Thinking About Energy Densities

Discussion of coal, oil, gas, solar, wind, ethanol, energy policy, and global warming.
DaveMart
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Re: Thinking About Energy Densities

Post by DaveMart » Jan 16, 2011 5:42 pm

Lars, I'd agree that that would be optimal. However there is a large investment in existing infrastructure, which is often far from railheads.
My preference would be to transport by rail, and then deliver locally by electric short-haul trucks, but there will be considerable pressure to continue as far as possible with current systems which biofuel may enable, for good or ill.

Ida-Russkie
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Re: Thinking About Energy Densities

Post by Ida-Russkie » Jan 16, 2011 5:58 pm

Cyril R wrote:
Ida-Russkie wrote:Now, how many car gasoline tankfuls is that? Given that gasoline in the US is inching up to 3.00 dollars a gallon it will be on peoples mind. or in the language of the natural gas fueled vehicle circle. What is the price/gasoline equivalent gallon.
Gasoline, that would be 8 of those LNG sized tanker trucks, or over 5000 large car tankfuls (however you only need a part for your car, the rest is required for airplanes, industrial production, space heating etc).

@ 3 USD/gallon, the cost of a lifetime of energy worth of gasoline, even when used efficiently, is over 300,000 dollars. Getting the same lifetime energy with thorium, @ USD 100/kg, costs less than 20 dollars. Even at a specialty low volume price of USD 5000/kg the cost would be only 1000 dollars. It is likely that thorium, being a waste product of rare earth mining, will be taken off the hands of rare earth miners for free. In fact they might pay you to get rid of this 'radioactive waste'.

If LNG is used wide scale for transportation, it might cost only 1 dollar/gallon gasoline equivalent. That's still 100,000 dollars for your lifetime of energy, and prices are so volatile they could triple in a few years. With lasting higher prices, you pay 200,000 dollars extra for your lifetime supply. A tripling of thorium prices would cost at most 2000 dollars extra for your lifetime energy supply (with 20 dollars being more likely considering thorium's waste product nature, ease of mining, and abundance). A tripling of oil prices would cost you 600,000 dollars extra.

8)
Of course, in addition to the fuel costs would be the capital expenses of generating the power and getting it to you. Still looks like a striking difference.

Cyril R
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Re: Thinking About Energy Densities

Post by Cyril R » Jan 17, 2011 6:11 am

Re total lifetime energy expenditures.

My estimate for LFTR lifetime energy expenditures including capital expenses, maintenance, radionuclide storage and decommissioning is 40,000 dollars. This ignores possible radionuclide commercial and medical value, and the opportunity cost savings from being the most compact land user (there is not enough room on your rooftop for PV panels, unless you have a McMansion).

PV, including batteries, installation, replacements, is 400,000 dollars. Though you’d have to except energy that goes away and comes with the flowers, so you’d have to live in the dark several months of the year.

Oil would cost over 300,000 dollars just for the fuel, if prices double its 600,000 dollars. Cost of the oil platforms, refineries and CCGT not included.

Coal is about 40,000 dollars for the fuel, prices again fluctuate, but not as bad as oil because coal is more ubiquitous. Facilities cost at least 10,000, more if pollutants are responsibly removed and land filled (talk about billion year toxic wastes). Regular O&M is around 20,000 dollars. This makes 70,000 dollars lifetime energy cost for coal, but probably more like 80,000 - 100,000 if it is done with at least some responsibility to the environment.

Cyril R
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Re: Thinking About Energy Densities

Post by Cyril R » Jan 17, 2011 7:09 am

I've found some nice illustrations about land use intensities:

Image

Image

Cyril R
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Re: Thinking About Energy Densities

Post by Cyril R » Jan 22, 2011 11:06 am

I made an attempt at photovoltaic solar lifetime energy requirements. 600 panels are required. Using a 20x170=3400 Wp rooftop system. 30 roofs are required, the panels break about three times in a lifetime so that's an effective coverage of 10 roofs. Inverters and energy storage not included, so there's a serious problem with too much/too little energy delivered.
Attachments
photovoltaic or thorium.jpg

Cyril R
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Re: Thinking About Energy Densities

Post by Cyril R » Jan 22, 2011 2:45 pm

I also found a 100 kWp tracker system that generates roughly as much lifetime electricity as the thorium golf ball. Yes, a tracker. It weighs 120 TONNES.

Image
Sundrive Systems AG (Zug, Switzerland) has developed the world's largest solar power tracking system. The "SunDriver" has a capacity of up to 100 kWp with a solar surface area of 640 m². As is the case with the ca 40 tonne steel frame, upon which the solar modules are mounted, tracks the sun's position utilising its rail system. The foundation, with a diameter of 16 m, is the basis for long-term structural integrity with its weight of approximately 70 tonnes. The total weight (foundation, steel beam system and solar modules) is approximately 120 tonnes. The "SunDriver" is fitted with a total of 12 lift-locks, so it can withstand even extreme wind conditions, Sundrive Systems reports in a press release.

During the design of the Sundrive Systems, high-quality components were developed and optimally tailored to each other, the producer emphasizes. This creates synergistic effects allowing for superior energy yields. The Sundrive Systems meets highest international industry standards regarding foundation, lightning protection, mechanics, electrics and communication engineering, Sundrive Systems accentuates. The "SunDriver" is available in two variants:

• SunDriver S-600 with a width of 37 m, a total height of 10 m and a capacity of up to 100kWp

• SunDriver S-600i with a width of 37 m, a total height of 6.5 m and a capacity of up to 90 kWp.
http://www.solarserver.com/solar-magazi ... ystem.html

Cyril R
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Re: Thinking About Energy Densities

Post by Cyril R » Jan 22, 2011 2:57 pm

By the way, 120 tonnes for 100 kWp means 1200 tonnes for 1 MWp. With 24% capacity factor in a sunny location this gets an average material intensity of 5000 tonnes per MW continuous equivalent. Typical LWR is under 250 tonnes per MW continuous equivalent. 20x reduced materials intensity for an old crappy LWR. The AHTR will be around half that, 40x reduced materials intensity, with LFTR likely slightly under AHTR still.

