Nuclear Energy yet again

QuizMaster

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I was reading LeDroit's rather poignant thread this morning, and I didn't want to derail it by picking up on his tangent about nuclear energy, so I thought a new thread was the thing to do.
If my elders and betters think this should be merged into an existing thread, so be it.

So anyway, LeDroit said:
No. Private Sector to build the Stations. The French nuclear power companies already showed interest in investing. We could be energy self sufficient and promote the design and even manufacture of electric cars.
Now I'm not one of those Greens that things nucler energy is a taboo subject, but still I'm very skeptical of it all the same, and I can't agree with LeDroit's post because:
(1) We would not be energy self-sufficient. Nuclear power stations need enriched uranium. This is a very expensive commodity which is only available from a small number of countries. We would be at their mercy regarding both price and supply.
Furthermore, enriched uranium is a product of uranium ore. This is a non-renewable mineral which will run out one day. That day will come even quicker if there is a new wave of nuclear power station building.
(2) These countries who are looking to invest: are they going to bear the real cost of nuclear energy? Well if they did,
(a) it would be a first, and
(b) they would make a loss.
The usual form is for the government to pick up the tab when it comes to disposal of nuclear waste.
 


johntrenchard

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You don't have to use uranium - you could use thorium which is 3 to 4 times more abundant

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium"]Thorium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia@@AMEPARAM@@/wiki/File:Cubic-face-centered.svg" class="image" title="Thorium has a face-centered cubic crystal structure"><img alt="Thorium has a face-centered cubic crystal structure" src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c9/Cubic-face-centered.svg/26px-Cubic-face-centered.svg.png"@@AMEPARAM@@commons/thumb/c/c9/Cubic-face-centered.svg/26px-Cubic-face-centered.svg.png[/ame]

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium_fuel_cycle"]Thorium fuel cycle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia@@AMEPARAM@@/wiki/File:Decay_chain(4n,Thorium_series).PNG" class="image"><img alt="" src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1c/Decay_chain%284n%2CThorium_series%29.PNG/300px-Decay_chain%284n%2CThorium_series%29.PNG"@@AMEPARAM@@commons/thumb/1/1c/Decay_chain%284n%2CThorium_series%29.PNG/300px-Decay_chain%284n%2CThorium_series%29.PNG[/ame]


The Indians currently have several test reactors as listed here:
Thorium fuel cycle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


It is speculated that Thorium reactors were dropped by the likes of the U.S. because they do not produce enough fissile material for the nuclear weapons industry - unlike uranium.
 

QuizMaster

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...It is speculated that Thorium reactors were dropped by the likes of the U.S. because they do not produce enough fissile material for the nuclear weapons industry - unlike uranium.
Well there's the problem.
Who will pay to dispose of nuclear waste if there is no profit in it (i.e. for weapons)?

And of course, abundant though it may be, it is still a non-renewable mineral that we don't have. An expansion of Thorium nuclear power stations will put paid to any previous estimate of how long the world's reserves will last, as well as putting up the price.
Then presumably we have the environmental cost of all that new thorium mining.
By the time you mine it and enrich it, how much net energy do you really have? Especially when you get down to mining it in difficult places, after the thorium peak.

Not meaning to knock the idea on the head, just putting it into a bit of perspective.
I'm no engineer, so I could be wrong about that. If it turns out the thorium is lying on the ground and hops into the trucks of its own accord, leaving nothing behind but butterfiles and sunflowers, I will stand corrected.
 

soubresauts

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... Then presumably we have the environmental cost of all that new thorium mining.
By the time you mine it and enrich it, how much net energy do you really have? Especially when you get down to mining it in difficult places, after the thorium peak.
Thorium reactors are pie-in-the-sky. I don't hear about any rush to mine thorium.

Uranium on the other hand... They even want to mine the Grand Canyon.

In western Europe (and most of us are in western Europe), reality has bitten the nuclear industry. The only nuclear reactors being built are the new French design, in Finland and in Flamanville, France. Both those projects are disasters -- delays, cost overruns, bad planning, bad organization, uncertainty about the future. And still no solution for the problem of nuclear waste.

And still we hear the oft-repeated myths about the French nuclear industray being safe and efficient... It's a disaster that has been hushed up. OK, not quite a Chernobyl disaster -- yet.

Apart from the nuclear waste (in every sense), the pro-nuke lobby always, always glosses over the full costs -- financial, environmental, health damage, energy, carbon emissions -- of uranium mining and uranium enrichment.
 

