Welcome to the Energy Blog


  • The Energy Blog is where all topics relating to The Energy Revolution are presented. Increasingly, expensive oil, coal and global warming are causing an energy revolution by requiring fossil fuels to be supplemented by alternative energy sources and by requiring changes in lifestyle. Please contact me with your comments and questions. Further Information about me can be found HERE.

    Jim


  • SUBSCRIBE TO THE ENERGY BLOG BY EMAIL

After Gutenberg

Clean Break

The Oil Drum

Statistics

Blog powered by Typepad

« Artifical Muscle Produces Ocean Power | Main | Powerspan Ammonia Based CO2 Capture to be Tested at Burger Plant »

August 08, 2007

Comments

Clee

Clean coal and carbon sequestration? To me that is not a permanent solution. It is as much of a 300+ year problem as nuclear storage is. Storage in caverns is theoretically pretty safe, but some apocalyptic terrorists might decide to vent all the sequestered CO2 in an attempt to bring about their predicted end-of-the world. Or maybe earthquakes might do it. Then the CO2 would be in the atmosphere as if we'd never sequestered it. That worries me more than the effects of radioactivity. I don't know if it's rational or not.

Clee

Indeed, a 500 year old government, now that would be hypothetical!

Well, there was the Roman Empire and the Zhou Dynasty, but I'm not really expecting a repeat of those. Then again the fall of the USSR didn't end in spent fuel catastrophe. We're more worried about warheads than spent fuel as a terrorist threat.

JohnBo

Regarding warheads, the following news article notes how some are being used for making electricity. Here’s a copy from news I read.

Since March 1993, 250 metric tons of uranium from weapons has been transformed into fuel for nuclear power plants. That's the equivalent of 10,000 dismantled nuclear weapons. This is the result of the United States and the Russian Federation signing an agreement on the disposition and purchase of 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons, the equivalent of 20,000 nuclear warheads.

Calamity

Storage in caverns is theoretically pretty safe, but some apocalyptic terrorists might decide to vent all the sequestered CO2 in an attempt to bring about their predicted end-of-the world.

Terrorists actually just wish for the demise of the Western world. And even if they attacked, how much CO2 do you think they could release? There would be many caverns needed to store the large amount of CO2 needed. The effects a few caverns popping open on the climate will be very low. What's more, the CO2 release could be compensated (sequestered) again without lasting damage. Finally, a large part of the sequestration might be done with charcoal (terrestrial) burial, with the added benefit of an increase in soil feritility.

Or maybe earthquakes might do it

You wouldn't suggest storing waste in earthquake prone areas now would you? C'mon man use your sense.

Then again the fall of the USSR didn't end in spent fuel catastrophe.

However the inadequacy of USSR - and later Russian - policy resulted in vast amounts of radiation leaking into the environment. They also had one "specialised method" to "store" nuclear waste: just pour it down into holes in the ground. Russia really likes to store other countries wastes as it's good money, however the sad fact is the facilities and infrastructure are insufficient by Western standards. So are many of the reactors still in use today. See the Schrad reference for details.

Regarding warheads: such developments are all good of course. Most countries will likely keep at least a few warheads behind though, for obvious reasons. Also, for countries like India, the warhead fuels are deceiving as India doesn't have enough domestic uranium mining to increase their nuclear capacity.

Clee

Well, there's more than one kind of terrorist. Maybe I should have said "apocalyptic cultists". If CO2 is released from the caverns, the CO2 will stay in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. We can't sequester it again. At least no one has won Richard Branson's Virgin Earth challenge yet. So to me carbon sequestration is not a permanent solution.

No, I wouldn't suggest storing waste in earthquake prone areas, but all areas seem to be susceptible to earthquakes, though it might be once in 300 to 1000 years. The first earthquake I ever felt was when I was in New York,and the strongest ones in the continental USA was in Missouri in 1812.

Clee

Out of curiosity, I went to see if there are any states free of earthquakes. From http://earthquake.usgs.gov/research/hazmaps/products_data/images/nshm_us02.gif I thought Minnesota might be such a state but apparently it is not. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/states/minnesota/history.php

Calamity

If CO2 is released from the caverns, the CO2 will stay in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. We can't sequester it again.

Actually there are a few ways:

- direct atmospheric chemical/cryogenic capture
- charcoal sequestration (irreversible; terrorists/cultists cannot undo it; added benefit of increase in soil fertility)
- Sinking logs into the deep ocean (e.g. trenches; only works with trees that are heavier than water and don't degrade quickly in sea water).
- Stimulating (marine) shell creatures breeding grounds (calcium bicarbonate IOW "seafloor capture")
- Removing it from the ocean itself so the ocean can absorb more CO2 from the air (indirect capture, uses the ocean as link in between, may be better than direct atmospheric capture)
- Planting new forests and re-planting old forests (making charcoal out of old forests and replacing with newer, larger forests which can absorb more carbon from the air, circle repeats itself. Or sink the logs, see above).
- Direct electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide
(i.e. an electrolyser. Not being proposed as bulk CO2 capture because of several problems, but worth mentioning; perhaps useful to make carbon fibers out of it, crafting it into a very useful product, saving e.g. steel and it's emissions at the same time for double advantages)

These of course all have their strong and weak points. Someone has to do a SWOT like analysis or something. But there certainly are plenty of possibilities.

