DailyDirt: The Future Of Nuclear Energy

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

The nuclear power industry is currently dominated by light-water reactor designs from the 1940-50s. These reactors use ordinary water (aka light water) as the fluid for transferring thermal energy to turbines that generate electricity, but there are other nuclear reactor designs that could be safer and produce less problematic radioactive waste. Fusion reactors aren't ready to generate any energy yet, but they're getting closer (just another 30 years, promise). If you're interested in atomic energy, check out the links below. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 5:49pm

    $3 BILLION to fake fusion.

    Read with any understanding it's FAKE. The alleged "fusion" begins with a solid pellet of hydrogen -- that's right, supercooled until solid, simply impossible to achieve on continuous basis as fusion temperature is millions of degrees -- which is then heated by laser beams in a special tiny holder. It's not capable of more than one brief burst, then must be tediously reassembled and cooled for the next experiment -- probably a matter of days, if not weeks. The power wasted just in beam splitters must be staggering, that's why the hedge it's not yet above total input power. Since the output from the one pellet is a nearly instantaneous flash, all measurements are just guesses too, and since by interested parties, probably lies.

    This NIF scam has cost THREE BILLION to this point, which is only enough to fake up results for continued funding -- that's the only reason for this press release. It's welfare for "physicists". It will never lead to practical fusion power. -- I doubt that anything will. Upwards of ten million degrees K is necessary. No known or conceived material could form a container; the only pontential way is magnetic confinement, having its own set of inherent problems. Even if fusion itself were practical, converting the literally star level temperature heat into electricity is an entire area not even yet begun.

    Don't look for fusion power in your lifetime. Sixty years of "progress" has only gotten enough results to fool free-spending politicians.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 6:11pm

    The science is cool.

    The prospect of having a central energy source run by the US government scares me though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Paraquat (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 6:30pm

    It's fission or global warming

    I consider myself to be an environmentalist, and at one time I opposed nuclear power. But I'm now convinced that unless we develop 4th generation nukes, we will simply wind up burning more coal, oil and natural gas, with the disastrous result of global warming.

    Yes, I know all about wind and solar. I've even installed solar panels. You can get some intermittent power this way and it's better than nothing, but it's insufficient to power even a normal household let alone factories, railroads and the Internet. If we have to rely on wind/solar, get used to frequent brownouts, blackouts and economic collapse.

    I don't necessary like nukes, but the 4th generation designs like the IFR (Integral Fast Reactor) go a long way to solving problems of safety and nuclear waste disposal. But it's hard to say that in public without immediately getting attacked by people who are too lazy to even google "IFR" to find out what it is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    peace and prosperity (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 7:08pm

    LFTR/MSR

    as i understand it, thorium, specifically liquid fluoride thorium reactors, are very doable

    alvin weinberg and/or crew ran one back in the sixties at oak ridge for five years

    check out gordon mcdowell's youtube channel and flibe energy

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXIdM7ABQ8b9FI495vbsHkA

    http://flibe-energy.com/

    re gards

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 8:39pm

    Re: $3 BILLION to fake fusion.

    Little "tax the rich" boy blue is evoking 'welfare' as a pejorative? How many different people are you exactly?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 9:23pm

    Re: It's fission or global warming

    "... but it's insufficient to power even a normal household ..."

    ...depends on the house:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-energy_building

    I agree that factories and transportation are problems yet to be solved, but a 40% reduction of energy consumption could prevent many power plants from being necessary in the first place.

    As for green alternatives (I don't consider nuclear green), there are plenty... have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power, which also states "As of 2011, the cost of PV [photovoltaic systems] has fallen well below that of nuclear power and is set to fall further."

    IMHO, Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) and geothermal energy systems ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_energy ) are the most unknown while very promising alternative energy sources.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:59pm

    Re: Re: It's fission or global warming

    I always wanted to put solar panels and/or wind turbines on my house. However, there are quite a few problems preventing me from doing that. The least of which is that it's illegal where I live. Stupid law, but it's still there. Then there's the fact that wind power just wouldn't work here. We don't get enough wind this close to the ground (solar is another problem entirely). The biggest problem is the price. The solar panels alone cost way to much for me, let alone the battery and transformer (or is that inverter?) system required.

    I'm all for solar and wind power, but I'm more then willing to leave that to those who know what they're doing and can spread the cost of the system across several thousand customers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 3:31am

    Re: $3 BILLION to fake fusion.

    yes, but I guess you are OK spending $10 BILLION A MONTH year after year after year to fund a war in Iraq !!!

