Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Prospects for Nuclear Energy - International

  1. Dec 14, 2006 #1

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    There is already a thread on the Prospects of Nuclear Energy in the US, so I thought I would add one on the international scene.

    IAEA maintains a policy board - http://www.iaea.org/OurWork/ST/NE/index.html

    There is an annual publication "Nuclear Technology Review". The 2006 edition is available -

    www.iaea.org/About/Policy/GC/GC50/GC50InfDocuments/English/gc50inf-3_en.pdf (use 'save target as')

    Current generation nuclear plants are still being built, and some advanced plants, e.g. the EPR (Flamanville-3 and Olkiluoto-3), are now under construction or are planned.

    A major issue still remains the final disposition of spent fuel.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 29, 2006 #2
    With a little luck sweden will within 5 years or so decide to construct new nuclear power plants. Even the most stubborn politicians here have to realise sooner or later that wind cant replace nuclear.
     
  4. Dec 31, 2006 #3

    Andrew Mason

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Not only is this a problem of storage, it is a problem of wasting useful energy that is in short supply. (Only 1% of fissile or fertile material is used in current generation nuclear reactors. We should be able to get that up to 50% or higher. Why waste this stuff and create a nuclear storage problem?)

    I live in Saskatchewan which produces about 35% of the world's Uranium and has the richest U ore (25% U content in the two richest deposits, MacArthur River and Cigar Lake). At current rates of extraction, known reserves will last 20-30 years. There may be a critical shortage of U in a few years because Cigar Lake has been flooded and it is going to several years to get it into production.

    So we obviously have a problem here with supplying enough U to meet demand even with nuclear providing a small fraction of our energy needs. I don't see how current nuclear reactor technology can be sustainable.

    As far as I can see, there is no future for nuclear power unless we get reactors that use much more of the energy in the fuel. The Generation IV reactors seem to make better use of fuel, but it will be a while before they will make an impact.

    AM
     
  5. Dec 31, 2006 #4

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Disposition includes either 'direct disposal' - the current plan in US - or recycling - in which fissile and fertile materials are recovered and 'recycled' back into the fuel cycle.

    Gen IV reactors are still in design phase. It will be some time before there is 'proof of concept' which means testing materials in the environments in which they will ultimately operate. Several Gen IV concepts push the maximum temperatures beyond current experience. Materials resistant to degradation in radiation environments at those temperatures need to be demonstrated, especially when some materials are supposed to have a 60-year service life.
     
  6. Jan 1, 2007 #5
    If the price goes up alot of new uranium resources will be minable. With a 3-5 times increase uranium in phosphates becomes economicaly recoverable(it contains 7 times as much uranium as the ammount that is economic to mine right now) and just a bit higher and we might be able to economicaly extract uranium from seawater.
    Even if uranium prices gets 5 times as high the cost of electricity will only increase by 20% so I dont think we have to worry to much about uranium shortage.
     
  7. Jan 2, 2007 #6

    Andrew Mason

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Shortage is not a lack of uranium in the earth. It is the (negative) difference between rate of supply and rate of demand for useable uranium. The only way, with present technology, that rate of supply can keep up with an accelerating demand is to mine reasonably rich deposits of it. Those rich deposits are limited.

    The Japanese can get U from seawater. It requires putting large mats in a suitable ocean current for 2 months in order to extract one kg of U. The world consumption is something like 16 million kg. The only way to supply the world's reactors with U from seawater (with present technology) is to reduce the rate of consumption dramatically.

    Granite has about 4 ppm of U (4 grams/tonne). That works out to about 4 billion tonnes of granite / year to grind up and chemically process to supply world demand.

    AM
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Prospects for Nuclear Energy - International
  1. Nuclear Energy (Replies: 24)

  2. Nuclear energy (Replies: 8)

Loading...