario is a non-option.

To summarise:
1. The infinite exponential growth thesis is BS
2. A global nuclear fission renaissance will come with unacceptable levels of risk when you look at all aspects.

Bob

Has anyone addressed CO2 Sequestrations impact on oxygen levels in atmosphere? Seems that in the long run it would be unsustainable because you would be decreasing oxygen levels in atmosphere.

Nucbuddy

Calamity wrote: On the generation side, my immediate concerns are for the reactors that have a positive void coefficient. There are still quite a few in Russia. These reactors are not inherently safe, you need a negative void coefficient otherwise the nuclear reactions could get out of hand.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RBMK#High_Positive_Void_Coefficient

A high void coefficient does not automatically make a reactor unsafe. [...] After the Chernobyl disaster, all RBMKs in operation underwent significant changes, lowering their void coefficients to +0.7 b. This new number precludes the possibility of a low-coolant meltdown.

world-nuclear.org/info/inf31.htm

Immediate Safety Changes

After the accident at Chernobyl unit 4, the primary concern was to reduce the positive void coefficient. All operating RBMK reactors, in the former Soviet Union therefore, had the following changes implemented to improve operating safety:

  • To improve the operational reactivity margin, the effective number of manual control rods was increased from 30 to 45.
  • The installation of 80 additional absorbers in the core to inhibit operation at low power.
  • An increase in fuel enrichment from 2% to 2.4% to maintain fuel burnup with an increase in neutron absorption (ie less reliance on cooling water for this).
These factors have reduced the positive void coefficient from +4.5 beta to +0.7 beta, eliminating the possibility of power excursion. Beta is the delayed neutron fraction, which is neutrons emitted from each fission with a measurable time delay.

The next consideration was to reduce the time taken to shut the reactor down and eliminate the positive void reactivity. Improvements include:

  • Scram (rapid shut down) rod insertion time cut from 18 to 12 seconds.
  • The redesign of control rods.
  • The installation of a fast scram system.
  • Precautions against unauthorised access to emergency safety systems.

ir.library.oregonstate.edu/dspace/bitstream/1957/4371/1/Final+Final+Draft.pdf

Modeling the Oregon State University TRIGA Reactor Using the Attila Three-Dimensional Deterministic Transport Code [...] The work done by Yarman, et al. [Yar 82] calculated one- and two- dimensional flux distributions, as well as void and temperature coefficients. As expected, these codes did not predict reactor parameters as well as the three dimensional code used to perform the same analysis [Can 82]. An unexpected result was the prediction of a positive void coefficient under certain conditions. The existence of a positive void coefficient was unknown to the manufacturer. This result was confirmed by reactor experiments and also by later analytical calculations [Edg 88]. [...] [Edg 88] Edgu, E., Yarman, T., “An Analytical Approach to the Positive Reactivity Void Coefficient of the TRIGA Mark II Reactor,” Tenth European TRIGA User’s Conference Papers and Abstracts, pp. 7.61-7.71 (September 1988)

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRIGA

TRIGA is a pool-type reactor that can be installed without a containment building, and is designed for use by scientific institutions and universities for purposes such as graduate education, private commercial research, non-destructive testing and isotope production.
[...]
A total of 35 TRIGA reactors have been installed at locations across the USA.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Void_coefficient#Reactor_designs

Boiling water reactors generally have a negative void coefficients, and in normal operation the negative void coefficient allows reactor power to be adjusted by changing the rate of water flow through the core. However, the negative void coefficient can cause an unplanned reactor power increase in events (such as sudden closure of a steamline valve) where the reactor pressure is suddenly increased. In addition, the negative void coefficient can result in power oscillations in the event of a sudden reduction in core flow, such as might be cause by a recirculation pump failure.
[...]
CANDU reactors have positive void coefficients
Calamity

Bob:

"Has anyone addressed CO2 Sequestrations impact on oxygen levels in atmosphere? Seems that in the long run it would be unsustainable because you would be decreasing oxygen levels in atmosphere".

Seems like another reason to go for charcoal over atmospheric, albeit not nearly an immediate one.

