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 Post subject: Re: Nuclear Education
PostPosted: Oct 31, 2013 8:30 am 
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NicholasJanssen wrote:
BobPink wrote:
BobN wrote:
I fear that the time is short for getting nuclear going. Wind and solar was tolerated by big oil as it seemingly was not a threat, but the installations are starting to have impacts, so the subsidies are going away, the buy of electricity being curtailed and there is a move to start taxing solar.


Are you using 'big oil' as a catchall for Big Energy? I can see Big Coal caring; it's their pocket getting picked. To a lesser extent, Big NG, if there is such a thing. But absent solid evidence of a conspiratorial paper or money trail, I'm not sure it is useful to argue in terms of back room dealing; debate opponents will simple roll their eyes.

How did France do it?

France did it because in the 1970 energy costs were massive, france had no major fossil fuel interests, and the french government pushed massively for "clean cheap nuclear" to the educated french people. It is very easy for voters to go clean cheap nuclear when energy costs are huge, and growing.

You want a money trail to believe the following?
Quote:
"Energy lobby" is the umbrella term used to name the paid representatives of large fossil fuel (oil, gas, coal) and electric utilities corporations who attempt to influence governmental policy. So-called Big Oil companies such as ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Total S.A., Koch Industries, Chevron Corporation, and ConocoPhillips are amongst the largest corporations associated with the energy lobby. General Electric, Southern Co., First Energy, and the Edison Electric Institute are among the influential electric utilities corporations.[1] Both electric companies and big oil and gas companies are consistently among the ten highest-spending industrial lobbyists.[2]

Many of the most influential members of the energy lobby are among the top polluters in the United States, with Conoco, Exxon, and General Electric ranking in the top six.[7] According to the Environmental Integrity Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established in March 2002 by former attorneys at the Environmental Protection Agency, “Companies like ExxonMobil and Sunoco keep reporting record profits while increasing emissions or more cancer causing chemicals from their refineries.”[8] The energy lobby is criticized for using its influence to block or dilute legislation regarding global climate change.[9]


Imagine if refineries were regulated by the NRC? Imagine how fast exxon would get rid of the NRC?


It is not what I want to believe that matters. It just isn't a very strong debating point for this side of the political energy fence. I'll admit it is a standard tactic on the other, but I can't think (much less argue) it terms of smearing. Absent that paper trail regarding nuclear specifically, smear is all I think it is. But if you believe it, and want to argue it, more power to you.

Your point about France is well taken. It will be a long, long time before that happens here; coal is very abundant. If the Global Warming activist and the Solar/wind rainbowist have their way, self-imposed restrictions on burning coal might bring us to the same point.

It is interesting that something I have almost zero belief in (harm from climate change) is the strongest argument I have for advancing the use of nuclear. Irony rocks.


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 Post subject: Re: Nuclear Education
PostPosted: Oct 31, 2013 3:41 pm 
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@BobPink: Cost is not the only issue. Please consider the other issues: Safety, land use, pollution, and energy security. Nuclear is already safer than coal, natural gas, solar, wind or hydro. A LFTR should be safer yet.

Coal is cheap, and abundant in the U.S., but if it is made nonpolluting, it's more expensive than Korean nuclear plants (the plant prices are a wash. The savings kick in on the fuel costs, and transportation fuel pollution.) LFTRs should be cheaper, yet. Even cheaper than dirty coal plants.

Natural gas is polluting as well; It is not wise to live down-wind from a natural gas plant because of all the radon it emits. Also, cheap natural gas prices are likely to be temporary ending once there are adequate means of shipping it: It really is a premium fuel, better suited to vehicles than stationary power.

Nuclear solves the energy security issue, and LFTRs add very cheap nuclear infrastructure: cheap, compact, low-pressure reactors, no isotope separation, and tiny mining and transportation requirements. All with the tiny land-use requirements of nuclear power.

A small country that wants to develop nuclear power could do far worse than to use LFTRs for that purpose. The cheap infrastructure is propbably the main attraction.

But also, thorium breeders are so inefficient that diversion of nuclear fuels is relatively obvious, making a thorium economy easier to inspect for nonproliferation compliance.


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 Post subject: Re: Nuclear Education
PostPosted: Oct 31, 2013 3:54 pm 
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BobPink wrote:
Hi all. This is my first post. To introduce myself, I'm a big advocate of nuclear. I believe the obvious difficulties and dangers inherent to it are nothing compared to the more obscure dangers associated with burning coal; the newly emerging once-third-world energy market puts a ! on this issue.

I've been reading posts for a very long time. I'm humbled by the level of expertise and technical discourse that takes place here. I've learned by reading here that even though I thought I had a good understanding of the technology, it is really quite lacking. I've learned there are technical issues so esoteric I couldn't hope to understand them without a dedicated devotion to study. Sometimes I just have to skim posts looking for topics I understand.

Even my potential questions are so naive as to not be worth too much; I'm not sure I would understand the answers even if much simplified. Since lurking here, I realize that I don't know enough to frame them properly.

That is the nature of this post.

