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Nuclear 'waste' is the SOLUTION and could run the world for 500 years!

Discussion in 'Physical & Life Sciences' started by eclipsenow, Aug 15, 2012.

  1. eclipsenow

    eclipsenow God cares about his creation as well as us.

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    * Today's Gen3.5 nukes are SAFE. They could easily survive Fukishima's tidal wave. They have awesome external cooling gear, but even if these all fail, the heart of the reactor itself is our safety feature! If the fuel rods over-heat, they expand and leak neutrons. This shuts down the reaction. 'Neutron Leak' means it is physically impossible for today's reactors to melt down. Banning SAFE modern nukes because of Chernobyl or Fukishima is like banning modern aviation because of the Hindenberg.

    * Tomorrows Gen4 nukes will EAT NUCLEAR WASTE! I nearly fell over backwards when I learned that G.E.'s S-PRISM will eventually burn nuclear waste, and that just today's nuclear waste could run the world for 500 years!

    * James Hansen says nuclear is the only way we'll solve climate change. He says believing in wind and solar is akin to "believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy."
    Hansen warns not to drink sustainable energy Kool-Aid « BraveNewClimate
    If we listen to him on climate, why not on the solution?

    * Gen4 nukes are the forever machine!
    A/ We can extract uranium from seawater at $300 a kilogram.
    B/ This is about the size of a golf ball and could power your entire life, cradle to grave, on just $300 fuel! (Nukes themselves are the expensive bit, the fuel is dirt cheap).
    C/ As continents move and mountains rise, rain and weathering grind uranium dust back down into the sea faster than we could use it. In this way Gen4 nukes really could run the world for hundreds of millions of years on the uranium in sea-water.

    * We KNOW the physics works. We already have over 300 reactor-years proving the physics of burning 'waste' in prototype reactors like the EBR 2.
    Experimental Breeder Reactor II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    * IF something better comes along we can shift to it then! But it's wiser to act on known technology rather than wishful thinking. Renewables sound nice, but can't do the job at any price we could afford. It's the cost of backing them up when the sun stops shining and the wind stops blowing. They should be called 'unreliables' instead. Read Professor Barry Brook, head of Climate Department at Adelaide University.
    Renewable Limits « BraveNewClimate

    * Dreams and good intentions with renewables are not going to solve the Global Warming crisis. Only hard nosed, tried and true engineering solutions can save us. But, unlike James Hansen, too many environmentalists seem to believe in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy of wind and solar, and seem too paranoid and uninformed about nuclear. But this is changing. George Monbiot used to be anti-nuclear, but now supports the best in safe, modern, waste-eating nukes. Nuclear waste is now not the problem but the SOLUTION to the world's most urgent problems!
     
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  2. Elendur

    Elendur Gamer and mathematician

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    Interesting, what would those reactors have as waste?
     
  3. Michael

    Michael Contributor Supporter

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    What I find most discouraging is that our government blew about a trillion dollars on every pork barrel, er "shovel ready" spending program they could think of 4 years ago. Instead of earmarking a large percentage of those funds to help us modernize our nuclear power plants, some of which are based upon technology that is more than 40 years old, they funded every pork barrel spending program they could think of. That was just sad IMO.

    We've pretty much committed ourselves to storing these nuclear materials for hundreds of thousands of years. The very least we could do is use them to generate *safe* electricity. As it stands, we're relying upon very *old* technology, technology that simply isn't "safe" at all. Just one major accident costs more than it would cost to upgrade every nuclear power plant in America to a safer design.
     
  4. Stoneghost

    Stoneghost Newbie

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    Fukishima was a modern nuclear power plant,. Although the radiation leaked from it was benign in quantity. Fukishima also did meltdown, that is a fact.

    From the little I know about nuclear physics the scenario you describe of a waste-free fission reaction is infeasible. I suspect there is an issue with achieving the complete decay of not only the uranium-238, but also all radioactive products is extremely unlikely. There is also the issue of energy, the reaction much be moving down an energy gradient. It is my understanding that unlike uranium which can release more energy than it takes the catalyze a reaction, thus allowing the uranium to sustain the reaction, that this is not the case for the decay products. How can you have nuclear power if it takes more energy to breakdown the decay products into non-radioactive products than you can get out of the decay process? The reaction stops where it does for a reason. It produces the decay products it produces for a reason.

    Internet search also shows Generation 4 reactors aren't waste free
    Generation IV reactor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I agree we should use nuclear power, actually. But your sources are biased and full of preposterous lies if they are claiming that these reactors are waste free and "eat waste" (due to the reason stated above). With respect to your posted article with the title containing the phrase "drink the kool-aide" I can also safely deduce that is right-wing propaganda and not worth the band-width it would take to look at.

