Nuclear powered future?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by DeSnousa, Dec 23, 2006.

  1. DeSnousa macrumors 68000

    DeSnousa

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    #1
    I thought I would post one of my blog entries that I wrote today about nuclear power.

    [​IMG]

    Link

    So what are your thoughts on a nuclear powered world?
     
  2. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #2
    I've read, sorry no links, that there simply isn't enough raw material for nuclear power to be viable. Fortunately, Australia has a lot of it so it's not a matter of having to wrest it from a bunch of tin pot and oil obese dictators.

    There's also the tiny little matter of nuclear waste disposal. Nobody has found a viable solution 60 some years after it began to be used.

    Solar and wind are getting cheaper all the time. While solar panels don't last forever, they have a lot of very tangible benefits.

    1. Solar can be local and doesn't depend on a ruinously expensive system of transmission lines.

    2. Solar doesn't require expensive and destructive uranium mines.

    3. Until someone unplugs the sun, the power it provides is unlimited.

    Unfortunately, some of solar's most appealing points don't go over well on Wall Street. There's a lot more money in building a nuke plant than there is in building solar panels. Until the government gets behind alternative energy in a big way, solar will always be considered a poor relation.
     
  3. Jimmieboy macrumors 6502

    Jimmieboy

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    #3
    I also live in Australia and I say go for nuclear power. While there are problems such as terrorist threats, in my opinion we have no choice but to switch. With greenhouse gas emitions high and rising you'll find that most of this comes from coal powered power stations. I think that the risk of terrorism (which in my opinion isn't a huge problem, though could become one), is outweighed by the benefits. The radioactive waste can be turned into a ceramic and then stored. Stored where? I don't know. My suggestion would be to place it in the Marrnis Trench (Spelt wrong), where there are large amounts of radiation coming from the earths core.

    If someone can figure out how to do controlled nuclear fusion (if not it's fission, can't remember which) there would be no energy problem or international water shortage. We'd be able to desalinate all the water we wanted to.

    It is only my opinion that we switch to nuclear power.
     
  4. AP_piano295 macrumors 65816

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    #4
    what about generator reactors?

    that would mean no problem with supplies.
     
  5. Jimmieboy macrumors 6502

    Jimmieboy

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    #5
    I don't think I've heard of them. Want to explain a little? :D
     
  6. scem0 macrumors 604

    scem0

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    #6
    My mother really wants me to go into alternative energy and I am taking her suggestions seriously. Solar and wind power needs to see some aggressive growth and I believe it will. Probably not soon, but I think it must eventually. After peak oil we'll see some advances.

    e
     
  7. iMeowbot macrumors G3

    iMeowbot

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    #7
    Here's one. The known reserves and consumption figures are listed. This report doesn't try to guess at how long it will really last.
     
  8. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #8
    Solar Power is the way forward, though Nuclear can be safe if done right. Why every new house built on the planet doesnt have solar power lighting or water heating is the govts fault. We have the technology and no one is pushing it. Here in America we have a govt who is slave to the current oil industry. We could eliminate the U.S. dependency on foreign oil if we had a smarter govt that wasnt loaded with corrupt politicians like Bush and most of Congress. The U.S. needs a energy policy, at the moment there is none except buy and produce Oil.:rolleyes:
     
  9. KingYaba macrumors 68040

    KingYaba

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    #9
    Nuclear power is a great alternative to coal-fired plants. I would rather have nuclear waste buried in a mountain, rather than something constantly released into the air for me to breathe.

    Long-term solution? No. Should be used to transition into something more "eco-friendly" like windpower. Solar farms, or tidal farms.

    I say wind power for us Texans. :cool:
     
  10. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #10
    I think solar power is absolutely great and needs to be harnessed much more effectively. But one problem is that when we jump to broad conclusions like this, there isn't necessarily enough thought put into the full palette of consequences. For example, is there an adequate infrastructure to handle all of the waste products incurred in *building* the solar panels in the first place? They contain semiconductor films and so on... what are the impacts of disposing of them?

    I'm not saying I know the answer on those issues...I'm specifically saying I don't, and I'm not sure where to find that information.

    As far as nuclear fuel resources go... this is a very similar type of concern, although, in this case, I do know a couple of things, and it seems like a discussion of nuclear power's infeasibility due to limited fuel resources in which fast reactors and breeding are never discussed is a pretty one-sided analysis....

    My personal feel is that there needs to be a much more hybridized power infrastructure that allows efficient mixture of energy coming in from a variety of relatively centralized power sources (like nuclear reactors) and also local production (esp. solar) and power sources that are regionally unique (hydro, wind, etc).
     
  11. DeSnousa thread starter macrumors 68000

    DeSnousa

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    #11
    I found this article that was digged.

