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Saru

Could a nuclear 'binge' solve global warming?

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Professor Peter Wadhams is concerned that the world hasn't been doing enough to tackle climate change.

A leading British academic has called for accelerated research into futuristic geo-engineering and a worldwide nuclear power station "binge" to avoid runaway global warming.

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It will never happen in the US. For the Greens, being anti nuke is a religious dogma. The only solution they offer is to simply stop using energy at the rates we do...drastically cutting the supply. Ask most people who are put on a diet how that works for them.

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This is a sad state we are in. The green movement should have started 50 years ago and yet we are still behind where we should be. The gov't will gladly spend billions to save greedy bankers but refuse to invest heavily in green technology.

It does crack me up, or make me shake my head, when I see a over large vehicle transporting a family of three with a bumper sticker saying "Go Green".

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let's put the scenario that someone wanted to sabotage a countries resources, or maybe another fukishima-like incident happens - does anyone else think there's just a little chance dotting these things around the globe might be a ******* stupid idea?

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But what about the oil companies?!

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Thorium Reactor: next-generation reactor

Because thorium reactors will make nuclear reactors more decentralized. Because of no risk of proliferation or meltdown, thorium reactors can be made of almost any size. A 500 ton, 100MW SSTAR-sized thorium reactor could fit in a large industrial room, require little maintenance, and only cost $25 million. A hypothetical 5 ton, truck-sized 1 MW thorium reactor might run for only $250,000 but would generate enough electricity for 1,000 people for the duration of its operating lifetime, using only 20 kg of thorium fuel per year, running almost automatically, and requiring safety checks as infrequently as once a year. That would be as little as $200/year after capital costs are paid off, for a thousand-persons worth of electricity! An annual visit by a safety inspector might add another $200 to the bill. A town of 1,000 could pool $250K for the reactor at the cost of $250 each, then pay $400/year collectively, or $0.40/year each for fuel and maintenance. These reactors could be built by the thousands, further driving down manufacturing costs.

Smaller reactors make power generation convenient in two ways: decreasing staffing costs by dropping them close to zero, and eliminating the bulky infrastructure required for larger plants. For this reason, it may be more likely that we see the construction of a million $40,000, 100 kW plants than 400 $300 million, 1GW plants. 100 kW plants would require minimal shielding and could be installed in private homes without fear of radiation poisoning. These small plants could be shielded so well that the level of radiation outside the shield is barely greater than the ambient level of radiation from traces of uranium in the environment. The only operating costs would be periodic safety checks, flouride salts, and thorium fuel. For a $40,000 reactor, and $1,000/year in operating costs, you get enough electricity for 100 people, which is enough to accomplish all sorts of antics, like running thousands of desktop nanofactories non-stop.

Even smaller reactors might be built. ... (snip) ... Read more

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It will never happen in the US. For the Greens, being anti nuke is a religious dogma. The only solution they offer is to simply stop using energy at the rates we do...drastically cutting the supply. Ask most people who are put on a diet how that works for them.

First, color me green. I think we need to employ technologies that reduce pollution - like carbon emissions. Wind is a cost-effective way to do that, but conversion is not even keeping up with demand at the moment. We need more and nukes could be a way to do it. Thorium reactors might be a way, but I'm not up to snuff on them, so I don't know.

But fast-breeders might also work. Yes, Detroit Fermi was a fast breeder. It had a meltdown. But it operated long enough to demonstrate that fast-breeders are cost-effective. They also use recycled fuel from fission reactors and material from bombs. The waste they use has a half-life of thousands of years. Fast-breeder wastes have half-lives of two or three hundred years - that cuts down on the waste storage problem by about 15 times. And Uncle Sam currently has about $50 billion dollars worth of the stuff - enough to last 1000 years without ANY mining of additional fuels. Hopefully, new reactor designs would be safer than the old ones.

Passive gravity-operated safety systems could be used - if the power fails, gravity-operated systems automatically scram the reactor.

I think nuclear should be seriously considered.

Doug

P.S.: Reactors could halt the increase in CO2 emissions, but the warming that has already occurred is probably irreversible. And that extra heat will continue to spread through the environment causing havoc. We have already entrained a whole strong of disasters, What nuclear can do is keep us from entraining any new ones.