Calamity

Regarding earthquakes: are you forgetting the simple empirical fact that natural gas deposits have sit nice and tight right were they were millions of years ago? Some of the impenetrable geologic layers are highly earthquake resistant. CO2 could be pumped in depleted/depleting gas fields ("enhanced gas recovery", lol. Don't know if that would work, is it being done already?)

Some of these ideas are quite crazy, yes I know. But so am I ;)

Calamity

Personally I'm more worried about a 9-11 attack on a nuclear plant. Those aren't resistant to commercial airliners flying into them at high velocity. This problem could be solved structurally, don't know why it hasn been done already? Too expensive? Too much trouble? "Worth the risk"?

Calamity

One a different note, the NRC is a government agency. The government is ultimately entitled to the nuclear waste, not the private nuclear industry. The DOE has most of the responsibilities of the repositories. In fact, it is the DOE that recommended the Yucca Mountain site. The governor of Nevada objected, but was overruled by the congress.

Source

Can you say "France"? Sure you can.

Kit P

“Personally I'm more worried about a 9-11 attack on a nuclear plant. Those aren't resistant to commercial airliners flying into them at high velocity. ”

Oh really, would you like to name the nuke plant you are worried that you live near. All 104 commercial reactors in the US have large robust concrete containment buildings. They are very resistant to air planes crashing into them accidentally. Also tornadoes, hurricanes, and earth quakes.

If I lived close to a nuke plant and a plane controlled by terrorist was headed my way, I would be more worried about the terrorist not hitting the nuke plant. Think about it. How resistant is your house to a air plane crash?

Calamity does not say what it is that is worrisome. Radiation? While it makes a great plot line for Hollywood, so stupid people can panic for the camera; real life is really boring. Let us review for Calamity the basics of radiation protection. Time, distance and, shielding.

All US nuke plants have emergency plans and well trained and well equipped emergency response teams. At a minimum, there would be a nasty fire and lots of damage. It would be a miracle if many site workers were not injured. There are clear guild lines about treating trauma first and worrying about contamination later.

The real tragedy of Chernobyl is that evacuation would have saved at least 40 lives.

I also suspect Calamity of more dishonesty with “...know why it hasn been done already?” The structural integrity of US reactor containment building
was studied after 9/11. Maybe Calamity would take some time look that information up. Anti-nukes make up long list of concerns. Information about these concerns is widely available. If Calamity has not figured out to find this information this far into the discussion, what the point?

Clee

Ah yes, there are lots of potentially great solutions for carbon sequestration. Unfortunately no one is using them to sequester CO2 from coal plants. Meanwhile we are storing and guarding nuclear wastes. So while the threat from coal plant CO2 (and radiation) emissions are real (assuming you believe in global warming) and sequestration theoretical, the threat from radioactive emissions from spent nuclear fuel is only a hypothetical potential threat. So I'd rather have new nuclear plants than new coal plants that continue not to sequester.

Calamity

Kit P said: Oh really, would you like to name the nuke plant you are worried that you live near.

Kit P you might not understand this, but I do actually care about what happens in the rest of the world. How about "all of them"?

Kit P said: All 104 commercial reactors in the US have large robust concrete containment buildings. They are very resistant to air planes crashing into them accidentally.

Robust they will certainly be; but was it actually designed against e.g. 747 impact @ cruise speed? How did they test this? Did they do modelling? Did they test the effects of shockwaves etc. on all of the equipment and reactor stability? Where is this data? When I first saw the World Trade Centre, I was pretty sure it was "robust" (!). In fact it was designed to be very "robust". Lot's of steel and concrete too.

You'd be surprised what the kinetic impact of a 747 @ cruise speed is.


Kit P said: Also tornadoes, hurricanes, and earth quakes.

An earthquake (or crash induced shockwave) could break the valves, pipes etc. in the facility. This happened in Japan recently, some radiation leaked.

People seem to think nuclear plants can be designed safe. Nothing that is designed by humans and governed by pipes, valves and monitoring systems designed by humans is inherently safe. The sun is not built with pipes and valves, has no wear and tear, doesn’t require monitoring. Pure physics govern this reactor; it is the only inherently safe reactor design known to man. Gravity and fusion in perfect equilibrium.

Kit P said: If I lived close to a nuke plant and a plane controlled by terrorist was headed my way, I would be more worried about the terrorist not hitting the nuke plant. Think about it. How resistant is your house to a air plane crash?

If there are no nuke plants around, terrorists will not try to fly into it at all now won't they?

Kit P said: Let us review for Calamity the basics of radiation protection. Time, distance and, shielding.

Let us add one for Kit P: public perception and economic impact. Even if no serious leakage/damage is caused (implausible) then the social shock and economic impact will be large. Think of all the commotion that the Three Miles accident caused, while the actual damage was minimal.

Kit P said: Calamity does not say what it is that is worrisome. Radiation?

Gee now what would be worrisome about a 747 flying into a nuclear reactor at 600 mph?

Kit P said: While it makes a great plot line for Hollywood, so stupid people can panic for the camera; real life is really boring.

I actually thought 9-11 wasn’t very boring. Or was that not real? Maybe it was The Matrix.

Kit P said: The real tragedy of Chernobyl is that evacuation would have saved at least 40 lives.

Hmm, I always thought the real tragedy of Chernobyl was the reactor meltdown itself.

Kit P said: Anti-nukes make up long list of concerns. Information about these concerns is widely available.

Oh please. Provide me with information of how to manage the global waste stream of tens of thousands of nukes, proliferation issues and fissile materials trading in a free market with 200+ nuclear countries, all with different people, governments, worldviews and ideologies. Tell me all about how easy that will be.