Cyril R wrote in a different thread:

Cyril R wrote:
To break this circle, you need to tackle the root cause of all the problems. Which is simply that people don't understand nuclear power. They know only what they hear, which is fearmongering, media speculation, and flat out lies.

It's not about trust. It's about knowledge.


In a word, I just don't think that is possible. Where would 'people' get this knowledge?

Not to disparage my fellow Americans, but if they know no math beyond what is necessary to balance their checkbooks (and often not even that), know no chemistry beyond what is necessary to make a good cup of coffee (and Keurig makes even that knowledge unnecessary), know nothing about physics, metallurgy, geology, or thermodynamics, how do you ever hope to educate them on the science of nuclear engineering? I'm afraid you're left with either bulldozing your way past them with politics or waiting until reality catches up with them and they come to your side because they're freezing in the winter.

Any comments?


I don't think the issue is that Americans are unable to learn the facts around how safe and valuable nuclear power and technology is, it's that the current place holders in the energy sector are road hogs, they're not interested in sharing the forum let alone the marketplace with a technology they can't hope to compete with if it ever gets a meaningful foothold in the minds and imaginations of the public.

Education is very important and I think large scale use of nuclear power at some point is going to be seen as completely natural when enough people have had enough of the nonsense we're constantly being fed about the true costs of fossil fuels.


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 Post subject: Re: Nuclear Education
PostPosted: Oct 31, 2013 5:41 pm 
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Here's an example of what I consider to be good article in popular terms of press coverage.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24638816

Note that I say good because it is not an outright hit piece. There's a lot of imprecise information, a little wrong information, but not a lot of misinformation.

Under which do I classify this quote:
Quote:
Dr Nils Bohmer, a nuclear physicist working for a Norwegian environmental NGO, Bellona, said developing thorium was a costly distraction from the need to cut emissions immediately to stave off the prospect of dangerous climate change.

"The advantages of thorium are purely theoretical," he told BBC News.


Well, the quote is misinformation but did the reporter fish for that quote? He certainly didn't take him to task for it. How well educated is the reporter?

Other quotes and comments suggest that the existing uranium interests are also against thorium-based designs; at best they won't help.

But the money quote is from the reporter.
Quote:
If thorium ever makes it as a commercial nuclear fuel, uranium may be seen as a massive and costly diversion. Some supporters of thorium believe that it was bypassed in the past because governments wanted the plutonium from certain conventional reactors to make atomic bombs.

They believe thorium was rejected because it was simply too safe.


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 Post subject: Re: Nuclear Education
PostPosted: Oct 31, 2013 6:26 pm 
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Now that seawater extraction has put a hard upper limit on uranium prices it seems likely that it will be very difficult to beat an ESBWR with a once through fuel cycle.


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 Post subject: Re: Nuclear Education
PostPosted: Nov 01, 2013 3:54 pm 
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E Ireland wrote:
Now that seawater extraction has put a hard upper limit on uranium prices it seems likely that it will be very difficult to beat an ESBWR with a once through fuel cycle.


Agree, in terms of large baseload powerplants.

There are other large markets though. High temperature industrial process heat, for example, is a massive energy demand that can't be filled by ESBWR - it's too cold, at a quite chilly 285C.


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 Post subject: Re: Nuclear Education
PostPosted: Nov 01, 2013 4:06 pm 
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E Ireland wrote:
Now that seawater extraction has put a hard upper limit on uranium prices it seems likely that it will be very difficult to beat an ESBWR with a once through fuel cycle.


I still have a problem comparing pressurized solid fueled reactors with molten salt reactors. An ESBWR may be a significant improvement over generation-II reactors but it's still pressurized, uses solid fuel and produces a lot of waste that needs to be processed or stored for long periods of time.

The early development period of LFTRs is going to be expensive, but the positive aspects of the design make it a world beater I think. For one thing they effectively shut down the critics who will probably go on indefinitely about the risks of solid fueled pressurized reactors.

With the molten salt design it's also possible to constantly process the fuel/salt mixture and market the valuable fission products. The fraction of waste left over from a two fluid LFTR is a big selling point I think from a sustainability standpoint.


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 Post subject: Re: Nuclear Education
PostPosted: Nov 01, 2013 4:37 pm 
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ESBWR has basically dealt with all the traditional weaknesses of the BWR. Full passive cooling is available even at above normal operating pressure using redundant and simple isolation condensers with fail-open valves (failsafe system). All in a remarkably compact system. I'm so impressed by these systems, that I'm considering them for use in a LFTR steam cycle as a first line of defence against SBO/LOHS type events.

It is true that not needing to depressurize no matter what is a key advantage for a LFTR, but keep in mind there's a lot more complexity in the LFTR than in the ESBWR. Reprocessing failures are real risks that must be considered. I'm much more comforable with all the radioactive stuff in a single reactor than spreading it in a half dozen different processing rigs doing all manner of exciting things like flame fluorination and high temperature distillation (to anti-nukes, exciting means scary). Plus the LFTR has a high pressure backend, the turbine, which is at much higher pressure in fact than the ESBWR. Design provisions must be made to prevent pressure transfer from a steam leak. This all can be done but requires careful design.