Doug

Edited by Doug1o29

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Lets face it, humans only react when tragedy happens. Nobody understands that we are close to a point of no return. This means we won't be able to rally around and fix the disaster.

Not to mention all those who are still in denial. This is going to affect every living thing on the planet. The oceans will have no fish, there will be no bees or other insects that pollinate, the list just goes on and on. Meanwhile politicians are just interested in the next election and people lay on the beach and say, "it's a hot one today".

Our children will suffer and no amount of money will help the rich avoid this one.

If money wasn't the god of humankind, we'd be doing something already.

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I doubt that there is anything at this point that can stop the warming because it is of little use to try to stop something that is out of your control already, the amounts of carbon that are already released will surely do their work. Now, trying to avoid using carbon supplanting it with atomic energy sounds a little to me like hiring Satan to drive Beelzebub out of town.

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Thorium is not a magic bullet and it isn't as benign as it is been portrayed. Nuclear doesn't work on so many levels its just not funny. The main one is that Nuclear takes to long to commission to make a meaningful contribution to Climate change - coupled to this is the fact that it has its own "peak" built in which would mean rising costs after about 30 years.

The real clincher is - no-one has resolved the nuclear waste issue and it has been a used technology for 50 years now. The reason is that there is no safe storage solution. Fukishima was statistically right on schedule, so the more nuclear power plants you build the more accidents that will happen. The cost of Chernobyl is running past a half a trillion. The eventual cost of Fukishima will probably be incalculable.

Meanwhile clean green technologies can do almost everything we need at comparable or cheaper cost than Nuclear. To even consider Nuclear is dumb IMO.

Br Cornelius

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I saw the title and thought: "Wow, someone's suggested Nuking the USA to solve global warming!"

Phew! Glad I was wrong about that one :innocent:

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Every week on C-SPAN a Congressman from Maryland (sorry, I don't recall his name) gave the same speech on peak oil, fossil-fuel reserves, and alternative energy sources. He said that many people he talked with were anti-nuclear energy, citing safety. But when he asked them if it meant the difference between staying warm in winter or shivering in the dark, they weren't quite as sure. I agree that there's no safe storage solution- on Earth. Let's just shoot it out in space. Like my neighbors toss their fast food bags into my yard, we can toss our trash into our galactic neighbors yard.

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Every week on C-SPAN a Congressman from Maryland (sorry, I don't recall his name) gave the same speech on peak oil, fossil-fuel reserves, and alternative energy sources. He said that many people he talked with were anti-nuclear energy, citing safety. But when he asked them if it meant the difference between staying warm in winter or shivering in the dark, they weren't quite as sure. I agree that there's no safe storage solution- on Earth. Let's just shoot it out in space. Like my neighbors toss their fast food bags into my yard, we can toss our trash into our galactic neighbors yard.

hmmm...won't it be fun if one of those thingies results to be a 4th of July rocket blowing up in the atmosphere....

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Lets face it, humans only react when tragedy happens. Nobody understands that we are close to a point of no return. This means we won't be able to rally around and fix the disaster.

Not to mention all those who are still in denial. This is going to affect every living thing on the planet. The oceans will have no fish, there will be no bees or other insects that pollinate, the list just goes on and on. Meanwhile politicians are just interested in the next election and people lay on the beach and say, "it's a hot one today".

Our children will suffer and no amount of money will help the rich avoid this one.

If money wasn't the god of humankind, we'd be doing something already.

Like the "oil crisis" in the '70's. Our governments should have said "no more of this crap" and done some serious work to keep it from happening again.
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hmmm...won't it be fun if one of those thingies results to be a 4th of July rocket blowing up in the atmosphere....

Yep, spectacular. For about a minute.

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But what about the oil companies?!

They're called "Governments".

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Thorium is not a magic bullet and it isn't as benign as it is been portrayed. Nuclear doesn't work on so many levels its just not funny. The main one is that Nuclear takes to long to commission to make a meaningful contribution to Climate change - coupled to this is the fact that it has its own "peak" built in which would mean rising costs after about 30 years.

The real clincher is - no-one has resolved the nuclear waste issue and it has been a used technology for 50 years now. The reason is that there is no safe storage solution. Fukishima was statistically right on schedule, so the more nuclear power plants you build the more accidents that will happen. The cost of Chernobyl is running past a half a trillion. The eventual cost of Fukishima will probably be incalculable.