Kit P said: If Calamity has not figured out to find this information this far into the discussion, what the point?

I did not find any information that could satisfy your claims regarding crash resistance. Seeing how you haven't provided this information either, we cannot be guaranteed that they are safe against this particular attack. Seeing how you think it's easy to find and well studied, why don't you provide me with a link? Otherwise you're just a hypocrite.

Calamity

Clee said: Ah yes, there are lots of potentially great solutions for carbon sequestration. Unfortunately no one is using them to sequester CO2 from coal plants.

There are only a few potentially great solutions for dealing with the waste permanently. Unfortunately no one is using them to dispose of the waste from nuclear power plants. They are merely delaying ad infinitum, not solving the problem but instead letting it grow larger. At this point, sequestration is no more theoretical than permanent (irreversible!) nuclear waste disposal, and burning coal for 10 years longer will not have significant added detrimental effects on the climate (assuming CO2 is the real deal). Of course, having a bit more highly radioactive waste won’t be much of an added burden either but it does show that your argument is really indifferent to coal or nukes.

Clee said: So I'd rather have new nuclear plants than new coal plants that continue not to sequester.

And how many, and how fast, you think new nuclear power plants can be built? It will be a loooooong time before they actually solve the carbon emissions issue, especially since it's a global problem so the world has to be powered by nuclear mostly for it to mean something for CO2 emissions. The decarbonisation potential of new nuclear plants is very low because of this, all the while demand keeps growing faster than nuclear can keep up. Coal and natural gas are the only answers, so we’d better make them carbon capture compatible. Sequestration is often not compatible with old plants, one of the reasons why it’s been delayed.

Clee

I thought I already pointed out "Analysis of Nuclear Power Plants Shows Aircraft Crash Would Not Breach Structures Housing Reactor Fuel" This time I'll be more specific about the URL.http://www.nei.org/newsandevents/aircraftcrashbreach/ "Most notable was the assumption that a large aircraft traveling low to the ground at speeds similar to the estimated speed of the jetliner that struck the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, precisely executes a hit that transfers the full impact of the crash to the structure being struck. Separate analyses assumed direct hits by both the aircraft’s fuselage and a 9,500-pound engine. This size engine is typical of the majority of aircraft currently in service; it would envelop engines on 767-400s, 757-300s, 747-400s, 737-800s, DC 10-30s, MD11s, A320-200s, A330-200s and L1011-500s.

The analysis also increased severity by assuming that a Boeing 767-400 would strike at its maximum takeoff weight (450,000 pounds) even though fuel would be consumed both in takeoff and en route to any power plant site."

Calamity

Clee thanks for the specific URL, didn't catch the one with the search words last time.

I'm still a bit sceptical, seeing how the NEI is not an independent body and also how the results were confidential (no data whatsoever on the actual "million dollar" modelling, although this is understandable for security reasons). Also how they say the concrete has only "chipped" in the model makes me think this is at least a poor chosen word for a commercial airliner crash!

However I'll come to terms on this, after all this problem is very easily solved.

Kit P

Clearly Calamity and I have different values. While I value human life Calamity is worried about the economic cost of terrorist flying into a nuke plant. Again, time, distance, and shielding works great for protecting people from radiation.

Calamity you made a claim about airplanes flying into nukes. It is up to you to provide a supporting reference. Furthermore, when I have provided references, you ignore them and change the subject. Do you need a reference to explain the difference between tall buildings with windows and thick reinforced concrete building designed to 'contain' the steam from a loss of coolant accident.

“flying into a nuclear reactor at 600 mph”

No, Calamity, the plane can only fly into the containment building.

“Oh please. Provide me with information ...”

Several people have provided you abundant info, all you do is change the subject only to come back later pretending that your questions have not been satisfactorily answered.

Calamity is now back on waste. Please tell me what objection you have to Yucca Mountain. Noting that your reference also stated what I stated, “Radioactive isotopes will eventually decay, or disintegrate, to harmless materials.”

Again, I will be happy to explain why each of your concerns is unfounded, one at a time. However, Calamity wants to win the debate.

Clee

Also how they say the concrete has only "chipped" in the model makes me think this is at least a poor chosen word for a commercial airliner crash!

Well, I assume the plane was totalled. It's good if the only effect on the nuclear plant is chipped concrete. It reminds me of how a friend who owns a Volvo said that after a car accident no one bothered to see if she was injured. After all, she was in a Volvo. All the concern was placed on the car that crashed into her Volvo.


And how many, and how fast, you think new nuclear power plants can be built? It will be a loooooong time before they actually solve the carbon emissions

Well, I don't know. I tend to agree with the MIT study you like to mention.
http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/pdf/nuclearpower-full.pdf
"At least for the next few decades, there are only a few realistic options for
reducing carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation:
* increase efficiency in electricity generation and use;
* expand use of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, biomass, and
geothermal;
* capture carbon dioxide emissions at fossil-fueled (especially coal) electric
generating plants and permanently sequester the carbon; and
*increase use of nuclear power.

The goal of this interdisciplinary MIT study is not to predict which of these
options will prevail or to argue for their comparative advantages. In our view,
it is likely that we shall need all of these options and accordingly it would be a
mistake at this time to exclude any of these four options from an overall carbon
emissions management strategy.
"

I suspect that all the commentators to this thread agree with that, with the possible exception of you. I'm not sure that you think it would be a mistake at this time to exclude nuclear from the strategy. But maybe you do. I'm inclined to believe that we need to go after all four bullet points, which means that I don't think any one (or 3) of the bullet points is the end-all solution.

