TheStranger wrote:Plus uranium is not the only possible fuel for nuclear reactors, thorium is another fuel that is rather abundant (we just need to figure out how to effectively gather it.
There's heaps of thorium around, it's three times more abundant in the crust than uranium.
Actually, the US government has a stockpile of at least 3200 tonnes of thorium. They purchased it, back in the days when the government actually supported useful, sensible innovation with nuclear energy.
Thorium-burning reactors in the past, such as the Shippingport reactor using thorium fuel, the Fort St. Vrain HTGR, and the Oak Ridge Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment, have all performed very well.
So, they've got this 3200 tonnes of pure thorium nitrate, nicely packed up in drums
. And so they decided, well, it's surplus to what we want, we don't want it, it's waste
. Oh me yarm, it's radioactive waste
, scary radioactive waste, what are we going to do with it?
That refined thorium stockpile is enough to supply the entire electricity needs of the United States for about 10 years, with no need for coal, or natural gas, or even uranium mining.
They called it "waste" and they buried it in a giant hole in Nevada.http://www.ornl.gov/~webworks/cppr/y200 ... 125373.pdf
mosc wrote:I think humanity can handle fusion power in 5,000 years. They already have a reactor in France. Besides. What else are we going to do with Uranium, blow ourselves up? The lifespan of a Nuclear plant is on the order of 50-100 years anyway. These things are inherently temporary. At least on the timescale you're talking about. There is no fuel problem with them, there is no emissions problem with them, there is no cost problem with them, and there is no usability problem with them. The only real problem with the technology is people have an irrational fear of it. Even Chernobyl killed fewer people than coal has. You understand coal comes from mines right? They're not the safest places nor the healthiest for their workers. Nobody even got radiation poisoning from TMI. It's safer than windmills FFS. You know how many people die fixing those things? Or idiots falling off roofs putting up solar panels? Nope. How 'bout some sources? ~CM
Here's a pro-wind-energy site that says "that the wind industry will have to do a better job at improving safety if it wants to live up to its promise of being clean, green, and benign.http://www.wind-works.org/articles/BreathLife.html
They say wind turbines cause about 0.15 deaths per TWh.
Consider, for example, a typical conventional nuclear power plant with two 1000 MWe LWRs operating with a 90% capacity factor.
That plant will generate 15.78 TWh per year, and if nuclear power was equally as dangerous as wind turbines, you would expect to see 2.4 deaths per plant per year.
With the exception of Chernobyl, I can't think of any deaths, ever, anywhere in the world that are related to commercial nuclear power generation*. How many can you think of?
Opposing nuclear power, fiddling while coal burns, leads us towards the same situation we had in the USA after the September 11 attacks, where something like close to 2000 people died in vehicle accidents above and beyond the average level, because they avoided planes which are supposedly very dangerous but actually aren't, and went and drove cars which really do kill people all the time.
* The Tokaimura criticality accident, involving the processing of quite highly enriched uranium for a prototype research reactor, doesn't count, nor do criticality accidents involving nuclear weapons materials.
Whilst the mining of uranium has a far smaller environmental impact than the mining of coal and fossil fuels, it clearly does have some small environmental impact, and in this regard, using reprocessed nuclear fuel to offset the need for uranium mining is environmentally beneficial, and in this regard, perhaps deserves a subsidy?
Or, alternatively for the same result you could tax heavily the storing of nuclear waste. It would make sense : a tax on future generations troubles.
Really, I prefer to stop and say, OK, What materials do we have, what nuclides, in what amounts, and what are their properties? Who decided that it must be declared to be so-called "waste", irrespective of what is in the material?
If nuclear "waste" is such a big deal... then don't waste it.
Sharlos wrote:One question I have about nuclear power is that it is not a renewable source of energy. What happens once we run out of uranium?
Energy isn't "renewable". That's the second law of thermodynamics.
There are fundamentally four types of energy which we have access to on the Earth to power our civilisation.
i) Solar energy, including wind, biofuels and hydropower, which are indirectly solar power.
ii) Fossil fuels, which are fossilised, indirect solar power.
iii) Tidal energy
iv) Nuclear energy, including fission, fusion and geothermal heat.
There is a certain finite amount of uranium inside the Earth, just as there is a certain finite amount of thorium, lithium and deuterium. There is a certain finite amount of radiothermal heat. Of course, fossil fuels are also finite resources. There is a finite amount of tidal potential energy, and there is a finite amount of hydrogen inside the sun.
Within about a billion years, all life on Earth will start to be extinguished, just because of the life-cycle of the sun.
"Renewable" doesn't mean anything, and it doesn't matter. There is amply sufficient nuclear fuel, assuming it is used sensibly and not wasted
, for it to be a completely sustainable, useful energy resource across the whole world for many, many thousands, even millions of years.
I tried editing that article once to inject some sensibility into it once. That was the time I learned that there are a lot
of stupid people out there with Wikipedia accounts.
How sustainable are supplies of indium and tellurium for second-generation III-V photovoltaic semiconductors?
To build just one megawatt worth of nameplate wind turbine capacity requires about a tonne
of neodymium for its permanent magnets. So, to build the wind farm equivalent of one single nuclear power plant, you'll need about 6000 tonnes of neodymium. That gets extremely impractical extremely quickly, over meaningful time scales.