Meanwhile clean green technologies can do almost everything we need at comparable or cheaper cost than Nuclear. To even consider Nuclear is dumb IMO.

Br Cornelius

None of the nuclear technologies has solved the waste problem. Fast-breeders produce less of it, but they still produce it. The US' site at Yucca Mountain is more like a sieve than a container. Cracks and faults reach down to the water table; the place cannot be made completely leak-proof.

I don't know whether green technologies can solve the problem, but we haven't given them a serious try yet. Let's try them and find out. I think wind has some real benefits, at least here in the plains AND: it is already cheaper than coal or oil and pretty close to gas - I'm not sure which is cheaper. Most of the screaming that green costs more is oil and coal BS.

A friend of mine lives near a "clean coal" plant. They periodically send around a PR person with pamphlets on how clean they are. He invites the person back in the spring to help him clean the "clean coal" off his walls. They never show up.

My home town has a coal-loading facility for loading ships. The downtrown area is usually black from "clean coal" dust. Just ask someone who lives near a coal facility how clean they are.

Doug

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I remember back in the late '70s, pointed headed liberal scientists were screaming about global cooling and the next ice age that was just around the corner. Humorously, just as this pointed headed scientist blathers on about making white clouds to reflect sunlight, the pointy heads back in the '70s talked about making black clouds to absorb more sunlight. LMAO.

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None of the nuclear technologies has solved the waste problem. Fast-breeders produce less of it, but they still produce it. The US' site at Yucca Mountain is more like a sieve than a container. Cracks and faults reach down to the water table; the place cannot be made completely leak-proof.

I don't know whether green technologies can solve the problem, but we haven't given them a serious try yet. Let's try them and find out. I think wind has some real benefits, at least here in the plains AND: it is already cheaper than coal or oil and pretty close to gas - I'm not sure which is cheaper. Most of the screaming that green costs more is oil and coal BS.

A friend of mine lives near a "clean coal" plant. They periodically send around a PR person with pamphlets on how clean they are. He invites the person back in the spring to help him clean the "clean coal" off his walls. They never show up.

My home town has a coal-loading facility for loading ships. The downtrown area is usually black from "clean coal" dust. Just ask someone who lives near a coal facility how clean they are.

Doug

I've lived a few miles from one for over thirty years and its not been a problem. I don't doubt that they are dirtier than the PR/propaganda literature tells us, but for some reason we've been fortunate with our plant. When they first built it, that was the main fear we had- black smoke billowing from the smokestacks, covering everything in a layer of soot. But it didn't happen. And this plant was built before "clean coal" became a catchphrase. The thing is, they say we have a 300 year supply in the US, but that figure is based on current consumption. If we increase consumption even a couple of percent, the supply is cut exponentially. And if we export it (gotta make that money) we probably won't have enough to last the rest of this century. I guess we'll eventually weed ourselves out of the food chain.

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I remember back in the late '70s, pointed headed liberal scientists were screaming about global cooling and the next ice age that was just around the corner. Humorously, just as this pointed headed scientist blathers on about making white clouds to reflect sunlight, the pointy heads back in the '70s talked about making black clouds to absorb more sunlight. LMAO.

So wrong - so misinformed - you should actually check the facts before making yourself look foolish.

Global cooling was never more than a fringe notion put forward by a few misguided scientists.

You must be living on a diet of Global Warming denial.

Br Cornelius

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So wrong - so misinformed - you should actually check the facts before making yourself look foolish.

Global cooling was never more than a fringe notion put forward by a few misguided scientists.

You must be living on a diet of Global Warming denial.

Br Cornelius

That diet is as popular as Atkins in some parts of the USA!

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I've lived a few miles from one for over thirty years and its not been a problem. I don't doubt that they are dirtier than the PR/propaganda literature tells us, but for some reason we've been fortunate with our plant. When they first built it, that was the main fear we had- black smoke billowing from the smokestacks, covering everything in a layer of soot. But it didn't happen. And this plant was built before "clean coal" became a catchphrase. The thing is, they say we have a 300 year supply in the US, but that figure is based on current consumption. If we increase consumption even a couple of percent, the supply is cut exponentially. And if we export it (gotta make that money) we probably won't have enough to last the rest of this century. I guess we'll eventually weed ourselves out of the food chain.

