YOU!: Fix the US Energy Crisis

 Quote by RuiMonteiro I certanly am not ignoring thorium or how technology will evolve through the years. What i'm saying is that those reports are very speculative (also including the last links provided), it's easy to see that. And regarding proven and estimated uranium resources the main problem is not their physical limitation but their economical limitation, as the uranium price starts to get higher (and it will also suffer peaks of high cost due to many unpredictable factors) it won't automatically increase the investment on new technology to make use of other type of high cost uranium resources. This is what is happening with oil. With a current elevated oil price no one is investing on new technlogy to extract other un-familiar and abudant types of oil resources, simply because there are many factors involved, it's not that linear. I'm not saying this on what i assume because i'm not an economist but i'm saying this based on reputed economists and not some malthusian theory from the 18th century.
Those new technologies are less speculative than those required for a hydrogen economy or for other power sources. There have already been functioning breeder and thorium reactors.

And in contrast to oil, uranium is ubiquitous in nature. There will not be a sudden decrease as when large oil fields deplete. Just a slow conversion to minerals with lower concentration of uranium.

Regarding uranium price, if it increases, it will greatly increase available resources without have a large effect on final energy price.
 The fuel's contribution to the overall cost of the electricity produced is relatively small, so even a large fuel price escalation will have relatively little effect. For instance, a doubling of the 2002 U3O8 price would increase the fuel cost for a light water reactor by 30% and the electricity cost about 7% (whereas doubling the gas price would add 70% to the price of electricity).
http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf02.htm

Recognitions:
 Quote by russ_watters Could you be more specific as to what the program said, Cliff_J - I studied the TMI incident in school and the conclusion I drew is that the incident shows how safe nuclear power is.

Sure, here's what I remember.

General maintenence ends up causing something to go wrong. Ok, no big problems.

Pressure builds up and a safety vent allows excess pressure to escape. Still no problem.

Safety vent sticks but light in control room goes out as computer merely tells them the signal was sent and not the position of the valve. The pressure drops allowing more coolant to evaporate and temperature rises.

Somewhere in the operator training to never let the reactor "go solid" by completely filling with water and the vibrating pumps from low water level the operators drop the control rods and completely shut off flow of water.

Designers are unreachable by phone, NRC is unable to get in as only one phone line exists and all they get are busy signals.

Power company lies to NRC and public (repeatedely) and downplays extent of problem (no idea on timing here, memory fuzzy). The lies told here seem to be only one step shy of the Soviet government's intial lies about Cherynobl but I digress.

Designers of reactor finally get through and tell operators to turn on water, forget the "go solid" or not just get some water in there to get temperature down. Temp gauges only go to 700F but reactor is at 4000F and reaches china syndrome at 5000F and has been sitting without coolant for 15 hours. Estimates are that 30-60 mins more without coolant would have been threshold for meltdown.

Carter sends out a direct person from NRC to run the show, finds that now the long running reaction has filled containment room with lots of H2 that could easily explode. Some NRC people thinks its nearly critical, others think its days away. Carter flies out and makes on-site visit since he trusts his man and has experience with nuclear subs in navy. Later NRC people find mistake in calculations and find H2 is days away from critical.

One person tries to go in and finds water inside reactor that is to be pure is actually green and bubbling, holding a beaker of it for a few minutes would have killed him and that he measured 10,000 REMs which they said was a lot. Nothing besides robots has gone into building since.

So here is my short list of issues I compiled from the show:

- Poor training where 'go solid' was placed above meltdown
- unclear control interface (light that goes out regardless of valve position)
- gauges that do not allow monitoring of temperature (although if its that hot shouldn't common sense overrule 'go solid'??)
- no CC cameras at all to see vent or inside the reactor or even the flooded basement as the vent leaked out the water
- one phone line
- no direct communication to designers

Obviously I've left stuff out and maybe got a couple things out of order but anyways it didn't paint a real safe picture of what happened. The message of the shows was that ignorance, complacence, and confidence in technology leaves us vulnerable to failures. They mentioned that the promise was that nuclear power was suppossed to produce electricity so cheap that it wouldn't make sense to meter it. The series of shows went on to feature the Kursk as the sign the russian military lacked the funds to maintain an advanced sub and the space shuttle as a sign that NASA implemented policies that placed frequent missions over the safety of the crew.