Nucbuddy:

"A high void coefficient does not automatically make a reactor unsafe. [...] After the Chernobyl disaster, all RBMK’s in operation underwent significant changes, lowering their void coefficients to +0.7 b. This new number precludes the possibility of a low-coolant meltdown".

Yes I am aware of the lowered void coefficient improvement. However:

Quoting from M.L. Schrad 2005: "Threat level green: Conceding Ecology for Security in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union":

"Basic safety modifications since the 1986 disaster have reduced the positive void coefficient from 4.5 beta to 0.7 beta, but have not entirely eliminated the possibility of a runaway reaction due to this positive reactivity in the RBMK".

So RBMK's with positive void coefficients are not inherently safe. But now you say BWR's with negative void coefficients are also not inherently safe? That implies that many nuclear reactors in use today are not inherently safe.

Reactor design doesn't do much to tilt the scales in favour of global NP anyway as the most severe risks are ultimately not in the generation part of NP, but rather in it's indirect consequences (previous posts).
Even the most advanced reactor designs cannot solve the NW threat which is an unacceptable risk. (previous posts).

Nucbuddy

Calamity wrote: Quoting from M.L. Schrad 2005 [...] "Basic safety modifications [...] have not entirely eliminated the possibility of a runaway reaction due to this positive reactivity in the RBMK".

What source did Schrad cite for that information?

Nucbuddy

Calamity wrote: Since you suggest breeder reactors, it will be easy to make plutonium bombs.

I do not think that plutonium (238U to 239P) breeder-reactors had previously been mentioned in this thread. 232Th reactors -- on the other hand -- can only be breeders, since 232Th itself is not fissile but can be bred to the fissile nuclide 233U. Since it is bred, 100% of it -- as opposed to ~1% of "unbred" uranium (which is actually partially-bred since "non-breeding" reactors breed some 239P anyway and burn it to produce about 1/3rd of their power) -- can be used for fuel.

I used 33.6 (which assumes a doubling-time of approximately 23 years) as the factor by which to multiply the final-year's fuel-burn, in order to figure the sum of all the years' fuel-burn. So, if we assume one-million tons of unbred-uranium (or bred-thorium energy equivalent) heavy-metal would cover today's total world power-draw for a year, and that five centuries into a 20-fold-per-century energy-use we would therefore use 3.2 trillion tons of heavy-metal, total heavy-metal use would be 33.6 * 3.2 = 107.52 trillion tons.

We might assume that the 40-trillion-ton uranium resource would be semi-exclusively tapped for the first few-centuries until the 1%-limit (merely 400-million tons) were reached. Then, the 160-trillion-ton thorium resource would take over fully and fill the rest of the 107.52-trillion-ton need by being bred to release 100-times as much energy per unit mass. Therefore, only (107.52 - 0.4) / ((160 * 100) / 100) = 0.6695% of the thorium would need to be used for all of five centuries into a 10-trillion-fold/millennium exponential-increase in civilization power-draw.

Kit P

Calamity, let me assure that I am conversant on international energy and safety issue. I am not aware of any country that uses commercial nuclear power where the nuclear industry does not have the best safety record of any industry in that country. In other words, nuclear has the lowest safety risk based on both the record and standards.

Renewable energy would be out of business if it had to match the record and standards. If will need to find some other reason to exclude access to nuclear power to the rest of the world.

Calamity

Nucbuddy:

"What source did Schrad cite for that information?"

None. I don’t see why you’d need a citation for this statement. Inherently safe means that the chance of a runaway reaction is zero. That 0.7b is much safer than 4.5b, but, in theory, a runaway reaction event is still possible. That chance may be so small in practice that you may think it's acceptable. But to be semantically correct, such reactors are not inherently safe.

“[…] since 232Th itself is not fissile but can be bred to the fissile nuclide 233U”.

Again, you are guilty of omission, as it is possible to make nuclear bombs with U-233.

From whirledview:
"India has a potential alternative to uranium in its thorium reserves. Just as uranium-238 can be “bred” into plutonium-239, thorium-232 can be “bred” into uranium-233, which can be used for civilian reactors and for bombs."

Kit:

"In other words, nuclear has the lowest safety risk based on both the record and standards".

Well well. Omission seems to be the rule rather than exception. I don’t like quoting myself, but

“[…]the most severe risks are ultimately not in the generation part of NP, but rather in it's indirect consequences (previous posts).”