    Link

    Here is the guts of the article if you don't want to read the whole thing.

     
  12. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #12
    Wind is good, except on calm days. There is the issue of visual pollution and the killing of raptors. Solar is good, except at night. There is the issue of visual pollution for a large array, as well as the environmental impact coming from covering over a lot of ground.

    I note that for the state of Texas, replacing just the coal-fired power plants with wind generators at 3.2MW each would require over 60,000 units just to meet today's demand. That number ignores reserves, downtime for maintenance, and calm days.

    Sure, you can store electricity in batteries, but the production process for batteries means strip mines, smelters, chemical plant production of acids on a large scale (and dealing with the pollutant "leftovers") and then the relatively poor efficiency of the end product.

    I'm pro-nuke. Our reactor control systems have come a long, long way since the nearly-non-event of Three Mile Island. TMI was costly, but the radiation release ("excursion") to the local area equalled a summer's visit to Aspen and the higher levels of cosmic radiation at an elevation of 7,400 feet as compared to 300 feet above sea level. Computers aren't quite the same now as thirty years back. One problem is that too many folks seem to think that the movie "The China Syndrome" was a documentary.

    "Disposal" of high-level nuke waste? That's a political problem, not one of engineering or geology. Given what we know now of scientific stuff in general as compared to even just fifty years back, the odds are that within fifty years what's now "waste" will be raw materials for something now unknown. My opinion, anyhow.

    Coal? Maybe this liquified coal process could provide clean power plants. As things stand now, the particulate emissions and CO2 emissions are way high--although the US is a lot better than Mexico's Carbon II and its absence of scrubbers. At least nukes don't emit CO2; and coal-fired plants release more radiation than nukes.

    The effort which goes into any form of generation equipment is polluting, regardless of which method is used. It all requires such as concrete (gotta burn the limestone to make cement), iron/bauxite/copper/magnesium mining processes, and of course transportation.

    TANSTAAFL.

    'Rat
     
  13. KingYaba macrumors 68040

    KingYaba

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    #13
    Just an FYI, I don't care about "visual pollution." Seeing windmills on the horizon is a welcomed sight.

    But yes, some good points 'Rat.
     
  14. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #14
    You wanna put a price tag on nuke waste disposal? Even if there were no political battles surrounding the issue, the cost is simply prohibitive. The electricity generated by nukes has never reflected the cost of waste disposal, the US govt. has picked up the tab. Therefore, nuke power is not cost effective.

    Tearing down a few windmills or solar panels doesn't result in a lot of toxic waste.

    Storage is a big issue but some pretty innovative solutions are being found. One, using solar power to heat water to create steam which in turn moves turbines. Water holds heat pretty effectively and is an inexpensive and non polluting way of storing energy. If the water's heated enough during the day, the turbines can run well into the night.

    Nukes are past their sell by date when it comes to providing power for the future. Wind generators are a lot more preferable in my back yard than a nuke plant would be. What's more, the enormous quantities of water needed for cooling at a nuke plant means the possibilities for sites are going to be mostly in low lying urban areas. For most people that's simply a non-starter especially should sea levels rise in the next few decades.
     
  15. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #15
    Indeed. And that's why any nuclear plants built in the future will be paid for by taxpayers. The energy industry won't touch them because they're money pits.

    It isn't going to happen.

    More likely is a situation where small-scale rollout of homeowner-level solar and wind collection takes place. A few thousand dollars in investment can pay off in as little as five years nowadays.
     
  16. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #16
    I live in an area where small-scale wind and solar is becoming more common. High-tech enables folks to live beyond the electric lines--which at $9/foot for extension can be prohibitively expensive.

    A couple of panels, some golf-cart batteries and a rectifier and folks are in business. Most use propane stoves, water heaters and refrigerators. A low electic load, with just lights and computer.

    But these people think in terms of maintenance. How many of the people that you know do any notable amount of their own maintenance of anything? In other words, social resistance.

    The installed costs per MW aren't any lower for wind or solar than for nuke, so far as any thing I've ever seen. A large percentage of the costs for nukes comes from all the lawsuits and the cost of the usually-unnecessary EIS effort.

    I got into a discussion like this some fifteen years back, and not long after got in touch with a couple of nuke-plant engineers. I asked about radiation effects for the non-fuel aspects, and equipment not directly associated with the pressure vessel and the first-stage heat exchangers. They both commented (they worked at different nuke plants) that induced radiation half-lives were on the order of eight to ten years. The rule of thumb is that five half-lives gets the material down to an original background count as found in nature. ("Nature": The farmland around the uranium-source strip-mining south of San Antonio, Texas, as example.)