Clee

I'll expand a little on my previous prediction. In the next decade, while there will be no new nuclear plants coming on line, I believe in the US, nuclear will remain roughly 20% of the electricity generated. I expect this because the plants that are near the end of their licenses have applied or plan to apply for extensions, and because of the power uprates that are planned at existing nuclear plants. I still think it's impressive that they can do this and have done this since 1997, even if Calamity doesn't find it impressive. Plants closed in 1997 and 1998 and still nuclear held its own.

Calamity

Kit P said: Clearly Calamity and I have different values. While I value human life Calamity is worried about the economic cost of terrorist flying into a nuke plant.

No, my ultimate concerns are for the geopolitical implications of a world powered by nuclear. You've misread my words again; if there is no nuke plant or other shit magnet there will be no terrorist plane crash attack in the first place.

Kit P said: Furthermore, when I have provided references, you ignore them and change the subject.

No you have not shown a reference about crash testing. It was Clee who provided the reference, one that was not independent and moreover did not give any specific data on the test itself. Very convenient, not very convincing.

Kit P said: Do you need a reference to explain the difference between tall buildings with windows and thick reinforced concrete building designed to 'contain' the steam from a loss of coolant accident.

Yes because otherwise this is impossible to quantify.

Kit P said: Calamity is now back on waste. Please tell me what objection you have to Yucca Mountain. Noting that your reference also stated what I stated, “Radioactive isotopes will eventually decay, or disintegrate, to harmless materials.”

IRREVERSIBILITY: SOLVING THE PROBLEM NOW. Will not repeat again. Sure, radioactive materials will decay. The time it takes is critical. If it takes 3 years it's no problem. If it takes 300 years it is ludicrous. Yucca Mountain is passing this waste on to other generations. This is an externality (ie intergenerational inequity) that has to be solved in order to make fair judgement about the cost of nuclear power.

Calamity

Clee, such open mindedness is commendable. I would have agreed to it if some of the externalities were internalised in a lifecycle analysis. Right now, comparing nuclear to other generation is unfair for at least these three reasons:

- pushing off some of the waste - and risks, no matter how small you think them -to future generations.
- government is entitled to the waste; no privitisation of waste management possible for obvious reasons; that is a distant dream rather than a near term projection.
- weapons implications means more gov't intervention. (difficult but very possible with 'commercial' nuclear power plants).

I do find nuclear's increase in KWh's generated very impressive. However, some of the posters here think it's the ultimate be all end all of power generation. Which would be at least as stupid as me saying we should exclude it in the mix.

At the very least I think all the intergenerational stuff needs to be solved. After all I wouldn't think it fair to burn coal without some form of sequestration either.

Even then, nuclear may not be a desirable end-all because breeders are needed then; all breeders create fissile weapons grade materials. In a free market, this poses serious management difficulties and also potential for conflict. Same for globalised waste streams. Even without breeders these are also problematic.

But nuclear fission does become a good intermediate solution until other options that are more geopolitically desireable become available.

Without solving the waste problem right here and now, the intermediate solution comes with a long term liability.

One of the barriers for the expansion of global nuclear power is the geopolitical perception of this form of power generation. Another is social resistance, NIMBY and BANANA being well known examples. This depends quite a bit on the region though. Yet another is it's fairly high upfront cost and long lead times (construction, red tape etc.).

Calamity

This is very typical of Kit P:

“Oh please. Provide me with information ...”

Several people have provided you abundant info, all you do is change the subject only to come back later pretending that your questions have not been satisfactorily answered.

Naturally he does not include what I actually mentioned there:

Provide me with information of how to manage the global waste stream of tens of thousands of nukes, proliferation issues and fissile materials trading in a free market with 200+ nuclear countries, all with different people, governments, worldviews and ideologies. Tell me all about how easy that will be.

So Kit, where is this well known information about these 'difficulties'? In your crystall ball I presume.

I must implore you to expand your thoughts into the future and onto the entire world.

JohnBo

Calamity said, “I do find nuclear’s increase in KWh's generated very impressive. However, some of the posters here think it's the ultimate be all end all of power generation. Which would be at least as stupid as me saying we should exclude it in the mix.”

Hi Calamity. I hope all is well there at Easter Island. :) I am writing today regarding the above comments you made. You are wrong to say “…some of the posters here think it's the ultimate be all end all of power generation.” I can’t find anyone who claims this. I think everyone wants to see safe clean renewable energy win over fossil fuel use. Nuclear is just one of them. By the way for your information, the engineering units kWh should be written with a lower case “k” for kilo.

You go on to say, “Which would be at least as stupid as me saying we should exclude it in the mix.” I agree this would be stupid. See we do agree sometimes. This sounds like you do support the building of nuclear power plants. I’m sure you also agree with the international forum to study generation 4 reactors, as not doing this would also be stupid. I’m glad you are thinking at least a little positive and including nuclear in your mix of clean energy solutions like the rest of us.

If only your ancestors there on Easter Island would have had nuclear energy then the devastation to the forest and the resulting huge soil erosion could have likely been prevented. Most of your ancestors would then not have starved. Do you think the folks are ready to endorse a clean nuclear plant for their energy needs? You do have a nice airport so I know you enjoy some modern facilities. JohnBo

Calamity

JohnBo said: This sounds like you do support the building of nuclear power plants.

For the USA, well the pragmatic side of me does. It tells me the waste issues will be quite manageable. My other side tells me solutions do not always come about as fast as we expect them to.

