9 results for month: 09/2008


Energy Subsidies Again

In 1999 the Federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) undertook a comprehensive study of Federal energy interventions during that year. The EIA undertook a second study in 2007. Remarkably the EIA study foind that no growth in energy consumption had occurred during the previous 8 years.The 1999 and 2007 EIA studies actually compliment and amend the 2008 MISI study I discussed in my last post. The MISI study did contain a summery of estimated subsidies from all sources for various segments of the Energy Industry from 1950 to 2006, there is no break down by year, except for R&D expenditures. There are discrepancies between the two reports. ...

Milton Shaw: And the decline of the American Nuclear Establishment

I posted the account of Milton Shaw in Three Parts on Nuclear Green. Other parts of this post are derived from early "Energy from Thorium" posts.Milton ShawShortly before Alvin Weinberg’s 80th birthday, Bill Cabbage and Carolyn Krause, journalists associated with ORNL, interviewed him.During the interview Weinberg was asked to comment on Milton Shaw. Weinberg responded, “Milton Shaw had a singleness of purpose. In many ways I admired him, and in many ways he drove me nutty. He had a single-minded commitment to do what he was told to do, which was to get the Clinch River Breeder Reactor built. My views were different from his. I think the ...

The Ultimate Distributive Generator

Rocky Mountain Institute founder Amory Lovins has long advocated distributive electrical generation. There is an extensive discussion of the distributive generation concept in the book "Small is Profitable" parts of which are available in electronic form at the smallisprofitable.org web site. Among the materials found on the "smallisprofitable.org" is a list of 207 Benefits of Distributed Resources. One could go down the list of benefits, and with the exception of benefits that name or apply to renewable generating sources, much of the list would apply to small factory-manufactured Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors.The first ten items on the list ...

The LFTR Emulates Natural Systems

The Rocky Mountain Institute advocates using the closed loop sort of materials and energy handling system found in nature: Using nature as mentor, model, and measure often yields superior design solutions that profitably eliminate waste, loss, and harm.Natural systems operate in closed loops. There's no waste—every output is either returned harmlessly to the ecosystem as a nutrient, like compost, or becomes an input for another process. In contrast, the standard industrial model of our age is a linear sequence of "take, make, and waste" — extract resources, use them, and throw them away — a process that erodes our stock of natural capital by ...

The LFTR Answers RMI's Objections to Nuclear Power

The Rocky Mountain Institute has identified a number of problems with the system of providing nuclear power through the use of Light Water Reactors. I agree in whole or in part with their assessment of LWRs. However, the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor brilliantly all of the problems that the RMI points to. The RMI states:It's too expensive. Nuclear power has proved much more costly than projected — and more to the point, more costly than most other ways of generating or saving electricity. If utilities and governments are serious about markets, rather than propping up pet technologies at the expense of ratepayers, they should pursue the best ...

The Ultimately Efficient Reactor

I have been challenged to apply Rocky Mountain Institute principles to Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor technology. I am happy to do so, because the LFTR is the not only the Ultimately Efficient Reactor, but I believe that it may well be the ultimately efficient human system for providing energy to society. This might be seen as an astonishing claim, but consider these facts. The average wind Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI) from 114 studies is 25.2, and this is considered a very good EROEI. Photo voltaic EROEI runs from 10 to 30. According to Chris Vernon of the Oil Drum, the EROEI of concentrated solar power runs from 27 with energy ...

A Brief History of the Fluid Fuel Reactor: Bettis and Weinberg

It is now clear that the MSR began with conceptual studies of a fluid salt fueled reactor conducted by a group of Oak Ridge scientists, in the late 1940’s. It is not clear what the original goal of this project, or even that there was a formal project, but in 1950 that original seed was to suddenly take root. ORNL had received a research project from the Air Force to participate in crazy project, called Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion (ANP). The Air Force had decided that it wanted a reactor powered aircraft. The whole business was insane, because reactor shielding is very heavy. Thus a reactor powered aircraft will either kill its crew with ...

A Brief History of the Fluid Fuel Reactor: The Molten Salt Reactor Adventure Begins

Eugene Wigner spent a brief period as Research Director of what was then called the Clinton Laboratories. Oak Ride was in 1943 a town that did not exist, so the Laboratory could not be named for it. Instead the assigned name that of Clinton, the old East Tennessee town that was the county seat of Anderson County, where most of the Oak Ridge complex was located. Wigner's stay was not a happy one for him, but is was exceedingly fruitful for the Laboratory. Wigner brought with him a team of brilliant scientists, and attracted more first rate researchers to Oak Ridge. Frederick Seitz, Erich Vogt, and Alvin Weinberg left a brief account of Wigner's ...

A Brief History of the Fluid Fuel Reactor: The Aqueous Homogeneous Reacto

The history of the nuclear reactor usually begins with the first successful operation of Enrico Fermi’s Stagg Field reactor on December 2, 1942. In fact, scientists working at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge, England built the first successful reactor in 1940. British scientists mixed 112 liters of heavy water with U308 powder inside an aluminum sphere that was 60 cm (2 feet) in diameter. The mixture was mud like and was called slurry. The aluminum sphere was immersed in a bath of heavy mineral oil to serve as a neutron reflector. The British researchers had already found that although a chain reaction was not possible if the U3O8 mixture ...