    I do support nuclear power but I want the evidence used to consider whether nuclear power should be used to be based on facts not science fiction (or the tooth fairy or easter bunny).
     
  5. eclipsenow

    eclipsenow God cares about his creation as well as us.

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    I'm no physicist but the discussions I've had with real nuclear physicists indicate that the final waste product is so 'hot' that it burns itself back to safe levels in just 100,000 years? No! Just 50,000 years? No way! Just... 10,000 years? Nope!

    Just 300 years. As far as I care, the nuclear power plant will be a big concrete bomb-proof bunker. Put the waste in a big concrete storage bunker under it! Our depleted uranium waste goes in, gets fissioned away, and never comes out again. Just bury it over and leave it there. Then build a new reactor on it next time you need to rebuild the GenIV reactor.
     
  6. eclipsenow

    eclipsenow God cares about his creation as well as us.

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    Agreed! What if they hadn't invaded Iraq and instead REALLY committed to Afghanistan and solved that conflict half a decade ago? What did Iraq cost... $2 trillion? More? Imagine if America had instead put some of that money into finishing Afghanistan, some into hospitals & education, and maybe HALF of it into nukes. You guys would be halfway towards fixing global warming and peak oil for your nation!
     
  7. Elendur

    Elendur Gamer and mathematician

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    300 years? That's some serious half-life. Thanks for the info :)
     
  8. eclipsenow

    eclipsenow God cares about his creation as well as us.

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    Yes, it burns through it all back to no more radioactive than your average granite kitchen bench-top.
     
  9. florida2

    florida2 Well-Known Member

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    Who?

    Any links/evidence for that?

    Thanks
     
  10. Jamin4422

    Jamin4422 Member

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  11. Michael

    Michael Contributor Supporter

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    Define "modern". All of them were built in the 70's. You're right that these plants are 'more modern' than some designs, but reactor 1 was over 40 years old, and all of them were over 30 years old. The fact there is no way to cool the reactor without power is a significant problem in the design IMO.

    Research: Butterflies mutated after Japan’s nuclear leaks, though humans relatively safe - The Washington Post

    It's not really clear yet that the radiation leakage was all that "benign" actually. Lot's of people have been displaced from whole cities around the plant.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...st-town-abandoned-people-fleeing-fallout.html

    I tend to agree with you that it's a gross oversimplification to suggest that power plants "eat waste". They all create waste, even nuclear reactors.

    The problem IMO is that we have already committed ourselves to hanging on to this radioactive material for all time. In fact we flew to the ex-Soviet union to pick up some of their radioactive material so it would not fall into the wrong hands. We're 'stuck' with the material. It's what we *do* with it that is the issue. IMO it's 'better' to use it and generate electrical energy than to store it as a "bomb" that is expressly designed to kill human beings. It's also "better" that we use this material to generate electrical energy, than simply try to store the material in locations that are all over the country. In some cases it took *enormous* amounts of energy to refine the material. It only makes sense to get some of that energy back from that material.

    I hear you on that point. The issues tend to be oversimplified by all sides IMO. It is important to note that hydrocarbon based power plants also pollute and they also cause human cancers and human fatalities. We just don't seem to equate or worry about cancer from hydrocarbon burning the way we seem to fixate on the connection between radiation and human health. Admittedly however, when a hydrocarbon based power plant fails, it rarely results in the permanent evacuation of large areas around the plant.

    IMO, most of the current designs of nuclear reactors are seriously flawed. They should be improved so that a total and complete loss of electrical power does not result in nuclear meltdown scenarios. That is an unacceptable scenario IMO. There really is no logical reason that it must be designed that way.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012
  12. Stoneghost

    Stoneghost Newbie

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    Yes you're right it wasn't benign. I should have said relatively benign, for a meltdown there was not the kind of catastrophic leakage seen at a plant like Chernobyl. Japan, and the Japanese people, really over reacted to supposed radiation contamination in areas away from the plant. They destroyed the crops of an entire province because they contained elevated levels of radiation. Even though those levels were still a thousandth of a chest X-ray and you would have eat 8 tons of these irradiated cucumbers to be able to have any negative effect. A portion of the economic damage of the Fukishima meltdown was self-inflicted by Japan because of a knee-jerk reaction to harmless levels of radiation contamination. There was contamination in a localized area around the plant and unfortunately this includes some caesium leakage into the ocean which is not benign, but is it necessarily a disaster either.

