9 results for month: 02/2009


Alexander DeVolpi versus Amory Lovins: Part I

Part I: DeVolpi on Expert Knowledge, Scientific Knowledge and EthicsAmory Lovins has Chutzpah. Lovins, a Harvard & Oxford physics drop out, believed that he could argue with Alvin Weinberg about reactor technology. Not long ago he showed up at Argonne National Laboratory where he attempted to argue with Alexander DeVolpi about nuclear proliferation. This was a big mistake, first because DeVolpi ought to be regarded as one of the world's leading authority on nuclear proliferation, and further DeVolpi does not suffer fools gladly. And Lovins is nothing if not a fool, and only a fool would have argued with DeVolpi at Argonne about nuclear ...

David LeBlanc's Google Tech Talk on LFTR/MSR Technology

David LeBlanc has joined the Google Tech Talk roster with an excellent presentation on LFTR?MSR technology. David does an excellent job of exploring the diversity of technological options and their rational and value.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8F0tUDJ35SoFrom The Abstract:David's Ph.d in physics was completed at University of Ottawa (1998) on high temperature superconductors. During this period, he developed a great interest to pursue both fission and fusion reactor design basics, which separately cumulated in a long term fellowship from the Canadian Fusion Fuels Technology Project (later ITER Canada) for his work on the use of high Tc superco...

How much would a reliable wind system cost?

The Gore plan, the Google plan, the energy writings of Joe Romm, the views of the Internet site Gristmill, and other self proclaimed energy authorities, all maintain the view that an all renewable grid is possible. Some time ago I attempted to evaluate the theory of reliable wind suggested by Mark Z. Jacobson. Jacobson argued, based on empirical data from 17 sites in the southwestern Great Planes, that wind generation could be made reliable by building grid links between those sites. Jacobson found that the linked sites could be expected to produce at least 20% of their rated capacity 80% of the time. Jacobson further argued that this reliability ...

Aim High on Next Big Future.

Aim High got a good mention and a link on Brian Wang's blog Next Big Future. Aim High is the name Dr. Robert Hargraves gave to the plan to mass-produce Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors. I have decided to endorse the "Aim High" name and of course I supported the plan before Bob coined the name. The Aim High plan is the only really viable plan to create a post carbon energy economy by 2050. The viability of the Aim High plan stems from its relatively low cost, and its potential to quickly build and set up large numbers of small safe, reliable and nuclear waste destroying LFTRs that can generate electricity anywhere 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The learning curve for serial reactor production

One assumption of the Aim High concept directly challenges an assumption of the conventional nuclear industry. That is the Aim High concept assumes that there are major cost advantages for serial reactor manufacture at factories rather than custom onsite reactor manufacture. This argument might be challenged by reference to reported Chinese cost projections for factory produced Pebble Bed Modular Reactors that were recently discussed by Brian Wang. The Chinese do not assume that early factory built PBMRs will be lower cost than on site manufactured reactors. The Chinese envision manufacturing hundreds of PBMRs in their reactor factory. Thus it ...

The Greatest Bargain of the 21th Century

In May of 2008, I posted a series of posts on the cost lowering potential of LFTR technology for nuclear power. I was able to point to a number of areas in which significant cost lowering potential was present, especially in comparison with Light Water reactor costs. I did not attempt to assign a cost number but a figure of 25% of the cost of conventional nuclear power generating reactors seemed plausible. It is possible that LFTR costs might not be that low, if attention is not paid to rigorous application of the cost lowering potentials.Why does the LFTR have such cost lowering potential?First because its design is very simple compared to LWRs. ...

Advocating the Aim High Project as Policy

My advocacy for the Aim High concept is fundamentally political. Robert Hargraves named the Aim High energy concept and has explained it. The goal of the Aim High project is the rapid development and deployment of a very large number of Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors not only in the United States, but in most of the world, between 2020 and 2050. I view the LFTR as a lowest cost potential energy source, that is safe, pollution free, and sustainable. This Aim High goal cannot be reached unless it becomes a matter of United States government and International policy. Thus my goal on Nuclear Green, and in my other postings is the adoption and ...

The Pressurized Water Reactor and the LFTR: Some Comparisons

In 1948 exploration of reactor technology was well underway. Most reactors had cores made of solid materials, for example uranium metal clad in aluminum. A second line of reactor development, the which began with the original chain reactor experiment at Cavendish Laboratory and continued with a reactor experiment at Los Alamos, involved the use of uranium compounds dissolved or suspended in water. The reactor was called the Aqueous Homogeneous Reactor. In 1948 reactors were cooled by air, some other gas, or water. Research was underway involving the use of molten sodium metal as a reactor coolant. Alvin Weinberg had proposed the use of water under ...

West Texas Wind is not Cost Competitive with Nuclear Generated Electricity

Warren Heath brought my attention yesterday to a couple of documents from the National Wind Watch. The document was a statement prepared for the Environmental Courtof New Zeeland by Bryan William Leyland, a consulting mechanical and electrical engineer who was extremely well qualified to evaluate costs related to electrical generating systems including wind generating systems. Leyland had been retained by an party to a matter before the Environmental Court, to offer his views on the likely cost of a wind generation project in New Zeeland. Leyland had been involved in wind projects as long ago as 1980, and had consulted on a wide variety of ...