The NRC and all nuclear facilities are suppossed to have learned from the mistakes made and implemented changes to make things safer. But 3MI and Chernobyl are seperated only be severity and luck in the historic TV shows I've seen and this show shocked me at how close we came to a meltdown.

Cliff

Obviously, there is always the risk of a serious accident. But the new generations of plants will have greatly reduced risks:
 The greatest departure from second-generation designs is that many incorporate passive or inherent safety features* which require no active controls or operational intervention to avoid accidents in the event of malfunction, and may rely on gravity, natural convection or resistance to high temperatures. * Traditional reactor safety systems are 'active' in the sense that they involve electrical or mechanical operation on command. Some engineered systems operate passively, eg pressure relief valves. Both require parallel redundant systems. Inherent or full passive safety depends only on physical phenomena such as convection, gravity or resistance to high temperatures, not on functioning of engineered components.
http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf08.htm

But even today, the risk associated with realistic alternatives like coal are much greater than for nuclear. Both in the form of increased diseases like cancer and effects like global warming.

And to not find replacements for oil and gas means the starvation and death for most of humanity.

 Those new technologies are less speculative than those required for a hydrogen economy or for other power sources. There have already been functioning breeder and thorium reactors. And in contrast to oil, uranium is ubiquitous in nature. There will not be a sudden decrease as when large oil fields deplete. Just a slow conversion to minerals with lower concentration of uranium. Regarding uranium price, if it increases, it will greatly increase available resources without have a large effect on final energy price.

Are less speculative? I would say the speculation is likely the same. I am aware of the new technology for new nuclear reactors but the technology to provide a constant supply of uranium for a very good amount of time is highly speculative. What would be the point to search for an alternative to oil if the resources for the alternative presented ends around the same time oil ends. But let me clarify, i'm not excluding nuclear energy here, what i said already is to make sure there are wider sources of energy available.

Now, economists predict the price will go up, nevertheless, and i'll repeat again what i said, it's not linear or automatic that the new technology will appear if the prices go up, this is a wrong assumption, i already mentionated a concrete example. You actually have a contradiction here, if before you assumed that the uranium price will go up, now you're saying IF it goes up.

And it's also wrong to assume that the final energy price won't suffer a large effect, i'm not saying it will, i'm just saying you are, again, assuming. Economy can be very complex but it follows simple rules and there are many impredictable factors that we cannot prevent, but don't confuse me with a negativist, this is just what many specialists say, not to mention this is merely common sense.

But back to the uranium availability. Sure that uranium is ubiquitous on nature, but that doesn't mean it is possible to make use of all of the mineral. Even the site you provided doesn't make a direct connection. Uranium reserves are well localized, not to mention that there isn't the necessity of many uranium processing facilities as there are for oil refining.

The question would be, in my opinion, with the available uranium we have and the capacity to recycle spent fuel (for a maximum of an estimated number of cycles with spent fuel), with other energy sources and other measures already discussed in this thread, how can we reach a more well equally balanced energetic system?

Rui.

 Regarding oil exploration, you are wrong. It is increasing due to higher prices: http://www.greatfallstribune.com/app...410310305/1046 If you accept breeder technology as you say, using only today's totaly certain and economically usable resources gives 50x60 = 3000 year of uranium. Adding thorium and much more uranium with slightly higher prices and more exploration gives much higher numbers. I agree that we should certainly look at all alternatives, all the way from hydrogen to tides to helium on the moon. But if peak oil is happening this decade, or have already happened, coal and nuclear are the only technology already realistically available. With biodiesel making a contribution as transportation fuel. Actually, since I am a libertarian, I am not advocating any state intervention. Stop excessive regulatiions of the energy sector, stop subsidaries, stop unequal taxes. Let the best alternative(s) win and let the market decide.

 Regarding oil exploration, you are wrong. It is increasing due to higher prices: http://www.greatfallstribune.com/ap.../410310305/1046 If you accept breeder technology as you say, using only today's totaly certain and economically usable resources gives 50x60 = 3000 year of uranium. Adding thorium and much more uranium with slightly higher prices and more exploration gives much higher numbers.
You're either not well informed or you just took a quick look at what i have been writing. The site you provided shows that new oil wells are being drilled, but some posts ago i said "other un-familiar and abudant types of oil resources" not the traditional and familiar oil wells, on these un-familiar oil resources it's included the bituminous sands (i don't know if that's the correct name in english) - wich Canada has a high level of proven reserves or the freezen gas contained in the bottom of the sea at very long depths, and this types of resources require a new type of technology wich is estimated to be of a very high cost.