It has long been possible to scrub the stacks of coal power stations to reduce sulphates, particulates and smoke. This doesn't make it clean however since it is grossly inefficient at about 30% energy conversion to electricity. On top of that because of its molecular structure it produces twice as much CO2 as natural gas.

Clean coal is the fanciful notion that you can capture and safely store the CO2 emissions from the stack. As yet there is no commercially viable coal power station doing that, and there are reasons to believe that it will never be commercially viable to achieve carbon capture.

Coal is intrinsically dirty since even if you scrub its emissions of SO4, Mercury and particulates these products need to be stored which is itself expensive. The CO2 emissions are the thing which will eventually kill off coal as a source of electricity. The only situation where it can be considered a useful fuel is for heat in a domestic situation where it delivers more of its energy load as useful heat.

By the way - fast breeder reactors have never overcome their intrinsic technical difficulties to a degree where the technology can be commercially realized. There is a whole industry of Nuclear propaganda out there selling the idea that a cheaper, safer technology is just around the corner - fast breeder and thorium are just another flavour. The only version of a Thorium reactor which is relatively less waste generating is one using a particle accelerator and as yet there is no particle accellerator both small enough and energy efficient enough to produce over unity results. All the other flavours of Thorium reactors use Uranium as the Neutron seed source - which make the byproducts almost as dangerous as a conventional reactor.

Br Cornelius

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It has long been possible to scrub the stacks of coal power stations to reduce sulphates, particulates and smoke. This doesn't make it clean however since it is grossly inefficient at about 30% energy conversion to electricity. On top of that because of its molecular structure it produces twice as much CO2 as natural gas.

Clean coal is the fanciful notion that you can capture and safely store the CO2 emissions from the stack. As yet there is no commercially viable coal power station doing that, and there are reasons to believe that it will never be commercially viable to achieve carbon capture.

Coal is intrinsically dirty since even if you scrub its emissions of SO4, Mercury and particulates these products need to be stored which is itself expensive. The CO2 emissions are the thing which will eventually kill off coal as a source of electricity. The only situation where it can be considered a useful fuel is for heat in a domestic situation where it delivers more of its energy load as useful heat.

By the way - fast breeder reactors have never overcome their intrinsic technical difficulties to a degree where the technology can be commercially realized. There is a whole industry of Nuclear propaganda out there selling the idea that a cheaper, safer technology is just around the corner - fast breeder and thorium are just another flavour. The only version of a Thorium reactor which is relatively less waste generating is one using a particle accelerator and as yet there is no particle accellerator both small enough and energy efficient enough to produce over unity results. All the other flavours of Thorium reactors use Uranium as the Neutron seed source - which make the byproducts almost as dangerous as a conventional reactor.

Br Cornelius

Also there is the massive water consumption of coal-fired plants. Upwards of 2 Billion gallons per year for a 500 megawatt generator, which is unrecoverable. Our local plant draws reserves from an already stressed aquifer via water rights purchased from area farmers and ranchers, and has secured more water rights ahead of a planned expansion of the plant. Being situated in a remote, rural area, I'm guessing that poisoning and depleting the water here isn't a big concern since it won't affect as many people.

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i honestly believe that cheap fusion is just around the corner.

Edited by regeneratia

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I remember back in the late '70s, pointed headed liberal scientists were screaming about global cooling and the next ice age that was just around the corner. Humorously, just as this pointed headed scientist blathers on about making white clouds to reflect sunlight, the pointy heads back in the '70s talked about making black clouds to absorb more sunlight. LMAO.

I agree with the opinion that climate change is not totally anthropomorphic in nature. However, your use of condescention towards people totally obliterates, destroys everything you have to say. Name-calling invalidates your opinion. Surely there is a better way to express yourself, somehow without the use of name-calling and ridicule.

Science doubles it's knowledge base every three to five years. What happens in the 70's is far less advanced than what we have today. It also makes all science today questionable because we know that we will still be learning, still doubling our knowledge base three to five years in the future. Better to not take a stance on this. Better to sit on the fence and watch the science come and go.

Edited by regeneratia

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