Once through nuclear fission designs seems horribly wasteful & polluting

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Esp given that most of the energy has yet to be tapped
 

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  • #2
Astronuc
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It does seem that way.

However, it depends upon the front-end cost (primarily cost of U-ore) and the relative back-end costs (storage, transportation, reprocessing and subsequent storage of radioactive waste either as spent fuel or vitrified FP).

Also, reprocessed fuel has to be manufactured with remote handling which greatly increases the cost of manufacture.

With low cost of U-ore and other factors, it has been less expensive to do the once-through fuel cycle than to reprocess.
 
  • #3
Morbius
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Esp given that most of the energy has yet to be tapped
ensabah6,

Yes - it is wasteful. The nuclear power program in the USA had originally intended to
reprocess spent nuclear fuel and recycle fissile material back to the reactors.

However, in the early '70s when this was about to happen, the anti-nuclear crowd went to
Court and it was ruled that the U.S. Government had to comply with the newly passed
Environmental Protection Act, and do an evironmental impact statement on the decision
to reprocess nuclear waste.

The environmental impacts were studied, and in the middle '70s, the Government released
the GESMO - Generic Environmental Statement on Mixed Oxide. However, the anti-nukes
had also been busy; they got the Congress to pass a law to OUTLAW reprocessing
spent nuclear fuel.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 
  • #4
Andrew Mason
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In terms of potentially accessible energy locked up in matter it is very wasteful. This is fuel that will not produce green-house gases when converted to energy. Since only 1% of the available fuel is used, the once-through fuel cycle is 100 times as wasteful as it could be.

The environmental costs, however, of mining and waste disposal are thousands of times greater than they need be. Rich deposits (in Saskatchewan there are two large rich deposits at 24% U) are depleted 100 times more quickly. So we end up mining low grade deposits a lot sooner than we have to and instead of 24% ore we will be mining .1% ore (e.g Australia). And the waste from the once-through fuel is much longer lived (about 1000 times longer) and greater volume (100 times) than waste consisting of just fission products. The costs of dealing with this waste are several orders of magnitude greater than they need be.

AM
 
  • #5
Astronuc
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Since only 1% of the available fuel is used
That actually applies more to CANDU's. In LWRs, batch average burnups have been slowly increasing to the range of 4-5%, or even 6% FIMA. Of course, that includes the fission of Pu-239 and Pu-241 at higher burnups where about 50% of the fissions are from Pu isotopes which arise from the conversion of U-238 through successive n-capture.
 
  • #6
Andrew Mason
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That actually applies more to CANDU's. In LWRs, batch average burnups have been slowly increasing to the range of 4-5%, or even 6% FIMA. Of course, that includes the fission of Pu-239 and Pu-241 at higher burnups where about 50% of the fissions are from Pu isotopes which arise from the conversion of U-238 through successive n-capture.
You are ignoring the depleted U that comes out of the enrichment plants. If you take the DU into account you are back to around 1%. If you subtract the energy required for enrichment you are down to less than 1%.

Candu reactors use natural uranium at .7% U235 and the waste is at about .2%. But the reactor also fissions Pu239. About 30% of the energy from a Candu is from fission of Pu. So that brings the fuel use to about .7%.

The Candu, however, can burn the waste from an LWR, which contains about 1.5-2% (slightly enriched U - SEU). In fact, this is one of the big selling points to countries like China.

AM
 
  • #7
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ensabah6,

Yes - it is wasteful. The nuclear power program in the USA had originally intended to
reprocess spent nuclear fuel and recycle fissile material back to the reactors.

However, in the early '70s when this was about to happen, the anti-nuclear crowd went to
Court and it was ruled that the U.S. Government had to comply with the newly passed
Environmental Protection Act, and do an evironmental impact statement on the decision
to reprocess nuclear waste.

The environmental impacts were studied, and in the middle '70s, the Government released
the GESMO - Generic Environmental Statement on Mixed Oxide. However, the anti-nukes
had also been busy; they got the Congress to pass a law to OUTLAW reprocessing
spent nuclear fuel.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
Eco-green opposition to recycling?? The hell?
 
  • #8
Morbius
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Eco-green opposition to recycling?? The hell?
ensabah6,

"Eco-green" opposition to nuclear power.

It's quite apparent what their strategy is. If they don't allow recycling, and don't allow
a disposal facility like Yucca Mountain; and oppose on-site "dry cask" storage; then
sooner or later - the nuclear utilities will run out of space to put spent reactor fuel.

