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Fusion power, economics

  1. Jun 24, 2016 #61

    mfb

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    The European one works nicely, blackouts are rare and usually limited to local regions for local reasons (e. g. ice or heavy snow taking down the power lines going to some town). And one counterexample is sufficient to refute the claim that "Large, continental power grids are far too complex and vulnerable".

    The largest blackout happened in 2003, affecting 56 million people - for three hours in the middle of the night. Uhh, scary. A small fraction of the population got power a bit later than the others.
    The second largest blackout happened in 2006, with 15 millions without electricity for 2 hours.

    Going by Wikipedia articles, London 2003 is the last European one that has its own article - 500,000 people for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

    The longest blackout I personally experienced in my life was about 5 minutes long.
     
  2. Jun 24, 2016 #62
    For what it is worth I heard In a news report some time ago that the US power grid is very vulnerable to severe Sunspot activity and in particular the present type of transformers that are used. Apparently there are new types that would withstand such an event. The problem being that there would not be enough spares on hand to replace the damaged one and the lead time for the manufacture of replacement transformers is 6 months. It is just another example of a neglected infrastructure issue. IMO the maintenance of the power grid is akin the the repair of highways be filling the pot holes.
     
  3. Jun 24, 2016 #63
    Periodic blackout in the US are quite common due to storms, but these are typically localized affecting only a part of a state or two but sometimes will last many days. I expect several power outages in my are of Maryland several times a year lasting up to about 12 hrs. but usually only a few hours.

    However the power grid in the northeast has been compromised significantly twice in the last 50 years.

    In 1965 much of the northeast of the US and parts of Canada lost power for over 12 hrs due to a maintenance error. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northeast_blackout_of_1965

    In 1977 New York City lightning took down the cities grid for almost 24 hrs, before totally restored.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_blackout_of_1977. During this time there was significant civil disobedience.

    In 2003 a computer "bug" took down the grid of the northeast of the US and Canada affecting 10's milliions of persons .https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northeast_blackout_of_2003 with some remote areas being 2 weeks without power

    The European power grid is newer than much of the US because it has been rebuilt since WWII.
     
  4. Jun 24, 2016 #64

    mheslep

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    Last edited: Jun 24, 2016
  5. Jun 24, 2016 #65

    mheslep

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  6. Nov 29, 2017 #66
    Except for the end game cost where you have massive amounts of useless fission byproducts that have to be sequestered for thousands of years.
    Take that into consideration in your calculus.
     
  7. Nov 29, 2017 #67

    russ_watters

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    I do; that is a very small cost that is already priced into the cost of fission energy....though I think that charge was temporarily suspended by the courts due to the government's violation of their end of the contract (building the facility).

    By coincidence, that cost is nearly equal to what we spend on fusion research.
     
  8. Nov 29, 2017 #68

    mheslep

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    The dangerous fission products decay to below the radioactivity of uranium ore in ~500 yrs. The transuranic, non-fission products, like Pu, created in reactors have much longer half-lives, though they are alpha emitters with much lower specific radioactivity than the fission products.
    activityhlw.gif

    The heavy metal waste in, say, solar panels never disintegrates.
     
  9. Nov 30, 2017 #69

    mfb

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    3000 years going by your graph.

    Am-241 is useful as alpha emitter, if you separate it to use it elsewhere the waste falls below the level of uranium ore much faster. A factor 1000 for Sr/Cs needs about 300 years.
     
  10. Dec 4, 2017 #70

    mheslep

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    Yes, but not a fission product. Am-241 is a transuranic produced by neutron capture and decay from other transuranics, an important difference as some of the Gen IV designs would significantly burn their transuranics. An alpha emitter with low penetration power, it is dangerous when inhaled or ingested. I'd rather have some grams of Am-241 buried in my backyard (or micrograms in my smoke detector) rather than some tons of heavy metal laden coal waste.
     
  11. Dec 4, 2017 #71

    mfb

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    Fine, technically correct... still waste of current reactors (unless used elsewhere) and the most important nuclide between a few hundred and a few thousand years.
     
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