    So $3Billion over 60 years (I guess that is what you are implying) is next to NOTHING.

    BTW: look up continuous plasma fusion reactors.

    BTW:2. Hydrogen does not have a solid state, even when cooled to almost absolute zero it forms a superfluid.

    After that it forms a Boise-Einstein condensate.
    It's sad that you think it is a form of 'welfare' to fund science! sad and untrue.

    just keep in mind.

    $10 billion A MONTH for one
    $3 Billion for "Sixty years of "progress"".

    Mankind 'discovered' fire, then went no further!!
    here we are in 2013 and we are still digging up shit and putting a match to it for our primary source of energy.

    Just like the cave man picking up wood, oh how we have progressed as a technological society.

    I can imagine in 100 years, when there is no oil, gas or coal, and people looking back on our time and thing WTF were they thinking ??

    And their answer to that question is NOTHING clearly.
    But you can spend $10 BILLION PER MONTH to find a war in Iraq to help keep control of the shit you dig up and burn.

    also consider the 'safety' of nuclear compared to other sources of energy such as coal. Even the worst nuclear accidents (Chernobyl) directly killed well less that 100 people. Coal industry kills probably that figure A MONTH world wide, probably far more.. probably over 1000.

    There is simply no comparison, mining of coal and its application kills far more people A MONTH that nuclear has EVER KILLED in power generation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 3:33am

    Re: Re: It's fission or global warming

    Solar is nuclear..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    anonymouse (profile), Oct 10th, 2013 @ 5:57am

    liquid metal cooled reactors, and breeder reactors are feasible, safe, and used together create a nearly closed fuel cycle. ie. very little spent fuel to handle at the end of the cycle. france also has a vitrification process (that they stole from us, good on them) operating which further simplifies storage of spent fuel.

    we've had these technologies for decades now, but scare-mongering by the media and political weakness has mothballed it, so france stole the technology and has been using it. again, good on them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Anonymous Howard (profile), Oct 10th, 2013 @ 7:02am

    Re: LFTR/MSR

    Not only doable, but feasible. Thorium is abundant, has much higher energy density and safer then uranium or plutonium.

    The real problem is the damn investors. Like with electric cars, investors can't make money on servicing the reactors, because of how easy and cheap they run. A damn shame!

    Crowd-funding for MSRs!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Oct 10th, 2013 @ 11:18am

    Re: LFTR/MSR

    You can't produce nuclear weapons as efficiently. And you'd replace a ton of fossil fuel plants which may not be in the best interests of a select group....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 11:28am

    Yeah do not invest in Thorium because you do not want to risk your current energy model (protect your profits). Well we all know how that business plan plays out (IE: Kodak invented Digital cameras but did not pursue it because it could risk their film profits). It will just take one country to build a successful Thorium reactor and all your investment and narrow minded protectionism approaches will doom your business and all your profits.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Anonymous Howard (profile), Oct 10th, 2013 @ 11:46pm

    Re:

    Sadly true.

    Iran should adjust their nuclear program (and demand "donations" from the loudest critics, eg: Israel, USA) and build the worlds first thorium reactor.

    Now, if only they would read Techdirt XD

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    Anonymous Howard (profile), Oct 10th, 2013 @ 11:51pm

    Re: Re: LFTR/MSR

    Sadly true.

    Iran should adjust their nuclear program based on the fact that it can't be weaponized (and demand "donations" from the loudest, biggest croakers: Israel, USA) and build the worlds first thorium reactor.

    Now, if only they would read Techdirt XD

    I sent a tweet to Javad Zarif, but I doubt it will do any good : ]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Cloudsplitter, Oct 12th, 2013 @ 8:36pm

    Nuclear power is dead as toast, go ask the Japanese, you can not get the financing for new plants, and you sure as hell can't get anyone to insure them. The amount of long life radioactive isotopes pouring into the pacific from those melted and utterly destroyed reactors will poison massive amounts of marine life and may be kill off some very important fish stocks, both tuna and salmon migrate though those waters, and eat the pray fish there, that before we talk about what it is doing to us.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Cloudsplitter, Oct 12th, 2013 @ 8:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: It's fission or global warming

    The price of solar panels have fallen though the floor, the only reason some panels in the US cost more is a government industry protection scheme against the rest of us. If you live in a community with covenants they can not prevent you from installing solar, check with your state. Look into Solar City where you live, there lease plans are really a great deal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This