DailyDirt: Next-Generation Fission Energy?

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Petroleum prices are relatively low right now, but there are no guarantees that the price of oil will remain low for very long. Progress on biofuels and fusion aren't great bets for the impatient, but there's an existing energy source with some serious growth potential: nuclear fission. Okay, we've been talking about advances in nuclear energy for a while, too, but the barriers are mostly economic/regulatory, not in the engineering or science. After you've finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.
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Filed Under: energy, fission, molten salt reactor, nuclear, nuclear energy, radioactive waste, waste isolation pilot plant, wipp


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  • identicon
    Sam, 30 Sep 2015 @ 5:36pm

    barriers

    AFAICT the barriers to nuclear adoption are *not* regulatory. Conventional nuclear power plants are fucking expensive. Is there an estimate of how much of their amortized costs are related to regulatory compliance and/or regulatory risk (e.g. Japan deciding to shut everything down in the wake of a disaster)?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2015 @ 8:43pm

      Re: barriers

      "Conventional nuclear power plants are fucking expensive."

      On the other hand, after their initial construction, they don't consume thousands of tons of coal per day with the associated mining and transportation cost (financial and environmental)... and the cost of storing the resulting ash.

      Just saying.

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 1 Oct 2015 @ 9:05am

      Re: barriers

      Have you seen the costs to operate such plants? Same for hydro plants, huge installation costs, tiny operational costs.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2015 @ 5:50pm

    All that advance physics....

    ...and all of it to boil water.

    Talk about Rube Goldberg.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2015 @ 8:22pm

      Re: All that advance physics....

      If I had to choose something for the future, it would be the molten salt reactor with a magneto-hydrodynamic energy extraction method. Basically you use plasma to cool the salt and you run the plasma through a magnetic field to generate power.

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

    • identicon
      Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 1 Oct 2015 @ 5:59am

      Re: ..and all of it to boil water.

      It takes a lot of energy to boil water. And even with our “advance [sic] physics”, we’re still not sure why.

      That’s why boiling water is such a wonderfully useful way to harness energy.

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

  • icon
    dogwitch (profile), 30 Sep 2015 @ 7:06pm

    yeap. but i really do hope we get to fusion reactor before i die. another 40 years or so

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

  • identicon
    Glenn, 30 Sep 2015 @ 7:16pm

    Well, we can either keep consuming the planet till there's no livable planet left, or we can implement current and next gen nuclear power. All of our existing plants are several generations back in technology. Our power requirements are not going to decrease... ever. Millions of people already die every year due to fossil fuel burning "tech", yet--of course--the coal, oil, and natural gas industries successfully lobby against new and safe nuclear tech in spite of its safety and efficiency. So, we're dying... but at least it's by our own hand. Good on us!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 6:48am

    Considering the driving capabilities of the average person, automobiles powered by fusion is probably not a very good idea. The daily commute is already a challenge with the "accidents" caused by idiots behind the wheel.

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

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 1 Oct 2015 @ 10:27am

      Re:

      You mean fission. Fusion is PERFECT for powering things that frequently are involved in accidents, because unlike in the movies, when you lose cooling, fusion simply quits; when you lose containment, fusion just quits; if you accidentally feed too much fuel, fusion simply quits; if you breech the core, fusion just quits. It's FREAKING HARD to keep fusion going! Which is good for those times when you don't want it going... like when it's spread across six lanes of freeway after an accident. You also don't have lots of radioactive fuel all over everywhere, which is the problem with fission reactors and vehicles.

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

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 1 Oct 2015 @ 2:04pm

        Re: Re:

        Fusion is PERFECT for powering things that frequently are involved in accidents,

        As long as it doesn't involve extremely high temperatures or pressures. But if we had really cheap fusion power it would probably make more sense to use it to extract hydrogen from water and then use that to fuel vehicles. Putting a fusion reactor in a car sounds expensive (Mr. Fusion notwithstanding).

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

        • icon
          JoeCool (profile), 1 Oct 2015 @ 9:37pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Well, yes, that's very true. If your accident involves temperatures AND pressures approaching that of the center of the sun, fusion may still pose a problem. ;)

          And yes, DIRECTLY powering a vehicle via fusion probably won't be for a LONG time (may require room temp superconductors). Much more likely is using fusion power to make electricity to charge battery-powered electric cars, or to split water into hydrogen and oxygen for PERFECTLY CLEAN combustion engines, or fuel cells in electric cars as opposed to batteries.

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 1 Oct 2015 @ 2:05pm

      Re:

      Who was suggesting nuclear powered cars anyway?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 6:07pm

        Re: Re:

        Perhaps the following item in the intro paragraph?

        "Petroleum prices are relatively low right now, but there are no guarantees that the price of oil will remain low for very long."

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

  • icon
    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), 1 Oct 2015 @ 7:15am

    Pandora's Promise

    If you're interested in this stuff at all, you should watch the documentary Pandora's Promise. It's available on Netflix and other streaming services.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 7:48am

    Just want to point out that nuclear waste with the same broadness as household waste or industrial waste. Nuclear waste has some kind of radioactive material in or on it. So the term covers everything including spent nuclear material, the decontamination wipes, used protective equipment, and even the equipment when it's done working.

    The kitty litter thing at WIPP is just so much facepalm caused by someone else. Someone thinking they were doing "the right thing" by going green! and not thinking things through and swapping out inorganic absorbent media (clay based kitty litter) for organic absorbent media (wheat based kitty litter). Yep, clay doesn't burn and wheat does, so when absorbing something that gets hot with time which brand do you prefer? That's right. If it doesn't say Gritty Kitty, IT STINKS!

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


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