This Week's Debate: Nuclear Power

In an eye-opening piece in the Post's Sunday Outlook section, a founder of Greenpeace explains why he's changed his mind about nuclear power. The former Greenpeace activist who wrote the article, Patrick Moore, discusses his views in a live online chat today -- should be an interesting exchange.

Moore argues that Three Mile Island was a "success story" because the containment structure did precisely what it was supposed to: it contained the radiation and no one was hurt. He explains why he believes that nuclear power is safe, cost effective and reliable -- and necessary, if we are to avert the catastrophic effects of global warming. Greenpeace, however, does not agree with Moore's conclusion.

This week, we'll debate nuclear energy, including how to handle rogue nations with uranium enrichment capabilities (Iran, anyone?) and overcoming the not-in-my-backyard mentality that could hinder the construction of new nuclear power plants in the United States.

Read the Moore piece and see what you think. Then, let's debate!

[Paging Chris Ford: As I recall, this is your area of expertise. E-mail me!]

By Emily Messner |  April 17, 2006; 10:56 AM ET  | Category:  This Week's Issue
Previous: Missiles, Pigs and a Punishment Fit for a King | Next: Nuclear Power: Think Smaller?

Comments

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In this debate, we should start with the premise that nuclear power--for better or for worse--is not going to go away.

So, the problem, it seems to me, is how in the world we are going to regulate it, control it, moniter it and manage it sufficiently to the point that the trogolodytes on this planet don't use it to destroy us all.

On the subject of Iran, it is completely unrealistic to believe that they are going to give up their nuclear ambitions--particularly when we have a President who is fond of rhetoric that cannot be mistaken for anything other than an intention to use American military powerto further American interests around the world.

Nuclear proliferation is growing around the world. That is a fact that we have to accommodate ourselves to. So we had better get busy talking to people in sane, rational ways that do not convey to them the message that we are about to march into their countries and straighten them out.

And as a nuclear energy source, it seems inevitable to me that we are going to have to accommodate ourselves to the reality that nuclear energy is vital and necessary and we had better get busy figuring out to develop it, use it, and dispose of the waste in a way that doesn't threaten anyone.

It is time for thinking, reasoning adults to take back political power in this country and adopt reasonable foreign and domestic polices that reckon with the world as it really is rather than some faith-based hash that panders to special interest groups and religious intersts.

Posted by: Jaxas | April 17, 2006 11:40 AM

I too am anti-nuke and have slowly changed my mind over the last decade. We're going to have to go nuclear. Why? For national security.

But why is that, when the US doesn't make power/heat/light from oil (or at least not more than a few percent from oil)?

Because we make it from natural gas, and we import half our natural gas. We can no longer stay on a road whose end is dependence on foreign sources for power.

But this makes it all the more important that we have a competent, non crony backslapping government looking out for us. The latest scandal at a nuclear power plant near me is that they took a remote camera photo of the containment wall joints, duplicated it, and submitted it for each joint. Why did they have to do this, because the other joints had cracks in them! They would NOT have protected us like 3 mile island did. And we also can't he control the competence of our neighbors. Canada isn't the USSR, but a nuclear power plant in Mexico? Where would the fallout go? Its a calculated risk and needs competent leadership now more than ever.

We also have to consider how to capture and use the heat, which will otherwise gradually heat up the source of the cooling water and create havoc, that old law of unintended consequences.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | April 17, 2006 11:46 AM

No problems with Nuke Power as long as standards can be set for safety and monitored - and not by a private contractor.

Also, standards and processes AND approvals for transportation and storage of waster.

IF you want a nuke plant, you have to be willing to pay for ALL of the maintenance and security.

Nuke plants, in and of themselves are not dangerous...just POTENTIALLY dangerous...like electricity. But we MUST insist that plants are secure, safe, and waste is transported and stored in the safest manner.

So, the question is: Can you build a plant and execute the necessary processes for cheaper than other possible solutions?

In short, does it pencil?

Posted by: AfghanVet | April 17, 2006 11:49 AM

This really shouldn't be a debate at all. Environmental groups, Greenpeace specifically, are acting absolutely ridiculously. The nuclear power plants that would be built now are designed completely differently from the Chernoble/Three Mile Island Plants, and can not melt down (the physics of the plant is built so that if a problem happens, the reaction stops. In addition, the water that is heated by the reaction is no longer radioactive). People who argue against nuclear power are misinformed!

Posted by: Ben | April 17, 2006 11:53 AM

Nuclear may be "the only way to go," but what do we do with the spent fuel when even the Nevada desert seems to have problems accommodating the waste?

Posted by: Dave | April 17, 2006 12:11 PM

Cost: Here in Montana we produce wind power at 2.8-3.5 cents per Killowatt hour. When nuclesr power includes the entire fuel cycle. waste disposal, to plant decommisioning and can produce power competitive with these prices, bring en on! EDS Livingston MT

Posted by: Eric D. Schneider | April 17, 2006 12:13 PM

Ben is right that new plant designs are much safer, but that doesn't mean they will be safely run or the safety of these new plants will be managed properly. I do not trust profit making institutions to manage their own safety and I do not trust this republican administration to regulate the safety of car seats much less nuclear power plants.

An independent commission needs to be set up to review and approve plant designs and monitor existing plant safety. It must be free of politics and corporate corruption. This is not easy but will be essential for the safety of Americans.

Its also worth considering scaled down plants, plants that are small and provide only a small city's worth of power. They would be safer and easier to control than the large scale plants designed decades ago which, just by their size, are inherently dangerous. And falsifying safety data as was described in a previous posting about duplicate pictures should become a federal crime.

Posted by: Sully | April 17, 2006 12:17 PM

"how to handle rogue nations with uranium enrichment capabilities.."

Not only this rag is using government's words, it's speaking its language. The Washington Post?.. The Dick Cheney Post more like it.

Hmm, wait a sec.. Emily, were you being sarcastic?

Posted by: Alberto Gonsalez | April 17, 2006 12:41 PM

Recently, we have been hearing about the role of deregulation in the rise in electric prices. Another aspect of deregulation relevant to this discussion, is the oversight role state public service commissions have had with power generation. Deregulation weakened their oversight role, as generation became a deregulated function. The system of utility regulation worked throughout the 20th century quite well, yielding some of the lowest priced and most reliable electricity supplies in the world. Why we thought deregulation could improve that is beyond me - and I was in the industry at the time. If we are going to move back to nuclear, we already have regulatory mechanisms in place - state utility commissions. The issue is how to strengthen them to deal effectively with a revitalized nuclear industry. They will need staff knolwedgeable in nuclear issues to advise them and the approporiate level of oversight authority with the industry. This will be interesting to see unfold.

Posted by: Don | April 17, 2006 12:41 PM


I think nuclear power should be considered as an alternative, with the recognition that all power sources have their postives and flaws - and that none is intrinsically good or evil. (I do have a little bias - see below).

One point that I hope is considered is quantity of power generated.. We use a really huge amount of electrical power in the US. Even if we cut use by 50%, we'd still use a huge amount. If there is a transfer from the tradional baseload generators of fossil and nuclear, this calls for a really huge increase in number and use of renewables. A few windmills cannot replace a baseload fossil/nuclear plant. A few thousand might replace one plant - but we've got hundreds of these plants to replace. Society can do about anything if it sets its mind to it - and it can screw up about anything if it tries to solve a problem without looking at all of the ramifcations.