Boy, energy density really shows everywhere, whether it's land use, materials use, or fuel consumption! 8)

Cyril R
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Re: Thinking About Energy Densities

Post by Cyril R » Jan 22, 2011 5:05 pm

So is this better or not?

A golf ball or a 120 ton radio astronomers dish.
Attachments
photovoltaic or thorium2.jpg

jsbiff
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Re: Thinking About Energy Densities

Post by jsbiff » Feb 26, 2011 11:16 am

The visualizations are pretty interesting. One thing, you should try to drive home to people, if you are ever showing them this is the following point:

Take, for example, the comparison between the thorium marble and the train cars of coal. Now, on the one hand, 15 train cars of coal doesn't sound that bad. But, make sure the person remembers that there are about 300 Million people in the U.S. at present. So, take that 15 train cars of coal, and multiply that by 300,000,000. . . that's a lot of coal. 4500 Million (or 4.5 Billion) train cars full of coal.

300 Million of those marbles is still a lot of material, but it starts to look a heck of a lot smaller at that scale. . .

I wonder if there is some way to visualize what the total fuel requirements for 300 million people for a lifetime looks like. I think it would end up looking like comparing all the mountains in Colorado (for coal), to a single small hill of Thorium.

Cyril R
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Re: Thinking About Energy Densities

Post by Cyril R » Feb 26, 2011 11:26 am

jsbiff wrote:The visualizations are pretty interesting. One thing, you should try to drive home to people, if you are ever showing them this is the following point:

Take, for example, the comparison between the thorium marble and the train cars of coal. Now, on the one hand, 15 train cars of coal doesn't sound that bad. But, make sure the person remembers that there are about 300 Million people in the U.S. at present. So, take that 15 train cars of coal, and multiply that by 300,000,000. . . that's a lot of coal. 4500 Million (or 4.5 Billion) train cars full of coal.

300 Million of those marbles is still a lot of material, but it starts to look a heck of a lot smaller at that scale. . .

I wonder if there is some way to visualize what the total fuel requirements for 300 million people for a lifetime looks like. I think it would end up looking like comparing all the mountains in Colorado (for coal), to a single small hill of Thorium.
Couple million liters of thorium oxide. One olympic swimming pool. Well maybe two if we're really wasteful with energy (2500 MWh net work/capita/lifetime)

Image

rihoughton
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Re: Thinking About Energy Densities

Post by rihoughton » Apr 27, 2011 2:21 pm

On my website (peoplefriendlynukes.org), I put out a few factoids designed to give scale to lay people like myself:

If uranium was gasoline, and your car was a typical hot water reactor, you would fill it up with 20 gallons but would be able to burn only a little over 2 cups and have to pay someone to process and dispose of all the rest.

Annual thorium fuel cost for big electric producing plant....................... $60,000 (sixty thousand dollars)
Annual Income for selling electricity in this big plant............................. $500,000,000 (five hundred million dollars)


Temperature of a normal home gas stove burner .....................................2200 to 3500 f
Temperature inside the core of a MSR or LiFTR liquid core reactor ...............900 to 1300 f


Time to wait until toxic waste is safe from a normal reactor..............10,000 to 25,000 years
Time to wait until toxic waste from a coal plant is safe..................... forever
Time to wait until toxic waste is safe from a MSR/LiFTR............ 300 years


My way of trying to get the word out...

Cyril R
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Re: Thinking About Energy Densities

Post by Cyril R » Aug 26, 2011 7:47 am

I found this webpage that has nice information on energy densities per atom. Because uranium atoms are heavy the energy density difference is even more awesome.

Basically, fissioning one atom of uranium gets you 50 million times more energy than burning one atom of carbon.

50,000,000 times more energy. 50,000,000 times less pollution. Sometimes, being dense makes sense.

http://www.energyadvocate.com/fw28.htm

jagdish
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Re: Thinking About Energy Densities

Post by jagdish » Aug 29, 2011 1:29 am

Cyril R wrote:So is this better or not?

A golf ball or a 120 ton radio astronomers dish.
The golf ball is the fuel. the dish is the main production plant. The nuclear power plant is worth many dishes but bigger.

edpell
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Location: Rhinebeck, NY

Re: Thinking About Energy Densities

Post by edpell » Sep 03, 2011 1:29 pm

A personal share of a 1GW would be about 1 meter^3

AAron H.
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Re: Thinking About Energy Densities

Post by AAron H. » Dec 12, 2011 4:24 am

This is something I put together last year (with input and suggestions from Dr. Dan Meneley and Dr. Duane Pendergast of the Canadian Nuclear Society) to reflect the difference in land use between wind and nuclear.

I ask thee bretheren, forgive my conventional fuel cycle heresy. As the US and Canadas largest reactor facility, Bruce makes a good yardstick, and we canucks are rather fond of our CANDUs.

Images were taken from Google Satellite maps, output statistics taken from Wikipedia. Bruces output is based on current capacity with 2 of it's 8 reactors down for refurbishment.
Attachments
BrucevsAltamontAverage.jpg
Bruce-vs-AltamontPeak-II.jpg
Bruce-vs-Altamont-II.jpg

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