And this not to mention that the article doesn't make a direct relation or any relation at all that the new technology appeared because of the high oil price. They say that a conjugation of factors, in wich are included the high price, new technologies and tax incentives provide a boost in profits, they never say that the high price caused all that, they clearly say that the high price directly and obviously improves profits.
Of course that there is new technology, it evolves every year, but there isn't available any technology capable to extract other forms of reserves, this technology costs a lot of money, it's not profitable.
And this is what happens with the estimated uranium reserves for wich most of them would become only available if a high cost technology is developded, and what i'm trying to say here is that uranium reserves to last thousands of years are for the moment irrealistic and that the technology necessary to make use of those reserves don't automatically appear if the price goes up.

Regarding the breeder reactors i said i was not ignoring them but i also said that the site in wich you are basing what you're saying is very speculative (not to say biased). But let me repeat one thing, what i said is that the limitation for the use of nuclear plants is the physical available uranium (and this has to do with the technology wich i already discussed) and the economical limitation of the mineral, and not, if the new types of reactors can have a more effecient energy production, but lets not be fooled, this higher efficience doesn't make wonders, even BNFL admits that.

Let me also add that if the country where i live presented a project to implent a nuclear central i would support it. We don't have any nuclear central, there was a plan to build one about 30 years ago but unfortunally the activits had a very big impact in the public.

Rui.

Mentor
 Quote by Cliff_J The NRC and all nuclear facilities are suppossed to have learned from the mistakes made and implemented changes to make things safer. But 3MI and Chernobyl are seperated only be severity and luck in the historic TV shows I've seen and this show shocked me at how close we came to a meltdown.
What they don't tell you on those shows is that not only did all of those things need to go wrong in order for the situation to have gone as far as it did (an extrodinarily unlikely string of concurrent failures), but the design differences between Chernobyl and TMI (such as a concrete reactor building) made what happened at Chernobyl utterly impossible at TMI.

Essentially, they had about everything that could go wrong go wrong and still there was no significant release of radiation. That's why I think it validates the safety of American nuclear reactors.

 Recognitions: Gold Member Science Advisor US reactor designs are extremely safe. Add up all the years of operation compared to 'disasters' [think TMI]. NASA would be more than proud to have such a safety record. The politics of nuclear power are a greater threat to public safety than the technology.
 Big changes demand small steps from each of us: Attached Thumbnails

Mentor
 Quote by tumor Big changes demand small steps from each of us:
I'm a big fan of compact-fluorescents - 10x the life and a quarter of the energy use.

 I guess you folks haven't read the July, I think it is, Physics Today. My take on the two articles is two sentences: There is no possible solution to the energy crisis. The only way to avoid large scale loss of life is to immediately implement a strong population reversal program world wide (especially in the USA). (That means possibly the Chinese, one child per family, method.) All major sources of energy were considered and all ruled out. I can go over the details with you and explain the failures from nuclear to photovoltaic.

 Quote by CharlesP I guess you folks haven't read the July, I think it is, Physics Today.
Page 53, Albert Bartlett. Were there two articles?

 All major sources of energy were considered and all ruled out. I can go over the details with you and explain the failures from nuclear to photovoltaic.
Nuclear fission was ruled out in terms of maintaining a worldwide hedonic pact at present population growth rates; or nuclear was ruled out in terms of being able to power individual diverse cooperatively competitive groups? The former sounds plausible.

What were the details of Bartlett's ruling out of nuclear fission (in terms of whatever purpose)?

 Quote by CharlesP I guess you folks haven't read the July, I think it is, Physics Today. My take on the two articles is two sentences: There is no possible solution to the energy crisis. The only way to avoid large scale loss of life is to immediately implement a strong population reversal program world wide (especially in the USA). (That means possibly the Chinese, one child per family, method.) All major sources of energy were considered and all ruled out. I can go over the details with you and explain the failures from nuclear to photovoltaic.
Many responses here:
http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-57/iss-11/p12.html