Incidentally, Stewart Brand, the founder of The Whole Earth Catalog mentioned in the linked article above, has also endorsed a thriller novel of nuclear power by a longtime industry insider (me). This story serves as a lay person's guide to the good and the bad of this power source. (There's plenty of both). The book is available at no cost to readers at http://RadDecision.blogspot.com - and they seem to like it, judging from their homepage comments.

Posted by: James Aach | April 17, 2006 12:42 PM

I never believed nuclear power plants and waste were a hazard. France has had a fine program for many years and I don't recall ever hearing of any problems over there. Our problem is that too many of our fellow citizens are lazy or corruptible, and this can be managed. I want nuclear powered electricity asap, and electric cars for local travel, etc. To some extent, Moore's flip flop proves that some portion of the so-called public interest groups exist to gather funds just for their own livelihood by spreading fear of everything - pick a topic - there's a group collecting funds to "protect" us from some alledged horror, and their message is that the only way to "fight the power" is to contribute to their group. Be it health, environment, politics, guns, religion or moral issues, some clown is grabbing at my wallet. I'll pass on the "crisis du jour" and go with science - not fear, panic or bigotry.

Posted by: Mike | April 17, 2006 12:54 PM

My dear grandmother told me her experience with the introduction of electricity in the early part of this century. Her fancy aunt was one of the first people in New York City to have her house electrically wired. Her lights retained gas on top and had electric bulbs below and were used by her as a party gimic. She'd turn them on momentarily at parties and then quickly turn them off because everyone considered the radiation from electric lights too dangerous to expose oneself to for more than a minute. Based on how innocuous electric light turned out to be, she always said she'd welcome a nuclear power plant on the Potomac River at the base of 34th Street N.W., just blocks from her home in Georgetown. Had she still been alive, she would have applauded Moore's editorial.

Posted by: Annie | April 17, 2006 01:07 PM

It has never been a question of either we go nuclear or some renewable source. We need them all to contribute, and we need conservation as well. Perhaps wind power is the answer in Montana, but the states with industries need something more stable and reliable. We just need a balanced evaluation of the impact of each source, and the time and money to get the job done. Don't expect to wait until the 11th hour, and then snap your fingers and it will be done!

Posted by: Eric | April 17, 2006 01:11 PM

What's the fuss all about? We'll have to go nuclear when the fossil fuels run out. Moore is turning necessity into a virtue.

Posted by: Turnabout | April 17, 2006 01:20 PM


Here in Montana we produce wind power at 2.8-3.5 cents per Killowatt hour.


Yeah, but Montana and the Dakotas are the Saudi Arabia of wind power, and transmitting the energy to more populated areas would eat up a lot of that output in radiated waste and simple resistance.

Posted by: cminus | April 17, 2006 01:39 PM

"What's the fuss all about? We'll have to go nuclear when the fossil fuels run out. Moore is turning necessity into a virtue."

To some degree that's true, but even after oil becomes economically unfeasible, there will still be vast reserves of coal. So it's not as if there would be no alternatives to nuclear, and so Moore isn't just stating the obvious.

Posted by: cminus | April 17, 2006 01:41 PM

When they start building nuclear power stations in DC - that's when I'll believe this spin.

Until then, stop dreaming, and wake up and smell the massive amounts of solar and wind energy we have in the continental USA.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | April 17, 2006 01:52 PM

The government and private sector need to attack the power problem from both sides; increasing incentives for improved efficiency in power transmission and use; while enabling safer generation that doesn't rely on imported fuel. Solar simply can't produce enough power to be practical (even if cells were made to convert 100% of the Sun's power), wind may cut it if you have your own large piece of land, but it's also not practical in populated areas. Which leaves nuclear and hydro; both of which carry a NIMBY stigma, but if we're all to have big screen tv's, central air, and three ipod's a piece additional plants must be built. Besides, shouldn't fusion come along in another couple of decades? and if it doesn't lets just launch our spent nuclear fuel into the sun so it can be recycled.

Posted by: Joel | April 17, 2006 02:08 PM


As Peter Asmus wrote in a July 6, 2005 article for the Wasginton Post: "Real, free market energy policies suggest smaller, smarter and cleaner power sources"

Nuclear enrichment entails a litany of unsolvable problems. Mining the ore is devasting to the land and water. Abandoned mines pose radioactive risk for thousands of years.

No engineering plan has been acceptable enough for long term storage of spent waste.

If the government is going to subsidize an energy source, as would be required for a switch to nuclear power, why not subsidize solar power?

When the real costs of mining, enriching, producing, and storing uranium waste are considered, a $50,000 solar system designed for my home in Ohio, seems like a bargain.

Why not subsidize the solar industry instead?

Posted by: Jane J. | April 17, 2006 02:19 PM

As long as americans have the "Not in my backyard" mentality, and groups like Green Peace to spread misinformation nuclear power won't be a viable option. Once electric prices become a burden on the mid to upper middle class then you will see a change in the mindset, but not until. We have land that is government controlled in Nevada where by the way nuclear testing was conducted right up until the 80's, where spent fuel rods could be placed for storage. The major factor is the safe transportation to these facilaties along with proper safegarding of the stored spent materials so that it cannot be used for sinister purposes (dirty bombs, etc.)

We also need to fund research into fussion technology. With fussion there is no need to worry about spent fuel rods with a half life of thousands of years as the product being made is simple Helium. Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe, it's produced daily by our Sun. Either way it is nuclear technology and that is something that needs to be implimented as soon as we possibly can do it. We as a country produce tons of "Green House Gases" and contrary to this administration's spin, our climate is warming at an increasing rate, and we can only guess at both the short and long consequences. Whether we get the polar caps melting and raising the sea level 200-300 feet or an ice age and a climate shift it really doesn't matter, we are in for a very rude awakening if this massive dumping of these gases isn't reversed.

The United States at one time invested heavily in science and we were the greatest nation on this planet. Since that time our education system has gone to hell. I have fought with the schools for teaching my kids to count on their fingers or to use a calculator instead of making them learn the basics and using these things for what they were designed for, a tool!!! We turned out the greatest scientists and engineers at one time, but are now near the bottom of the list compared to other developed countries. This is what happens when you allow the Religious Right to gain power in government and they are able to dictate policy based on beliefs instead of science to be taught. I read an intestering statistic the other day and it said that in all the rest of the developed countries 80% of there population believe that evolution is basicly a fact while in the U.S. it remains around 50%. It definately doesn't help when you get Presidents such as Reagan and Bush saying that Creationism and Intelligent Design need to be taught in Science class along side Evolution.

Posted by: Lab Rat | April 17, 2006 02:19 PM

Jane J. Where do you get that mines stay radioactive for thousands of years? Living in Ohio you have a slight nuclear problem that is naturally occuring, Radon gas. You see radioactive elements are all around us, I think what you were trying to refer to is the spent fuel rods, and we have the technology and the place to dispose of them where they will not pose a serious problem.

Posted by: Lab Rat | April 17, 2006 02:27 PM

One reason cost is so high is the incredible amount of regulatory tape required to build new plants, in large part due to Three Mile Island and other accidents. Revisiting the licensing and construction process given the past 30 years of safety and performance improvements is necessary to restart the process effectively.

