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  • Now, for a change, let's talk about nuclear power.

    Posted on OscarCP Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums Outside the box The Junk Drawer Now, for a change, let's talk about nuclear power.

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      • #2189157 Reply
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        As advertised, this is about nuclear power (and not the virus) now being proposed as a possible way to even out the variable supply of energy from renewables that rely on equally variable natural resources such as wind, tides, sunlight, etc. — at least as a stopgap to generate electricity with 0% CO2 emissions and make it possible to reach the much repeated goal of “0 carbon by 2050”.

        After the Fukushima disaster inside another disaster, that of the massive earthquake and consequent huge tsunami that devastated northern Japan in 2011, now in that country, in Germany and soon also in Belgium, according to current plans, all nuclear stations have been turned off or are going to be. In other countries few new ones, or none, are under construction to replace the aging ones. As the result of this, for example, in the industrial heartland of Germany there has been a switch from using nuclear to using the dirtiest form of fossil fuel: lignite, also known as “brown coal.” And the economy of the still relatively worse off part of this country, what used to be East Germany, is now heavily dependent on the mining of lignite.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/10/world/europe/germany-coal-climate.html

        Japan, where some 20% of the electricity until Fukushima was from nuclear stations, that it now have been turned off, is back to importing fossil fuels, as it does not have large natural sources of them in its own territory. For those of us who worry about the rapid increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, this looks bad in two ways: it means more consumption of CO2 releasing fuels and also more CO2 emissions from the burning of bunkering oil and diesel oil in the engines of the ships transporting those fuels to this island nation.

        https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2020/02/10/commentary/japan-commentary/japan-goes-reverse-going-green/#.XmfJl5R7mgQ

        These less than excellent developments have given new impetus to attempts to design, build and, eventually, sell and install nuclear reactors that are more reliable, cheaper to build and quicker to build than those in big power stations now in existence or under construction. One idea is to make small reactors, with about 10% the generating capacity or less than that of those of large power stations. The reasons for doing this are explained in this article, as are the drawbacks of going ahead with this idea:

        https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200309-are-small-nuclear-power-plants-safe-and-efficient

        Basically, the drawbacks come down to two things: one, the higher cost of the energy produced using nuclear as compared with renewables, and two, the so far intractable problem of where, facing a relentless, loudly voiced and unfailingly adopted “not in my backyard!” attitude whenever a possible site is mooted, to bury the waste so it stays safely there for thousands of years (and free from prying hands). As I see it, if one truly believes that reaching 0% of CO2 emissions by 2050 is the only alternative to otherwise living in a world where nobody in their right mind would like to live in, or worse, then money should not really be a problem, and if fact is not going to be a problem: however this is done, getting to 0% CO2 is going to cost governments, national economies, people — a lot. It is not going to be cheap. As to where to put the radioactive waste: there are plenty of desertic regions in this planet and keeping them buried undisturbed there is a matter of police action. Both things require international agreements and coordinated international work: the very things also necessary to get to 0% CO2 by 2050 (or whenever) in any case, with or without nuclear in the 0-CO2 power generation mix.

        So, am I sold on the idea of many small nuclear reactors saving the day until better alternatives are in place and they are no longer needed except for some very special uses? Not quite. But I think it is an interesting topic worth discussing. Although, under the present circumstances this is not likely to happen in a hurry, and perhaps not here. But a man can hope.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2189538 Reply
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        Lead time of 7 – 10 years for nuclear, plus cost, which must include decommissioning, means nuclear is a complete financial disaster.

        Renewables (solar, wind, tidal)  with costs tumbling and capacity increasing are the way to go. Put the money you were going to spend on nuclear into battery research and increasing appliance efficiency and we’ll have power and a happier planet.

        cheers, Paul

        5 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2189980 Reply
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          As  mentioned in my original post, money cannot be the issue per se to decide on what to do to resolve the nuclear power conundrum, because keeping this world livable is going to cost — a lot — no matter how it is done.  Now, with finite resources, money included, where best to put them? is a better question than how much?

          Paul T might very well be right, but what he mentions as solutions in his comment here ( #2189538 ) that we should be working towards, depend on future breakthroughs to happen, which might not happen no matter how much better and much more sensible would be for them to happen. We might be interested in the future, for many and most excellent reasons, but the future is not interested in us. So, right now, on the one one hand, turning off nuclear centrals does not help very much (other by making people feel better), resulting in more CO2 and more dangerous particulates in suspension in the air we all breathe. But on the other hand, it does not get us anywhere near resolving the nasty problem of what to do with all that accumulated radioactive waste already slowly eating up their containers and striving to be free. Keeping those nuclear stations running and, or putting in operation lots of little reactors (on reactor in every house, to keep the old copper going?) is not going to make it any easier to solve that either. But turning everything nuclear off with no way to replace the CO2-free energy produced with it in what I think is a panicked reaction to public acute fears after the shock of Fukushima, is not an obviously very wise thing to do either.

          So that is how I see it: a bit of this, a bit of that… may be better than a lot of nothing. But others might not see it this way. And, perhaps, they’ll also come here to tell us why.

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

      • #2189984 Reply
        Kathy Stevens
        AskWoody Plus

        A little bit of this, a bit of that… Is definitely not better than a lot of nothing.

        I have worked within the nuclear sector on and off for over five decades. Seismic risk analysis, operations, environmental impact analysis, as well as still classified work for the Defense Department.

        My 1<sup>st</sup> problem with nuclear power is spent fuel disposal in the United States. In 1987, Congress designated Yucca Mountain in the Nevada desert as a national disposal site. Now, 30+ years later Yucca Mountain has not become operational. In the meantime, spent fuel continues to accumulate at nuclear power plants around the United States where it is becoming a progressively greater problem as well as a potential terrorist target.

        Then there is a history nuclear power plant failures:

        1. Sodium Reactor Experiment, Santa Susana Field Laboratory, California – History: partial core meltdown accident from July 12 to 26, 1959, resulting in melting of as much as one-third of the fuel; shutdown July 26, 1959 (appears to have been operated for several days with its core partially melted) – permanently shut down in February 1964.
        2. Stationary Low-Power Reactor No. 1 (SL-1), National Reactor Testing Station (now Idaho National Laboratory), United States – History: criticality accident Jan. 3, 1961; shut down May 1964
        3. Enrico Fermi Unit 1 Reactor, Monroe County, Mich., – History: partial fuel melt accident Oct. 5, 1966, two of the 105 fuel assemblies melted, but no contamination was recorded outside the containment vessel; closed November 1972
        4. Chapelcross Unit 2 Nuclear Power Plant, Annan, Dumfreshire, Scotland, History: start-up May 1959; while under evaluation for the commercial reactor program, experienced a partial blockage in a single fuel channel May 1967, contamination was limited to one region of the core; shut down June 29, 2004
        5. Saint-Laurent A-1 Nuclear Power Plant, St. Laurent-Nouan, Loir-et-Cher, France – History: 50 kg of uranium began to melt Oct. 17, 1969; permanently shut down May 27, 1992
        6. Saint-Laurent A-2 Nuclear Power Plant, – History: heat excursion causing some fuel melting March 13, 1980; permanently shut down May 27, 1992
        7. Three Mile Island Unit 2 Nuclear Power Plant, Londonderry Township; Dauphine County, Pa. – History: partial core melt accident March 1979; decommissioned 1979
        8. Chernobyl Unit 4 Nuclear Power Plant, Pripyat, Ukraine, Soviet Union (now Ukraine) – History: destroyed in full-core melt accident April 26, 1986
        9. Greifswald Unit 5 (KGR-5) Nuclear Power Plant, Lubmin, East Germany (now Germany) – History: near core melt with 10 fuel elements damaged Dec. 7, 1975; permanent shutdown Nov. 24, 1989
        10. Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 Nuclear Power Plant, Ohkuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan – History: partial core meltdown after earthquake on March 11, 2011
        11. Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 Nuclear Power Plant – History: partial core meltdown after earthquake on March 11, 2011
        12. Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 Nuclear Power Plant – History: partial core meltdown after earthquake on March 11, 2011

        No thank you, I would prefer not to have a nuclear power plant my backyard.

