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View Diary: Who can own the future? (262 comments)

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  •  The problem with fission power is corpitalism (5+ / 0-)

    & its enablers in a government of the profits, by the profits & for the profits.

    I'm a huge fan of liquid fluoride thorium (breeder) reactor technology--or rather, the prospect of what a mature LFTR culture (which promises to be highly efficient, non-proliferating, relatively small, nearly-waste-free & -disaster-proof) could mean for the planet & the species.

    The central advantage of the LFTR is the liquid fuel cycle, which permits inclusion of a reprocessing loop to (among other things) remove reaction-poisoning fission products such as xenon-135. The buildup of those elements inside the metal-clad solid fuel elements used in contemporary light water reactors is the main reason LWRs are so inefficient--the rods have to be pulled after only a tiny fraction of the fissionable material has been "burned" (& then form the vast majority of so-called "nuclear waste"). Meanwhile a LFTR, like a certain pink rabbit with a bass drum, keeps going & going & going...& (quite probably) could be tweaked to gobble up that "spent fuel" now sitting at the bottom of LWR holding ponds in a Cerenkov-blue glow.

    It seemed so clear to me this was the way atomic power should be going that it stunned me how sublimely uninterested DOE has been in encouraging the growth of the technology. They are far more focused on pushing things like "pebble-bed" reactors--which are much more accident-proof than current LWRs but don't share the LFTR's efficiency in extracting energy from fissionable material.

    Then I asked myself how the contemporary nuclear industry manages to survive with new reactor construction at a standstill.

    The answer: Fabricating replacement fuel rods for existing LWRs..

    Implement LFTR technology--whose fuel is fluoridated, not fabricated--would put a corp(se) like Westingrump (my term for the nuclear remnant of a once-proud company I once worked for) out of business as the old LWRs go out of service. (Not to mention putting most uranium mines out of business--while thorium, 4 times as abundant as uranium, is a byproduct of mining for rare earths, which are already hot commodities for hi-tech applications.)

    But "pebble-beds" will have the same problem of reaction-poison buildup inside the graphite-shelled pebbles. A simple change of fabrication machinery & the Westingrumps (along with the low-grade uranium mines) of the world keep profiting from inefficiency. And governments of corpitalist economies know that the surest way to oblivion is to break the corpitalists' rice bowls...


    by Uncle Cosmo on Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 08:24:48 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

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