Japan produces a 1/3 of its power from nuclear energy (we get 20%). It has done so safely over the last 35 years. Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratories continues to make advances in fusion power. Clearly, the technology and knowledge of today is superior to that of the time when the existing American nuclear power plants were designed and constructed.

Finally, a solution needs to be found. Greenhouse gas emissions must be lowered. I don't support drilling in the ANWR. I don't like how so much of our foreign policy and diplomacy is, directly or indirectly, driven by the reliance on Middle Eastern Oil. But I also know that people don't like to carpool, we continue to buy SUVs and increase our energy usage, and "conservation," while important, will not put a dent in the negative byproducts of our energy consumption. While wind and solar may work in the west, they are clearly not as efficient as nuclear (although may be cheaper for now -- the main reason to revisit the regulatory process for nuclear). For my kids and grandkids sakes, something needs to be done and a rebirth of nuclear power (with appropriate safety and other concerns) is a plausable answer. It should not be dismissed based on experiences of 30 years ago in the face of its success in Japan, Europe, and other countries, including every plant not named Three Mile Island in the US.

As for the NIMBY problem, I think most Americans would be surprised to learn just how close they live to one of the 65 plants operating in 31 states.

Posted by: Kevin | April 17, 2006 02:30 PM

One reason cost is so high is the incredible amount of regulatory tape required to build new plants, in large part due to Three Mile Island and other accidents. Revisiting the licensing and construction process given the past 30 years of safety and performance improvements is necessary to restart the process effectively.

Japan produces a 1/3 of its power from nuclear energy (we get 20%). It has done so safely over the last 35 years. Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratories continues to make advances in fusion power. Clearly, the technology and knowledge of today is superior to that of the time when the existing American nuclear power plants were designed and constructed.

Finally, a solution needs to be found. Greenhouse gas emissions must be lowered. I don't support drilling in the ANWR. I don't like how so much of our foreign policy and diplomacy is, directly or indirectly, driven by the reliance on Middle Eastern Oil. But I also know that people don't like to carpool, we continue to buy SUVs and increase our energy usage, and "conservation," while important, will not put a dent in the negative byproducts of our energy consumption. While wind and solar may work in the west, they are clearly not as efficient as nuclear (although may be cheaper for now -- the main reason to revisit the regulatory process for nuclear). For my kids and grandkids sakes, something needs to be done and a rebirth of nuclear power (with appropriate safety and other concerns) is a plausable answer. It should not be dismissed based on experiences of 30 years ago in the face of its success in Japan, Europe, and other countries, including every plant not named Three Mile Island in the US.

As for the NIMBY problem, I think most Americans would be surprised to learn just how close they live to one of the 65 plants operating in 31 states.

Posted by: Kevin | April 17, 2006 02:30 PM

There's nothing wrong with subsidizing solar energy research, it still has a great advantage: it's highly portable; but it will also never come close to the amount of power needed to supply our grid. Even with an incredibly liberal estimate: the sun gives us 1350 watts/centimeter, suppose we can convert 1% of that to power, we'd need thousands of square miles of solar panels to meet our power needs, if you account for loses in solar radiation through the atmosphere, and the fact that the area absorbing the suns rays is much smaller in the morning and afternoon, we'd need tens of thousands or even over a hundred thousand square miles.

Posted by: Joel | April 17, 2006 02:31 PM

sorry, verification posted it twice...

Posted by: Kevin | April 17, 2006 02:31 PM

Well said Jaxas, though on the whole this debate's spectrum of opinion extremely narrow.

Posted by: Alberto | April 17, 2006 02:33 PM

test

Posted by: tester | April 17, 2006 02:33 PM

Also with the Solar Arrays that are produced today, Jane J. thinks she has a bargin with her array, but did the people who sold it to you inform you that the panels will need to be replaced in the next 7-15 years depending on a number of factors, but mainly the thickness of the Silicon. One needs to understand on how the process works. A photon (light energy) hits the Silicon and in turn an electron is knocked free of it's orbit around the nucleus of the Silicon atom. Eventually these electrons will become used up and the panal will no longer produce electricity, and what about your storage batteries, what will you do with them when they become used up? Not so good of a deal as you thought you had?

Posted by: Lab Rat | April 17, 2006 02:46 PM

Some interesting points here. I'm don't know much about energy issues, so after this I return to lurk mode.

I'm also biased against nuclear energy, but based on what I've read here, I could be convinced that nuclear power could be produced safely as long as there was rigorous, no BS regulation and oversight.

But as Dave pointed out, storage of the spent fuel is another matter. Ejection into space is far too dangerous. It would only take one mishap (and how many of those has NASA had recently) to make a true disaster. Containers leak. Even the Yucca Mt. site is not stable enough really. (This is all just stuff I've heard. Please refute or support if you've got the facts.)

For me it boils down to this question. Can the best and brightest of our species really ensure safe containment of anything for the 10,000+ years it takes for spent fuel to decay? It seems to me that this question needs to be solved for our current rates of nuclear production before we ramp up that production.

I can't say I trust Mr. Moore completely on this subject, especially regarding his dismissive attitute toward the Yucca Mt. project. Walks like a lobbyist....

Posted by: james | April 17, 2006 02:59 PM

I could not agree more with Patrick Moore. It is about time that we have a debate about our energy future in this country. The british, judging by the newspaer The Independent, is much more aware of the dangers facing us if we do not reduce the CO2 emission within the next 5-10 years. If you read the energy projections of US Dept of energy, it is business as usual, we shall still be using fossil fuel plants for 93% of our total energy needs in 2030.
It is about time we pressure our government to adopt a policy taking into account global warming.
Please read www.amcips.org for articles on renewable energy and matters on nuclear non-proliferation.

Posted by: gioietta kuo | April 17, 2006 03:09 PM

Moore's change of attitude may have more to do with the fact that he now works for an industry-supported organization than a sincere change of heart.
I think Moore is also myopic. I believe that technology could tap safe sources of energy. Solar, hydro, wind are already in use. Fuels can be made from corn and saw grass. Tides move masses of water that we should be able to harness. Scientists are working on energy sources from microscopic life in the sea.
None of the above cause lasting harm. We cannot continue to contaminate the earth without paying the cost eventually. We have trouble disposing of used atomic fuel now. Why should we turn Earth into a glowing radioactive planet when other safer means are available?

Posted by: Lorraine Lilja | April 17, 2006 03:29 PM

Haven't we already had a debate that refuted almost all of the claims for solar, ethanol based on corn and saw grass, and wind power? I'm normally in disagreement with Ford, but he tends to outline this information pretty well. If I recall correctly, its just simply not an option to rely on solar and wind as the output simply won't be enough.

Posted by: Freedom | April 17, 2006 03:33 PM

Well, I'd love for my house to run on sunshine and grass clippings but it ain't gonna happen, not any time soon. I think we should continue to see what alternatives we can develop, but energy sources such as wind, solar, wave, etc., are still in their infancy.

Nuclear energy may be the way to go. but as many have noted before me, the biggest issue is disposal.

Fusion would certainly be a better option but if I understand it correctly, they have yet to find a way to contain the energy unleashed during the process.

Posted by: D. | April 17, 2006 03:36 PM

This is what happens when you allow the Religious Right to gain power in government and they are able to dictate policy based on beliefs instead of science to be taught.

