Is it a myth that France has a successful nuclear industry?

  • Thread starter ensabah6
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  • #26
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Anyone, including religious people, can claim science is on their side. Anytime someone have strong feelings they run the risk of ignoring facts. People tend not to admit they are wrong, and once they commit strongly to something they will probably not back down.

Yes Yucca Mountain is supposed to be a long term storage facility for the nuclear waste generated in the US. Currently plants store the waste on site, and since there is not that much to begin with this isn't much of a problem. The whole thing could be better dealt with if we just reprocessed it.
 
  • #27
vanesch
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s Schneider's "Nuclear Power in France---Beyond the Myth" points out, after 35 years of nuclear power development, the French "nuclear dreamland" gets only 16% of its final energy from nuclear power.

Yes, that 16% is a joke, for the following reason. Nuclear power in France delivers 78% of *electrical* energy. However, it *consumes* much more "primary" energy, such as oil and gas, etc... to do *everything else*. Now, imagine for a moment that in France, the only consumed energy would be *electricity* and that they would do it exclusively with *coal*. Well, then, through the same calculation, you would find that electricity generated by coal (which is the only thing that is consumed here) would represent something like 32% of total french energy consumption (because the other two thirds is the heat that goes in the cooling towers).

Don't forget, for instance, that oil in a car is only "used" for about 25%, which is the efficiency of the car engine. Nevertheless, one considers that the "end energy" is the refined petrol and not the mechanical energy used by the car - while electrical appliances have very often a close to 100% efficiency.
So if one would switch all cars in France to electrical ones, then the primary energy consumption would seriously DROP.

It is funny that you see such kinds of calculations (which mix essentially primary potential thermal energy, and final electricity) are used here, but they are never used to put in perspective alternatives, which would then be reduced to ridiculous fractions. The people having these arguments will say in the same way that Denmark has 20% wind energy (in the electrical sector), which would be reduced to something like less than 5% or so (my educated guess, no reference) if they would use the same calculation scheme.

Nuclear power is a source of electricity for the moment, so we have 2 ways of making useful comparisons:
- what's the total fraction of produced *electricity* (in France, it is something like 78%)
- what's the total fraction of displaced use of fossil fuels (that is, if you would generate all that electricity with fossil fuels, what fraction of the total consumption would do so) - this is related to the amount of CO2 output displaced (in France it must be something slightly less than 35% if I remember well).
 
  • #28
vanesch
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I think I have. It's a newer article though with different facts. How does France store its nuclear waste?

Waste is taken back from the plants by the state company ANDRA
http://www.andra.fr/radioactive-waste/waste-management-company.htm

For the moment, it reprocesses this waste (in La Hague), vitrifies it, and stores it in surface storage facilities, while research on geological storage is under way, mainly research in clay layers. But there is not yet any final French "Yucca Mountain".
 
  • #29
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well i have not read Nuclear Power in France---Beyond the Myth
 
  • #30
mgb_phys
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France also has a much smaller waste volume than the US because it reprocesses waste as MOX fuel, the US for various reasons doesn't allow reprocessing.
 
  • #31
Morbius
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France also has a much smaller waste volume than the US because it reprocesses waste as MOX fuel, the US for various reasons doesn't allow reprocessing.
mgb_phys,

EXACTLY!! One gets a LARGE reduction in the volume of the waste since spent nuclear fuel
is basically 96% U-238 that is no more radioactive than the day it was dug out of the ground.

The radioactive species are the fission products [ Strontium-90, Cesium-137 ] and the
capture products [ Plutonium-239, Plutonium-240, and other actinides ]. However, the fission products
and capture products constitute only a few percent of the spent fuel.

The reason the US doesn't reprocess is due to successful efforts by the anti-nukes with backing by
the Congress and various Administrations to oppose reprocessing. The whole strategy of the anti-nukes
is to DISALLOW reprocessing so that waste volume is maximized. The only allowed disposition for
spent fuel is geologic burial - and then the anti-nukes oppose the disposal site at Yucca Mountain.

The whole idea is to "constipate" the nuclear fuel cycle. The anti-nukes hope that if spent fuel can not
be reprocessed or disposed of - in fact can not even be transported from the reactor site - then sooner
or later the reactor operator will have no place to put additional waste and will not be able to discharge
and refuel the reactor. The reactor would have to shutdown - which is the goal of the anti-nukes.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 

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