If they don't have any place to put spent fuel; they can't unload the reactor. If you
can't unload the reactor; you can't load it with fresh fuel. If you can't load with fresh
fuel - you can't operate the reactor. From the viewpoint of the so-called "eco-greens";
that's MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 
  • #9
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ensabah6,

"Eco-green" opposition to nuclear power.

It's quite apparent what their strategy is. If they don't allow recycling, and don't allow
a disposal facility like Yucca Mountain; and oppose on-site "dry cask" storage; then
sooner or later - the nuclear utilities will run out of space to put spent reactor fuel.

If they don't have any place to put spent fuel; they can't unload the reactor. If you
can't unload the reactor; you can't load it with fresh fuel. If you can't load with fresh
fuel - you can't operate the reactor. From the viewpoint of the so-called "eco-greens";
that's MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
So they would prefer we burn fossil fuels which emit CO2 which contributes to global warming?
 
  • #10
Morbius
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So they would prefer we burn fossil fuels which emit CO2 which contributes to global warming?
ensabah6,

Whether that is their intent or not; that IS the effect.

The USA hasn't built a new nuclear power plant for about 3 decades; the last nuclear
power plant that was ordered and completed was ordered in 1974.

However, the USA has in that same time frame built plenty of fossil fuel plants; and
continues to do so.

What is ironic, is that about 50% of the USA's installed electric generating capaicty is
COAL power plants. Coal plants emit 100X as much radioactivity as do nuclear power
plants due to the trace amounts of uranium and thorium in coal. From a report by the
Oak Ridge National Laboratory:

http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html [Broken]

So for all the hyteria on the part of the "eco-green" anti-nukes about how bad nuclear
power is because of the radioactivity; the power plants that were actually built instead
of nuclear power plants are emitting 100X as much radioactivity due to the fact that
they throw about 14,000 tons of uranium and thorium into the atmosphere ANNUALLY!!!
They have been doing that each and every year for the last 3 decades.

Thank you "eco-greens". NOT!!!

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 
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  • #11
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ensabah6,

Whether that is their intent or not; that IS the effect.

The USA hasn't built a new nuclear power plant for about 3 decades; the last nuclear
power plant that was ordered and completed was ordered in 1974.

However, the USA has in that same time frame built plenty of fossil fuel plants; and
continues to do so.

What is ironic, is that about 50% of the USA's installed electric generating capaicty is
COAL power plants. Coal plants emit 100X as much radioactivity as do nuclear power
plants due to the trace amounts of uranium and thorium in coal. From a report by the
Oak Ridge National Laboratory:

http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html [Broken]

So for all the hyteria on the part of the "eco-green" anti-nukes about how bad nuclear
power is because of the radioactivity; the power plants that were actually built instead
of nuclear power plants are emitting 100X as much radioactivity due to the fact that
they throw about 14,000 tons of uranium and thorium into the atmosphere ANNUALLY!!!
They have been doing that each and every year for the last 3 decades.

Thank you "eco-greens". NOT!!!

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist

I understand that non-USA nations like France, Japan, and S. Korea. even Iran are going nuke.

What nuke design do you feel is best for the environment yet cost competitive with fossil fuel? How do you feel about Iran going nuke and USA/Israel's promise to destroy it?
 
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  • #12
Morbius
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I understand that non-USA nations like France, Japan, and S. Korea. even Iran are going nuke.

What nuke design do you feel is best for the environment yet cost competitive with fossil fuel?
ensabah6,

If you don't have protestors holding up the building and licensing; then current reactor
designs are quite competitive with fossil fuels. Coal has only a slight cost advantage -
but's that's discounting the environmental damage costs - no need to give coal a free
ride on those.

Nuclear and gas are about the same in price.

The reactor manufacturers have even better designs on the drawing boards. I like the
IFR system from Argonne National Lab:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/interviews/till.html

How do you feel about Iran going nuke and USA/Israel's promise to destroy it?
Iran's activities make me uncomfortable. If they really were interested in nuclear power
just for the electricity, then they shouldn't have had ANY problem with the Russian
proposal to locate the enrichment facilities inside Russia, where Russia could have
oversight and make sure it was not used for weapons.

I'm afraid Iran wants enrichment capability not for commercial power; but for
nuclear weapons. If we are naive about this; we do so at our own peril.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 
  • #13
695
0
ensabah6,

If you don't have protestors holding up the building and licensing; then current reactor
designs are quite competitive with fossil fuels. Coal has only a slight cost advantage -
but's that's discounting the environmental damage costs - no need to give coal a free
ride on those.

Nuclear and gas are about the same in price.