Thank you lab rat.

D. Imagine how far 280 billion dollars would go funding fusion research. Expensive war, isn't it? We traded our real long term security in energy independence for short term security against a pretended threat, becoming the kind of first strike, torturing nation we were taught to hate as children and damaging our credibility perhaps irreparably. Doesn't look like such a good barain any more, does it?

Posted by: patriot1957 | April 17, 2006 03:49 PM

Perhaps energy sources from microscopic life in the sea is the solution, no ?

Posted by: Alberto | April 17, 2006 03:49 PM

But what about our domestic fossil fuel industry then? I'd hate to see it demise.

Posted by: Alberto | April 17, 2006 04:12 PM

of preempting running out of a commodity, that is _by definition_ non-renewable....


then it needs to be discussed.


I would be interested in people beginning to design _as_if_ energy efficiency were a primary objective rather than a cost saving objective.


I'd like to know where fusion is, last I heard there was more energy spent on containment than generated from the fusion process.


The distance has to be crossed. We have to move away from oil.

Do we want to be players that can be manipulated by a lack of resources or players that can alleviate symptoms of distress, because we hold the remedy to our disease.

oil addiction.

multiple facets to the jewel of energy independence.

there needs to be federal incentive and education.

pure capitalism is a dead end....fuedalism is the eventual result, power in the hands of a few....

with peasants expendable.

.

Posted by: if there is an alterenative to justifying an occupation of a foreign country as a way | April 17, 2006 04:16 PM

Maybe the US should simply annex the entire Middle East... if you catch my drift.

Posted by: Alberto | April 17, 2006 04:23 PM

one may conclude that we haven't been pursuing


alternatives because the people in power.


the corporations and landed,


have acted in concert to have us avoid, finding another alternative.


perhaps even fusion, being back burnered is the result of not wanting to find an answer...


to those of you receiving monthly oil checks and doing nothing else...


well, ending the oil dependency wouldn't be good for you would it?


how about those people that are invested in oil refineries, mining of oil and selling and distribution...

do you think they might be inhibiting alternative engery funding because they are egocentric in their understanding of things?


I would think so.


Do you think that they would admit that that were the case if you asked them...


no.


do any of the people that are running the country have any oil connections?


yes.


are they _really_ looking to get free from oil addiction?


no.

just corner the effing market.

.

Posted by: there are many uses for oil. | April 17, 2006 04:31 PM

suggests that

"Maybe the US should simply annex the entire Middle East... if you catch my drift."


what do you think is going on monkey boy?


that is a really inefficient way of obtaining more though....the most important question is

do we need it?


no.


there alternatives right now that make it completely unnecessary to do that.


there are too many _fundamentalists_ of all stripes involved to make it a profitable adventure without wiping out both sides completely...

with a fusion bomb going off at about 1,800 feet....


or reeducating fundamentalists to being self directing rather than

indoctrinated in a "belief system"


my choice would be education as that would remove the attitude along with the people...you probably wouldn't kill everyone that you needed to with a few fusion bombs, and they would breed.

.

Posted by: the spanky buddy known as alberto | April 17, 2006 04:37 PM

it was my understanding that the

1/2 life of the byproducts from our fission process was in the thousands of years......


what is the longest 1/2 life of any of the products of current day fission process?


putting radioactive waste in glass, doesn't diminish the 1/2 life, it just means it doesn't get into ground water.

ps. I know some things.

.

Posted by: dear lab rat... | April 17, 2006 04:39 PM

The most recent idea, called the Energy Amplifier, was invented by CERN Nobel prize winner Carlo Rubbia. The Energy Amplifier will bombard a target of nuclear fuel with a highly intense beam of protons, causing nuclear fission and a release of energy.

From the website:


"This approach has two major advantages. First, unlike a conventional nuclear power station, a run away reaction is impossible because without the accelerator the reaction stops. Second, since the technique is similar to ATW, waste from today's nuclear power stations can be mixed in with the fuel and broken down into harmless substances."


there's also a section about destroying nuclear waste that has already been created.

this is the website:

http://press.web.cern.ch/Public/Content/Chapters/AboutCERN/ResearchUseful/Future/Future-en.html

Posted by: regarding clean fission, apparently something is in the making... | April 17, 2006 04:50 PM

Hi, Emily! I dashed off an email to you, broadbrush stuff. Perhaps some other people who read here but lurk - but also have either nuclear military or civilian nuke (or both) will "decloak" and make some posts.

I had a few comments for some of the posters:

"When they start building nuclear power stations in DC - that's when I'll believe this spin. Until then, stop dreaming, and wake up and smell the massive amounts of solar and wind energy we have in the continental USA. Posted by: Will in Seattle"

Major power plants are not generally sited in cities regardless of power source. Expensive land space needed, need for massive amounts of cooling water in the thermodynamic cycle preclude urban siting of modern plants now that we have better transmission technology and infastructure (before the 50s, power plants were built closer to customers, sometimes right in cities). Not that I would want a nuke plant put right in the middle of a city, but if the choice was between a 1200 MW coal plant downtown, or a LNG plant with 2 million gallon tanks of LNG or a 3 foot 120psi nat gas pipeline - give me a 1200 MW nuke plant instead. (NYC actually kicked around the idea of an underground nuke plant in the Bronx in the 60s, before more fault lines were found and the economic studies said it was a dumb idea).

As for "abundant solar and windpower" it sounds good until people start talking obout the large swaths of the environment that would have to be covered in solar collectors or windmills to collect a diffuse energy source that - worse - is only intermittant and erratically intermittant at that. You can play averages and probabilities to reduce some uncertainty, but you cannot count on a sunny day, or wind blowing at X speed on Y days...which means that for every bit of wind or solar capacity, you have to built equivalent baseload capacity for the rest of the month, season, time of day that source is unavailable, and on top of that, peaking capacity for when wind or solar has "high probaility" of contributing, but due to vagarities of weather, doesn't. And when it does, you have idle investment in the two other types of power generating facilities you must build to accomodate this "exciting alternative power", guaranteeing you will pay enormous rates for the electricity - because it won't just be "abundant wind and solar" your rates must pay for, its all the other idle capacity and paying for that idle investment on systems built around your "wonderful green power source", that you must install.

Lab Rat - "We also need to fund research into fussion technology. With fussion there is no need to worry about spent fuel rods with a half life of thousands of years as the product being made is simple Helium."

Not too accurate. We HAVE funded fusion research to the amount of over 100 billion worldwide. But just throwing money at a complex problem of science doesn't guarantee a solution. Sometimes the science and technology evolves, advances, and permits solutions....sometimes generations of throwing huge amounts of money at problems - don't yield the cure for solid tissue cancer tumors, elimination of criminal recividism, anti-gravity, etc. Fusion has probabilities assigned to it that we can get past some enormous barriers of physics - but no certainty - and in any case commercial fusion will only begin - at best - 2-3 decades from now, require heavy capital investment, and involve generating fissile materials to get the lowest cost, maximum energy out per units of engergy expended.