Don't know about encouraging currently non-nuclear power countries to go nuclear though.

I’m sure you also agree with the international forum to study generation 4 reactors

Studying is always a good thing. It will be quite some time before they reach a large market share, if ever. The WEC states 2040 IIRC.

If only your ancestors there on Easter Island would have had nuclear energy then the devastation to the forest and the resulting huge soil erosion could have likely been prevented.

Oh they weren't my ancestors. My ship's nuclear reactor had a meltdown, so I was shipwrecked on the island, you know Kit really was right after all, only literally.

If they had nuclear energy, they would have just chemically mined all the uranium, destroying the soil anyway. And in the end, the uranium would be depleted too.

But hey, they were stupid enough to cut down trees without replanting new ones, they wouldn't have figured nuclear energy out anyway. They did make some fine stone heads though ;)

Maybe the USA will go the same route, 10,000 years from now there will only be a bunch of stone heads made out of DU ;)

Kit P

Bringing clean safe renewable energy to California:

“She said the worker who died was at the top of the (windmill) tower when it collapsed. She said the injured man was inside it. The worker who escaped injury was at the base.”

I scan about 100 news stories a day related to making electricity. It always saddens me when a worker dies. This is the second death this year that I have read about this year (excluding mining and repairing power lines). The first was at a coal plant at my utility.

The problem I have with people like Calamity they worry more about things like 'destroying the soil anyway' then people dying. The second thing that bothers me about Calamity is some new unsupported claim, “they would have just chemically mined all the uranium, destroying the soil anyway”.

Most of what I know about in situ leaching comes from http://www.uic.com.au/ and I would not think soil (as in surface soil to grow food) would be destroyed.

Calamity

Kit P lol didn't you notice we were just joking about that? And even if it was serious, it would be hypothetical anyway. Loosen up dude.

Regarding windmill deaths, it's a bit more complex than just body count. Although deaths are always sad, windmill deaths are not unlike construction deaths, more acceptable and understandable by the general public relative to an obvious radiation related death. Also, windmill deaths are restricted to the workers themselves. Occupational hazard. It's tough but it's true. Radiation accidents however can affect everyone. The chances aren't very relevant here, it's mostly about (risk)perception. Then there's also the fact that windmill deaths would not get out of hand i.e. are somewhat predictable, whereas radiation damage could be zero in one year, but with just one accident in another it could be very high. Finally, windmill deaths do not cause lasting collateral damage.

Paul Dietz

In the next decade, while there will be no new nuclear plants coming on line,

I would not be so prepared to make this assertion. There's an 80%-complete reactor the TVA had mothballed that's likely to be completed before that period ends.

Clee

You mean Brown's Ferry Unit 1? I consider that a restart of an old plant that operated from 1974 to 1985. Is there another one that's actually a new plant and not just a new reactor in an existing plant?

Clee

er, restart of an old reactor. There are other units still running at Brown's Ferry.

Nucbuddy

Clee,

TVA has greenlighted the 80%-complete Watts Bar 2. If brought online, it will bring the number of operating U.S. reactor units to 105:
news.google.com/news?q=tva+watts+bar

Kit P

Calamity what 'radiation damage' are you talking about? Your assumption is that an accident at a nuke plant that damages the core will result the release of large amounts of radioactive material causing damage to people and the environment. Your assumption is wrong.

While the probability of accident that damages the core is small, reactors built to western standards must be designed to protect the public even after an accident.

Clee

Watts Bar 1 already exists, so Watts Bar 2 would not be a new plant, just a new reactor. You might think this is quibbling, but I think there's a lot less problems with NIMBYs to get a new reactor at a plant that already has operational reactors (and it wouldn't make a new supposed target for terrorists).

Bellefonte on the other hand would be a new plant. If everything remains on schedule it could be on-line in 7 years, in line with Kit P mentioning 2015 as a very aggressive schedule. It's my turn to be a cynic and say I expect there will be NIMBYs and delays and that it won't be on schedule.

Calamity

Kit P said: While the probability of accident that damages the core is small, reactors built to western standards must be designed to protect the public even after an accident.

Well that's part of the problem, a large number of reactors still in use today are not built 'to western standards' and that's also true for waste and proliferation management. Another part is human error. Modern reactors are supposed to be inherently safe, but they are still designed, constructed and managed by humans. Same for waste and proliferation managment. The USA has an excellent track record here, not so true for a handful of other nations.

Nucbuddy

Calamity wrote: a large number of reactors still in use today are not built 'to western standards' and that's also true for waste and proliferation management.

...Hence, the cartridge reactor.
google.com/search?q=cartridge+reactor+garwin
google.com/search?q=cartridge+reactor+nucbuddy+calamity

The Energy Blog: Carbon Dioxide Air Capture Achieved by Columbia ...Nucbuddy wrote: 2. Renewables is another undefined epithet. Calamity wrote: ..... The cartridge reactor would then be replaced by a fresh one and taken back ...
Calamity

Nucbuddy, think I already explained in that thread how complicated this matter is:

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.

You might want to read the rest too (never mind the rant)

BILL HANNAHAN

[don't even pretend to think this 300 year waste concept can be fully guaranteed to be safe and problemless.]

[No real problems for the USA right now. What about 200 years from now?]

[The time it takes is critical. If it takes 3 years it's no problem. If it takes 300 years it is ludicrous.]

Calamity, what is the half life of mercury, arsenic, cadmium, uranium, NOx, sulfur dioxide etc. why is it acceptable to generate toxins of infinite half life or very short half life but not toxins of intermediate half life?