    And yes, the health effects of hydrocarbons burning is also important. I couldn't find statistics for this post but I believe have seen in past estimates that as many as 4000 cancers deaths in the United States a year a linked to the burning of fossil fuels, and I don't even know how many people are effected by heavy metal poisoning because of plants like that. Maybe if we had as many nuclear plants as we do coal plants we would have the same number of cancer death, maybe more, maybe less. But the point is, as you say, coal power is not free from serious health consequences. We just don't talk about those health consequences very much. Meltdowns are much more dramatic and more fun to talk about.

    My biggest problem is that I trust neither the coal industry nor the nuclear industry in the United States to do anything other than a cursory job when it comes to preventing pollution or plant failure.
     
  13. Michael

    Michael Contributor Supporter

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    IMO that is why the government should have been willing to invest itself in helping the US become energy independent, and we should have been willing to help pay for, or at least finance, some of the equipment upgrades. You're right that it's a gamble either way, but IMO part of that is due to the relatively poor design of the 1970's version of a nuclear power plant, and the rather exorbitant costs of "scrubbing" contamination from hydrocarbon power plants, particularly coal based power plants. Both of these issues can be and should be addressed in any future "stimulus" packages.
     
  14. Illuminaughty

    Illuminaughty Drift and Doubt

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    We should invest more in fusion power research imo. Much safer, much less radiation, and abundant fuel.
     
  15. Stoneghost

    Stoneghost Newbie

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    My understanding is that fusion as an energy source is now largely viewed as infeasible in the near term in the scientific community.
     
  16. Michael

    Michael Contributor Supporter

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  17. Gracchus

    Gracchus Senior Veteran

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    Well, in case you hadn't noticed, we've been using it for hundreds of millenia. The reactor is a little too close to be safe, but the containment is top of the line and very economical. The Biggest problem with it is that it doesn't fit in to the capitalist system. We haven't yet figure out how to charge for the power.

    :wave:
     
  18. eclipsenow

    eclipsenow God cares about his creation as well as us.

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    Michael, that's a fantastic article. Thank you! So Denver gets 3 times the radiation of the 'hot spots' in Fukishima. What a farce! What a paranoid, fear inducing, irrational and panic spreading government reaction. "0.1 rem's a year, oh no, we're all going to die!" And the average citizen of Denver gets 0.3 rems a year! Quick, evacuate Denver, won't someone think of the children!"
     
  19. Michael

    Michael Contributor Supporter

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    I don't think it's a great idea to oversimplify the issue one direction or the other, but the article does touch on all the key issues.

    Humans are typically and "naturally" exposed to some amount of background radiation day in, day out, year in, year out for their entire lives. That exposure can vary from about .62 rems per year, to about .92 rems in the US without any discernible pattern between the amount of natural radiation exposure and cancer rates for a given population. Even though Denver experiences more radiation than many US cities, it has a *lower* cancer rate than most cities, not a higher rate. The human body is naturally exposed to some radiation and it has "natural" ways to deal with it in most cases.

    Right after the explosions, the original radiation rates around some of the cities in Japan quite likely warranted a "temporary" evacuation of many areas around the plant. It's less clear however, and unlikely in fact, that this event warranted a "long term" evacuation. The human "fear factor" tends to play an enormous (melodramatic) role in such events, and unfortunately the lack of knowledge about typical background radiation levels tends to create panic among the population.

    The article does touch upon some of the complexities about cancer rates as well. Even though this event may (and probably will) cause a few additional cancer deaths in the human population, everyone around the plant who might contract cancer would be likely to believe it was the event in question that "caused" their cancer, even though this particular event may have had nothing (or little) to do with that particular cancer. The problem is that there is no sure way to know which health problems might be related to "other" factors in their life, vs. the one event in question. Since cancers occur in all populations for many reasons, it's difficult to know for sure which factor was involved, particularly when the background rates are low, and we are not discussing thyroid cancers.

    The bottom line however is that the area in question now experiences only about 1/3rd of the "typical variation" experienced in the US, and we have not been able to show any correlation between cancer rates in Denver, vs cancer rates anywhere else. That would suggest that the radiation rate in question isn't likely to be worth abandoning the land around he plant permanently, or even all that "long term".

    If however you're a parent of young children, you can't help but ask yourself: "Is it really worth the health risks to my family to return to that area?"

    Most people do not understand the statistics properly, nor do they typically realize that they are exposed to radiation every day of their lives in far greater numbers than they realize. The event in question was unfortunate, expensive and certainly dangerous, but thus far the tsunami itself was the only thing that has caused any "deaths". So far it's just pure speculation that anyone has been significantly harmed by the radiation released from the plants.
     
  20. Jamin4422

    Jamin4422 Member

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    Perhaps that is one of the reasons our jobs go over to China. They do not have the requirements there for clean air compared to what industry has to deal with here. Their standards are just not as high as ours.
     
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