17 results for month: 04/2008


The Blog Turns Two!

Happy birthday blog!And thanks to all those who read and comment!

K. Z. Morgan, the Angry Genie of ORNL


Subsidies Anyone?

Leading Wind Energy Manufacturers Call for Immediate Extension of Key Renewable Energy Incentive Senior executives from four of the world’s top wind turbine manufacturers - GE Energy, Gamesa, Siemens and Vestas - joined today in urging Congress to act promptly to extend the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC). The PTC is now set to expire December 31, 2008, although a one-year extension was recently approved by the Senate. I keep reading on environmentalist websites how great wind is because it's supposedly cheaper than nuclear. They also talk about how terrible nuclear power is, with its government subsidies.Well, if wind's so great, ...

Waldo Cohn, nuclear and genetic pioneer

Waldo Cohn was both a remarkable scientist and a remarkable person. I have previously posted about his leadership in the school desegregation controversy in Oak Ridge, which lead to the peaceful desegregation of Oak Ridge Schools in 1955. Waldo's was a biochemist, but pioneering physical chemical research on plutonium during World War II made an important contribution of nuclear technology. The ion exchange method Cohn developed had wide applications including the processing of fission products, rare earth separation, and in nucleic acid research.In 1963, the American Chemical Society honored Cohn for his "pioneering work in ion exchange chromat...

The Radioactive Texans

Naturally occurring radioactive material -- often referred to as NORM -- exists everywhere on the earth. Soil itself contains small amounts of slightly radioactive uranium and thorium. As these elements decay naturally, they produce radioactive daughter products including the radioactive gas radon. Not only do radioactive materials exist in the soil, they are also transmitted through the soil into our bodies. People worry about radiation from nuclear sources, but the truth is that during our lifetime, 80% of the radiation we will be exposed to will come from natural sources. Most of the rest of it will come from deliberate human use of radiati...

Alvin Weinberg: The Bell and The Bomb

Introduction: Alvin Weinberg originally delivered this paper at a 1998 symposium held in honor of the 100 year anniversary of Leó Szilárd's birth. The symposium was head by Eötvös University, and focused on ‘strengthening the tradition of non-use of nuclear weapons.'" The Bell is the International Friendship Bell, or "peace bell" was a joint project of the cities of Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Hiroshima, Japan. The Bell was designed in Oak Ridge as a traditional Japanese bell. It was cast using traditional casting methods in Japan, and is approximately 4.8 feet in diameter and 6.7 feet tall. It weighs approximately 1,000 kan, about 3,750 ...

Thorium Fuel Cycle Development in India

Homi Jehangir Bhabha, an Indian physicist, who had, during a pre-World War II stay in Europe, made important discoveries about cosmic rays. Upon his returned to India at the start of the war, he began to campaign for Indian research institutions deveoted to physics and nuclear energy. He quickly established himself as a scientist politician who had the ear of Pandit Nerhu, the first Indian Prime Minister. Shortly after Indian independence in 1948, Bhabha was assigned the task of establishing the Indian Atomic Energy Commission, and developing a nuclear research program.During the first UN Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (1955), ...

Food, not Fuel

We grow crops to eat, not to drive. What is an inconvenience for developed countries is turning deadly for the Third World:EU defends biofuel goals amid food crisesFood Costs Rising Fastest in 17 YearsWe can make hydrogen from water using energy from thorium, you know. Or ammonia, or dimethyl ether, or whatever you want.Global warming rage lets global hunger growWe drive, they starve. The mass diversion of the North American grain harvest into ethanol plants for fuel is reaching its political and moral limits. "The reality is that people are dying already," said Jacques Diouf, of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). "Naturally people ...

Support for Yucca Mountain Slipping

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Domenici pans Yucca-only approachWASHINGTON -- Political support for a Yucca Mountain repository eroded further on Wednesday when a leading Senate advocate of nuclear power said it has become "foolhardy" to plan to store used nuclear fuel at the Nevada site.Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said the strategy to place spent nuclear fuel underground has become badly outdated in light of advances in waste reprocessing that could wring more energy from the assemblies.Even after nuclear fuel has been recycled, the resulting waste products might not need to be placed in the Nevada volcanic ridge, he said.At that point, the waste would be ...

Light Water Reactor EROEI

Alvin Weinberg invented and patented the Light Water Reactor. My father made an important contribution to its development. Both Dr. Weinberg and my father, like other scientist they worked with, never regarded the LWR as the best way to make nuclear power.Light Water Reactors are not very efficient producers of energy. Although potentially 100% of uranium could be either burned as nuclear fuel, or converted to nuclear fuel, only a tiny fraction, less than 1% of the energy locked in uranium is released inside light water reactors. U-235 is the primary fuel of light water reactors, and only 0.7% of natural Uranium is U-235. Because the normal ...