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Old 2008-05-27, 00:50   #1
only_human
 
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Default Nucular Energy: Thoughts, Emerging Trends, Fears

While watching C-Span, I learned that President Bush made light-water reactor program and enriched uranium supply aggreements in Saudi Arabia. US unveils deals with Saudi on nuclear power, oil protection

Nuclear Energy seems to me to be a active topic these days for many reasons and it was a bit surprising to not find a thread on it in the Soap Box.

My feelings about nuclear issues are a bit overwhelmed with concerns of radioactive wastes.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_waste

There are so many aspects and issues relating to nuclear energy that I thought I would welcome people to say whatever they like and see if anything interesting happens.

Some of the terms I searched on recently are Nuclear waste reprocessing, MOX fuel, Yucca Mountain Repository and Breeder Reactors. The political landscape relating to nuclear energy is also interesting. I expect issues to be in the US presidential campaign. The EU also seems to have issues and changes relating to nuclear energy in motion. I welcome diverse opinions and broad discussion as well as specific issues into this thread.

Last fiddled with by only_human on 2008-05-27 at 01:14 Reason: Grammar and beauty (sigh). Never happy with the scan -after- the post
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Old 2008-05-27, 02:48   #2
rogue
 
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Go nuclear or as Bush would put it "Go nucular".

I am all in support of nuclear power. The main issue is waste, but most of those fears are irrational. Nobody died or has cancer from Three Mile Island. Most Americans think of Chernobyl when they think of nuclear reactors and they presume that all American reactors are built like Chernobyl.

I would rather deal with the issue of nuclear waste than try to solve global warming from coal burning power plants.
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Old 2008-05-27, 05:00   #3
only_human
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogue View Post
Go nuclear or as Bush would put it "Go nucular".

I am all in support of nuclear power. The main issue is waste, but most of those fears are irrational. Nobody died or has cancer from Three Mile Island. Most Americans think of Chernobyl when they think of nuclear reactors and they presume that all American reactors are built like Chernobyl.

I would rather deal with the issue of nuclear waste than try to solve global warming from coal burning power plants.
Commentary on "Nucular": Geoffrey Nunberg - Going Nucular

Well for a start, I would like some honesty and sensibility about the process:
  • Work on-site and interim storage into the planning
  • Stop charging utilities for unperformed portions of the Standard Contract for Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel and/or High-Level Radioactive Waste, 10 CFR Part 961
I'm reading that billions of dollars have been collected for waste disposal and there are about 60 lawsuits in various stages of pending, in litigation, settled.

Last fiddled with by only_human on 2008-05-27 at 05:08 Reason: funds collected *from* utilities
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Old 2008-05-27, 10:31   #4
Brian-E
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogue View Post
Go nuclear or as Bush would put it "Go nucular".

I am all in support of nuclear power. The main issue is waste, but most of those fears are irrational. Nobody died or has cancer from Three Mile Island. Most Americans think of Chernobyl when they think of nuclear reactors and they presume that all American reactors are built like Chernobyl.

I would rather deal with the issue of nuclear waste than try to solve global warming from coal burning power plants.
Nuclear waste is an important issue. So is the safety of nuclear power plants. If you think what happened at Chernobyl could not happen in the USA or anywhere else, have a look at this report from Greenpeace. The safety procedures saved the day in all of the incidents, but it only needs some further coincidence of systems breakdowns for the full-scale disaster to become a fact - which is essentially what indeed occured at Chernobyl.

There is a much safer and cheaper alternative to nuclear energy. Why isn't the United States building wind farms to power its cities?
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Old 2008-05-27, 11:50   #5
R.D. Silverman
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogue View Post
Go nuclear or as Bush would put it "Go nucular".

I am all in support of nuclear power. The main issue is waste, but most of those fears are irrational. Nobody died or has cancer from Three Mile Island. Most Americans think of Chernobyl when they think of nuclear reactors and they presume that all American reactors are built like Chernobyl.

I would rather deal with the issue of nuclear waste than try to solve global warming from coal burning power plants.
Amen. IMO people have an irrational fear of nuclear power.
What happened at Chernobyl was not a problem with waste.
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Old 2008-05-27, 11:51   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian-E View Post

There is a much safer and cheaper alternative to nuclear energy. Why isn't the United States building wind farms to power its cities?
Scale.
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Old 2008-05-27, 11:52   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian-E View Post
Nuclear waste is an important issue. So is the safety of nuclear power plants. If you think what happened at Chernobyl could not happen in the USA or anywhere else, have a look at this report from Greenpeace. The safety procedures saved the day in all of the incidents, but it only needs some further coincidence of systems breakdowns for the full-scale disaster to become a fact - which is essentially what indeed occured at Chernobyl.

There is a much safer and cheaper alternative to nuclear energy. Why isn't the United States building wind farms to power its cities?
As for non-meltdown/venting containment problems this site accidentally pumped old fuel rod fragments into the sea:Robots scour sea for atomic waste

In my original post I mentioned learning through C-Span of a Saudi nuclear energy cooperation agreement. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) asks why we are helping establish nuclear facilities in a place that has more sunshine than just about anywhere else. I'm paraphrasing because I can't actually view the video on this computer although it might be part of this:Oversight of the Bush Administration’s Energy Policy with DOE Sec. Bodman.