Which is also the answer to:

“If will need to find some other reason to exclude access to nuclear power to the rest of the world”.

Proliferation comes with unacceptable levels of risk. U-233 can be used for bombs. Thorium breeders create U-233.

Thorium breeders come with unacceptable levels of risk in the global nuclear fission renaissance scenario.

Nucbuddy

Calamity wrote: "What source did Schrad cite for that information?"

None. I don’t see why you’d need a citation for this statement.

If that is the case, why did you cite "M.L. Schrad 2005" (sic; apparently, the year of publication was actually 2006)? Given that Schrad writes in the abstract to that paper...

dangerous Soviet-built nuclear reactors have since proliferated in the former eastern bloc. [...] This article proposes that international security strategy in this period is one of environmental appeasement [...] The article presents evidence that this appeasement strategy generated seemingly impressive results [...] while actually exacerbating the underlying ecological situation.

...establishing some degree of dangerousness of Soviet-era nuclear reactors (RBMK's) would seem to be essential to supporting the theory he puts forth in that paper. His statement that you cited from the text of that paper, "Basic safety modifications [...] have not entirely eliminated the possibility of a runaway reaction due to this positive reactivity in the RBMK," cannot be falsified without the source(s) that Schrad cited. Please provide that (or those) citation(s).

Calamity wrote: That 0.7b is much safer than 4.5b

How did you establish that?

Calamity wrote: but, in theory, a runaway reaction event is still possible.

Please be explicit about what theory you are referring to, or what source you are referencing.

Calamity

Nucbuddy:

"If that is the case, why did you cite "M.L. Schrad 2005" (sic; apparently, the year of publication was actually 2006)? "

Heh, it’s obvious what went wrong there:

"Received 19 May 2005; revised 14 March 2006; accepted 23 March 2006. Available online 6 June 2006".

The article is from 2005, but was revised and actually published in 2006. Silly me, my apologies.

I believe you will find most of what you’re looking in the site you referenced yourself world nuclear, which Schrad 2006 (yes!) also happened to refer to.

As for the “dangerousness” he was referring to, there was more to it, for example the breeders had problems, which I mentioned before:

“Also problematic are Minatom’s plans to expand production of liquid-metal fast breeder reactors, which have had a dubious safety record, and are opposed by non-proliferationists and ecologists as they generate large quantities of plutonium, some of which finds its way into the local ecosystem, as well increase the risk of a Chernobyl’-style accident (Josephson 2002 [Minatom: dreams of glory…]; Bunn 2000 [Next wave: urgently…] and Dalton et. al. 1999 [Critical masses: citizens…].)”

There was more, e.g. Russia was storing waste from other countries to get some income but the facilities etc. were not adequate. From an ecological perspective, Schrad also mentioned that it would have been better that certain reactors were shut down or at least converted to natural gas fired plants. Instead, short term security concerns caused the unintended effect of reactor lifetime lengthening, which comes with an entire set of ecological and security risks in the long term. There were two references for this:

1. Boyle, 1992 [Nuclear and non nuclear options...]
2. Economist, 1992 [Europe's nuclear reactors: too little...]

There is quite a bit of substance to digest there, I recommend you read the article.

“His statement that you cited from the text of that paper, "Basic safety modifications [...] have not entirely eliminated the possibility of a runaway reaction due to this positive reactivity in the RBMK," cannot be falsified without the source(s) that Schrad cited. Please provide that (or those) citation(s)”.

You cannot verify that they are inherently safe. Therefore, it is impossible to falsify this statement.
“not completely eliminated the possibility” means the chance is greater than zero. Which is the case here, as it is in every other nuclear reactor in the world in a broader sense. I don’t see why you’d want to argue over semantics.

“Please be explicit about what theory you are referring to, or what source you are referencing”.

When people say “in theory” they usually mean it in the general sense of the word i.e. not pertaining to a specific theory. If you really want something solid, Murphys Law will do. Personally I think it’s a bit much. Another theory of relevance here might me “logical thinking” or even “physics”.

Why do I get the feeling you’re trying to steer away from the main issue here – NW proliferation?

Kit P.