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      • #2189987 Reply
        Kathy Stevens
        AskWoody Plus

        To get a sense of the distribution of radiation contamination from Chernobyl I suggest following the link  http://chernobylplace.com/chernobyl-radiation-level/

        the article includes a map that shows that high levels of radiation originating at Chernobyl extended from Norway, Sweden, and Finland south to Austria and East almost to Kazakhstan.

        Of course, there continues to be high levels of radiation in the Ukraine.

        No thank you, not in my backyard

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2189988 Reply
        Kathy Stevens
        AskWoody Plus

        Green power, solar and wind, is variable. Solar is not available when the sun does not shine and wind power is only available when the wind blows. As a result, both forms of green energy require standby generation to come online during dips in solar and wind power availability.

        In contrast, nuclear power plants are difficult to start up and shut down and thus are run 24 hours a day and supply base load power to the grid. Certainly not a compliment to variable green energy sources.

        Afraid that green energy is likely to rely on natural gas and oil generation to fill in on cloudy days when the wind does not blow.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2189990 Reply
        Kathy Stevens
        AskWoody Plus

        Will the expansion of wind power accelerate climate change?

        Think about it, it is a hot day – you plug in the fan into an electric outlet – turn it on – and you stay cool in the breeze generated by the fan’s blades.

        Then run the fan backwards.  Put the fan up on the roof – face it into the wind – and connect the wire to a light bulb. The bulb will light up. You are taking energy out of the atmosphere – converting into electricity – and it lights the bulb.

        So the question is, how much energy can you take out of the atmosphere before you begin to have an impact on local wind conditions and by extension global wind patterns?

        • #2189996 Reply
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Kathy Stevens writes: “Will the expansion of wind power accelerate climate change?

          I doubt it, but a good point even so. My own understanding is that every form of generating energy in the massive scale required by the kind of industrial civilization that we have and now encircles the globe, and I mean any form at all, is going to be disruptive and have serious bad effects.

          And it is not just wind: large scale solar generation, as presently practiced or even imagined, takes a lot of land and disrupts in many and not clearly understood ways the environments they are built in.

          Hydro power has been blamed for many sins against Nature (of which everything around us — and us as well — is a part of), sins that, at least some of them, are not only potentially very bad, but also present and real: disruption to the flow of rivers in the way they run to the seas and lakes they end at, severe losses of fishing resources, large amounts of carbon released by the dead trees of drowned forests, and more. Nuclear, with a massive deadly waste problem that only gets larger as time goes by. And not let me get stared on fossil-fuel burning power stations, on internal combustion power plants big and small everywhere and on what this do to the very natural order that has let our clever species thrive, until now.

          Even if humans came out with a form of energy production with no poisonous outflows, nice to migratory birds (that the vans of wind farms kill in numbers) and much more, ultimately the waste heat, at a high enough level of generation and use of power, will eventually heat the world until all we have and all we are is reduced to cinders (not likely, but I just fancied putting that here for effect.)

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

        • #2242199 Reply
          anonymous
          Guest

          I am not an electrician nor a Physicist but exactly how do you arrive at the idea that the fan is sucking electricity out of the atmosphere? Can you explain that to a novice ? My 1st thought is why use the fan at all? Unless you turn it 180 dgrees and have it cool you instead of light a bulb? I dont get the flow here, pardon the pun. I guess if water from Niagara was redirected thru the turbines in the opposite direction it too would deplete the atmospheric electricity? I am not being snarky.

          DriftyDonN

          • #2242221 Reply
            OscarCP
            AskWoody Plus

            DriftyDonN: It is just a fanciful way to explain why is that a thee hundred-foot tall wind-turbine generator works and produces electricity.

            The fan is getting mechanical, not electrical energy from the wind when it makes rotates the blades, then turning it into electrical by forcing the rotor inside of its own little electric motor to turn and convert the mechanical, originally from the wind, into electrical, so now the fan works as a generator. Not sure how that will really work, if at all, as the motor is not designed the right way to be a good generator, but I don’t think the laws of physics would get in the way. That does not mean it is a really practical, useful idea.

            Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

      • #2189992 Reply
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        The idea I introduced at the beginning of this thread, because it stirred my curiosity, is the concept of reactors an order of magnitude smaller, or even smaller, than the ones mentioned so far here, to be installed singly or in clusters, in various appropriate places, not at a few ones, as at present the large nuclear power stations — a concept that according to its proponents, is precisely meant to overcome the real and serious problems of those large nuclear stations such as those Paul T and Kathy Stevens have enumerated.

        If I were a proposer of “baby” reactors, I would say: that criticism is all true and also is history, or it would be if we could get regulations revised, the ones in place now being centered on large power stations’ characteristics and problems, to be able to go ahead with some proper real-life small demonstrations to show our concepts are sound and so get the support we need from governments and other interested parties to continue, but with larger scale operations, something an innovative idea as ours needs to show just how good it really is (or is not).

        Personally, I am open to have such a demonstration project carried out in the light of day before arriving to a definitive conclusion. But what else, besides nuclear, should be given a chance to prove itself to be a practical proposition, as a stop-gap measure to replace fossil fuel power generation with renewables, but sooner than otherwise, as time grows ever shorter to stave off a bad situation expected, once it starts, to last centuries without respite. And which technologies should be tried and, if they proof out, given the go ahead… if any at all?

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

      • #2190035 Reply
        anonymous
        Guest

        An alternative is to simply make a major reduction in global energy consumption over the coming decades.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2190253 Reply
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          anonymous #2190035  wrote: “An alternative is to simply make a major reduction in global energy consumption over the coming decades.

          Well, anonymous, a major global reduction in the use of energy (contributing to global warming, not all forms of energy) over the coming decades is what has to happen. And I also wish it were a simple matter to be achieved simply by deciding to use less energy, but wishing is not enough. The hard question is: how?

          If global warming were something where one could say: OK, let’s do this, reduce emissions by using less energy — and it just happened and happened soon enough to avoid dramatically serious problems, there wold be nothing to worry about. The problem is that there is no magic word one can say to get this to happen, and not even a very clear idea of how to get this to happen.

          That is why this is a discussion about one of the possible means and the corresponding actions needed to get this to happen.

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

      • #2190041 Reply
        Slowpoke47
        AskWoody Plus

        It’s important to have this discussion in the context of reality.  We in First World countries have (at least, some) awareness of the big picture and the resources, combined with (at least, some) interest in countermeasures.  AFAIK, the bulk of airborne pollution comes from India (visible, they say, from space orbit) and China.  India is overall desperately impoverished and many millions burn wood.  China burns domestic, poor quality coal, and has no interest in curbing the emissions that are widely understood as the underlying cause of global warming.

        No question that we should take the lead here, but if US emissions were zero, the global warming would likely continue.  That said, we need to wean ourselves from problematic energy sources. which will come only at a huge cost.  The so-called ideal solution, as others have said, has to be electric- but that will only happen when new battery technology, as yet undiscovered, is developed.  As for generation, solar and wind power as we now know them are hopelessly insufficient to meet our needs.

        Large scale hydro looks viable, but limited by NIMBYs who don’t want to have to look at those “ugly” transmission lines.  Fracked natural gas is probably the best interim solution while we work on the hurdles posed by electric, but again, no one wants any of those nasty pipelines.

        The global warming train has left the station.  The inexorable forces involved dwarf human efforts to stop them, with the possible exception of 99.9% world co-operation- not very realistic.  Anyone reading this will not be here when the fat lady sings.

        Linux Mint Mate 19.2

        • #2190216 Reply
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Slowpoke47: I am something of a NIMBY about certain things (having a jail being built where it will become my next-door neighbor, for example — just a hypothetical example.) But hydro has a record of being bad for us. I would not go as far as proposing to get rid of it in a hurry, keeping it as a stop-gap measure, same as nuclear, and instead having it replaced by more CO2 spewing fossil fuels, as it is actually happening with the shutting down of nuclear stations.

          Further, my interest is in getting people to comment on the use of nuclear in the peculiar form explained in that article I provided a link in my statement when I begun this thread, which is not the usual type of nuclear generation others have already commented about here.