    Use ten years and be conservative at six half-lives, and it looks to me like the best thing to do with a used-up nuke plant is leave it alone for sixty years and then go back and do the cleanup. Work it cold, not hot.

    I don't see any difference between toxic waste from production of non-nuke power-producers and toxic waste of the aftermath of nuke plants. Toxic is toxic.

    Lots of wind on the west face of Yosemite National Park. Since visual pollution is no problem, that would be a good wind-site to supply San Francisco...

    :), 'Rat
     
  17. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #17
    I think there are some big differences between costs of solar/wind and nuclear. Solar/wind doesn't have the maintenance costs of nuclear power, nor is there any risk of terrorism much less the threat of Homer Simpson types. Nuke plants require phenomenal amounts of concrete and steel along with massive amounts of water. Not a lot of it where you are 'Rat and water is to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th.

    While solar and wind use toxic chemicals (carbon fiber is nasty stuff), they don't come close to being as destructive in the long term as nuclear power does.

    So, where you going to position Texas' next nuke plant? Galveston, downtown Houston, Dallas? There aren't a lot of options due to the need for lots of water, solar and winds' options are almost endless.
     
  18. pdham macrumors member

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    #18
    Offshore windfarms may be the future for wind energy. Wind is considerably more consistent only a short distance off shore. Check our www.capewind.org for a project that will hopefully be completed in Horshoe Shoals off the coast of Nantucket. Wisconsin and Michigan are also currently considering wind farms in Lake Michigan. Good stuff.
     
  19. DeSnousa thread starter macrumors 68000

    DeSnousa

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    #19
    Yes water is another major issue the world is facing in the 21st century, I spent a week at World Water Week (WWW) (a water forum) and if anything tackling the water crisis will involve recycling plants and desalination plants. Guess what all of these options use considerable power consumption. Add to that the power consumption to construct a nuclear plant, and the power required to commence a nuclear plant does not sound to great, then add up the power consumption to supply water through the life of the plant.

    Just an idea, and I realise that solar requires a bit of power also to construct the panels.

    A final note, the scientists at WWW were concerned about completing the life cycle of the world, not diminishing a resource. I.e they emphasised the recycling water and less reliance on desalination, the same idea needs to be applied to energy, and solar and wind come to mind. I have no doubt that the scientists of the world can come up with a viable idea if they were well funded, however governments are so caught up with nuclear.

    ... and yet they also are trying to stop Iran at the same time :rolleyes:
     
  20. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #20
    I don't have a source, but I've heard that maintenance on wind towers is not a small item. Dunno. I have found it difficult to find free-market $$$ numbers for unsubsidized units. The only project I found was an 11MW system in Spain; it seemed high for $$$/MW.

    Water? The Sabine and Neches Rivers in east Texas would be easy sources for cooling water. And but for some added evaporation losses from the (roughly) ten-degree rise in the water temperature, it's not a consumptive use.

    Last I heard, the 400 MW CANDU nuke project in Canada used CO2 for cooling.

    DeSnousa, I spent 1965-1975, inclusive, in a water resource agency in Texas. I'm definitely "sensitized" to a whole bunch of water-related issues. Even moreso, nowadays, living in a desert. :)

    Solar? Hey, I have two year-round bird feeders that work off solar. :D I looked at solar when I built my house in 1993. Trouble is, my electric bill runs about $70 a month, average. To run my house and shop, the system would have cost some $16,000 + annual battery maintenance. At age 60, then, it didn't seem like a good payout. The rectifier cost for a high-amp demand is a major item, even if the use is occasional.

    'Rat
     
  21. pdham macrumors member

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    #21
    From a quick google search:

    http://www.telosnet.com/wind/future.html

    http://www.awea.org/faq/tutorial/wwt_costs.html

    Coal breakdown by state
    http://www.coaleducation.org/Ky_Coal_Facts/electricity/average_cost.htm
     
  22. MACDRIVE macrumors 68000

    MACDRIVE

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    #22
    That puts you at about 73 years old. :eek:
     
  23. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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  24. Diatribe macrumors 601

    Diatribe

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    #24
    This is a very intreresting article on the topic. Basically there are other possibilities than the current atomic reactors that may become viable in the future without the hazards of the reactors today.

    Link.
     
  25. Nickygoat macrumors 6502a

    Nickygoat

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    #25
    Interesting. My sister is looking at installing solar in her house in the south of Spain. It's not hooked up to the grid and never will be.

    It's going to cost her €40,000 for a full system. That will cover all heating, cooling, lighting and appliances.

    €10,000 will get her a system that keeps the lights on and a microwave oven. And people wonder why they aren't putting it into new houses.

    Solar for anyone north of say, Paris, is a non starter.
     

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