Squire Allworthy

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The time to go nuclear is when we work out the technical problems of using nuclear fusion.

In Ireland start with hydro of one sort or another. Simple proven technology with known costs and capable of being utilised at any scale.
 

cry freedom

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Looks like Sir Charles' countrymen are having second thoughts about banning nuclear power.

New nuclear policy voted through

They are so terrified of these highly dangerous plants that they have decided to extend the life of some of them until 2034???
They really must be sh1tting bricks.:rolleyes:
There is nothing like a good recession to embolden politicians to stand up to the fanatical Green liars and their disingenuous cohorts, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.
Anyone with a son or daughter unfortunate enough to get involved with that lot should immediately secure the services of a deprogrammer experienced in the field of religious cultism.
Nuclear power is all around you. It is burgeoning. It is successfully. Get used to the idea. We will have a nuclear power station in this country within 25 years.
There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come!
 

FrankSpeaks

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cry freedom said:
Looks like Sir Charles' countrymen are having second thoughts about banning nuclear power.

New nuclear policy voted through

They are so terrified of these highly dangerous plants that they have decided to extend the life of some of them until 2034???
They really must be sh1tting bricks.:rolleyes:
There is nothing like a good recession to embolden politicians to stand up to the fanatical Green liars and their disingenuous cohorts, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.
Anyone with a son or daughter unfortunate enough to get involved with that lot should immediately secure the services of a deprogrammer experienced in the field of religious cultism.
Nuclear power is all around you. It is burgeoning. It is successfully. Get used to the idea. We will have a nuclear power station in this country within 25 years.
There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come!
But what happens when I grow a third eye and an 11th finger? :)
 

Cato

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I wonder how far €50 billion spent on research would have got us with nuclear fusion? Imagine the return on that investment for the state, instead of the zombie banks. Oh well...
 

GreenIsGood

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I wonder how far €50 billion spent on research would have got us with nuclear fusion? Imagine the return on that investment for the state, instead of the zombie banks. Oh well...

irish banks will cost 80Bn+. the same morons in government plan to waste another 30Bn+ on wind turbines and related energy sprawl.

the global budget for confined plasma fusion research ITER over the next 10 years is 10Bn. that's combined spend US, Europe, Japan, Russia, India, China etc.

the lunatics are running the asylum. it is time for the staff to get control back.
 

cry freedom

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irish banks will cost 80Bn+. the same morons in government plan to waste another 30Bn+ on wind turbines and related energy sprawl.

the global budget for confined plasma fusion research ITER over the next 10 years is 10Bn. that's combined spend US, Europe, Japan, Russia, India, China etc.

the lunatics are running the asylum. it is time for the staff to get control back.
And fraction of that spent on research into Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor, [LFTR], [or "Lifter" to it's fans],technology would give us a very good interim form of energy to bridge the possible 50 year gap to commercial fusion.
If gallant little Ireland managed to pull that one off imagine the effect on our battered psyche.
 

H

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We could make ourselve energy independent by developing Nuclear power if we had a will to.

Of course uber sleaze bag Eamo' Ryan (Willie O'Dea's and the FFer's best friend for keeping them in power) refused two prospecting licences to two companies seeking to explore for uranium in Donegal circa 2007. There are also areas in Wicklow etc that are well worth prospecting for uranium. In many areas Irelands geological structure has all the ingredients for uranium deposits.

Being a typical fascist "green" who only wants to supports his friends in the renewable industry whilst hurting the poorest in society with stealth tax levies, I am not surprised by anything the sleazy idiot does,like the rest of the "greens" totally lacking in probity.

Uranium prospecting licences were granted previously in the 1970s and 1980s, when the rare ore was discovered in Donegal it is an opportunity to explore and exploit it now and help bring this country out of recession.

But of course Eamonn Ryan would rather help Shell in Mayo than do anything for the people of Ireland
 