          The biggest hope lies with renewables that can allow us to keep having an industrial civilization that has, among other good things, made possible the abolition of slavery by making it uneconomical (with steam, the internal combustion, and now also electrical motors replacing muscle power) while respecting the cycles of Nature, the carbon one in particular, central to question at hand. The reason to hope for this is that the price of the “renewable” kilowatt-hour has been falling steadily and it is beginning to be competitive with those of other main sources of energy, while continuing to come down. The problems with the renewables we now have in place have been mentioned and their practical solutions still are, as far as I know, open questions. But many engineers and scientists are working hard at finding them.

          The good thing about looking into this and other solutions and discussing them, is that by doing so we can also help, in some small measure, to “keep hope alive”. And, with such hope alive and kicking, we might still be able to unnerve ourselves, and push our politicians, to act in order to make the necessary efforts and sacrifices to pull through before the water rises above our heads, in some cases literally (where I live, on the Eastern seaboard of the USA, facing the Atlantic ocean, the sea level is rising and expected to continue to rise faster than almost anywhere else in the world — not just locally, but also faster than than the global average.)

          https://e360.yale.edu/features/flooding-hot-spots-why-seas-are-rising-faster-on-the-u.s.-east-coast

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

      • #2190269 Reply
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Maybe it’s not so, but I get the impression that some people might think that I am a proponent of the continuing use of nuclear energy as it is produced today: I am not. Could it be I feel this way because others have commented here only about existing nuclear power stations and their well-known many issues, in what might be seen, incorrectly, as a response to my own comments?

        To understand my own position, I refer those who might be interested to know what it is to the initial comment I started this thread with and, in particular, to the article I pasted the link there and is what I actually wanted to discuss here. Is the idea explained in that article a good idea? Good enough to include in the mix of stop gap and permanent ways to generate energy without continuing to make the CO2 situation gradually worse, but rather start to move it in the opposite direction, something for which time is growing shorter even as I write this? And if it is, or it is not, a good idea, why is that?

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

        • #2190288 Reply
          Elly
          AskWoody MVP

          The NY Times article requires registering (free), and I just don’t register… so I can’t see what it is about.

          The number of things that one can do to minimize one’s own foot print are many… varied… and many people are not relying on countries or their states to mandate those reforms… and people so motivated are already doing so.

          Nuclear energy is not a viable alternative because the consequences are so devastating and long lasting when there is a problem…

          One thing we should be doing is keeping older computers, tablets, and cell phones alive and working, and circumventing premature EOL. E-waste contributes to environmental problems. So, whether it there are social motivations for having the newest and best, or companies profiting from churning developments that make hardware obsolete, resistance to right to repair, or hardware designed to fail, we should be evaluating the ‘costs’ to our great-grand children when making consumer decisions.

          Whole house solar systems are out of my reach… but I have utilized portable solar panels, starting with those suitable for clipping on a back pack or purse, for cell phone and battery charging… they are quiet, and when sized properly for a particular application, work very well. They even work to keep a medical device, I must use, going.

          In California and other areas, power companies have lobbied to put limits on how big a solar power system can be put on a house… not because there is a problem producing more energy, but because they want to protect their established (on fossil fuels) profit system. Be aware of corporate lobbyists and make sure you let your elected representatives know that you want real changes that protect consumers and the environment.

          On Earth Day, no matter what you do at other times of the year, plant a tree…

          Insulating your house can really decrease power needed for heating and cooling. Renting? Use insulating curtains. Landscape to work with nature, maximize rain water… and I have always had food plants and herbs rather than purely decorative gardens. Compost, even for a window garden. Eat food from local farmers, in season, to decrease transportation footprint. Plan your shopping to avoid extra unnecessary trips. Repair and continue to use items. Re-purpose items. Recycle. Be aware of what your choices are, and choose wisely.

          Nuclear power was pushed with the promise that there will be storage solutions. When there are any (unlikely) storage solutions… earthquakes, terrorism, storms, or other risks are adequately mitigated… well, then, that might be the time to consider nuclear options. Up until now they are a temporary ‘solution’ that causes long term problems. The damage is so extensive and uncontrollable that ‘nuclear’ should never be promoted as an option, so corporations can profit, and leave others to pay for the damage and clean up. Some damage cannot be fixed, including that from unseen nuclear fallout that triggers, not just localized deaths, but birth defects and cancers. It would be one thing if only the greedy people pushing it would be affected… but they aren’t… we are… our global community is…

          By the way, deserts aren’t wastelands to dump more waste in, but adapted ecosystems, where the plants, animals, land, weather, humans, etc., are all balanced to function together. If you don’t want it in your back yard, it is probably something that shouldn’t be happening in the back yards of those ‘others’… not anywhere in the world!

          Non-techy Win 10 Pro and Linux Mint experimenter

          • #2190300 Reply
            OscarCP
            AskWoody Plus

            I do not subscribe to the NYT but can read the article just fine, so I saw no problems putting a link to it in my original comment, To read it now, look on the right side of the notice that pops up at the bottom of the page, for a small arrow shaped like this: “\/” pointing down and click on that. The pop up will slide down and out of sight. Then the article can be read without problems.

            And yes, the issue of nuclear waste that will remain radioactive for a very long time,  beyond the life span of all those persons and government organizations that had something to do with putting the waste wherever it is finally stored. Because it must be stored safely somewhere, as it cannot absolutely be left in rotting containers, as is largely the case right now, from where they are going eventually to leak into the surrounding environment, including the aquifers that provide drinking, washing and irrigation water, giving these wastes the potential to make whole regions uninhabitable and cause untold human harm and suffering.

            It is a common misconception that storing those wastes almost for eternity is the same as just dumping then all over the place: it is not. Various possibilities have been studied and tested, involving underground caverns: existing natural ones, made by tunneling into bedrock, or something in between, to seal them permanently and preventing the contamination of the area surrounding the caves. Not an easy problem to solve, but there is no reason to believe that is an impossible one to solve either. NIMBY attitudes are not of great help in this. Eventually, if the situation comes to a dangerous impasse for lack of alternatives that might please the NIMBY crowd, this will be done, even at gunpoint, if history’s both distant and recent teachings are of any value in guessing the future. But I very much hope that reason will break out first, so it will never come to that.

            Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

      • #2190334 Reply
        Elly
        AskWoody MVP

        FireShot-Capture-53-Why-‘Green’-Ge__-https___www.nytimes.com_2018_10_10

        No little arrow…

        I support news sources that I regularly reference by subscribing.

        It is highly unlikely that decommissioned plants or nuclear waste can be stored safely for generations, even though highly studied. The longer we have studied earthquakes, the more obvious it becomes that they are going to happen… even in places that were once thought not to be as seismically active. Caverns are created by water flow… thus how aquifers are contaminated. If an aquifer is contaminated, the water from it can poison the dirt, plants, animals, and us…

        It is quite enlightening to see the air quality change over China during their quarantine, because there is usually wholesale disregard for NIMBY in that country… and the people, as individuals suffer and pay for it. Too often, the interests of a select few, are put ahead of the welfare of people as a whole… and that happens in the US, and across the world. A real ‘solution’ is not likely to be one proprietary, profit making thing like nuclear power, but much more likely to be many layered, and include the things that each of us is already empowered to do, choices that we make on a daily basis. What if we continue to seek out ‘micro’ inventions that improve our quality of life, the beauty and security of our homes, improve air quality, cost less money, etc. What if we don’t support clear cutting forests, industries that mine destructively, companies that make repairing their products difficult, software updates that end the useful life of hardware, fake competition that thrives on slave labor elsewhere, etc? Those might seriously be more effective than adding nuclear power, even disregarding its side effects.

        What if, all those years ago, the people like me had been listened to, when we tried to prevent nuclear power plants from being established in the first place? Remember those sign carrying protesters? Fukushima never would have devastated Japan… Chernobyl wouldn’t have devastated Russia… and all the other disasters  wouldn’t have happened… and so many people wouldn’t have suffered… and people on both coasts of the US would not remain at risk for generations to come… I would have rather been proven wrong, than right… but don’t be confused by the facts.

        We’ve barely begun to integrate safe, renewable alternate energies into our homes and communities… why try to impose something so very risky, with known long term dangers? Not in my back yard… and since I don’t want it, I don’t want to be imposing it into some one else’s back yard, either.