Interesting is the request for reconsideration:Markey Questions Bush’s Saudi Oil-for-Nukes Deal.
Quote:
If Saudi Arabia is truly interested in diversifying its energy portfolio, I am puzzled that your administration would not have offered technologies and expertise in the renewable energy area, especially solar energy. A square kilometer of desert typically receives solar energy equivalent to 1.5 million barrels of oil. Under the previous administration, the U.S. Department of Energy joined with the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Riyadh on a comprehensive joint solar radiation resource project to assess the solar energy capability of the Saudi Kingdom. Further engagement on both solar energy research and deployment would help both the United States and Saudi Arabia move towards a more sustainable energy and economic future.
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Old 2008-05-27, 12:35   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R.D. Silverman View Post
Amen. IMO people have an irrational fear of nuclear power.
What happened at Chernobyl was not a problem with waste.
I agree on both counts.

Whatever the alternative may be to nuclear power, coal is not it. The radioactive waste from coal alone is about the same, in units of Curies per kWh, as that from uranium and plutonium fueled fission plants. Add to that the CO_2, NO_x, SO_2 and particulates and coal is much filthier than nuclear fission. Further, the radioactive waste dumped into the biosphere mostly has very long half-lives. Even assuming the waste could be captured economically, there's no point in confining it for only a few years or decades.

If you don't believe my claim on radioactive waste, do the sums for yourself. Coal contains on average 1ppm of uranium and 10ppm of thorium. Its oxidation energy density is so lamentably low that enormous quantities have to be oxidised to generate significant amounts of power.


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Old 2008-05-27, 12:42   #9
fivemack
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian-E View Post
Nuclear waste is an important issue. So is the safety of nuclear power plants. If you think what happened at Chernobyl could not happen in the USA or anywhere else, have a look at this report from Greenpeace. The safety procedures saved the day in all of the incidents, but it only needs some further coincidence of systems breakdowns for the full-scale disaster to become a fact - which is essentially what indeed occured at Chernobyl.
That's the whole point of safety engineering - you have several systems, each of which is pretty reliable and can save the day. If you then produce lurid news reports that any situation where any of the systems kicked in was a barely-averted Chernobyl disaster, unsurprisingly the impression is that the underlying situation is impossibly dangerous.

If every time that a plane landed other than at its desired destination was reported as a barely-averted TWA800 disaster - 'if we hadn't diverted to Kansas City we would all have died when landing in hopeless wind-shear at Oklahoma'; 'if the plane hadn't had two engines then the bird-strike at takeoff would have killed everyone aboard' - the impression would be that commercial flight is a series of barely-mitigated catastrophes.
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Old 2008-05-27, 13:05   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian-E View Post
Nuclear waste is an important issue. So is the safety of nuclear power plants. If you think what happened at Chernobyl could not happen in the USA or anywhere else, have a look at this report from Greenpeace. The safety procedures saved the day in all of the incidents, but it only needs some further coincidence of systems breakdowns for the full-scale disaster to become a fact - which is essentially what indeed occured at Chernobyl.

There is a much safer and cheaper alternative to nuclear energy. Why isn't the United States building wind farms to power its cities?
Of course Greenpeace doesn't have an agenda...

Without looking at the report, what is a "near miss"? Does a near miss refer to something from "The China Syndrome" where the plant was within seconds or minutes of a meltdown? Or does it refer to the conditions being right that an operator could have caused a meltdown if he deliberately rigged the controls to cause a meltdown? Most of the nuclear plants in the US were built in the 70's. Technology has changed quite a bit since then and building a meltdown-proof reactor could be done. Search in Google if you don't belief me. I think the question would be whether or not it would be cost effective. I cannot answer that question.

Do you want to know why there are so many lawsuits over disposal? Fear.

Ask someone from Greenpeace or the Sierra Club what it would take to prove to them that nuclear power is safe and I bet that they would refuse to answer the question. I challenge anyone on this forum to find a webpage from one of those groups that state a comprehensive list of conditions that must be met before they will accept nuclear power. It is pointless to argue with them unless you know that they are capable of changing their minds.

Wind farms take up an inordinate amount of land for the power that they produce. If someone wants to build a giant farm in nearly uninhabited regions of the planet, that might work, but it probably won't produce the power needed for the planet. I've read in Scientific American that geothermal might be possible. Since it is renewable, has no emissions, has no disposal issues, and wouldn't be an eyesore, it should be investigated more thoroughly.
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Old 2008-05-27, 13:17   #11
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Originally Posted by xilman View Post
If you don't believe my claim on radioactive waste, do the sums for yourself. Coal contains on average 1ppm of uranium and 10ppm of thorium.
I don't know if the figures are correct, but I'm prepared to take your word for it. However, the two elements you listed have many different isotopes. Some isotopes being considerably more dangerous/active/poisonous than others. Would we not have to also look at the ratios of various isotopes present in the spent coal to determine if the risk was similar to nuclear power plant waste?
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