Calamity, well what about NW proliferation?

Nuclear power is clearly the safest and way to reliable make electricity. It is also the most economical unless you happen to be sitting on a mountain of coal or vast amounts of natural gas.

Just about any tool can be turned into a weapon. Some are more effective than others. Commercial nuke plants are a very ineffective way to develop nuclear weapons.

The irony is that solar panels would make a more effective bomb when dropped off a roof that they are a source of electricity.

Bill Hannahan


[Calamity asks; Why do I get the feeling you’re trying to steer away from the main issue here – NW proliferation? ]

Theoretically, there are three paths to nuclear weapons.

1 Extract uranium 235 from natural uranium, enrichment. This is the path Iran is taking.

2 Convert uranium into plutonium using a plutonium production reactor. This is the path North Korea took.

3 Extract plutonium from commercial power reactor spent fuel.

This is a path nobody has taken because commercial grade plutonium contains multiple isotopes of plutonium that are highly radioactive, making handling very difficult and making bomb design complex and unreliable.

Construction of the first Pu production reactor started in August 1943 and start up was on September 26, 1944. Remember, that was a time when our knowledge of reactor physics was very limited, now the information is well known with great precision.

Plutonium production reactors are less complicated than a steam locomotive. Start with a large block of graphite, drill a bunch of holes through it, flow cold river water through it, insert lumps of natural uranium metal, the chain reaction will begin, no enrichment required.

If a country wants nuclear weapons, why build a $2billion power plant in six years to do what a $10million plant can do much better in one year?

Why deny ourselves the benefits of fission in an ineffective ploy to deny other countries the path to nuclear weapons that no one is using, while the easier paths remain available?

The United States is in a position to do for world energy what Boeing and Lockheed did for world transportation. By taking the lead in the production of floating nuclear power plants we can make clean safe inexpensive energy available all over the world. We can have the high paying jobs and control the technology. We can design the plants to be highly resistant to acts of terror and the diversion of nuclear material. We can insist that plants be subject to international inspection as a condition of sale or lease. We can sell or lease these plants at a cost that is much lower than traditional construction methods, eliminating the fig leaf of energy production to hide a nuclear weapons program.

We have wasted 30 years. If we continue to stand on the sidelines some other country, maybe Russia, China, Japan or Indonesia, will take the lead, we will have no control over key issues. Our safety and security may be compromised by the proliferation of inferior nuclear technology around the world. Will we act on this opportunity, or have we lost the will and/or the ability to lead the world in technology?

Calamity

"We can have the high paying jobs and control the technology. We can design the plants to be highly resistant to acts of terror and the diversion of nuclear material. We can insist that plants be subject to international inspection as a condition of sale or lease. We can sell or lease these plants at a cost that is much lower than traditional construction methods, eliminating the fig leaf of energy production to hide a nuclear weapons program."

Lol, American Arrogance. You can't even control ONE country. You illegitimately nuked Japan, you screwed up in Vietnam (also illegitimate), screwed up in Iraq (ditto), can't prevent Iran from creating bomb-grade u-235 (would be hypocrite to try anyway). That list goes on much longer...

Seriously though, none of your plans guarantees that no more NW states will emerge, in fact none of them are even remotely realistic in light of the contemporary geopolitical framework, sovereignty of countries, political volatility etc.

Here's a fresh paper for you to digest.

Nucbuddy

Bill Hannahan wrote: Why deny ourselves the benefits of fission in an ineffective ploy to deny other countries the path to nuclear weapons that no one is using, while the easier paths remain available?
[...]
We can sell or lease [...] plants at a cost that is much lower than traditional construction methods, eliminating the fig leaf of energy production to hide a nuclear weapons program."

Calamity wrote: You can't even control ONE country. [...] none of your plans guarantees that no more NW states will emerge

That is a repetition of what Bill Hannahan said to you. Repeating what someone has said, while implying that it is the opposite of what he said, is a form of negation. Please stop negating people, and more-generally please stop addressing people in aggressive, intimidating tones.

The point of a globally-endorsed secure-fuel-cycle is not to prevent non-weapon states from gaining weapons (for such a thing is widely-acknowledged by the experts to not be possible). It is, instead, to prevent them from gaining weapons underneath a world-opinion cloak of innocence.

