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  •  Because of one simple fact (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Norm in Chicago

    No other technology has the energy density advantage that nuclear has over our current best, i.e. combustion of hydrocarbons.  It is one of those inconvenient facts.  It is an immutable truth that nuclear systems can deliver the most power and energy with the least amount of fuel, least amount of infrastructure investment and environmental disruption per reliable on-demand MWh delivered.  It is a fact that will not, and can not be changed no matter how much one might wish otherwise.  This is a consequence of energy density that is millions-to-one over fossil fuels, along with extremely high power densities of modern reactor systems - with theoretical limits up to the practical limits of known material science.

    Wishing we can make huge strides in cost and practicality for diffuse energy sources (i.e. solar and wind) is is like one wishing to be able to create a perpetual motion machine.  It would be an incredible thing to have, most desirable, except that it is IMPOSSIBLE.  It is impossible because it would violate the 3rd law of thermodynamics.  Nature sets the limiting bounds on what is possible and what is not.

    Energy density of fuels and power density of energy-conversion machines is in the same league.  If your energy source is weak and diffuse, there is no way it will be able to do what energy-dense material can do, no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you want it to work.  IT SIMPLY CANT because physical laws makes it so.  Upgrading energy from weak energy flows is intrinsically, thermodynamically at a great disadvantage.  Collecting energy from weak sources will always take larger collectors.  This can never change because it is based on immutable limits based on physics, just as we can't change the laws of thermodynamics to suit our desires.

    This is why I reject efforts to sell alternative energy systems based on weak, diffuse sources that are highly intermittent.  Sure they can work, but the amount of investment - which takes fossil energy - is so much larger.  Given our current circumstances, I think taking the most energy-rich, resource-minimum path is the smartest way out of humanities dilemma of how to be successful, which means consuming vast amounts of energy, without destabilizing the earth's climate system.  

    Nuclear is not just a little bit better.  It is literally MILLIONS of times better on this count.  I can hold in my hand all the fuel (and consequent waste) necessary to produce ALL THE ENERGY I'll EVER USE IN MY LIFETIME.  Consider that against countless tons of coal, oil and gas - and assosiated CO2 and destruction due to mining, transportation, refining to supply all my needs over 80 years.  Then multiply that by billions of people across the globe.  THAT is why the millions-to-one advantage of nuclear processes over combustion is so essential if we are to escape this "energy trap" we have landed ourselves in.

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

    by mojo workin on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 07:16:49 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  It's possible you're right and I'm open to (3+ / 0-)

      persuasion. However, the same assholes who are running Big oil/coal are also the ones running nuclear.

      They want to be unfettered from regulation, but they are not trustworthy.
      They must accept rigorous oversight, regulation,etc.
      I'm very big on small scale solar, because it empowers the homeowner, farmer, school district, renter, etc in relation to the utility corporations. I think it will always make sense.
      However, I know we need power for industry, manufacturing, major infrastructure, etc. So I'm willing to look at 4th gen. nuclear. We have to figure out the waste problem before we move one tiny step forward. Where are we going to put it? How much will there be? Etc.

      Ultimately, we need to control the population ( with family planning) regardless of whether we figure the energy component out. We also have a water problem and a food problem, nuclear might help some with the power for water purification, but ultimately it can't solve every problem.

      You can't make this stuff up.

      by David54 on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 08:10:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you, David54. (2+ / 0-)

        we need to control the population,
        with contraception.

        I keep writing diaries about this.

        The overall solution,
        for every problem that can be fixed,
        is less humans causing problems,
        and less humans as victims.

        If there were only 100 million humans
        on the whole planet,
        none would need to live in low areas.

        There would be plenty of land
        for growing crops,
        and raising livestock.

        Click on my username,
        and read my latest diary,
        and earlier diaries,
        about this.

    •  My dear mojo workin, please read this: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean
        Yawn, indeed. I am not a diehard anti-nuker... (9+ / 0-)
      ...But until the supporters of nuclear power as the silver bullet for all our energy problems stop the ridiculous you-conservation-and-renewables-people-are-just-whining-idiots and start acknowledging that we'll need many thousands of the thorium nuclear reactors that are supposedly going to save us and that, so far, not a single commercial-scale thorium reactor has been built since the idea was first broached more than 50 years ago, I won't take your complaints about other people not being reality based as all that persuasive.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 06:58:04 PM CST

      [ Parent | Reply to this ]  Recommend  Hide


      That comment is downthread,
      in reply to
      Norm in Chicago,

      Meteor Blades
      has worked hard,
      for more than thirty years,
      as a journalist,
      and he is a journalist here,
      doing his research,
      quoting sources.

      I don't have any college degree,
      certainly not in nuclear physics,
      so I'm forced to choose from various sources.

      Meteor Blades,
      on most topics,
      seems like a reliable source.

      I could do a search,
      and read up on thorium reactors,
      but until I do,
      I say that I've heard they are better
      than any we now have,
      but none have been built?

      Bottom line,
      from all I understand on this topic,
      it seems to me that:

      1.  You are absolutely right.

      2.  And you are absolutely wrong.

      If it were just chunks of fuel,
      from everything I've heard,
      you are right,
      one small chunk of radioactive fuel
      produces millions of times more energy
      than a similar sized chunk of coal,
      or natural gas,
      or whatever is second to radioactive fuel.

      On that point,
      I'm convinced,
      you are absolutely right.

      But let's look at one statement you wrote:  

      I can hold in my hand all the fuel (and consequent waste) necessary to produce ALL THE ENERGY I'll EVER USE IN MY LIFETIME.  

      Visualize that handful of radioactive fuel.

      Now visualize
      seven billion

      Not a few hundred,
      or thousands,
      or millions,
      or hundreds of millions,
      but seven billion.

      group them together in bundles of some sort,
      and put nuclear power plants around them,
      for the spent radioactive bundles,
      some shielded bunker of some kind,
      and tell me how many of those plants,
      and how many bunkers,
      and exactly who's backyard
      they will be positioned in.

      aside from all those very large buildings,
      there's another obstacle,
      and if it's the biggest one,
      I share your frustration,
      just as wishing will not change
      the nature of a source of energy,
      wishing will not change

      Maybe the biggest obstacle to nuclear energy
      is fear.

      I know,
      you're working,
      by writing here,
      to reduce that fear.

      Just as I'm working,
      by writing here,
      to convince everyone,
      that we must all consider
      getting our tubes tied,
      surgical sterilization,
      to reduce the numbers
      of overconsuming monsters,
      (Americans and other wealthy folks),
      to reduce the numbers
      of victims.

      Fewer humans in harms way
      means fewer dead
      when harm comes.

      That's the overall solution.

      And most folks bicker over which way
      to keep heading towards brutal famines,
      with cannibalism.

      That's where we're headed,
      if we just keep bickering over energy.

      I predict:

      You will fail
      to eliminate the fear of nuclear energy,
      and I will fail
      to create the fear of famines,
      until it's too late.

      Famines will kill more
      than sea level rise.

      But sea level rise,
      and droughts,
      and floods,
      all those things
      will make the famines come sooner,
      and make them worse.

      And it's too late to build enough nuclear reactors
      to fix the problem.

      It's too late.

    •  Solar has an energy density advantage (3+ / 0-)

      that eats nuclear's lunch.

      For that matter, solar power is nuclear power... just 93 million miles away.

      We're just not as good at converting it and storing it as we want to be.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:40:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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