Finbar10

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(1) We would not be energy self-sufficient. Nuclear power stations need enriched uranium. This is a very expensive commodity which is only available from a small number of countries. We would be at their mercy regarding both price and supply.
Furthermore, enriched uranium is a product of uranium ore. This is a non-renewable mineral which will run out one day. That day will come even quicker if there is a new wave of nuclear power station building.
Don't buy the "we'll quickly run out of uranium" argument. Uranium is a finite resource. But it won't run out after a few decades. The price of uranium is only a small component of the price of nuclear generated energy. Uranium could go up to 1000 dollars/kg and still have only a relatively minor effect on price. At the moment it's probably only really worth mining high grade uranium ore. Uranium reserves are normally quoted as those ores economically viable at 130 dollars/kg. It's true that at current rates of use for once through reactors these would be exhausted in 50-100 years. But as uranium prices rise beyond 130 dollars/kg viable reserves increase hugely, almost exponentially. At 500 dollars/kg there's probably 1000s of years worth of reserves. The Japanese have done some work on extraction of uranium from seawater. They claim this becomes viable at over 300 dollars/kg. And there's a vast amount in the oceans, billions rather than millions of tonnes. 10s of thousands of years or more rather than than 1000s if that is possible. Not practical or economically viable at this stage. But if uranium is expensive enough probably would be worth doing.
 

Finbar10

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Now I'm not one of those Greens that things nucler energy is a taboo subject, but still I'm very skeptical of it all the same, and I can't agree with LeDroit's post because:
(1) We would not be energy self-sufficient. Nuclear power stations need enriched uranium. This is a very expensive commodity which is only available from a small number of countries. We would be at their mercy regarding both price and supply.
Furthermore, enriched uranium is a product of uranium ore. This is a non-renewable mineral which will run out one day. That day will come even quicker if there is a new wave of nuclear power station building.
(2) These countries who are looking to invest: are they going to bear the real cost of nuclear energy? Well if they did,
(a) it would be a first, and
(b) they would make a loss.
The usual form is for the government to pick up the tab when it comes to disposal of nuclear waste.
I don't think there are any easy alternatives to fossil fuels.

In favour of nuclear, one does have to say that the French get 75%-80% of their electricity from nuclear and at a fairly low price in European terms. So something must work right. But they also have decades of experience and big economies of scale. We'd first probably spend years with planning permissions and court cases, then have to set up an expensive regulatory authority, and then build a secure containment facility after going through the headache of deciding where to put this. As for the plants, the easiest way would be to directly buy in French expertise and get them to build a few of their non-fancy non-cutting edge PWR plants. But I'd guess set up costs would be multiples of what they would be in France. Billions upon billions.

Renewables are the major alternative. Again maybe we can ramp this up to 30/40% of our electricity generation before the grid gets too unstable. We'll have to have the full complement of fossil fuel stations as backup in case the wind doesn't blow. Probably won't make our electricity any cheaper. Probably a good bit more expensive in fact. The only savings will be the fossil fuel saved when windpower or whatever takes over. But since it will roughly cost a similar price from windpower providers, with subsidies likely too, this is unlikely to actually make electricity any cheaper.

Standalone renewables would require massive storage capacity. Pumped hydrostorage at over 80% efficiency is about as good as it gets. But I can't see how we can use this at a large enough scale to become energy independent in terms of renewables. There are other energy storage technologies that might do the job. But most would have about 50% efficiency. So long term storage is possible but at the cost of over doubling the price of the electricity.

And nuclear and renewables together probably don't make a good fit. It makes a certain sense to ramp down fossil fuel stations when the wind is blowing, at least fuel is being saved. But ramping down a nuclear power station (the nuclear French stations have out of necessity been quite good at being ramped up and down) isn't really going to save any money, as the price of the uranium being consumed is such a small component of the electricity price.
 

cry freedom

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Don't buy the "we'll quickly run out of uranium" argument. Uranium is a finite resource. But it won't run out after a few decades. The price of uranium is only a small component of the price of nuclear generated energy. Uranium could go up to 1000 dollars/kg and still have only a relatively minor effect on price. At the moment it's probably only really worth mining high grade uranium ore. Uranium reserves are normally quoted as those ores economically viable at 130 dollars/kg. It's true that at current rates of use for once through reactors these would be exhausted in 50-100 years. But as uranium prices rise beyond 130 dollars/kg viable reserves increase hugely, almost exponentially. At 500 dollars/kg there's probably 1000s of years worth of reserves. The Japanese have done some work on extraction of uranium from seawater. They claim this becomes viable at over 300 dollars/kg. And there's a vast amount in the oceans, billions rather than millions of tonnes. 10s of thousands of years or more rather than than 1000s if that is possible. Not practical or economically viable at this stage. But if uranium is expensive enough probably would be worth doing.
Fast breeder reactors [ a technology which already exists but probably needs another 20 years of technical tweeking to make fully viable]
would make standard grade uranium 238 usable without all the extra refining
needed at present. If that could become commonplace we would be okay for at least 1000 years even if the whole planet was exclusively powered by uranium.
And then of course there is thorium coming up fast on the inside.
 