         

        Non-techy Win 10 Pro and Linux Mint experimenter

        Attachments:
      • #2190337 Reply
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Elly, As soon as you click on the brown link in my comment and the NYT page of the article opens, you should see the same thing as I do, as  am not a subscriber of the NYT but plain Joe Doe to it. And what I see is in the attached picture. If you look at the message that pops up at the bottom of the page soon after one gets to it, you will see, on the top right the legend “Collapse” with the little arrow next to it. Just click on that arrow and ignore the”Read Now” sign somewhere lower down. That “Read Now” link gets one to another page, the one you  found yourself in, where one is told to “log in” etc., as shown in the picture you pasted to your previous comment. Don’t go there.

        Screen-Shot-2020-03-13-at-2.27.02-AM

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

        Attachments:
      • #2190469 Reply
        Elly
        AskWoody MVP

        @OscarCP-

        I don’t ever get that little arrow… might be browser. Are you sure you haven’t registered for free access?

        But- I did find a discussion of small scale nuclear reactors in an article by the BBC, published this month. It gives history, current research, costs, and risks.

        Notably, one company doing the development estimates an artificial 6.5 cent-per-kilowatt-hour cap, while renewable sources are at 2 cents-per-kilowatt hour, right now.

        The ‘risks’ are mitigated by smaller size, and a new kind of cooling system… but there is no fix for the long term nuclear waste disposal problem. If anyone developed ways of somehow transforming nuclear elements into something inert, quickly… now those people could make a fortune! But until that happens… not an option. Because there are a lot of advances in nuclear medicine, valuable, life-saving advances- the long term storage of waste remains an issue, and should be a focus of research.

        The companies working on development see these spread over less developed countries that do not have a well developed grid system… and unstable politics.

        It is one thing to research nuclear power… it is another to push known additional problems to less developed countries. Given the political problems that come with just cellular and on-line access being used to control and manipulate populations, I’d envision development that puts power in the hands of individuals and families, not something that requires generations of vigilance to keep its by-product from causing harm. If a government provides a grid to increase resilience to power failures, it would be an addition to already available generators that use renewable power, that really put power in the hands of individuals, families, and communities.

        In California, a state that has actively supported and legislated renewable development, all new housing is required to be built with solar power. Whatever we, as humans, do, will have unforeseen consequences. Wind power has endangered local and migrating birds. The massive solar plants in the desert also kill birds that fly over… but at this point, birds and other pollinators don’t seem endangered by smaller home systems. The biggest problem seems to be that many systems are grid dependent, without a local battery storage system, so that when the grid goes down (now to prevent forest fires), the homes are just as out of power as those depending upon the utility companies without solar power. Further battery development would be both viable and desirable. Put the power in the the hands of people, not companies.

        Non-techy Win 10 Pro and Linux Mint experimenter

      • #2190489 Reply
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Elly, I am using Waterfox as my default browser and have been using it for the last two weeks on a Mac. I can’t think of any reason why I am getting a different picture when I open that NYT page. Usually the NYT rises its paywall, so to speak, as soon as I click on the link to one of its articles, so I cannot read it. It does not look like I’m somehow enabled to see its articles.

        Now, to your latest comment:, you are quite right, but the discussion I would like to have is one about stop-gap measures that might include novel approaches to nuclear power electrical generation. Any such measure will, indeed, increase the amount of nuclear waste to be safely stored, and public attitudes are not helpful and need to be overcome, because there is absolutely no alternative to the storing safely that waste, which is not safely stored at present, on the contrary, it is dangerously stored and a danger to everyone. The NYT article and the other one I included in my original posting, show clearly that shutting down nuclear stations in response to fears of the public (and voters) has made worse the much more important problem of ramping CO2 percentage in the atmosphere that may pose a potential existential danger to much of life on Earth, even human. Nuclear power has nasty consequences, but at present, even with its continuation for another decade or so, preferably with novel, less waste generating, but even if that is not possible, to gain precious time until we become a civilization fully powered by renewables, using also nuclear power generation is not going to present an existential threat to much of Earth’s life, not even close.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

        • #2190503 Reply
          Elly
          AskWoody MVP

          I am discussing the viability of the small modular nuclear generators as a stop gap.

          They aren’t viable. Even stop gap measures shouldn’t cause greater long term dangers/problems.

          There is no safe long term storage for nuclear waste. The ‘plans’ to contain it have been demonstrated to be inadequate. It isn’t a matter of “public attitudes are not helpful and need to be overcome”. It was because such attitudes were overcome that decommissioned nuclear plants will remain a danger for years to come. Nuclear plants are decommissioned because they have aged out and no longer suitable for continued energy production, not because of public attitude… and there are no better storage alternatives than when public attitudes were overcome and they were initially built. Having more, scattered more widely, because their individual danger areas are smaller, still doesn’t balance out that the danger is deadly, or cause birth defects and cancers, and lasts far beyond our ability to control the safety of remaining wastes. That is very much a description of wanting to continue to minimize and hide the true, long term costs of nuclear energy, concentrating the control of power with corporations and/or governments, instead of focusing on currently realistic and viable alternatives.

          I don’t understand why you would denounce me, and the ‘public’ for utilizing and supporting safer, renewable resources, and feel that there is a need to ‘overcome’ my perceptions of nuclear energy, which are fact based. If anything, people need increased awareness of how interconnected we are, and how our choices affect us personally, and all of us, globally.

          Non-techy Win 10 Pro and Linux Mint experimenter

      • #2190500 Reply
        Microfix
        AskWoody MVP

        Disposing of the spent nuclear materials IS the main problem IMO. Send it on a trajectory to the sun via rocket payload? after all, the cost of the third planet from the sun far outweighs any financial cost for future generations and human longevity. Nuclear is the most efficient source of energy without a doubt. Nuclear immediately counjoured up two names Pripyat and Fukushima.

        Pripyat

        Although after all these years after the chernobyl disaster, 2km away in Pripyat, nature is reclaiming the soviet 1970 pupose built powerplant town.

        Hydro, Solar, Windfarms, Biomass, Wave Power cost far less for the planet.

        Win7 Pro x86/x64 | Win8.1 Pro x64 | Linux Hybrids x86/x64 |
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      • #2190557 Reply
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        I am going to explain something once more and then, whether it works or not, I am done repeating this:

        I am speaking of drastic changes motivated by popular fears and governments measures taken in response to those fears that have had seriously bad unintended, but easily predictable, consequences.  Consequences such as a large-scale increase in CO2 emissions, as a result of relying on fossil-fuel burning power stations as a default stop-gap measure until the day all the main, large-scale power sources are renewable — when what is most urgently needed, as far as stop-gap measures go, is the exact opposite. The only way to keep this from getting worse, in the short term, is to continue using and, if possible, improving the least CO2 emitting means available: hydro and nuclear, while shutting down the worst offenders: fuel-burning power stations. Not doing the exact opposite, as has been the case in Germany and Japan, with the predictable increase in CO2 emissions from those two countries.

        Are hydro and nuclear really good as stop-gap solutions? No, they are not: they are merely better than using coal- and oil-burning power stations as stop-gap solutions. Why is that? Because, in my opinion, halting and, if possible, reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by using all means readily available, right now, for doing that, trumps everything else

        Anybody that disagrees with the previous statement is welcome to write to show why it is wrong, providing reliable sources to back up such argument.

        That does not mean building more conventional nuclear plants, something that even if it solved anything, will take a decade or more to get done, so it is, therefore, irrelevant in the context of curbing and then reversing the so far steady and dangerous increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. I don’t deal here with the obviously impossible, so that is not what I am arguing about or would like to see discussed. But people can post anything they like here; I respect that, but I reserve myself the right to criticize what they write.

        But a hard fact,  often mentioned, among others, by activist Greta Thunberg, is that there is a definite amount of how much more fossil fuels can be burned before the resulting CO2 emissions superates the catastrophic concentration that will cause the polar caps to melt to a great extent and the oceans to rise by possibly tens of meters within a century or so, with large regions, particularly in the tropics, becoming very hot deserts where nobody can live permanently in them and no crops can be grown.

        Elly has written that I am denouncing her for supporting safe renewable resources and that I have  stated that she should overcome her reluctance to accept nuclear power as a valid option — presumably for the indefinite feature — but I have not stated any of that. Those are strong words of criticism directed at me, and they are not correct. I would really appreciate it, if everyone took the time to think carefully before writing such things.