The reactor manufacturers have even better designs on the drawing boards. I like the
IFR system from Argonne National Lab:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/interviews/till.html



Iran's activities make me uncomfortable. If they really were interested in nuclear power
just for the electricity, then they shouldn't have had ANY problem with the Russian
proposal to locate the enrichment facilities inside Russia, where Russia could have
oversight and make sure it was not used for weapons.

I'm afraid Iran wants enrichment capability not for commercial power; but for
nuclear weapons. If we are naive about this; we do so at our own peril.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist

I agree 100% -- are there any IFR (or just ordinary nuclear power plants) being built outside the USA?

If, for example, Asia or Europe or South America builds new nuclear plants that could help curb greenhouse emissions.
 
  • #14
Morbius
Science Advisor
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I agree 100% -- are there any IFR (or just ordinary nuclear power plants) being built outside the USA?
ensabah6,

Oh my heavens - YES.

Japan is building new nuclear power plants, China is building new nuclear power plants;
France never stopped buiding nuclear power plants.

At last recall, France was about 85% nuclear generated electricity.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/readings/french.html

http://www.uic.com.au/nip28.htm
http://www.uic.com.au/nip08.htm
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06087/677490-28.stm [Broken]

Japan:
http://www.japannuclear.com/

China:
http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/nuclear/page/nuc_reactors/china/china.html [Broken]
http://english.people.com.cn/200210/24/eng20021024_105574.shtml

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 
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  • #15
Andrew Mason
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
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So for all the hyteria on the part of the "eco-green" anti-nukes about how bad nuclear power is because of the radioactivity; the power plants that were actually built instead of nuclear power plants are emitting 100X as much radioactivity due to the fact that they throw about 14,000 tons of uranium and thorium into the atmosphere ANNUALLY!!!
They have been doing that each and every year for the last 3 decades.

Thank you "eco-greens". NOT!!!
If you add that to the fact that in China alone (where they are reportedly building a new coal plant every 10 days) there is a huge death toll from mining coal. http://www.clb.org.hk/public/contents/news?revision%5fid=19324&item%5fid=19316" [Broken] says there are about 6000 deaths in China per year.

This does not even deal with the huge number of pre-mature deaths due to black-lung, and other occupational diseases and the thousands of premature deaths each year due to breathing the atmospheric pollutants caused by coal burning. It is estimated by the EPA that 24,000 such deaths occur in the US each year: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5174391/ .

The overall negative effects on the economy are staggering, if you take into account medical costs, lost time from work, early retirements etc. see: http://www.ecomall.com/greenshopping/cleanair.htm

If you add the long term environmental costs due to global warming, and ocean acidification to the occupational health and safety and pollution related costs/deaths around the world, the toll is mindboggling. If nuclear had 1 millionth of the known dangers that coal produces............

AM
 
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  • #16
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2
This site gives an overview of the nuclear situation in countries all over the world, it's pretty up to date as well.

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/info.html#countries [Broken]
 
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  • #17
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0
This site gives an overview of the nuclear situation in countries all over the world, it's pretty up to date as well.

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/info.html#countries [Broken]
So Nuke is doing well outside the USA. Is eco-crazies the only reason it is doing poorly in the USA, and there are few anti-nuke eco-nuts outside the USA, such as France?
 
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  • #18
Morbius
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So Nuke is doing well outside the USA. Is eco-crazies the only reason it is doing poorly in the USA, and there are few anti-nuke eco-nuts outside the USA, such as France?
ensabah6,

The French, for the most part; LIKE their nuclear power plants:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/readings/french.html

The USA has the problems. For some insight, see what a psychiatrist says:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/interviews/dupont.html

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 
  • #19
396
2
I don't think nuclear related subjects are doing too poorly in the US, certainly people come to the US to study it, and it is one of the top three producers of electric power from nuclear plants in the world.
I think every country has people opposed to nuclear power. I read an article not too long ago about Greenpeace protestors climbing up a nuclear plant cooling tower and defacing it in France. Germany is supposed to be getting rid of some of their nuclear power plants, I guess the Green party has some strong support.
 
  • #20
Morbius
Science Advisor
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I don't think nuclear related subjects are doing too poorly in the US, certainly people come to the US to study it, and it is one of the top three producers of electric power from nuclear plants in the world.
Candyman,

Yes - nuclear power is about 20% of the installed capacity in the USA; that's nothing to
sneeze at. In some places, like northern Illinois and Chicago and its suburbs; the are
served by Commonwealth Edison or its successors; there is a much larger fraction of
nuclear energy; almost as high a percentage as France. As I recall, there are, or have
been about 13 reactors in northern Illinois. Some like Dresden 1, and Zion 1 and 2 are
now shutdown.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 

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