The spent fuel from LWRs is very tiny in volume, not much can be gained with reducing it in reprocessing, and the heat load stays pretty much the same. Decay heat is decay heat, not much difference with going to thorium.


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 Post subject: Re: Nuclear Education
PostPosted: Nov 01, 2013 5:53 pm 
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From my limited understanding an ESBWR gives about 72 hours of passive cooling after an emergency shutdown with no external power. It also uses natural circulation doing away with a lot of the plumbing and weaknesses of older designs so a Fukushima style accident seems very unlikely with the new design.

I'd support building them and if we're also developing LFTRs and FS-MSRs in coming decades then there's an effective solution for the solid waste, what's not used in the ESBWR can be processed as start-up loads for LFTRs and fuel for FS-MSRs.

They may still be a hard sell in a marketplace where's there's so much nonsense about nuclear power though, hopefully rational policies will win out.


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 Post subject: Re: Nuclear Education
PostPosted: Nov 01, 2013 6:33 pm 
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According to this old post from Rod Adams http://atomicinsights.com/two-more-util ... the-esbwr/
one reason why, despite it's apparent advantages, nobody is building an ESBWR, is that top management at General Electric don't show any real interest in promoting it. The same might apply to the PRISM fast reactor, which was proposed to use the UK's supply of plutonium.


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 Post subject: Re: Nuclear Education
PostPosted: Nov 02, 2013 1:37 pm 
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jon wrote:
According to this old post from Rod Adams http://atomicinsights.com/two-more-util ... the-esbwr/
one reason why, despite it's apparent advantages, nobody is building an ESBWR, is that top management at General Electric don't show any real interest in promoting it. The same might apply to the PRISM fast reactor, which was proposed to use the UK's supply of plutonium.


I think at some point policies, even unstated ones, like this are going to be harder to defend.

Quote:
I am certain that GE’s top management is not fully committed to the important, but extremely challenging task of actually completing new nuclear power plants in the United States. The way that they have treated NRG with regard to its ABWR project provides some hint of its priorities. (An old friend told me that GE actions to prevent use of certain design features had delayed the project by more than a year. I did not fully understand the legal details, but the source is an excellent one.)

The company leaders are not genuinely interested in encouraging the successful development of nuclear fission as a fundamental part of an environmentally friendly electrical power grid. They are very interested in making money quarter by quarter, even if it means selling combustion gas turbines that produce plenty of polluting emissions and run on a fuel with unpredictable price and availability or massive wind turbines that destroy mountain top forests and provide unreliable electricity.


Any critical look at the situation indicates that we need to start phasing out fossil fuel energy production and replace it with low CO2 emitting sources that have the same capacity, renewables like wind and solar don't. We're going to be going nuclear in a big way soon despite whatever's being said right now I think.

GEH is still working slowly at getting the ESBWR certified it appears.

http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-reactor ... esbwr.html

The first application was in 2005 and GEH is still rectifying issues.

http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-reactor ... eview.html


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 Post subject: Re: Nuclear Education
PostPosted: Nov 02, 2013 1:48 pm 
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One of the projects that previously abandoned the ESBWR last year (or before?) has switched back to it as of April [North Anna 3].

So we shall see.

And the best way to dispose of the plutonium at this point is to burn it in an ESBWR as MOX.
If really neccesary the seperated plutonium could be shipped to the MELOX plant and the MOX fuel returned to Britain for burning in reactors.


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 Post subject: Re: Nuclear Education
PostPosted: Nov 02, 2013 2:15 pm 
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Please no, putting the Pu in the LWRs degrades the quality of the Pu and burns out only a minor fraction. Then the resulting waste truely is waste, since it's too poor a quality to start up LFTRs.

By all means, build the LWRs, but run them on once through please. If any MOx must be used at all, then deep burn ThO2-PuO2 is the most sensible one.


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 Post subject: Re: Nuclear Education
PostPosted: Nov 02, 2013 2:38 pm 
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Cyril R wrote:
Please no, putting the Pu in the LWRs degrades the quality of the Pu and burns out only a minor fraction. Then the resulting waste truely is waste, since it's too poor a quality to start up LFTRs.


Perhaps, but it also drastically reduces the cost of storage of the Plutonium since we won't have to have hordes of heavily armed guards to stop the anti-nukes ranting about someone breaking into Sellafield and stealing all the Plutonium to make nuclear weapons.

As idiotic as that sounds, and is.

Cyril R wrote:
By all means, build the LWRs, but run them on once through please. If any MOx must be used at all, then deep burn ThO2-PuO2 is the most sensible one.


Problem is that Th02-Pu02 has not been certified and I doubt it will be in the near future.
Pu-U MOX is ready to go today.


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 Post subject: Re: Nuclear Education
PostPosted: Nov 02, 2013 3:55 pm 
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Reactor grade plutonium is only good to make fizzle bombs. But spent MOx plutonium can be made into fizzle bombs without about the same level of difficulty.

U-Pu MOx is ready today... sure, it's ready to ruin reasonably good quality startup fuel for future LFTRs, right now.

Even the French admit that stopping MOx helps a future thorium reactor transition.


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