        In terms of the subject at hand, she and others have made some strong statements without corroborating evidence, for example, that there is no safe way to store nuclear waste, period. This is quite true at present — although efforts to find a safe way by testing some reasonable, but as yet unproven ideas have been deterred, because this is an unpopular subject with many people, that also vote, and have an unshakeable NIMBY attitude towards the proper, scientific testing of such ideas in the vague expanse they refer to as “my backyard”.

        But that does not mean that storing nuclear waste is impossible and we just have to live with leaving it where it is, improperly kept in cooling pools inside barrels that are corroding and becoming prone to dangerous leaks, as I have already explained more than once here. Besides the obvious dangers this situation represents, if “keeping an eye on them”, as at present, is the best we can hope for, then who will keep an eye of them for thousands of years? Blanket statements, made without offering credible corroborating evidence, leave out the real issues and shut the door on having a reasonable discussion of them.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

      • #2190604 Reply
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Elly and perhaps others have had difficulty reading a NYT article to which I have put a link in my original comment, when I started this thread to discuss interim, stop-gap measures using non-renewables, perhaps in a somewhat improved form, such as the small nuclear reactors being proposed by a company that is now testing their concept of how this could be done. The NYT article is about what has happened as a consequence of the German government closing down nuclear power stations and replacing them with electrical power from fossil-fuel burning stations, greatly increasing the CO2 release in this country. A similar situation is that in Japan, where nuclear power stations were shut down following Fukushima.

        I have made a PDF file and I am attaching it here. Only the text has made it into this PDF, not the photographs in the article. But the text is the main thing, I suppose.

        Why-‘Green’-Germany-Remains-Addicted-to-Coal-The-New-York-Times

        In the same original comment I have pasted the links to an article in the English-language periodic “The Japan’s Time”, on the situation created there for similar reasons to those in Germany. Also linked there is a BBC article on the idea of small nuclear reactors, their pros and cons.

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      • #2190709 Reply
        Slowpoke47
        AskWoody Plus

        (where I live, on the Eastern seaboard of the USA, facing the Atlantic ocean, the sea level is rising and expected to continue to rise faster than almost anywhere else in the world — not just locally, but also faster than than the global average.)

        I guess that makes us “neighbors” as coastal RI is where I call home.  From my reading, the greenhouse effect has been underway since the Industrial Revolution and has continued unrecognized until relatively recently.  That means humanity has to play catch-up and even if the world went completely dark today, the phenomenon would not halt, never mind reverse, short-term.

        Of course, going dark voluntarily is not going to happen, and there is precious little action on the part of world leaders to mitigate the causes.  Not only would it be political suicide, but any large-scale countermeasures will be unimaginably expensive.

        The problem with any form of nuclear is waste handling.  Even if we conquer the technological hurdles to building new designs, the waste issue is still with us.  I have to stand by my previous comments- as of today there is no palatable way forward that retains a semblance of life as we know it.

        Linux Mint Mate 19.2

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      • #2190722 Reply
        wavy
        AskWoody Plus

        Thorium reactors are a viable (lets say interim ) solution.
        Wikipedia has a good article:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium-based_nuclear_power#Types_of_thorium-based_reactors

        And from that:

        There is much less nuclear waste—up to two orders of magnitude less, state Moir and Teller,[3] eliminating the need for large-scale or long-term storage;[13]:13 “Chinese scientists claim that hazardous waste will be a thousand times less than with uranium.”[22] The radioactivity of the resulting waste also drops down to safe levels after just a one or a few hundred years, compared to tens of thousands of years needed for current nuclear waste to cool off.[23]

        and

        Thorium fuel cycle is a potential way to produce long term nuclear energy with low radio-toxicity waste. In addition, the transition to thorium could be done through the incineration of weapons grade plutonium (WPu) or civilian plutonium.[24]

        and

        Thorium fuel cycle is a potential way to produce long term nuclear energy with low radio-toxicity waste. In addition, the transition to thorium could be done through the incineration of weapons grade plutonium (WPu) or civilian plutonium”

        and

        Comparing the amount of thorium needed with coal, Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia of CERN, (European Organization for Nuclear Research), estimates that one ton of thorium can produce as much energy as 200 tons of uranium, or 3,500,000 tons of coal.[18]”

        and

        Liquid fluoride thorium reactors are designed to be meltdown proof. A plug at the bottom of the reactor melts in the event of a power failure or if temperatures exceed a set limit, draining the fuel into an underground tank for safe storage.[25]

        BTW could it be the ABP that allows one to visit the NYT site?
        PS NoScript will work as well.

        🍻

        Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
        • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by wavy.
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      • #2190740 Reply
        Slowpoke47
        AskWoody Plus

        Thorium reactors are a viable (lets say interim ) solution.

        Interesting- is this theoretical, or are any in operation?

        Linux Mint Mate 19.2

        • #2190786 Reply
          wavy
          AskWoody Plus

          Interesting- is this theoretical, or are any in operation?

          India’s government is also developing up to 62, mostly thorium reactors, which it expects to be operational by 2025. It is the “only country in the world with a detailed, funded, government-approved plan” to focus on thorium-based nuclear power. The country currently gets under 2% of its electricity from nuclear power, with the rest coming from coal (60%), hydroelectricity (16%), other renewable sources (12%) and natural gas (9%).[50] It expects to produce around 25% of its electricity from nuclear power.[13]

          Note though that there are more than one type of these reactors and all may not have the same set of benefits or cons.

          If I could snap my fingers and make us a green, locally self sustained world with the same amazing tech we have now… But the magic in my fingers is only imaginary as is a nuclear free world this century w/o an apocalypse preceding it. I have no inclination to go stone age in my life time.

          🍻

          Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
      • #2190773 Reply
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        The Yale University article in the OP does not list any small scale nuclear reactors in commercial production (not state sponsored), but it does have a list of those abandoned by their commercial backers because they are not commercially viable.

        cheers, Paul

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      • #2190803 Reply
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        There are different ideas about different types of nuclear reactors that I have come across over the years, and the one’s that use thorium as fuel have been off and on in the news during those years, mainly in articles about them in publications such as Scientific American and New Scientist that I been reading for decades. They have their pros and cons, as the Wikipedia article linked by Wavy explains.

        More to the point, the thorium reactors have had a hard time being developed commercially, because they are not a good fit for existing water-cooled reactors, the main type used in nuclear power stations. Those are the big, very expensive, slow to build, heavily regulated and prone to spectacular failures that have become ingrained in public consciousness and, following the Fukushima disaster in Japan (caused by a massive off-shore earthquake and subsequent giant tsunami that flooded the power station and disabled its reactors’ cooling systems; question: why was the station built by the seaside? Answer: to bring the fuel by sea and avoid the messy opposition from people not happy to have the nuclear fuel being carried through their roads and streets) which prompted some hasty and not very wise government decisions in countries such as those mentioned in the two articles I linked in my original comment, that were, in short: to switch from nuclear, to nasty particulate emitting, (including those loaded with poisonous heavy metals) and CO2-spewing fossil-fuel power stations.

        Does this means nuclear is a great way to generate electricity? No, but it is — with hydro — all we have that does not spew CO2 and makes a climate catastrophe a more likely outcome. How about nuclear waste? It’s nasty stuff, but, unfortunately, we don’t have here a choice between angels or devils, but between the less nasty of the devils. No angels, as yet. Sorry.

        Renewables are coming, and surprisingly fast, the electricity produced with them becoming competitive with coal and oil, not too far from natural gas, but they are still not sufficiently deployed to replace most of the energy used by our power hungry civilization, nor will be, because this must take a considerable length of time to happen, given the huge scale of the substitution, perhaps for another decade or even longer. Consume less, civilization! I tell you! — to speed things up? Absolutely; but nothing good can be achieved by quickly flicking off the switch on something already working and not spewing CO2 and replacing it with its opposite, because, for the time being, we still need very much the energy they produced, and we have to continue to get it, right now, by all means necessary. And that is the poser and puzzle our civilization is confronting, and we along with it.

        But what about small thorium reactors? How about small nuclear reactors of other kinds?

        The USA, France, the UK, China and Russia all have nuclear-powered submarines and surface vessels, with small nuclear reactors (obviously) providing the energy necessary to run and propel the vessels –and their crews are not growing hands in their foreheads, or some other interesting anomalies (unless they are and that is a closely kept military secret.)