That Iran is sensitive to world-opinion is evidenced by the facts that 1) it has not simply announced that it is seeking to become a nuclear-weapons state ("If we are under supervision or not, we will in no way try to acquire nuclear..."), and 2) it has not taken the faster and less-expensive route of simply (or perhaps solely, given the air-photo evidence) building a plutonium-production reactor. The fact that the United States -- in turn -- is sensitive to world-opinion, is evidenced by the fact that it has not simply nuked Iran (and, in a previous era, did not simply nuke North Vietnam's Haiphong Harbor -- which at the time of the Vietnam War was the receiving-point for all of the arms it used against South Vietnam). Instead, these nations shadow-dance with each other.

Quoting Richard L. Garwin:

Part of the GNEP program is to offer foreign reactor operators a secure fuel cycle at advantageous rates—leasing of fresh fuel and take-back of the spent fuel—and also cartridge reactors that would be delivered loaded with fresh fuel and could operate for 20-30 years without refueling. The cartridge reactor would then be replaced by a fresh one and taken back for de-fueling. I strongly support these aspects of GNEP, observing, however, that the U.S. will be far from the only one to offer cartridge reactors or the secure fuel cycle.
[...]
The secure fuel cycle makes good sense economically from the point of view of the using country, and for the world from the point of view of limiting facilities capable of providing weapon-usable materials [...] The proposal to lease and take back reactor fuel was published long ago by Harold M. Agnew, then Director of the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (May 1976, page 23), as "Atoms for lease: An alternative to assured nuclear proliferation."

States that express concern about the reliability of future fuel supply under potentially tense international conditions could well buy a stockpile of LEU fuel for 10 years of operation of their reactors; fortunately, LEU fuel is safe and cheap to store and cheap to buy, in comparison with fossil fuels.


Global trade of inexpensive, sealed-cartridge-reactors -- or of inexpensive secure-cycle fuel -- would indeed expose and thus inhibit shadow-dance-proliferation. If Iran were, in fact, seeking to become a nuclear-weapons state, that it were doing so behind the fig-leaf of a civilian nuclear-power program would become even-more obvious to the world-audience if global production and trade of inexpensive, sealed-cartridge-reactors -- and if other types of secure-fuel-cycle -- were simultaneously prevalent.

Kit P

Nucbuddy, I do not think we have to worry too much about intimidation and your position is well founded.

Nuclear non-proliferation is one of the great success stories of US foreign policy. Calamity thinks we should abandon nuclear fission as an energy source while ignoring the large number of countries that have not militarized fission.

The most ironic is Japan. Although Japan was bluffed into ending the WWII when two weapons were used, Japan is now a world leader in commercial nuclear power. Japan reprocesses spent fuel and uses MOX fuel. Japan is not developing nuke weapons.

South Korea is another great example. South Korea has gone from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the most prosperous in 50 years. South Korea is not developing nuke weapons and is a world leader in commercial nuclear power. Ditto Taiwan and Germany.

The US and Russia are disarming. Weapons grade fissionable material is being made useless for war by down blending. Currently 10% of US electricity is produced from this source which further reduces the availability of weapons grade material.

This is a huge triumph for world peace but in the context of CO2, this equivalent removing half the cars from US roads.

BILL HANNAHAN

Calamity

I looked at your paper. It has many errors. The biggest is that it ignores the little known fact that nuclear weapons are relatively easy and cheap to make. Bio weapons are even easier and cheaper to make.


Consider this timeline;

August 1942; The president signs the order to start the Manhattan project.

October 1943; Ground breaking for worlds first plutonium production reactor.

September 1944; Reactor start up.

July 16, 1945; First Pu bomb explodes at Trinity Site.

August 9, 1945; Second Pu bomb explodes at Nagasaki.

August 10-15, 1945; Japan Surrenders,

That was at a time when knowledge of reactor physics, bomb physics and Pu metallurgy was very primitive.