Finbar10

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Fast breeder reactors [ a technology which already exists but probably needs another 20 years of technical tweeking to make fully viable]
would make standard grade uranium 238 usable without all the extra refining
needed at present. If that could become commonplace we would be okay for at least 1000 years even if the whole planet was exclusively powered by uranium.
And then of course there is thorium coming up fast on the inside.
If uranium becomes expensive enough I'm sure fast reactors would become an economically viable option. The amount of usable uranium fuel would then multiply 50 or 60 fold. Highly likely any technical problems could be overcome with sufficient effort, unlike fusion, which has been forever 30 years in the future, and which possibly may not turn out to be practical as an energy source for a long long time, if ever. But I'd guess we could get by for quite a long time even without fancier forms of nuclear fission.
 

SirCharles

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I was reading LeDroit's rather poignant thread this morning, and I didn't want to derail it by picking up on his tangent about nuclear energy, so I thought a new thread was the thing to do.
If my elders and betters think this should be merged into an existing thread, so be it.

So anyway, LeDroit said:


Now I'm not one of those Greens that things nucler energy is a taboo subject, but still I'm very skeptical of it all the same, and I can't agree with LeDroit's post because:
(1) We would not be energy self-sufficient. Nuclear power stations need enriched uranium. This is a very expensive commodity which is only available from a small number of countries. We would be at their mercy regarding both price and supply.
Furthermore, enriched uranium is a product of uranium ore. This is a non-renewable mineral which will run out one day. That day will come even quicker if there is a new wave of nuclear power station building.
(2) These countries who are looking to invest: are they going to bear the real cost of nuclear energy? Well if they did,
(a) it would be a first, and
(b) they would make a loss.
The usual form is for the government to pick up the tab when it comes to disposal of nuclear waste.
I don't know why you open a new thread if there is already an existing one, QM.

You don't have to use uranium - you could use thorium which is 3 to 4 times more abundant

Thorium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thorium fuel cycle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Indians currently have several test reactors as listed here:
Thorium fuel cycle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


It is speculated that Thorium reactors were dropped by the likes of the U.S. because they do not produce enough fissile material for the nuclear weapons industry - unlike uranium.
Have you realised that mostly all other of such projects have been shut down? Why is that?

Looks like Sir Charles' countrymen are having second thoughts about banning nuclear power.

New nuclear policy voted through

They are so terrified of these highly dangerous plants that they have decided to extend the life of some of them until 2034???
They really must be sh1tting bricks.:rolleyes:
There is nothing like a good recession to embolden politicians to stand up to the fanatical Green liars and their disingenuous cohorts, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.
Anyone with a son or daughter unfortunate enough to get involved with that lot should immediately secure the services of a deprogrammer experienced in the field of religious cultism.
Nuclear power is all around you. It is burgeoning. It is successfully. Get used to the idea. We will have a nuclear power station in this country within 25 years.
There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come!
Nice try, but far away from what people want. About 2/3 of the Germans are against their latest government plan to extend the lifetime of nuclear plants. It was a decision steered by massive pressure and lobbying of the nuclear industry. Nevertheless, the long plan ist still phasing out.

So what's the alternative to nuclear, in the medium and long term ?
Renewables.

irish banks will cost 80Bn+. the same morons in government plan to waste another 30Bn+ on wind turbines and related energy sprawl.

the global budget for confined plasma fusion research ITER over the next 10 years is 10Bn. that's combined spend US, Europe, Japan, Russia, India, China etc.

the lunatics are running the asylum. it is time for the staff to get control back.
Where are your numbers from, Goebbels?

And fraction of that spent on research into Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor, [LFTR], [or "Lifter" to it's fans],technology would give us a very good interim form of energy to bridge the possible 50 year gap to commercial fusion.
If gallant little Ireland managed to pull that one off imagine the effect on our battered psyche.
A "very good interim form of energy"? It's still science fiction. Nothing else. You are seemingly after a new bubble.

Do you have any good links to information about this H ?
He's never had.