        One very good thing about thorium reactors, big or small, is that they do not breed plutonium, or much fissile Uranium 233 in a readily usable form, both of which can be used to make nuclear bombs. Of which we already have plenty, thank you very much  (and what is the time now, by the Atomic Scientist’s clock?)

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

        • #2190825 Reply
          wavy
          AskWoody Plus

          More to the point, the thorium reactors have had a hard time being developed commercially, because they are not a good fit for existing water-cooled reactors, the main type used in nuclear power stations. Those are the big, very expensive, slow to build, heavily regulated and prone to spectacular failures that have become ingrained in public consciousness and,

          Not so Thorium reactors. Big , expensive yes, heavily regulated; well would not small ones be also? I actually do think there is a place for the small ones but Elly’s objection do have credence and should of course be taken under due consideration.

          🍻

          Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
          • #2190858 Reply
            OscarCP
            AskWoody Plus

            Wavy: “Not so Thorium reactors. Big , expensive yes, heavily regulated; well would not small ones be also?

            I was considering that power stations with small reactors will not be nearly as expensive and slow to build as big ones (as pointed out on the “plus” side in the BBC article), and regulations could be more flexible, depending on where they are going to be sited, than big ones, with their, I would expect, much greater potential than small ones for large-scale catastrophic failures that put at serious risk thousandths and force many of them to evacuate, leaving their homes and places of business for years, perhaps never to return. Or in extreme cases such as Chernobyl, create health hazards of global proportions.

            Consider my example (repeated by anonymous #2190814 ) of naval vessels and submarines nuclear power plants, largely without serious problems (that we know of) at least after, in some cases, an accident-prone initial stage of deployment. But those reactors are uranium- or plutonium-powered, so have the problems inherent to such nuclear fuels; problems that, supposedly, thorium-powered ones, for example, don’t have, or have in lesser measure.

            Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

            • #2190999 Reply
              wavy
              AskWoody Plus

              It is a bit of a trade-off big vs small. Small less damage from one mishap, more reactors more point of failure. More points to secure with more facilities, although there may of course be several small ones at one facility.

              As to use in naval vessels, they are not in the middle of civilization as much as in the middle of the sea and operate under a whole different risk/reward scenario. The operators are both highly trained and DISCIPLINED.

              I am keeping an eye on NuScale they are saying they hope to deploy one in 4 years.

              🍻

              Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
              • #2191092 Reply
                OscarCP
                AskWoody Plus

                Wavy: “More points to secure with more facilities, although there may of course be several small ones at one facility. ”

                Quite true, but they could be installed in isolated places where at least they do not present a menace to nearby human populations, something unacceptable, smaller as this danger might be than the one posed by large sets of big reactors, such as those of the Fukushima power station. Particularly, as in that case, when installed in populated areas where, when things go really bad, the surrounding towns and villages can be turned practically overnight into ghost towns.

                And, before someone jumps at me, both feet first, for defending the destruction of the natural environment of isolated places and killing off the nice fluffy things living in them, or whatever: I am trying to keep a friendly and, I would hope, also instructive dialog going here, by presenting contrary arguments, on the notion that the sparks from the friction of ideas might illuminate things that are too dark for us to understand at the moment, or even realize they are there.

                Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

      • #2190814 Reply
        anonymous
        Guest

        This is not a new solution that I offer, but for the benefit of investigating all options new and old, in the realm off small, modular and portable. Consider the nuclear navies. For several generations, these mobile platforms have supplied steam power directly to drive train, like the old coal boilers, as well as small turbine generators for electrical power.

        Lacking the clearance to know details, I presume various navies have been involved in redesigning for efficiency and reduced physical size over the decades as this gives immediate benefits to ship design and performance. Whether they have made advances in spent fuel and other waste disposal may also be difficult to learn. I only wanted to mention another extant use of nuclear power that I had not yet seen here.

        Edited to add: Ooops, took too long to post. I now read Oscar discussing the naval platforms.

      • #2190884 Reply
        Elly
        AskWoody MVP

        No, but it is — with hydro — all we have that does not spew CO2 and makes a climate catastrophe a more likely outcome.

        Not true statement- but I can see that you want to discuss nuclear energy, rather than other rational options that have fewer negative impacts.

        Still, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of alternatives. From U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)

        Solar power is more affordable, accessible, and prevalent in the United States than ever before. Since 2008, U.S. installations have grown 35-fold to an estimated 62.5 gigawatts (GW) today. This is enough capacity to power the equivalent of 12 million average American homes1. Since the beginning of 2014, the average cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels has dropped nearly 50%

        Markets for solar energy are maturing rapidly around the country, and solar electricity is now economically-competitive with conventional energy sources in several states, including California, Hawaii, and Minnesota. Moreover, the solar industry is a proven incubator for job growth throughout the nation. Solar jobs have increased by nearly 160% since 2010, which is nine times the national average job growth rate in the last five years. There are more than 242,000 solar workers in the United States, with manufacturing being the second largest sector in the solar industry.

        PV panels on just 0.6% of the nation’s total land area could supply enough electricity to power the entire United States. PV can also be installed on rooftops with essentially no land use impacts.

        The really nice thing about having solar panels on your house, is you can configure them with battery back up, and continue powering your house at night even when the gird is down (important in areas where the utility company turns the power off in high wind/high fire risk times).

        People without the funds to do a whole house system can use a portable solar generator, take a look at ones rated at Climate Counts!

        If each of us, as individuals, decrease the need for big power plants, they won’t be spewing any kind of pollutants or damage the land and people. Much better solution that already has the technology available…

        For carbon reduction, also check out CO2 Concrete. They are removing CO2 that is dangerous, and fixing it in ways that are useful and long lasting.

        And… when all else fails… plant a tree!

        Non-techy Win 10 Pro and Linux Mint experimenter

      • #2190890 Reply
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        There are many things to discuss concerning the production of energy and global warming. Here I want to discuss what is in those articles I posted links with this very purpose in my original statement at the beginning of this thread. And why not? I thought they could be an interesting topic for discussion. One of many. Anyone who wishes to discuss some other ways of dealing with CO2 reductions, please, start a thread on that and I’ll be happy to comment on those topics there as well. I am not a one-track minded nuclear energy proponent, or even a nuclear energy proponent. I think that what the German and Japanese governments have done is very wrong. I also suspect that, perhaps, one might allow for the possibility that small nuclear reactors might be something better– as a stop gap measure until we can depend mostly or entirely on renewables — than fossil-fuel burning power stations. In any case, I expect people to mention other ways of doing this, as Wavy, for example, has already done. Will this work? Well, again, I am open to the possibility. That does not mean I absolutely in favor of it. There are good and not so good points about this idea of small reactors, and they are noted in the BBC article. But, please, don’t confuse an attempt to discuss one aspect of a problem as being the same holding a firm and fervent position on this one aspect. I am used to discussing all sort of things, in the best tradition of late nigh college bull sessions. Maybe others here are not familiar with the concept. And lastly, about these demands that I recognize the error of my ways in what others think I am maintaining, but I am not, well: I also think it is high time to move on.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

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        • #2190986 Reply
          Slowpoke47
          AskWoody Plus

          Fair enough. The first step is for more widespread recognition that we do not, like Peter Pan, live in Neverland, and need to get working on countermeasures.  I for one, believe nuclear does not these days get fair consideration.  But the whole climate change topic gets more lip service and hand wringing than useful action.

          Linux Mint Mate 19.2

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          • #2191022 Reply
            Jones55
            AskWoody Plus

            Hi all.. from the Netherlands here…

            I regret i dont have an option to use solarpanels on my rented apartment.There is space but the owners don’t allow it.We are in energie transition over here also and there will come a time when panels will be installed and sure that will increase the rent. By how much thats remains to be seen.Would have liked to be the owner of my own solar panels!
            A friend of mine who owns his house and is an electrician bought his own panels second hand.
            50 euro’s each, 250Wpeak the converter costs were arround 250 euro…he meassured..panels still producing 230wp nice!

            If i’d had the space ( not the difficult accessible roof) i would have started buying second-hand panels( 3 years old or less) already..takes about 4 years to return the invest.
            That’s the way to go if you dont have much to spend.