Fusion doesn't "just make helium". It makes a high energy neutron in each reaction that will make most components of a fusion reactor mildly to highly radioactive...but much less so than a fission reactor assembly. (Unless you make a fusion-fission reactor that also makes fission fuel and fission product waste) But all that radioactive stuff a fusion reactor would make has long half lives - as long or longer than fission reactors. *The key is to get past the environmentalist dogma that it is impossible to store any deadly material safely, therefore no deadly material should be accepted in any process to make a vital, indispensible something society needs.* Which conveniently ignores all the other stuff we have to deal with that must be handled with care. A used car battery has enough lead in it to kill 100s of people. It will remain deadly for 1800 billion years, when physicists predict the protons in elements will decay away. A used car battery can be safely buried or reprocessed. Just because each used car battery is theoretically capable of killing hundreds if some low probability accident happens doesn't mean used car batteries are expected to kill millions, or even hundreds of Americans over the next 1800 billion years when deady lead is finally "made safe" by proton decay.

And on that fissile stuff? The energy efficiency and cost of a hypothetically successful fusion reactor is orders of magnitude more if it is used to create fissionable plutonium, thorium, and uranium isotopes from the high energy neutrons interacting with non-fissile material -and from heat generated in a fusion reactor of direct fissioning of U-238.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 17, 2006 04:55 PM

from the Library of Congress:

House Report 109-086 - ENERGY AND WATER DEVELOPMENT APPROPRIATIONS BILL, 2006


"FUSION ENERGY SCIENCES
The Committee recommendation for fusion energy sciences is $296,155,000, an increase of $5,605,000 over the budget request but with a significant redirection of funds as outlined below.


The Committee is concerned that two-thirds of the proposed increase for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) would be achieved by reducing domestic fusion research and operating time on domestic user facilities.


Under the proposed fiscal year 2006 budget, operating time at the three major fusion research facilities (DIII-D, Alcator C-Mod, and NSTX) would be reduced from 48 weeks in fiscal year 2005 to a total of only 17 weeks in fiscal year 2006. If the United States expects to be a serious contributor to international fusion research in general and to ITER in particular, the Nation needs to maintain strong domestic research programs and user facilities to train the next generation of fusion scientists and engineers. The Department's proposal to increase support for ITER at the expense of domestic fusion research is unwise and unacceptable. Such an approach is not only short-sighted, but inconsistent with prior Congressional guidance. Therefore, the Committee directs the Department to utilize $29,900,000 of funding proposed for ITER and the additional $5,605,000 to restore U.S.-based fusion funding to fiscal year 2005 levels as follows: $7,300,000 for high performance materials for fusion; $14,305,000 to restore operation of the three major user facilities to fiscal year 2005 operating levels; $7,200,000 for intense heavy ion beams and fast ignition studies; $5,100,000 for compact stellarators and small-scale experiments; and $1,600,000 for theory. As in previous years, the Committee directs the Department to fund the U.S. share of ITER through additional resources rather than through reductions to domestic fusion research or to other Office of Science programs.

If the Department does not follow this guidance in its fiscal year 2007 budget submission, the Committee is prepared to eliminate all U.S. funding for the ITER project in the future."

Posted by: regarding fusion research in the United States.. | April 17, 2006 04:57 PM

how about roofs?

you're really not qualified to draw conclusions.

I suggest you refrain from interpreting.

.

Posted by: large swaths covered... | April 17, 2006 04:59 PM

I read an article in Popular Science a few months ago about harnessing the power of the ocean waves for energy. The process was very interesting and surprisingly realistic. The designer also maintained that it would produce more than enough power with relative ease. My point is that the deeper we get into this "oil crunch" the more ideas we will develop to replace it. I'm confident that a new power source will be developed sometime in the next decade and completely change the planet. Nuclear energy is just far too dangerous and not worth the risk.
Oh and we shouldn't take another day of crap from Tehran. Ray Charles could see what they truly plan to do with nuclear capability. You could say goodbye to Tel Aviv if they are succesful in their enrichment measures, and that would be just the beginning.

Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | April 17, 2006 05:05 PM

emit radiation.

you can sit next to them.

you can't sit next to a pile of fission byproducts even if they are bound with glass....they have to be buried, they take up space, they have to be seperated from living things and _watched over_ as far as I know...you can't go off and forget about them.
.

Posted by: car batteries don't | April 17, 2006 05:07 PM

it would be nice if you told the truth as a way of being rather than as a tool

_occaisionally_


when it's convenient to buttress your position...


an aspect of honest dialogue is that


you have to police yourself about maintaining an intent to solve the problem

regardless.


Your _side_

getting what it wants _has_ to be irrelevant from the discussion perspective,

otherwise "as a way of being" you will always put spin on your answers and information....


that's not a citizen, that's a ployster...

a con artist.

.

.

.

right?
.

Posted by: pathetic little deal maker... | April 17, 2006 05:11 PM

christians,

jews

and muslims

can't enter into honest dialogue.


behind each dualistic "belief system"


is the presumption that what they believe is true...

they don't have the strength of character to examine their belief ssystems...


they each postulate the existence of the enemy as a given......

IF I were SATAN I would create multiple, dualistic religions and tell each group...


pssssssssssssssssst....


"you're my favorites,"

"I'll take your side."


then I'd hook up some cables to these perpetual motion machines and live like a king...


look what they did to Jesus, who offered an alternative...

they nailed his effigy to a cross, which is effectively a "containment" and made his words and work to be "punishing" as it made their actions "more understandable" and made for better Roman serfs....giving up their lands and beliefs for the "New Religion" which was really the same old wolf in sheeps clothing.........


don't look, or you're a heritic

sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeple........

.

baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

bah

.

Posted by: that's why | April 17, 2006 05:20 PM

"Fusion doesn't "just make helium". It makes a high energy neutron in each reaction that will make most components of a fusion reactor mildly to highly radioactive..."


what about containment?


what are the components that become mildly to highly radioactive?

what do the become, what elements? be specific.

.

Posted by: what the hell is this? | April 17, 2006 05:30 PM

This conversation is a wonderful one to have.

The place to have it is Congress.

That is, if we can work past truly important things like homosexual marriage, and punishing eleven million of the most compliant and cheap workers California can find for not being born here.

As it is, I think I'll chuckle, looking back on these discussions from my banana plantation in upstate New York.

Posted by: J Thompson | April 17, 2006 05:43 PM

"Lab Rat" said: "This is what happens when you allow the Religious Right to gain power in government and they are able to dictate policy based on beliefs instead of science." Thank you for being right on the mark.

People must understand that the American Taliban of Robertson, Dobson and Falwell, et al, are dragging America back to the dark ages just as surely as the other Taliban took Afghanistan back to the dark ages. Don't believe for a second that these are "men of religion." They are nothing of the kind. They're about nothing more than money and control, especially control. We cannot let them control us or our nation, and we must restore the separation of church and state.

Jimmy Carter tried to get us on the road to energy independence almost 30 years, with research on alternatives and tax incentives for home owners to put in solar-heated water systems, etc. Then along came Reagan-Bush and those efforts got canned so he could cut taxes for the wealthy with that stupid non-sense called supply-side economics, which ran up the deficit, which we are still paying for. Now Son of a Bush comes along and guts taxes to where we are rapidly going bankrupt and paying dearly for oil at the same time. Then the cross-eyed cretin goes on TV for his State of the Onion speech and issues idiotically profound crap like "America is addicted to oil." Gimme a break. Worst leader, EVER.