For example,
 Paul Weisz's article on long−term energy supplies (Physics Today, July 2004, page 47) states that uranium resources with breeder reactors could provide the world's energy needs for "hundreds of years." That is a gross underestimate. The world's energy needs could be provided by uranium−fueled breeder reactors for the full billion years that life on Earth will be sustainable, without the price of electricity increasing by more than a small fraction of 1% due to raw fuel costs.1 The error in Weisz's calculation is that he is referring to uranium available at its present price, $10−20 per pound. But in breeder reactors, 100 times as much energy is derived from a pound of uranium as in present−day light water reactors, so we could afford to use uranium that is 100 times as expensive. The cost of extracting uranium from its most plentiful source, seawater, is about$250 per pound—the energy equivalent of gasoline at 0.13 cent per gallon! The uranium now in the oceans could provide the world's current electricity usage for 7 million years. But seawater uranium levels are constantly being replenished, by rivers that carry uranium dissolved out of rock, at a rate sufficient to provide 20 times the world's current total electricity usage. In view of the geological cycles of erosion, subduction, and land uplift, this process could continue for a billion years with no appreciable reduction of the uranium concentration in seawater and hence no increase in extraction costs. Reference 1. B. L. Cohen, Am. J. Phys. 51, 75 (1983).
Not that we need that many years. We need only enough time to get into space and really start using the greatest fusion reactor, the Sun.

 There are a few fundamentals to energy usage and how to effectively supply more energy demand while the source of energy is reducing as in oil and becoming increasingly toxic and costly such as nuclear production and waste. So breaking down the utiliation of energy into transportation, manufacturing, and lifestyle; what are the alternatives? The alternatives for electrical requirements are soon coming to market. See production ready devices such as www.blacklightpower.com, perendev magnetic motor/generator, and Beardens MEG motionless electromagnetic generator. Look at all of J Naudins work and tests and working devices from people all over the globe. http://jnaudin.free.fr/meg/meg.htm. Join the free energy yahoo group. The alternatives for transportation are near as well. The disclosure project, the searle effect generator and offshoot technologies, impulse drive technology, propellentless propulsion devices, flash hydrogen generators. The lifestyle of using energy in our daily lives is something that will only grow over time. So we must enact these pioneering technologies now to perfect them and reduce the costs for the masses to adopt. Imagine the possibility that within the next ten years you will be able to use a magnet only motor to propel a vehicle 300mph at altitude and have the same magnetic motor provide the electricity needed onboard without having to stop running for 25 years. The state of CA spends billions and billions on fixing and adding asphalt to our state. If they routed just 20% of those funds to technologies mentioned above, we could be in an energy surplus in 10 years. Take a look at the flash hydrogen generator from www.emergingtec.com. Runs your car on water or seawater and the only byproduct is purified water. I have mine on order when they start production. I am crafting a inertial drive mechanism for propellantless propulsion which runs on electricity. Combine that with a free energy magnetic motor = unlimited range, unlimited direction, unlimited exterior conditions (undersea, air, space). Any body want one?

 Quote by CharlesP Page 53, Albert Bartlett. Were there two articles? What were the details of Bartlett's ruling out of nuclear fission (in terms of whatever purpose)?
This is not Bartlett. It was the Physics Today that got lost.

Nuclear fission has the problem of long construction lead time. Americans are scared to death of Nuclear power because of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.
Biomass/alcohol is insufficient land area. Photovoltaic is too expensive. Coal is forbidden because of greenhouse. Wind energy is only local because of infrastructure. It has been a forgone conclusion since the 70's that humanity will be greatly diminished when this is all over.

Quote by CharlesP
 Quote by CharlesP I guess you folks haven't read the July, I think it is, Physics Today.
Page 53, Albert Bartlett. Were there two articles?
This is not Bartlett. It was the Physics Today that got lost.
It got lost? The July 2004 Physics Today is right here, and it says there are two articles on long-term energy. One is by Albert Bartlett, and the other is by Paul B. Weisz. The only issue with regard to nuclear fission mentioned by Weisz is finite uranium resources. He ignores the uranium resources present in the oceans and incorrectly states that breeder technology would be required in order to extend uranium supplies beyond a few decades' worth.

Quote by CharlesP
 Quote by hitssquad What were the details of Bartlett's ruling out of nuclear fission (in terms of whatever purpose)?
Nuclear fission has the problem of long construction lead time.
This is solvable via mass production and possibly by routing around, via free enterprise, government red tape.

 Americans are scared to death of Nuclear power because of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.
One way to deal with radionuclide fear might be to desensitize the public with regular radionuclide releases at randomly-selected spots around the country. Since easily-obtainable chemicals exist that protect against radiation-induced biological damage, this would not necessarily harm anyone.