The only countries that do not have nuclear weapons are those that do not want nuclear weapons, or at least have not wanted them until recently. South Africa for example, had nuclear weapons, than decided to close the program.

http://cns.miis.edu/research/safrica/chron.htm

Pakistan is now building its second and third Pu production reactors.

http://www.isis-online.org/publications/southasia/ThirdKhushabReactor.pdf

When Musharraf steps down or is killed, Pakistan will be an anti west Islamic country with a large arsenal of nuclear weapons designed by experts using weapons grade material. Pakistan will also contain the main campus of Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorist organization.

When western cities begin blowing up in substantial numbers, the bombs will likely be labeled, “Made in Pakistan without commercial nuclear power technology”.

The president of the United States should be leading a movement to eliminate nuclear weapons from the planet. Every humans safety would be enhanced, most of all, that of Americans.

Boeing jumbo jets are the obvious descendents of the B-52 bomber. Nobody suggests banning jumbo jets to limit the production of bombers. Even after 9-11 there was no call to stop manufacturing airliners. Most people understand that the benefits far outweigh the risk. The same is true for commercial nuclear power.

Calamity, you have not answered the two questions I posed.

If a country wants nuclear weapons, why build a $2 billion power plant in six years to do what a $10 million plant can do much better in one year?

Why deny ourselves the benefits of fission in an ineffective ploy to deny other countries the path to nuclear weapons that no one is using?


Here is a paper for you to digest.

http://www.jimholm.com/nuclear_energy_facts.htm#THINGS%20EVERYBODY%20SHOULD%20KNOW%20ABOUT%20ENERGY%20

Calamity

"That is a repetition of what Bill Hannahan said to you. Repeating what someone has said, while implying that it is the opposite of what he said, is a form of negation. Please stop negating people, and more-generally please stop addressing people in aggressive, intimidating tones."

Actually I did hint why the plan couldn’t work:

“[…]none of them are even remotely realistic in light of the contemporary geopolitical framework, sovereignty of countries, political volatility etc.”

Just didn’t bother to explain as it’s so obvious:

1. Controlling the technology:

USA may become an important supplier of NP tech, but will not have a monopoly on it. Russia builds NP plants and exports them and the tech. Other countries may also want to build their own nuclear industry for various reasons, especially when the USA proves it can be done cheap & easy. Believe it or not, a lot of countries don’t like being completely dependent on another country for their power. Look at it from their point of view. They want energy security, just like the USA. Having the power plants delivered by the USA might be appealing for some countries; being completely dependent on refuelling will not at all sound like a (strategically) sound move. It might also be interpreted as patriarchal, like the USA is suppressing and trying to control the other countries because they aren’t responsible or proficient enough to do their energy matters by themselves.

2. Design the plants to be highly resistant to acts of terror and the diversion of nuclear material:

Terrorists will just use a more powerful bomb. Even if that fails, there still is a big psychological impact. That was mentioned in the paper I linked. Diversion of nuclear material cannot be 100% guaranteed, and only small amounts of fission material are needed for bombs. Dirty bombs are a threat of less magnitude but are very easy to make when there’s NP, they don’t require high grade, pure fissionable materials. It doesn’t even have to be the government itself, some militant or terrorist group might somehow get their hands on some highly radioactive material, a situation which is not unthinkable in some countries.

3. We can insist that plants be subject to international inspection as a condition of sale or lease:

That requires a pressure of violence by military means, which is not good for geopolitical stability. Inspecting officers can also be bribed etc. so that countries can modify the NP tech to their will. A little “creative bookkeeping” might also be convenient for some countries. Many countries will not like the USA “taking over” most of their power generation sector, as that’s what it is, de facto. It’s also potentially disrespecting sovereignty which is a recipe for conflict. No guarantees here either.

4. Sell or lease these plants at a cost that is much lower than traditional construction methods, eliminating the fig leaf of energy production to hide a nuclear weapons program:

Financial concerns aren't the only justification, countries like India are going for NP which is more expensive than coal, India has fairly easy access to coal. If securing a cheap source of power was paramount, Iran would also go for fossil fuels as there are ample reserves in the region. Some countries have poor relations with the US and don't want to deal with them, they'd rather get the NP tech elsewhere (e.g. Russia). Alternatively, they may try to build NP plants themselves for independence and security reasons, which seems appealing and may very well eclipse short-term financial concerns. The fig leaf will not be eliminated, but will just change a bit: energy independence/security.