Posted by: Mike | April 17, 2006 06:07 PM

Dream on about harnessing fusion in your lifetime. Lab Rat, doesn't a solar cell operate as a p-n junction device, where carriers (holes and elections) diffuse from one end to the other constantly and reach steady state when energy is added. In other words, the semiconductor is not continually decreasing the number of carriers availble for current. Are you talking about defects?

I'm laughing now, seeing that Stuart Brand is a supporter of nukes. Ha. Ha. I remember the ridicule I received at parties in the past just mentioning how great I thought nukes were. Pigs do fly.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | April 17, 2006 06:13 PM

With proper safety provisions nuclear power should be revitalized. With good enough stack scrubbers coal and waste to energy should be used more as well.

Actually waste to energy helps to solve a few problems. Landfills that are filling up and our need for low cost energy. I guess the concerns are pollution (thus the need for the scrubber technology) and what to do with the ash.

Posted by: DK | April 17, 2006 06:16 PM

there is an erosion as the result of dopant drift....


lifetime of chips in the mid 80's from my teacher who retired from Bell Labs was put at 5-7 years of constant use.

then the big hold up for solar cells was it cost too much to make crystaline silicon, and they needed an amorphous source...

now it may be that crystaline is available, as they are making crystals in factories, rather than lab-like factories...and 6 to 8 inch diameter crystals are normal and I think they may be making the greater than that like in the 12 inch range...

amorphous silicon production is also much improved......

I'd have to research it...


and to Thompson thumbsucker...

hey,

if I'm having this discussion, and you're having this discussion...


then congress is dealing with a more intelligent base of people to bs........

bs'ers don't like to talk to people with knowledge,

which I guess you're not in with your ahole opinion about _illegal_ immigrants...


do tell.

.

Posted by: he was making a mistake for the reason semiconductors fail... | April 17, 2006 06:33 PM

I hope you're not hiring, illegals, they seem to be cracking down on that...

felony charges,

let's hope they make 'em mandatory for hiring illegals....

eh hefe'

.

Posted by: homey... | April 17, 2006 06:38 PM

did you look at the CERN website...future clean operation from fission.

.

Posted by: hey johnny.. | April 17, 2006 06:39 PM

actually disposing of waste in a fashion that would create more might be a good project...


as well as removing non-biodegradeables from landfills...

iron is a biodegradeable, glass is not.

sand can be used as _part_of_ soil, glass, could be made into sand.

.

many solutions to problems that are efficient...


create arable land from refuse,

start zoning to reflect the future instead of "what you can get away with,"


crush corruption.

.

Posted by: as arable land becomes more of a commodity than a "we may need it some day" | April 17, 2006 06:44 PM

"...which I guess you're not in with your ahole opinion about _illegal_ immigrants..."

Think what you want. We've increased border patrol spending by a factor of twenty since Bush took office, just to secure it - and failed. Now we'll find the money and manpower and official direction not only to secure the border, but also to remove an estimated eleven million illegals from the country? Feel free to show me how much fiscal benefit we'll reap from that, relative to what it will cost us to carry this policy out. But I digress.

My point is that energy supply and distribution is relevant in a way that much of what is on Congress' plate simply isn't. If you want to disagree, terrific; but with time and money being finite, I'd rather most of it went to the things with the most immediate and future impact on the American people's ability to make a living.

Posted by: J Thompson | April 17, 2006 06:58 PM

MNP,Bell Labs was a great place in its day. I have a old booklet that they had given out to chidren in the 60's about semiconductors. I keep in in my bookcase here at work. It is hard to believe that it was meant for high schoolers.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | April 17, 2006 07:06 PM

A big part of the problem America has is that we have not demanded either activist groups or industry to be restricted to only issuing confirmed, scientifically verified facts into their advocacy. And an uncritical media tends to publicize these claims...in fact the more outrageous the claim, the likelier the industry or activist group is to get publicity - something they have factored into their "cause" all too much.

An equally big problem is that many industries and causes enforce orthodoxy and do not permit members to requestion basic assumptions. When industry stifles self-examination and dismisses alternatives, you can be pretty sure the company or industry involved is in trouble - as MBA/magmt consultant case study after study of once flourishing companies or industries has found stifling and orthodoxy the root cause of the decline. In activist groups, of the worst Marxist or Party Line uniformity type - intolerance of differing opinions may not signal the group's decline - membership may indeed increase from an undeviating approach to stated opions, beliefs, and objectives...but you can be sure they become trapped despite that in frozen ideology that becomes further distant from reality and the needs of an evolving society.

This has resulted in a spectacularly ill-informed electorate on a number of issues.

The Ethanol industry lies about the viability of ethanol without a massive taxpayer subsidy.

We get regular activist groups putting out ridiculous figures like "eating an Alar-contaminated apple triples your risk of cancer"; "in every college dorm, on every night, at least one rape is committed!", 9 barrels of oil are used for each ton of paper made", "tax cuts for the wealthy have been proven by economic theory to enrich everyone!"

I just wish there was an institution we could create in America that would objectively anylize claims and call BS on those cause groups, members of academia, and industry that do not weed out the liars and charlatans. Certain professions like engineering, scientists, medicine are quite tough on claimants. Proofs, studies, repeatability, verification of numbers and stats are demanded. But other organizations can lie through their teeth and not be held accountable - even establishing a bodyguard of lies, concocted statistics intended not to convince, but to scare and energize their "cause". My prejudice is the two worse groups out there with fake data are the feminists and environmentalists - who also are the most successful at suckering in the media with bogus claims.

Just as I wish more was reported about the bloodletting at the Sierra Club over finally addressing immigration and the population explosion's impact on California and the rest of the Soutwest's environmental sustainability. Or the purges feminist groups made of leaders that wished to remove the stigma feminists were trying to attach to stay at home Moms, Christianity, "men as inherently evil", and elevating rape politics. Or supply-side Republicans punishing deviant "paleo-fiscal responsibility" Republicans that disagreed that massive new Gov't spending & pork, new debt owed to foreigners, and huge tax cuts for the wealthy will drive America to new heights of prosperity.

We do go in objectively and ruthlessly - in looking at industry, we challenge leadership in the military, and in local groups...but we seem so reluctant to say "Our Party" or "Our Causes" leader's official dogma is possibly full of crap on this thing or that...

Must be a human flaw..and one that people who mainly "feel" vs. "think" are paticularly susceptible to.

******************

"I believe that technology could tap safe sources of energy. Solar, hydro, wind are already in use. Fuels can be made from corn and saw grass. Tides move masses of water that we should be able to harness. Scientists are working on energy sources from microscopic life in the sea.
None of the above cause lasting harm. We cannot continue to contaminate the earth without paying the cost eventually. We have trouble disposing of used atomic fuel now. Why should we turn Earth into a glowing radioactive planet when other safer means are available?"

Posted by: Lorraine Lilja

That technology "could tap" a picayune source of energy, copper deposits, water - doesn't mean it is any more than a picayune drop in the maw of an immense industrial civilization - and instead of "every little bit helps" being a truism - it is instead dangerous if we are driven by politics to adapt uneconomical energy sources and worse, under the delusion that stuff like oil from turkey entrails and "glorious solar energy" will solve our problems - refusing to face the real things we must do to switch to the technologies which are the realistic options to address our vital energy needs.