            I.ve allways been against nuclear power, Although in some cases it would have been better , as i look upon it now. Burning cole as many east european countries and many others still do which is even worse. The steal industry is still depending on cole to produce steal.

            Wet mining of cole also destroys the environment and communities.(like in brazil)
            …and Oil…crude Oil big tankers…Aviation..say no more.Whe are destroying our planet
            But hey that’s of topic and a long story..

            Since whe have to transit into using clean energie we should invest in solar and wind now! Hopefully the production of Hydrogen (H) will become far more efficient cause that’s the best way to store the Solar energie
            We are in the process (planning) off building large windmill parks in the north-see to produce H

            Nuclear fusion…still too far away..pitty

            Our goverment (N.A.M) was recently forced to lessen the production of gas in my province, because many many slight earthquakes (1 to 3.6 magntd) damaged thousends of homes in the countrie side.This only after years of protest. Even in my city Groningen i’ve felt 3 of them…
            Confidence in government over here is gone..Its all about econmic growth and nothing else.We are heading towards Us in that sense.

            Good to see some states take their own route energie wise.

            So if you got space…. and a little cash…take a leap and buy reasonable/good guality second hand panels and go! info on the web all over!

            Stay save and take care everyone.. this isn’t some regular flue!

            Edit: for content. No politics, please.

            • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by Jones55.
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      • #2191072 Reply
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Jones55: Thanks for this comment on the situation in your country, that I think is an example of how imperfect regulation and legislation that has not caught up with the reality of the CO2 problem nearly as much as it should have by now, make it possible for people like your landlord to stop you from doing something sensible and actually necessary, or else, whenever that person gets around to it, do it, but at your expense, as if it was your silly wish to use electricity from a renewable source the reason for your inconvenient request. This many will see as fair, but it is not what the times are calling for, so an old-style concept of “fair” is not a good enough reason to judge cases like yours.

        And when commenting on the undesirably continuing reliance of fossil-fuel burning power stations — and I might, once more add, although you didn’t go into that, made worse by of the precipitous and badly thought out shutting down of all nuclear stations in Germany and Japan — you are definitely on topic. To hold the opposite view, on the other hand: not so much.

        On the further on topic matter of small nuclear reactors, the BBC article I gave the link to in my original comment with which I started this tread, because I was, and still am, interested to know what people might make of it and seemed like an interesting topic for discussion that might contribute to calm and sanity by providing a break from thinking and discussing something else besides COVID-19 (which I am also all for and I have contribute more than a little bit to its discussion myself, so far), that BBC article, then, mentions their use for the extraction of H2 from H2O by electrolysis, a process that demands lots of electrical power if carried out in the large scale needed to fuel a hydrogen economy; the “rubbish produced by this procedure being the Oxygen released and forming stable O2, plain old diatomic molecular oxygen, which is so bad for us, you know? Besides nuclear waste, of course, which is bad. But thorium reactors might be better than the kind used in old-style, large power stations that use uranium or plutonium, because the radioactivity of the wastes from using thorium are much short-lived: 200 years to decay to background radiation levels (that we always have with us) versus 200,000 for uranium or plutonium “burning” ones. (Not to mention that is not likely to help with nuclear weapons proliferation or the making of yet more nuclear bombs by those nations that are already card-carrying members of the  “nuclear club”.) Not that either of these two decay times seems like a terribly good one to a mere mortal like myself. But, still, better than the CO2 spewing alternatives that are well underway to use up the remaining carbon that can be burned and released as CO2 in the atmosphere before we reach the fatal tipping point beyond which things are bound to become dreadfully bad — for centuries.

        Another application of those small reactors could be to use them to produce fresh, potable water from very abundant salt water from a nearby sea or ocean, in arid regions,  by distillation (rather than pumping “fossil” water from finite capacity aquifers). Although, besides nuclear waste, this produces a lot of salty mush that is not all that great either. But if needed, then safe ways to store such wastes in appropriately stable geological formations will have to be found and shall be — need is the mother of invention, and there is no known reason why this cannot be done, given the will to do it. So I don’t believe that to be impossible: just costly. But in dire times, money as the main consideration is not a great one to have foremost in mind when deciding how to proceed. Because, whatever is done in a sufficiently large scale to have the desired global effects, is going to cost. And how!

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        • #2191605 Reply
          Jones55
          AskWoody Plus

          OscarCP,
          “although you didn’t go into that, made worse by of the precipitous and badly thought out shutting down of all nuclear stations in Germany and Japan”
          Yes i agree on that.Shutting down the nuclear plants did’n help.Although Germany was fairly quick and ahead compared to the Netherlands, in starting a transition with solar power.Like always “the real” transition only speeds up when companies using those new technologies see opportunities to make money with it.We will get there some day if its not too late..
          The beauty of it is that we dont need nuclear power in the future if we fully go into wind and solar companied by perhaps thorium.Batteries to store energy still cause much pollution i red so H would be much better.There still a lot of loss turning H back to current, but the Technology will improve.
          If we all would manage to reduce our CO2 footprint all would be even better.I dont see that happen soon..In my own little way im trying to do just that..

          I will look into india thorium reactors later.Heard about thorium reactors years ago! (thorium salt) Thorium reactors, 200 years for decay is very acceptable and it could help complement a transition.

          A lot of underdeveloped countries want to take the path the developed countries took.Understandable..but it will take a big toll on earth and wildlife and eventually ourselves. Worldwide Co2 levels still are going UP!.We are in this together.

          So many space travellers and we got one spacecraft…

          Wil try to find info on the thorium reactors but i got a sense that if they were really viable a lot of info on that would have spread allready…

          Found a lot of problems still..corrosion due to salt..etc…
          who is closest to a working reactor?

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          • #2196192 Reply
            OscarCP
            AskWoody Plus

            Jones55, In case you missed it: Wavy has posted here, further “up” in this thread ( #2190722  ), a comment with a link to a Wikipedia page on Thorium reactors.

            Or you could get directly there by entering “thorium” in the search-topic field in the main page of Wikipedia, as I did.

            Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

      • #2199711 Reply
        Slowpoke47
        AskWoody Plus

        A not insignificant factor in dealing with the overriding issue of re-configuring our sources of power is that historically, humanity has not been especially interested in making sacrifices and incurring expenditures whose benefits will accrue to future generations.  Altruism may not be dead, but the supply is meager.

        And, another factor- there looks to be no solution that doesn’t involve the discovery of some as-yet unknown means of storing power.  Notice I said power, not electricity, because the batteries we know do not store electricity- they store chemical energy.  The greatest incentives to furthering this research are the prospect of renown and/or financial reward.  Thomas Edison, with hundreds of US patents, chose the latter.

        Linux Mint Mate 19.2

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      • #2199715 Reply
        anonymous
        Guest

        I am not sold on the idea that many small nuclear reactors will save the day until better alternatives are in place.

        There are better options available right now. Simply cut per capita consumption.

        Then over the mid to long-term, work toward reducing the global population and thus consumption of energy and agricultural products.

        Reduced demand – reduced emissions.

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      • #2241725 Reply

        Nukes and Solar…

        Although I rented an apartment at the time, I got special permission from my landlord in the mid 80’s to put up several solar panels on the roof of the building. Why?

        I was an “Emergency Communicator”; in this case an ARO (Amateur Radio Op), and was the last resort when everything else would fail in a disaster, i.e. landlines, cellphones, etc. (As a matter of fact, this is our Reason for Existing according to the FCC, who licenses us.) Ergo, I had the first completely fully-powered solar AR station in my city. (The club I belonged to got a donation of some National Science Foundation project panels when the study was over…and they passed them out to anyone who could use them.)

        The panels were a 2nd generation design that did not hold up well under the 6500 ft. mountain weather conditions they were put on…which is why we got them for free! After a while, they started to fail, but Generation 3’s design were terrific. I bought some of those.

        All the way fast forward to 2017, and I was still running off the sun, and with the same voltage controller I had lashed together from junk parts 30 years ago. The panels were fine.  Together with deep-cycle marine batts I could run 100w P.E.P. for at least four hours a day, and longer if I turned the power down.

        Hey, I was sold!