"If a country wants nuclear weapons, why build a $2billion power plant in six years to do what a $10million plant can do much better in one year?"

It might be tempting and convenient to build nuclear weapons once a nuclear generation, handling, safety etc. infrastructure is already in place, which, as stated above, doesn’t have to be USA NP tech or can be modified/tampered USA tech. Even if that can be forestalled right now, there’s no telling what things will be like in several decades from now, and finally there still is the dirty-bomb issue to deal with; keep in mind, the governments themselves may not have NW aspirations, but various militant/terrorist groups may hijack highly radioactive material from the NP plants, to make dirty bombs, which is fairly easy. A lot of countries have serious problems with militant/terrorist groups and may not be able and/or willing to do something about it, at least not on a short timeframe. Terrorists are very difficult to fight as they don’t have a nation themselves, so it’s not a conventional government vs. government war. Conversely, the terrorists are often in areas that belong to other national states or countries, which may not have much to do with the whole situation.

“Why deny ourselves the benefits of fission in an ineffective ploy to deny other countries the path to nuclear weapons that no one is using, while the easier paths remain available?”

Because:
1. The USA has a representative position in the world and other countries will follow it’s example.
2. The easier paths to NP are also relatively easy paths to NW, if not fission bombs than certainly dirty bombs.
3. The easier paths will not last very long in a global NP scenario.

“That Iran is sensitive to world-opinion is evidenced by the facts that 1) it has not simply announced that it is seeking to become a nuclear-weapons state ("If we are under supervision or not, we will in no way try to acquire nuclear..."), and 2) it has not taken the faster and less-expensive route of simply (or perhaps solely, given the air-photo evidence) building a plutonium-production reactor. The fact that the United States -- in turn -- is sensitive to world-opinion, is evidenced by the fact that it has not simply nuked Iran (and, in a previous era, did not simply nuke North Vietnam's Haiphong Harbor -- which at the time of the Vietnam War was the receiving-point for all of the arms it used against South Vietnam). Instead, these nations shadow-dance with each other.”

Such naïve inductivism is ineligible. The risk is still there, and the consequences of an escalation are unacceptable. Iran may or may not desire NW now, but what about 10, 20 or 30 years from now? What will the global geopolitical framework look like by that time? And that’s just one country. More players in the NW game will only increase the risk, not decrease it. Shadow dancing may work now, but when the dance floor gets overcrowded… there’s going to be bumping into each other. A serious brawl may be the result, and everyone may get hurt. Even if the government itself will never have a NW programme, terrorist or other militant groups may still hijack highly radioactive materials and do some very nasty things, like I said above. Imagine just a small amount of highly radioactive waste in a small bomb, detonated in the middle of Manhattan. The psychological blow alone will cripple the New York economy, not to mention the actual discharge of radioactivity which could make Manhattan a “ghost-neighbourhood”.

If you think my tone is aggressive and intimidating, keep in mind that a lot of the USA’s foreign military “adventures” may be considered just that. The WTC attacks killed mainly civilians, but so did the Japan bombings, and those bombings caused many times the casualties of the attacks on the WTC. How is nuking two entire cities more justified than destroying two skyscrapers? “Winning the war” is not at all a justification. Terrorists want to win the “war” on the Occident countries too. Does that mean they can justify their bombings on civilians? Off course not!

What I find intimidating is how you talk about the Japan bombings: as if it is a technicality that almost 200.000 people, mainly civilians, were killed. A holocaust might be a more accurate term.

USA has chosen the position of “world’s policeman”. Well then, there are some “occupational hazards” that come with the job. Don’t be surprised that such a position stimulates negative responses such as terrorism.

It is worth noting that the official reason for invading Iraq was a weapons of mass destruction threat. That didn’t turn out to be quite what was expected. Why would anyone trust the USA to accurately monitor weapons of mass destruction threats all over the world if the USA didn’t even know what was happening in Iraq? Are some of those secretive three-letter organisations incredibly incompetent? Off course not, it was just a cover-up for several other motives. Talking about a fig leaf… Let’s not add to the list of excuses the USA has to fight wars.