Don't buy the "we'll quickly run out of uranium" argument. Uranium is a finite resource. But it won't run out after a few decades. The price of uranium is only a small component of the price of nuclear generated energy. Uranium could go up to 1000 dollars/kg and still have only a relatively minor effect on price. At the moment it's probably only really worth mining high grade uranium ore. Uranium reserves are normally quoted as those ores economically viable at 130 dollars/kg. It's true that at current rates of use for once through reactors these would be exhausted in 50-100 years. But as uranium prices rise beyond 130 dollars/kg viable reserves increase hugely, almost exponentially. At 500 dollars/kg there's probably 1000s of years worth of reserves. The Japanese have done some work on extraction of uranium from seawater. They claim this becomes viable at over 300 dollars/kg. And there's a vast amount in the oceans, billions rather than millions of tonnes. 10s of thousands of years or more rather than than 1000s if that is possible. Not practical or economically viable at this stage. But if uranium is expensive enough probably would be worth doing.
You think it is clever investing in a technology already proven more expensive as renewables, with fuel prices likely rising by multiples.

I don't think there are any easy alternatives to fossil fuels.
Nothing is easy. If we don't sort out the cause of oncoming crises caused by burning fossil fuels, it will be much uneasier in future times.

In favour of nuclear, one does have to say that the French get 75%-80% of their electricity from nuclear and at a fairly low price in European terms. So something must work right. But they also have decades of experience and big economies of scale. We'd first probably spend years with planning permissions and court cases, then have to set up an expensive regulatory authority, and then build a secure containment facility after going through the headache of deciding where to put this. As for the plants, the easiest way would be to directly buy in French expertise and get them to build a few of their non-fancy non-cutting edge PWR plants. But I'd guess set up costs would be multiples of what they would be in France. Billions upon billions.
French nuclear plants also have only a capacity factor of 77%. That means such power plants are off the grid for an averagre of 12 weeks per year. How would you solve this backup problem in a much smaller Ireland? July 2007, the up to six German reactors that have been taken off the grid simultaneously for major repairs.

Renewables are the major alternative. Again maybe we can ramp this up to 30/40% of our electricity generation before the grid gets too unstable. We'll have to have the full complement of fossil fuel stations as backup in case the wind doesn't blow. Probably won't make our electricity any cheaper. Probably a good bit more expensive in fact. The only savings will be the fossil fuel saved when windpower or whatever takes over. But since it will roughly cost a similar price from windpower providers, with subsidies likely too, this is unlikely to actually make electricity any cheaper.
The energy will be cheaper as closer we approach peak oil/gas. It is only the costs of now. You don't pay for any fuels for renewables

Standalone renewables would require massive storage capacity. Pumped hydrostorage at over 80% efficiency is about as good as it gets. But I can't see how we can use this at a large enough scale to become energy independent in terms of renewables. There are other energy storage technologies that might do the job. But most would have about 50% efficiency. So long term storage is possible but at the cost of over doubling the price of the electricity.
Any studies to that?

And nuclear and renewables together probably don't make a good fit. It makes a certain sense to ramp down fossil fuel stations when the wind is blowing, at least fuel is being saved. But ramping down a nuclear power station (the nuclear French stations have out of necessity been quite good at being ramped up and down) isn't really going to save any money, as the price of the uranium being consumed is such a small component of the electricity price.
Nuclear actually hampers the development of renewables. Currently happening in Germany. The plan to extend the phase-out time has produced more uncertainty for the renewable sector.

Fast breeder reactors [ a technology which already exists but probably needs another 20 years of technical tweeking to make fully viable]
would make standard grade uranium 238 usable without all the extra refining
needed at present. If that could become commonplace we would be okay for at least 1000 years even if the whole planet was exclusively powered by uranium.
And then of course there is thorium coming up fast on the inside.
Why do you think that fast breeders are hardly in use anymore?
They are inefficient and are only part of a system which includes nuclear fuel reprocessing (1,000 times more radiation than an ordinary reactor) and 'ordinary' reactors. Absolutely unfeasible for Ireland.
Your 1,000 years are pulled out where? :rolleyes:
You seemingly have a Thorium obsession. Science fiction, cry.
 

Malboury

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SirCharles, I don't particularly want to debate you on this topic, as I think we can both agree that your mind is well made up on this issue, and there's no way that I or anyone else on a message board is going to change it.

Out of interest though, do you see renewable energy being able to provide for our current and future energy needs, or do you reckon we'll need to pursue lower energy consumption/increased efficiency to get by on renewable energy? I get mixed answers when I ask other proponents of renewable energy this question; I'm genuinely interested to hear your point of view.

(And just to be clear, using fusion power for energy isn't 30 years away; it's in use right now. It's just that we use photoelectric materials to some what less than efficiently harvest it from a conveniently close by natural fusion reactor. ;-) )
 


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