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View Diary: "Exceeding July 1936 at the peak of the Dust Bowl heat -- is BIG." (158 comments)

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  •  Its not too late (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northsylvania, hoplite9

    The world's #1 problem with regard to pollution and GHG emissions is not gas nor oil, but COAL burning for electricity.  We know how to turn coal plants into plants with zero emissions on 24x7 basis.  The best plan I've seen is to deploy modular / transportable reactors to RETROFIT coal plants turning them into zero emission plants.  This coal-to-nuclear scheme is brilliant because coal plants are located on rail lines, near bodies of water (for cooling) or with cooling towers, grid tie-ins, steam plants / generators - the whole thing already there.  This would slash the cost of decarbonizing: make nuclear heat units that can be dropped in to replace the coal combustion units, while still using all the balance of plant.  

    Small modular reactors can be built on a production line and shipping by barge, train and truck in large quantities.  Mass production = consistent quality and low-cost.  

    BTW: small modular reactors are in the pipeline NOW, e.g. Babcock and Wilcox / Bechtel as just one of them.  Westinghouse, GE-Hitachi and Hyperion (a startup) are a few more.  

    THAT is how we get to a low carbon economy as cheaply and as quickly as possible: build/ship mass-produced, intrinsicly safe reactors to retrofit existing power plants.  If done with fast reactors (e.g. GE-Hitachi PRISM) and/or thorium-U233 thermal breeders, the fuel supply is sustainable (i.e. enough fuel for tens of thousands of years).

    Tackle coal plants as top priority while slowly converting the transportation system to electricity.  We CAN get there, and next generation nuclear on a massive scale is pretty much the only practical way to do it IMHO.

    The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

    by mojo workin on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 08:47:44 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Nuclear is not carbon free (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      praenomen, dewley notid

      Uranium doesn't grow on trees, you know (except in Fukushima.)

      •  It might as well be (3+ / 0-)

        Fissioning one atom releases approximately 200 million electron-volts of energy.  Oxidizing one carbon about releases about 4eV.  That's a 50,000,000 : 1 advantage.  What this means is that one needs 50000000 times fewer U atoms to do the same job in terms of energy released (as an extreme limit).

        This boils down to a few 10s of tons of fuel in a light-water reactor  to do the same amount of work at a few MILLION tons of coal.  Now, how much less energy does it take to mine, transport a few 10s of tons of fuel vs. a few million tons?  So, yes, fossil fuels are currently used to produce nuclear fuel, but because of the energy density you use a tiny fraction vs. what is required to get the same amount of energy from coal.  

        BTW, if a closed fuel cycle is used (e.g. with the PRISM reactor), that 10s of tons per GW-year of electricity is reduced to 1 ton per GW-year.  Sustainable for any time frame humanity wishes to care about...

        And another note: radiation protection standards are approximately 1000 times smaller than levels that would truly constitute measurable health risk.  No one has died from Fukushima and given this fact, it is highly improbable that anyone ever will.  Check out this from a notable environmentalist, Mark Lynas.

        In the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, there were no deaths related to radiation or the explosion of the reactors. However, the evacuation of these patients was accompanied by loss of life.
        Ignorance and irrational fear kills much more than the worst nuclear accident in a generation.  

        Compared to the environmental holocaust caused by coal and other fossil fuels when used as intended, with our shared atmosphere used as an open sewer, I think we should have a lot more nuclear power even if there is a small risk of a Fukushima once every 25 years.  Coal causes more REAL environmental devastation EVERY SINGLE DAY.

        The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

        by mojo workin on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 12:57:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Neither of your pet reactors exists (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dewley notid, Calamity Jean

      They are stalled research projects. They are the tooth fairy.

      •  Uh did you check the link (0+ / 0-)

        to Babcock & Wilcox / Bechtel.  These are huge multinational billion dollar concerns with decades in the nuclear business.  The mPower unit is based on light-water reactor technology specifically because it is based on decades of proven technology and fits within existing regulatory framework.  I think TVA is signing on to be first customer.  

        There is still a huge corporate expertise base in the US with these kinds of reactors courtesy of the U.S. Navy.

        To call this akin to the Tooth Fairy is, to put it charitably, misinformed.

        The deal is that these technologies actually have the capability to shut down fossil fuels on a big scale.  France went from zero to 80% nuclear in 20 years and rid themselves of dependence on foreign oil and coal for electricity generation.  France is working full speed at deploying electric light-rail for urban / inter-urban transport.   France proved it can be done.  We have next generation technology that could do it even faster.  

        So, don't anyone tell me there is no solution.  THERE DAMN WELL IS.  

        It is just that the ruling classes DON'T WANT IT because most of the extreme wealth in this country is founded on oil, gas and coal.


        The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

        by mojo workin on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 05:56:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  How's your reading comprehension? (0+ / 0-)

          Read your own link. It's a proposal. They're fishing for funding.

          •  Its a little more than that (0+ / 0-)


            The 125 MWe mPower design is an integral PWR designed to be factory-made and railed to site. B&W and Bechtel later entered into a formal alliance to design, license and deploy the design.
            The letter of intent signed by GmP and TVA defines the project plans and associated conditions for designing, licensing and constructing up to six mPower units at the Clinch River site. The project is expected to include joint development and pursuit of a construction licence from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
            The mPower Integrated System Test (IST) facility in Virginia is expected to soon begin a three-year project to collect data to verify the reactor design and safety performance in support of B&W’s licensing activities with the NRC.
            So, this is a bit more than chasing funding for a science project, wouldn't you think?  

            This class of technology can actually DO SOMETHING about global warming as it has the capability to retrofit coal plants around the world and turn them from carbon spewing baseload plants to zero emissions baseload plants.  

            I'm an engineer and I believe in pursuing realistic solutions- ones that can actually, you know, solve the damn problem to benefit the future of my kids, grandkids and yours too (if you have any)!

            The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

            by mojo workin on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 06:24:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  If the testing and licensing (0+ / 0-)

              is not hurried you're talking a twenty year timeline. Followed by buildout time. And that's presuming any of this works. No one knows if it works. No one knows if this is real or if this is corporate welfare.

               Bechtel is a political institution as much as an engineering firm. Put another way they are gangsters. If they get rushed approval on any of this God help us. If you think we have twenty plus years to start solving problems I want some of what you're smoking.

              Telling me this one is for the children is not an argument. It's distasteful.

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