For the reasons outlined above, NP and NW are inextricably linked. Ultimately, a world fully powered by nuclear fission plants is one with, among others, an unacceptable NW threat, both fission bombs and dirty bombs. Short term energy needs do not justify long term global insecurity and instability, or risk of it. People will realise this. However the USA can still redeem themselves by:
1. Cancel all new nuclear fission plants scheduled.
2. Even further reduce the nuclear arsenal.
3. Gradually replacing existing NP plants with the latest coal fired plants (IGCC etc).
4. Going full throttle on efficiency, wind, solar etc.
That will put an end to some of the hypocrisy which is ubiquitous in USA foreign energy policy. It should be more than enough for this century. After that, there’s either an inexpensive energy storage device for dealing with intermittency and variability of solar, wind etc, or fusion power, or both. That makes fission irrelevant altogether. So it’s hard to justify to the public why we would need NP, whether as a bridge technology or as a long term energy source. If worrying about CO2 is your thing – a little more on topic - then use some of these devices or do charcoal.

Obviously, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction - of any kind - must be stopped. Global nuclear fission power can only make things worse. It is arrogant to think that a global NP scenario can be managed 100%. Just because it’s possible to make fission weapons without fission power doesn’t mean we should make it easier to make fission weapons and dirty bombs. So far, non-proliferation – of both fission weapons and fissile/highly radioactive material - has been largely successful, but it is not sane to think the situation will be completely manageable when every country has NP, especially considering all the stuff I’m blustering about here.

The black fact is that nuclear fission power is highly dependent on politics, which makes it inherently shaky and a poor global option. Plus, there are good alternatives, such as this, so there’s no need for any of it:

“Iran claims that it needs nuclear technology as a source of electrical power but Europe and the USA are suspicious that the technology could also support the building of nuclear weapons. However, Iran has a rich source of energy in the sunlight falling on its deserts. Europe and the USA could call the bluff of the Iranians by offering to build enough concentrating solar power plants in the Iranian desert to supply all of the country's needs (perhaps with wind power to make up any shortfall during the Iranian winter). Even if the bluff were accepted, it would be a cheap way to buy peace of mind about Iran's possible development of nuclear weapons. More generally, concentrating solar power provides the means of avoiding the many disadvantages of nuclear power (high cost, vulnerability to terrorist attack, facilitating the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the production of waste that is dangerous for thousands of years, and the release of significant amounts of CO2 in the mining, transportation and processing of uranium).

With economies of scale, concentrating power is likely to be very competitive on cost.”

Here’s another good overview. Notice how small the role of NP is in the Shell Energy Scenario; solar alone is far greater than nuclear.

It’s may be a good idea to include CSP in the comparisons of your paper, Bill. There’s tonnes of other articles and studies on the Internet about it.

concerned citizen

Didn't have time to read through the posts but perhaps a better way of using such a device would be to figure out a way to fit it to cars. Imagine if this device was installed in every car....sort of like a catalytic converter it would scrub the emissions essentially making it a clean energy vehicle. It could run off the electricity/energy of the car. So while it may drain your fuel economy (just like running your AC does)...just a thought....

Paul Dietz

Lackner would fully agree, I am sure, that atmospheric CO2 capture is inferior to capture of concentrated CO2 from a stationary source. It's much easier to pull the CO2 out at the coal burning plant than to disperse it then reconcentrate it.

However...

Not all CO2 sources are so conveniently concentrated. Vehicles, especially aircraft, are difficult to fit with CO2 capture equipment (hence the interest in non-carbon energy storage media for these). Moreover, there will be cheaters who emit CO2 illegally or never sign on to CO2 limitation treaties. Atmospheric capture can make up for these free riders.

Interesting note: the volumetric concentration of inorganic carbon, primarily as bicarbonate ions, is higher in ocean surface water than is the CO2 concentration is in air. Perhaps it would make sense to extract bicarbonate from the ocean, sequester the CO2 somewhere else, and let the now-more-alkaline oceans continue to draw down atmospheric CO2 at an accelerated rate?

Marc

In www.Eatingco2.com you ca reduce your CO2 emisions.


http://www.EatingCO2.com

used computers

I think a lot of right minded people mistakenly support eminent domain because they don't realize how much civic good has actually been done without it.

new_biochar_land

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