You make it sound as if the fission products remain intensely radioactive for 300 (actually 270) years, and then suddenly snap to a safe state, like a light bulb burning out.

Actually most of the decay occurs in the early years, as shown in the graph of this previously noted reference, page 5 of this report, page 18 of this PDF.

http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/TRS435_web.pdf


The bottom line shows that the toxicity of fission products drops 90% in the first 90 years.

But, toxicity and risk are two different things, which is more important, toxicity or risk?

The average person gets about 1/3 of his radiation dose from radon gas, a uranium decay product.

Suppose that a small deposit of high grade uranium ore is located under your house and is exposing you to 100 times the average persons background radiation dose.

Suppose that a few hundred pounds of freshly separated fission products sealed in a rugged container have just been implanted under 300 feet of dense mud, under 10,000 feet of ancient sea water in the middle of the ocean.

The fresh fission products are millions, perhaps billions of times more toxic than the ore under your house, but the ore exposes you to almost infinitely more radiation than the fission products buried under the sea. Which is the greater risk, what is the risk ratio for these two sources? What will that ratio be 200 years from now when the fission products are orders of magnitude less radioactive and the toxicity of the ore under your house, if your house still exists, will have changed very little.

The toxicity of waste is not the end point of the analysis, just one factor in determining how many people are harmed and how many are benefited by an action. We produce enough chlorine to kill everyone in the U.S. several times each hour. Is this grounds for shutting down the chlorine industry? No, few people are killed by chlorine and many lives are saved or enhanced by its use.

Nuclear power extracts long lived naturally occurring radioactive waste from the earths crust, converts it to short lived nuclear waste, and isolates it from the environment.

Imagine a world in which the physics of nuclear power is reversed.

Assumptions;

1 The earth forms with no uranium content.

2 Humans devise a technology to convert short lived naturally radioactive atoms into uranium, a toxic heavy metal that is radioactive, with a half life of 4.5 billion years, that decays in a 14 step process releasing a whooping 60,000,000 electron volts of radiation, and ultimately ends up decaying to toxic lead which lasts forever.

3 Arrogant nuclear engineers propose disposing of this waste in random pockets throughout the earths crust, including some under your house.

Clearly the anti nucs in this alternate world would have a much better case against this hypothetical nuclear power technology, so if this is bad the reverse must be good, right. In fact it is as explained by Dr. Cohen.

http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter11.html


See table 1 in the following;

http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter12.html

Removing uranium from the ground will reduce radiation exposure in the future.


[[Generation 4 reactors will exceed the safety, energy efficiency, etc. to be even more fantastic.]
We will know that when they have been in mainstream operation for decades, now won’t we?]

Yes, exactly my point on thermal solar, PV, fuel cells, ocean thermal, wave power, cellulosic ethanol, carbon sequestration, bio diesel etc. we should not count on any of these until they have proven to be massively scaleable at an affordable price, with tolerable side effects, and that will take decades as you say.

Meanwhile we should move ahead full speed with the one low carbon energy source that has proven to be affordable and scaleable with tolerable side effects, and we should increase R&D 100 fold to develop even better solutions.
Gen IV reactors will be nice but we don’t really NEED them for a few hundred years

A friend of mine is a wheat farmer in Oklahoma. His land is too dry for corn, but since marginal land has switched to corn wheat prices have gone way up. Food prices are also going up.

Poor people around the world have become dependent on excess U.S. corn production. Now that supply is drying up. Self proclaimed greens smugly fill their tanks with E-85 while billions suffer. It is smugness based on ignorance.

Years ago we were told that corn ethanol would save us, now we are told it is the prelude to cellulosic ethanol which will save us, we will see, I think not.

[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.]


Do most countries have their own jumbo jet factories? If the U.S. mass produces floating nuclear plants with the best combination of safety and economics at an affordable price other countries will buy them in large numbers and forgo an inferior more expensive domestic nuclear program.

Interesting crash test video, F4 with engines into concrete slab, watch the wingtips;

http://www.sandia.gov/videos2005/F4-crash.asx

Calamity, you are bringing out a lot of information we would not have covered, keep it up.

My observation is that you fire off a shotgun blast each time. When somebody addresses a particular pellet, you fire another round with a new mix of pellets.

If you limited your discussion to one issue at a time starting with the most important to you, it would be more productive.

Kit P

“being completely dependent on refuelling”

Manufacturing nuclear fuel assemblies is a very competitive industry with excess capacity in several counties.

Calamity

Bill welcome back.

Bill said: why is it acceptable to generate toxins of infinite half life or very short half life but not toxins of intermediate half life?

Already answered that before:

Calamity said: The difference is that this waste is unavoidable. Certain industries just produce a bit of heavy metals or other toxins, there is often nothing for it, despite maximum recycling, alternative materials and reuse. The alternative is not producing, which is simply impossible in an advanced economy.

We do actually have more or less of a choice for power generation, or at least I may certainly hope so.

Bill said: The bottom line shows that the toxicity of fission products drops 90% in the first 90 years.

That's still intergenerational, and 10% is still quite nasty. You also mean radiactivity or radiotoxicity (used in your report) in specific right? Uranium is a heavy metal, and some of the intermediate decay products are also quite chemically toxic.