We have discussed biomass before. One thing people fail to "get" is that the biomass grown on one acre is equivalent to about 1/32nd an inch of coal deposit, and colecting it requires effort and energy expenditure far greater than mining a 3 foot thick seal of coal - and the energy from one acre is inadequate to heat a home, or provide adequate electric energy to it. Which is why it would take use of half America's arable land to replace half our oil with an alternate substance that would cost 7-8 dollars a gallon. Ethanol is a nice use of surplus grain, but better in drinks than in cars.

Tidal? I visited the test hydro facility the Canadians set up on the Bay of Fundy (where the world's biggest tides happen) to check the technology and problems encountered. They have problems galore. Heavy labor and maintenance after a big capital construction investment. Heavy marine biofouling, corrosion problems. Very low energy intensity per large volume turbine because of low height differential driving head. Environmental issues with tidal current interference, sedimentation, fisheries impact. Like wind and solar, intermittant levels of power unsuitable to base load or actual times of peak electric demand. Good thing was the Canadian guys and gals at the place were very friendly and all hoped they would end up working in nuke plants after the St. James Hydro Project was done and Canadian politics changed. None saw tidal power getting big.

Scientists are looking at microscopic marine life? Great! They are looking at dribbling little bits of power from waves or thermal oceanic differentials that might be enough for supplementing the power needs of people on remote islands.

But again the cold hard numbers...while solar, biomass, and wind sound wonderful to two english teachers who are committed environmentalists who only drive a "4-wheeler, not an "URBAN" SUV because they need to commune with nature and white water for a break from their typical energy use home and workspace (we do recycle plastics!!) - all that environmental dogma about solar, wind, electricty from chicken manure methane ---BUT NO NUKES!! - has been around since the 70s.

But since the 70s we use 35% more as a nation despite using way less oil than in the 70s because our population is now 300 million from 225 million in 1970(before we had Open Borders).

107 Quads. We will need 127-28 in 2030 by our national economic forecasts and predicted US Census numbers. Solar gives only 0.063 Quad, less than only 10 years ago because it is uneconomical and only used where consumers are forced to buy it. Triple tax-subsidized (in CA) windpower is 0.15 QUAD. After 30 years, if we magically get 10 times as much solar and wind capital investment in the next 24 years, we get 2.13 QUADS of the 127-128 we need. Not even enough to take care of 8 years worth of Juans and Marias slipping across our borders and their anchor baby progeny.

The rest? 5 for biomass, mostly internal to the largely renewable-using wood and paper products industry that uses more fossil fuel processing a ton of recycled paper than they do on virgin forest feedstock cellulose. 6 for hydro. Add 5 in new "biomass" like fish and turkey guts, taxpayer- milking ethanol, "exciting new marine microorganisms"... Subtract 5 off net for new conservation.

Whats left, over 100 Quads that must be met by fossil or nuclear over the next 2 generations. Only coal and nuclear have the energy reserves to keep us going for several centuries. Take your pick, or take both.

No choice - you will have coal, nuclear, or both as the source of new power through the rest of your lives..

Which is why the dangerous, non-factual arguments the political environmental movement started and perpetuated since the 70s have to be confronted and the people told the truth.

Nuclear waste is amazingly compact. If we reprocess, instead of the square mile piled 16 feet deep of coal ash and mining waste necessary to provide 10 million people electricity for 3 years, the high level nuclear waste would be a cube 6 feet by 6 feet. Contrary to what Lilja says, nuke waste or sources don't glow in the visible spectra - that was a figure of speech anti-nuke "environmentalist crusaders" tossed out to scare people. Nor does the use of fission and fusion (if we EVER debug that!) means no "glowing radioactive planet" but a 3,000 acre site that could take in all the waste for 100 years if all electricity came from nukes.

Nor with countries like Japan, Sweden, France, and Russia having achieved permanent storage facilities is it beyond America's technical ability. What it is right now from misleading scare tactics is POLITICALLY not feasible in the USA. NIMBYs run rampant after all the fear-spreading and mistruths. The anti-nuke's stragegy was to try and choke the worlds nuke plants to death so "beautiful solar power could rise instead" by blocking both the reprocessing (which reduces waste volume by 95% and burns the plutonium which also is always accompanied by the non-factual idiot lie of being "the most deadly poison on Earth") and blocking storage.

All that did was ensure spent nuclear waste has piled up at some 200 civilian and military sites as all found ways to just put the irradiated stuff out in the open in "dry casks" or in pools and tanks - instead of being stored in a safer underground location in a remote desert.
***************
And anyone that thinks that ideology over "pet" environmental energy sources will continue to win out over economics is crazy. People that blame Reagan for solar powers failure to be used, or why "we don't have a hydrogen economy - simply wish to overlook cost. Cost and supply drive our choices, and do so globally. Not aesthetic love affairs with "how nice oil from turkey guts sounds"....or why solar power at 60 dollars a kilowatt-hour coming from a destroyed desert ecology is more "morally & socially uplifting" than a renewable nuclear generated kw-hr that costs 12 cents.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 17, 2006 08:07 PM

you said:

"My point is that energy supply and distribution is relevant in a way that much of what is on Congress' plate simply isn't. If you want to disagree, terrific; but with time and money being finite, I'd rather most of it went to the things with the most immediate and future impact on the American people's ability to make a living."

I don't know anything about the number of people that have been placed on border patrol...but I really doubt that it's gone up 20 times...

as far as making an impact, truth that isn't hidden always has an impact.

and how do you get rid of 12,000,000 to 20,000,000 illegals?

you make hiring them a felony, and prosecute......

I would imagine that the only people that hire them then would be illegals that own companies...

IF you make a bounty out of it, it could be over with in a couple of years.

there's over 500,000 that come in from Mehico legally every year.

Having lived in the Washington DC area for many years, I know that the service industry has suppressed levels of pay there _because_ of the number of illegals.

I've seen entire construction sites within 2 miles of a CIA headquarters that was _all_ illegals....


construction: electricians, plumbers, hvac, heavy equipment, carpenters, architects....

not flipping burgers....lotta money there, someone can bid a job at 2/3 american rate, bring in a crew from mexico and pocket the difference....

that's what they arrested some people for in Maryland over the weekend at 3 different sites and filed felony charges against the organization...


if congress, has to compare itself to us, well...

I think we have an effect.

I can guarantee you that someone is keeping track of what we're saying.

You want to make a difference share an insight...you want to sell !shinola, hey I've got a crap detector that'll take your shine off..

.

Posted by: hey thompson | April 17, 2006 08:29 PM

Chris Ford: my sincere thanks for getting facts and truth out here.

Posted by: Mike | April 17, 2006 08:29 PM

what was the twenty times the spending level gone into?

there is no INS anymore and Homeland Security is busy trying to look like it knows what it's doing as it tries to carry off the administrative charade that we're under terrorist threat from without...


I agree that congress is busy lining their pockets, I don't think that we're ineffective in our conversations.

One of the big things Perot did during his election bid was not to win or even try to win.......

he simply pointed out the difference between what the candidates were saying and what was actually going on so that they had to address it when they were within the same forum as him...

.

Posted by: hello, | April 17, 2006 08:34 PM

CERN project or you're busy debunking your opponents from the


70's and erring about what is going on now.

I've checked Chris Fords information and found that I could reliably expect it to contain a significant amount of disinformation....as a rule.


and that is irritating.

