8 results for month: 11/2009


LFTR Desalination from Waste Heat, Part 1

Using the waste heat from a liquid-fluoride thorium reactor to desalinate seawater is something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. It seems like a perfect opportunity since the reactor needs to reject waste heat in order to produce electricity, and that waste heat will be available in large amounts.But first of all, why does a reactor produce waste heat? That seems rather…wasteful, doesn’t it? This was one of those principles that took a bit of thinking and studying for me to understand. If thermodynamicists lived on a perfect planet, it would be at absolute zero (about 273 degrees Celsius below zero). It wouldn’t be too fun for ...

We Need a New Plan for Spent Nuclear Fuel

Barack Obama campaigned on a promise to end work on a high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Now, as president, he has followed through on that promise and directed the Department of Energy (DOE) to halt work on Yucca Mountain. This means that all of the spent nuclear fuel generated at each of the 60 different sites around the United States legally must remain onsite indefinitely. Because utilities have paid a tax to the government to take possession of spent nuclear fuel, this also means that the federal government has become legally liable for the costs of storing that spent fuel, either in a pool or in dry casks.In an ...

Dr. Mitch Jacoby Introduces Thorium to the ACS

A lot of the folks that attended the first Thorium Energy Alliance Conference were people that had made their interest in thorium known previously--either through blogs or presentations or so forth. But we did have a few total "newbies" at TEAC1, and one of them was Dr. Mitch Jacoby, senior editor of Chemical and Engineering News. Mitch not only has a Ph.D in physical chemistry but is a reporter, and at TEAC1 he took the big group picture of all of us and started working on a story, which thanks to his diligence and in-depth reporting is available to all of us now:Reintroducing Thorium: A largely forgotten natural resource holds vast nuclear power ...

LFTR and MSRs achieve the DOE-NE's goals

The Department of Energy has an Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE). They have five overall strategic goals:1. Extend life, improve performance, and sustain health and safety of the current fleet of nuclear power plants2. Enable new plant builds and improve the affordability of nuclear energy3. Enable the transition away from fossil fuels in the transportation and industrial sectors4. Enable sustainable fuel cycles5. Assure that proliferation risk is not an impediment to nuclear power deploymentThe liquid-fluoride thorium reactor, in concert with other molten-salt reactors like the chloride fast reactor, can achieve all of these goals.The chloride fast ...

Nuclear Composting

Yesterday my wife sent me off to the local cotton gin to get some really good rich dirt for her garden beds. Fortunately my neighbor had just the appropriate pickup truck and the right disposition on a Saturday morning for such a job. So we headed off, stopped for gas and some Diet Cokes, and found our way to the cotton gin a few miles from my house.I had never been to a real cotton gin before, but I had been especially curious for several weeks because we took our daughters to a nearby farm that hosts "agrotourists" each fall and we saw cotton fields as far as the eye could see. I took my daughters up to the edge of the field and explained to them ...

Unbelievable Mendacity

Dr. Barry Brook has read the fine print and followed the references in Jacobson and Delucchi's upcoming article in Scientific American (you know, that thing that editors are supposed to do?) and found such a stunning lie that our nuclear blogosphere is still reeling that anyone could possibly think that they could get away with telling it:So what’s “The Ugly”? Well, it’s something utterly egregious and deceptive. In the Sci Amer article, the following objection is raised in order to dismiss the fission of uranium or thorium as clean energy: Nuclear power results in up to 25 times more carbon emissions than wind energy, when reactor construct...

Meeting a Moonwalker

A number of months ago my friend Ray Beach at NASA's Glenn Research Center invited me to come and talk to a meeting of their local INCOSE (International Council on Systems Engineering) group in Cleveland, Ohio. So I got in the car and drove 640 miles last Sunday to be there Monday morning at the Ohio Aerospace Institute where I would give my presentation.The keynote speaker that day was Dr. Harrison Schmitt. Dr. Schmitt is a member of one of the most elite groups of all humanity: he is one of only twelve men to walk on the surface of the Moon. Dr. Schmitt, back when he was a young man of 37, flew on the Apollo 17 mission to the Taurus-Littrow ...

Visiting America's Rocket Factory

On several occasions over the last ten years I've had the pleasure of visiting the United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket construction facility in Decatur, Alabama. This marvelous factory was first built by Boeing exclusively to build the Delta 4 family of rockets, but as time progressed, it later included the construction of Delta 2 rockets and now Atlas 5 rockets as well.This factory LITERALLY takes in sheets of stock aluminum-6061 at one end of the factory and at the other end a finished Delta 4 rocket emerges. The steps in between were the subject of our tour.First the sheet aluminum is milled by huge milling machines built by Cincinnati Milacron ...