According to the report you referenced:

The application of P&T would, if fully implemented, result in a significant
decrease in the transuranic inventory to be disposed of in geologic repositories.
Currently, it is believed that the inventory and radiotoxicity can be
reduced by a factor of 100 to 200 and that the time scale required for the
radiotoxicity to reach reference levels (natural uranium) will be reduced
from over 100 000 years to between 1000 and 5000 years. To achieve these
results it is believed that it would be necessary for plutonium and
neptunium to be multiple recycled and for americium (curium) to be
incinerated in a single deep burn step.

That's 1000 to 5000 years to decay to natural uranium levels. Bringing the waste back into the environment in anything under natural uranium levels would ruin your arguments now wouldn't it?

And people aren't rational beings. 100x natural background radiation may not be very harmful, but most people just don't like radiactivity at all. They would certainly not want it in their backyard, even though they might already have a bit of it now and not realise it. Risk is a rather subjective concept.

Also, cancer is not yet fully understood. There is a theory that toxicity depends on dose. However this is not the case for cancer; someone can smoke cigarettes all his life and die in a car accident, while someone else can smoke just a few packs and get lung cancer years later. This is true for radiation related illness as well.

I'll follow your advice and limit stuff to waste for now.

My position (at least for the US) is spreading the waste over a large area of ocean (e.g. in tiny containers) is the best as it's irreversible. However I'm afraid that people will not be rational about it again.

Lastly, I have a question: what happens to the waste reprocessing facilities, the reactor core and other equipment that will be highly radiactive by the end of it's useful lifetime or after dismantling? How is this stored and for how long?

Nucbuddy

Calamity wrote: cancer is not yet fully understood.

...And when cancer is "fully understood" (as Bernard L. Cohen has pointed out), neither radiation, nor anything else, will be able to cause cancer. It is only a matter of time, and nuclear-energy-generated money, before that threshold of human history is crossed. Cancer is inherently-irrelevant in terms of long-term hazard.

Calamity wrote: There is a theory that toxicity depends on dose. However this is not the case for cancer; someone can smoke cigarettes all his life and die in a car accident, while someone else can smoke just a few packs and get lung cancer years later.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobacco_smoking#Health_risks_of_smoking

Risks vary according to amount of tobacco smoked, with those who smoke more at greater risk. [...] Men who smoke 10-19 cigarettes a day have a 70% increase in mortality rates, men who smoke 20-39 cigarettes a day have an increase in mortality rate by 90%, for men smoking two packs a day or more, their mortality rates increased 120%.

Calamity wrote: This is true for radiation related illness as well.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_hormesis#Rejecting_radiation_hormesis

["...] The health risks [of ionizing radiation] – particularly the development of solid cancers in organs – rise proportionally with exposure" says Richard R. Monson, associate dean for professional education and professor of epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston
Calamity

Nucbuddy said: ...And when cancer is "fully understood" (as Bernard L. Cohen has pointed out), neither radiation, nor anything else, will be able to cause cancer. It is only a matter of time, and nuclear-energy-generated money, before that threshold of human history is crossed. Cancer is inherently-irrelevant in terms of long-term hazard.

I must caution you against such a tecnocratic viewpoint. Recently, there was an article by Robert Rapier on The Oil Drum that mentioned this:

[...]I am well aware of the "technology will save us mentality." Technology doesn't always proceed as you think it should, and it doesn't always respond to monetary incentives. If it did, cancer and AIDS would no longer be with us, and 40 years after the moon landing, a manned Mars expedition wouldn't still be a distant dream.

This is very true, and sure without a specific timeframe anything could happen, anyone could make predictions then. It may take ten years to figure out cancer, it may take a hundred years. Problem is that no one really knows but we need to know right now or very soon.

Using your mentality, world peace is just around the corner, or will be with enough "monetary incentive".

Can you see how dangerous such an attitude is?

Turning this around, it is also very true for solar. There is no reason solar couldn't power the entire world in the long run. What matters is what we do this century, and more specific in the next decades. The nuclear advocates are supposed to be "energy realists". How realistic is world peace, multi hundred year stewardship and geopolitical world wide management of waste, fissile materials etc. and the complete irradication of the terrorist threat? Because that's what is needed for global nuclear power. No doubt the US could build a few more nukes and it would be little extra trouble. However I am concerned with the usefulness of nuclear power in general for the entire world.

Decarbonisation with nuclear power requires world wide nuclear dominance, which comes with some pretty unmanageable issues which I mentioned several times before.

What is wrong with your fuel cartridge idea is that you're trying to technofix what is essentially a geopolitical problem. That, my friend, usually doesn't work (see some reasons I stated in the other thread) and there is no plausible argument why this would be an exception. What's more, commercial fuel cartridge reactors are vaporware right now.

It seems to me it would be difficult to take one problem at a time when in fact they are interconnected.

Nucbuddy said: Men who smoke 10-19 cigarettes a day have a 70% increase in mortality rates, men who smoke 20-39 cigarettes a day have an increase in mortality rate by 90%, for men smoking two packs a day or more, their mortality rates increased 120%.

This does not prove me wrong as statistics only prove general risk. Statistics do not tell you why a particular person died after smoking a bit while another person smoked twice as much and lived to a high age then dying because of non-cancer related disease. Statistics only tell you what to expect if you have a large enough and representative sample, but do not specify cause.

Nucbuddy said: The health risks [of ionizing radiation] – particularly the development of solid cancers in organs – rise proportionally with exposure" says Richard R. Monson

Monson is guilty of omisson. Of course the health risks rise proportionally with exposure. However this is not a 1:1 explanation for all cases, i.e. not a 100% correlation (unless for very high doses which would always be lethal). Unravelling the world with statistics alone is impossible; the processes and effects themselves have to be understood. See above.