        Also, living in the “evacuation zone” of a nuke power station drove me to think of these things. (It was in the front of our phone books…”If you hear the sirens,…”

        Too bad that Fusion has turned out to be so slow…somewhere I have a 1978 General Atomics pamphlet that proudly states, “We expect to have fully functioning fusion reactors generating power economically by the year 2000.”

        <sigh> If only-run your town/city off a bathtub of sea water for a week, and with a fraction of the environmental damage…some designs would even be able to burn and neutralize fission plant waste. If only…

        Frankly, every roof in the Sun Belt should be covered with silicon. But the politics of Energy, and their cohorts and minions and lobbyists…. 🙁

        Win7 Pro SP1 64-bit ESU, Dell Latitude E6330, Intel CORE i5 "Ivy Bridge", Group "Patch List", Multiple Air-Gapped backup drives in different locations, "Don't check for updates-Full Manual Mode."
        --
        "Just because you're an engineer doesn't mean you're good at everything." -Anonymous

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      • #2241927 Reply
        tonyl
        AskWoody Lounger

        Nuclear fusion has, surprisingly, only been mentioned once here, and then only in passing. But the old joke (fusion power is only twenty years away, and always will be) isn’t being bandied about any more.

        I once had a contact at JET here in the UK (I was involved in supplying their hydrogen, and visited the site many times), and I’ve kept up my fascination in the industry. Development is continuing at pace, and I wouldn’t be too eager to dismiss it out of hand. I’m quite convinced that our children will think fusion power is the norm. We’re getting there.

        • #2242136 Reply
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Tonyl, Certainly one should not dismiss nuclear fusion. Although fusion is not going to be entirely free from radioactive waste, it is expected to be confined mostly to the elements of the reactor itself turning radioactive and producing waste in need of safe and permanent storage only when removing parts to be replaced during repairs or when dismantling them after they are retired. So these will amount to a tiny fraction of the very-long lasting radioactive waste generated, over its many decades of continuous operation, by present day nuclear fission reactors used in big power stations. So disposal will be a much simpler and less controversial issue

          However, fusion, although some day might well be the world’s major form of generating electricity, as many hope, is not a solution for the pressing problems we are having right now.

          One of those problems, right now, is that practically all the nuclear fission power stations have been closed very quicly by their governments in Japan and in Germany, where they had been used to provide a large percentage of the electrical power needed in those countries. Because the energy those stations used to generate cannot be done without, they have been replaced with fossil-fuel burning power stations and the consequent burning of brown coal in Germany, the dirtiest kind of fossil fuel now in use, because that country has it in abundance. Nuclear fusion cannot solve this, right now, and other sources of clean energy can’t either. Not because, in the latter case, the necessary practical and well tested and understood technology is not yet available, but because to replace nuclear power their necessary generating capacity is going to take a considerable time to be built.

          So the effective thing to do now is to work harder at building those clean alternatives to the point where they can begin both to replace the nuclear-generated power with theirs and to make possible start shutting down the nuclear stations for good.

          I am interested in small nuclear fission reactors as a possible energy source, for applications such as desalinating water, that do not have to be carried out near cities but in remote places along the coast of brackish lakes and seas. Or to generate power to propel probes and, eventually, spaceships to other planets.These novel uses might be powered by a different type of nuclear reaction that produces less radioactive waste that is also shorter-lived than that from the use of uranium or plutonium and does not present a nuclear proliferation risk, unlike breeder reactor.

          Wavy made a comment on those fueled with thorium, further up in this thread, followed by a few interesting others in reply.

          For those small, possibly alternative types, is still early days. Whether they proof out, are accepted by the general public, and what, if any, real needs they’ll be able to fulfill, are all open questions to which I hope we get to hear some more possible answers.

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

          • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by OscarCP.
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          • #2242165 Reply
            tonyl
            AskWoody Lounger

            Actually, there’s no nuclear waste. The reactor vessel is bombarded by neutrons, and that wears it out. It needs replacing after a few years and kept underground for a hundred years, after which time it’s safe to handle again, and can be recycled into a new vessel, and can be re-used. Compare that to what you get from a fission plant. Typically, it would be about twenty (ish) tons of metal – one truck load.

            Later designs are using a new type of blanket (the material lining the inside of the vessel, and the part that gets hot and is used to heat the water) which is said to protect the outer metal, and they look interesting.

            Fact is, we’re learning all the time, and the rate at which we’re learning is rising exponentially. It makes Moore’s law look silly. Exciting times.

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            • #2242173 Reply
              OscarCP
              AskWoody Plus

              Tonyl: by “nuclear waste” in the case of a fusion reactor I meant the radioactive parts, damaged or otherwise, that have to be removed and replaced when necessary during maintenance, as wel as when the reactor is finally decommissioned and taken apart. The radioactive pieces then have to be put somewhere safe until they cease to be so. I was not aware the they take only a hundred years to become safe to reuse their materials and that these can be, in fact, recycled.

              My understanding was that the concrete, plastic and other materials used for lining the inside of, for example, a tokamak’s chamber, where the plasma to be fused is ignited at around one hundred million degrees Kelvin, were increasingly damaged by being subject to the impact these materials are designed to absorb of the neutrons released as a byproduct of the fusion reaction, accumulating over a number of years. And my belief was that it took a few centuries for their emissions to decay to safe levels. Which it still would be a lot less than the thousands of years or so for the radioactivity of nuclear waste from present day fission reactors to decay to completely safe natural background levels. So, if it only takes around one century for the waste to become safe and even reusable, so much the better.

              I am aware and have also followed with great interest the various projects for developing fusion power that are active or that were in the past and, sadly, have not been heard again for quite a while now. Some are being built in a grand scale: the international ITER and the UK’s JET. Others have been comparatively much smaller reactors based on different ideas, their inventors promising a relatively shorter time than either of those two to develop and test them successfully. Still waiting to hear. Do you know anything about these?

              Here are some examples, summed up in this recent article in IEEE Spectrum (the flagship publication of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers):

              https://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear/5-big-ideas-for-making-fusion-power-a-reality

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              • #2242380 Reply
                tonyl
                AskWoody Lounger

                Yes – though by no means an expert, I’ve read up on all of those and it’s the tokamak for me; it’s the most elegant, and I’m an Occam’s razor type of guy. But still, you never know…

                One development of the tokamak was where they’d been making it too accurate; the plasma mass wouldn’t stay stable and kept touching the sides, and it just sorta…fizzled out. They realised (with the help of a super-computer) that they needed to put in place a few irregularities so that the plasma just goes where it wants to. It worked and now they’re bumping the underside of the parity ceiling (that point on the graph where they get as much energy out as they put in).

                ITER is planned to be lit in 2025, though the present crisis just may have an effect on that. I think we’ll get there sooner.

              • #2242550 Reply
                OscarCP
                AskWoody Plus

                Yes, plasma instabilities are the bugbear of the various ways people are devising to obtain electrical power from nuclear fusion. Some of those are detailed in the IEEE article that I gave a link in a previous comment. Fortunately, as also pointed out there, the ongoing progress on computer hardware and software technologies and on the mathematical modelling of non-linear dynamic systems such as plasma clouds is making possible to simulate the behavior of the plasma inside a reactor in increasingly fine detail, and this, in turn, is advancing the scientific and engineering understanding necessary to build more effective ways of producing electrical energy from nuclear fusion.

                One interesting aspect of any electric power generator, including nuclear reactors, fusion ones in this discussion, is that, because they produce more power than they need to get in order to function, they can divert some of that excess power to keep themselves going. However, when they have to be started — either initially or again after they are shut down for any reason — they need to get power for that from somewhere else. This means that, if some of the electrical energy produced is, as a precaution, not coming from other nuclear fusion generators, then such generators will never be the only kind in use, but there will have to be others as well, even if only to the small extent needed to keep fusion ones going. Some day, perhaps years, perhaps decades from now, nuclear fusion might be the prevailing form of electrical power generation, but it is going to depend on other sources of energy to keep functioning also, not only other fusion power stations, but for other reasons, including redundancy, also from enough renewable sources that do not seriously pollute the water and the air; sources that, if they spew CO2, this is just one part of a cycle where the carbon goes back to where it came from or else is safely sequestered as part of the soil or of rocks, and never accumulates in the atmosphere.

                Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

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