6 results for month: 07/2011


Fissile Material has the Midas Touch

The energy content in fissile material means that it is worth six times its weight in gold. But its monetary magic doesn't end there: fissile material has the Midas touch. In other words, fissile material can not only generate revenue, but can keep generating that golden revenue time after time after time. When a neutron (either fast or slow) strikes a fissile nucleus, one of two things will happen. Either the nucleus will absorb the neutron and spit out a gamma ray, or the nucleus will absorb the neutron and split into two large pieces. The second outcome, fission, is the one we're interested in if we want to generate energy. There's ...

Is Fissile Material Worth its Weight in Gold?

The other day a friend of mine made an off-handed remark to me about how nice it would be if a nuclear reactor made gold. This got me a little curious, and so I did a little research to see if gold was one of the products of fission. Well, it's not. Gold has only a single natural isotope, gold-197, and this is substantially heavier than any of the products of fission, which have masses that range from about 75 up to about 160. But then I had another thought: which would be a more valuable scenario? 1. A nuclear reactor that fulfilled the old alchemist's dream of turning a metal into gold, or, 2. The way things really work today, where ...

A Simplified Nuclear “Waste” Digester

Each of the Democratic candidates in the last presidential election, as part of the Nevada primary, had an opportunity to declare their everlasting hatred for the idea that "nuclear waste" would ever be stored at a remote site of desert called Yucca Mountain. Eventually one of them was elected. And he carried through on his promise, essentially bypassing the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act and billions of dollars of investment by saying that Yucca Mountain wouldn't ever be opened and that "nuclear waste" wouldn't be stored there. There's a little problem with that, see--each of the utilities that operate nuclear reactors have been paying a ...

Green Energy at Fortune Brainstorm

(guest posting by Richard Martin, author of "Superfuel") After the luncheon panel on “Green Technology: What’s Now & What’s Next” at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference, in Aspen, I confronted Amory Lovins and asked him a simple question: “Is there any potential technological innovation that would cause you to reconsider your views on nuclear power?” Lovins is the founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute and his anti-nuclear stance is well-known, as exemplified by this article entitled “Forget Nuclear.” Lovins claim is that nuclear is both unsafe and uneconomical as compared to new wind and solar capacity. His answer to my ...

Thorium Discussion in the House of Lords

The question was asked by Baroness Angela Smith of Basildon, and the government's response was given by Lord Marland of Odstock, who is Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Keep reading...

The Baroness Defends Thorium!

Lady Worthington rises to the defense of the thorium option in the pages of the Ecologist, where so recently it was attacked by Eifion Rees. The Ecologist: Response: don't dismiss the potential of thorium nuclear power To successfully reduce the risk of climate change we need to commericalise affordable, safe, flexible, long-lasting, low carbon sources of energy. We do not know yet if LFTRs fit the bill but they look extremely promising. It would be irresponsible to dismiss them out of hand before finding out. If the UK is serious about pursuing nuclear power, and it appears that it is, then we must include the pursuit of thorium power in this ...