Calamity

'Peak Oil is inherently irrelevant for long term risk'.

LOL.

'It is only a matter of time, and nuclear energy generated money, before we figure out how to deal with Peak Oil'.

LOL.

'When Peak Oil is solved, neither fuel shortages, nor anything else, can cause it again.

LOL.

I'm having so much fun right now.

Calamity

Statistics are an excellent analytical tool. However if you misuse them, they are deceiving, which has given rise to proverbs such as "There's lies, there's terrible lies, and there's statistics".

JohnBo

Calamity wrote, “No doubt the US could build a few more nukes and it would be little extra trouble. However I am concerned with the usefulness of nuclear power in general for the entire world.”

Calamity you seem to be some sort of a judge for the entire world. It’s not your business or “concern” to tell others what to do. Unless someone threatens Easter Island, there should be no interference from you. Countries should be free to pursue any power supply they see fit to use. Can you explain how you can be so bold as to tell for example, Armenia, that they should not build their planned nuclear plant? This is just being arrogant to say its okay for one but not the other country. This telling others what to do is a big problem in your being rational about energy sources.

Logical people can accept measured risk for measured benefit. They do it every day. By accepting some risk, life is rewarded. Sometimes the risk results in mishap. So be it. Gee whiz, you wouldn’t even be in Easter Island if some ancestor of your’s had been afraid to get on a new fangled dangerous boat with no navigation system. :)

Nucbuddy

Calamity wrote: Kit P lol didn't you notice we were just joking about that? And even if it was serious, it would be hypothetical anyway. Loosen up dude.

Calamity wrote: 'Peak Oil is inherently irrelevant for long term risk'.

LOL.

'It is only a matter of time, and nuclear energy generated money, before we figure out how to deal with Peak Oil'.

LOL.

'When Peak Oil is solved, neither fuel shortages, nor anything else, can cause it again.

LOL.

I'm having so much fun right now.

google.com/search?q=nononsenseselfdefense+rapist+profile+joking

Potential rapist profile Profile of a rapist or a stalker, or an abuser. On this page: ... belittling or degrading comments about others – especially under the guise of joking? ...


Please stop raping me and the other commenters here at The Energy Blog.

Clee

Calamity said: The difference is that this waste is unavoidable. Certain industries just produce a bit of heavy metals or other toxins, there is often nothing for it, despite maximum recycling, alternative materials and reuse. The alternative is not producing, which is simply impossible in an advanced economy.

We do actually have more or less of a choice for power generation, or at least I may certainly hope so.


So then we have a choice for power generation and can then ban coal factories that release infinite-half-life toxins that Bill Hannahan mentioned?
http://thefraserdomain.typepad.com/energy/2007/08/who-said-nuclea.html#comment-79217790

I resent having to limit my intake of fish because of mercury pollution from coal plants.

Kit P

Clee eat all the fish you want and channel your resentment on the fear mongers.

Calamity

Nucbuddy, instead of bringing up some relevant facts and solutions you give us some highly irrelevant arguments. Then when I seriously counter this weak arguments and afterwards have a little laugh you resort to patriarchal ad hominem, instead of rebutting the arguments itself. That's also a "potential profile of a rapist or stalker". Notice the word "potential". Stop jumping to conclusions with your accusations unless you've got something solid. You don't, so don't talk to me about nonsenseselfdefense, and don't be surprised if a weak argument gets countered with humor. If you are not able to rebut my arguments in the post before the humor then just say so.

But if you continue to post irrelevant and/or ludicrous arguments, then I will continue to mock you with them.

Calamity

JohnBo said: Calamity you seem to be some sort of a judge for the entire world. It’s not your business or “concern” to tell others what to do.

This reasoning is one of the causes of a tragedy of the commons. Everyone does what he or she thinks is best for his or her own interest, but in so doing, ultimately everyone is at risk.

Do you think it is not anyone's business how many GHG other countries emmit? What good is it in light of GHG emissions reductions to have nuclear power in the USA but FF dominance in a large number of developing etc. countries? Very little. The decarbonisation hope of nuclear is rather weak, for reasons already mentioned.

Do you seriously think Iran is after GHG reductions with their nuclear program? From a resource viewpoint, it's also moot. Iran is sitting on a very large reseve of natural gas and coal. They don't need nuclear. It's about politics, not about electricity.

Calamity

JohnBo said: Gee whiz, you wouldn’t even be in Easter Island if some ancestor of your’s had been afraid to get on a new fangled dangerous boat with no navigation system. :)

No actually I was one a nuclear powered boat and the reactor had a meltdown. Didn't you get that part? :)

Calamity

Clee said:So then we have a choice for power generation and can then ban coal factories that release infinite-half-life toxins that Bill Hannahan mentioned?

Gasification (especially underground) and various other coal technologies actually solve quite a bit of those problems. Also, you cannot 'ban' coal fired factories. Because then you would have no power, and you'd be destroying capital too. It is possible however to gradually phase out the old plants and gradually replace them with newer ones - cleaner coal or nukes or whatever. This is, of course, a painfully slow process. Especially for nuclear since it's expansion is severely constrained.

At any rate, forget about moving towards a new power paradigm in a matter of years.

MIT world wide grow scenario: 19% nuclear by 2050. Gee whiz, what am I worried about? It's not like runaway global warming needs to be solved this century :)

The comments to this entry are closed.

. .




Batteries/Hybrid Vehicles