I don't like to check other people's veracity

if you were my employee,

I'd fire you, and would give you a bad reference.

lying to persuade for a position is not a very citizenly thing to do.

.

multiple methods, with the mindset that we need multiple kinds of energy technology is useful.


I used to work on cell phones when they cost $10,000 apiece.......


don't bs me with "current cost" and quit trying to sell it........


they've already published _at Berkley_ that current level of technology makes ethanol

cheaper to produce per gallon than petroleum..........


the CERN weblisting talks about fission that does not create radioactive byproducts.........


get it?


can you tell the difference between my post and yours?

I don't have a position except, I don't like liars.

.

Posted by: so mike and chris you looked at the | April 17, 2006 08:42 PM

objectively ruthless,

it would be nice if you cleaned up your own propensity for diminishing the truth by spewing out

your airy-ann nation bs.

Posted by: just being | April 17, 2006 08:49 PM

probably deeply involved in colonic coitus..

is that true?

Posted by: I've always felt that airy anns were actually | April 17, 2006 08:50 PM

Can you post the link to the CERN article? Sorry, I was looking around the CERN site and could not find it.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | April 17, 2006 08:51 PM

Even though there have been a few incoherent and childish posts here, I was happy to see an absence of shrill closeminded antinuclear dogmatism.
Still, not all of the fundamentalists of the world are Appalachian 'Christian,' Wahhabi 'Muslim,' or Ultra-Orthodox 'Jewish' -- all of whom overlook and ignore the benign moral teachings of their own prophets. Some fundamentalists are perhaps pagan -- Greenpeace being a handy example. Maybe they believe that nuclear power will offend the sun god, whereas global warming from burning coal won't?

Posted by: Chuck Hastings | April 17, 2006 10:09 PM

Nuclear power has two principal drawbacks; waste and proliferation.

December 12, 2005, the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Utah acknowledged in an article "Nuclear Waste Summary":

"The Subductive Waste Disposal Method (of which I am the inventory and patent holder) is the most viable means of disposing of radioactive waste. Subduction refers to a process in which one tectonic plate slides beneath another while being reabsorbed into the Earth's mantle. SWDM involves the formation of a radioactive waste repository in a subducting plate where the waste will be absorbed along with the plate and dispersed through the mantle. The most accessible site is on the ocean floor at a point above where subducting plates meet and, once filled, the repositories would be virtually inaccessible. This method would prevent radioactive waste from mixing with the water table, provide inaccessibility to eliminated weapons material, remove radioactive waste completely from its threatening position, and be safe for marine life."

Unfortunately this method has been stonewalled by the U.S. and Canadian governments for the past seventeen years. According to the late Charles Hollister of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, DOE killed sub-seabed research in general because it was a clear case of 'not invented here'.

The Subductive Waste Disposal Method would be implemented adjacent the Brooks Peninsula of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, which in close to Patrick Moore's former home at Winter Harbour. I have yet to see his support for the most viable solution to the Achilles heel of the industry he so eagerly supports. An industry which in turn has demonstrated its indifference to safety and security of the public with respect to its waste.

You don't put nuclear waste on top of a modern volcano

Posted by: Jim Baird | April 17, 2006 10:42 PM

Why isn't anyone discussing the advancement of nuclear FUSION technology? Isn't anyone aware of the ITER project situated in France and led by a Japanese engineer? While the US is involved in this project, we aren't showing any leadership here. Nuclear fusion, the process which occurs in stars, could result in safer, non-weaponable, commercially viable energy in by 2030. It amazes me that the energy the US put in to the Manhattan project for a nuclear weapon was immense when compared to our half-hearted stab at a peaceful, safe, nuclear energy alternative.

Posted by: Nate Freeman | April 17, 2006 10:57 PM

Man Jim, it unfortunate that your patent term expires soon. (U.S. 5,022,788)

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | April 17, 2006 10:57 PM

it's doable as an interim apparently,


without the dirtyness of regular fission.

The discussion is about a device called an Energy Amplifier...

you've heard of an OP-Amp

here's some writing from the article, and the link follows:

"The most recent idea, called the Energy Amplifier, was invented by CERN Nobel prize winner Carlo Rubbia. The Energy Amplifier will bombard a target of nuclear fuel with a highly intense beam of protons, causing nuclear fission and a release of energy.

This approach has two major advantages. First, unlike a conventional nuclear power station, a run away reaction is impossible because without the accelerator the reaction stops. Second, since the technique is similar to ATW, waste from today's nuclear power stations can be mixed in with the fuel and broken down into harmless substances.

Energy Amplifier"

http://press.web.cern.ch/Public/Content/Chapters/AboutCERN/ResearchUseful/Future/Future-en.html

Posted by: I don't know if this is an answer but..hey.. | April 17, 2006 11:01 PM

If you'll look above I posted a bill before the HOUSE OF REPRSENTATIVES REGARDING ITER

and how the United States is responding/interacting with it.


>hint<

from a webpage if you do
the key sequence _together_

ctrl f

or "control f"

a _search box_ will pop-up that will allow you to find a word pattern to move you to that portion of a web file....use it for on-line document searches of "visible" data...there's a little microsoft "x" box to make it go away when you're done, in the upper right hand corner.

anyway here's the first few lines of what I cut and pasted above:

"from the Library of Congress:

House Report 109-086 - ENERGY AND WATER DEVELOPMENT APPROPRIATIONS BILL, 2006


"FUSION ENERGY SCIENCES
The Committee recommendation for fusion energy sciences is $296,155,000, an increase of $5,605,000 over the budget request but with a significant redirection of funds as outlined below.


The Committee is concerned that two-thirds of the proposed increase for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) would be achieved by reducing domestic fusion research and operating time on domestic user facilities. "

Posted by: Dear Nate... | April 17, 2006 11:08 PM

Posted earlier: "Well said Jaxas, though on the whole this debate's spectrum of opinion extremely narrow."

Good PR firms--such as the one Moore is shilling for now--stack comment boards.
For the last decade Moore had a wise use groups up in BC promoting logging. That dried up for him after the industry and enviros agreed on a compromise.

It's nice to know an old dog can learn new tricks. I bet he sits and fetches as well.

Posted by: Another old Greenpeacer | April 17, 2006 11:45 PM

"Why isn't anyone discussing the advancement of nuclear FUSION technology? Isn't anyone aware of the ITER project situated in France and led by a Japanese engineer? While the US is involved in this project, we aren't showing any leadership here. Nuclear fusion, the process which occurs in stars, could result in safer, non-weaponable, commercially viable energy in by 2030. It amazes me that the energy the US put in to the Manhattan project for a nuclear weapon was immense when compared to our half-hearted stab at a peaceful, safe, nuclear energy alternative.

Posted by: Nate Freema"

Not true about US financial leadership in fusion research or ITER. We are the biggest donors. Then Japan. ITER by all rights should have gone to Japan, but the Euros ganged up and made cooing noises about being supportive of Japan being a permanent UN Council member - then stabbed them in the back after they got ITER. In the last 50 years, over 100 billion globally has gone to fusion research, plasma and fusion physics, radiation mathematics, tokomaks and other test fusion devices. Getting from theory to the 1st working fission reactor was estimated to cost around 10 million. It needed no enrichment.

It is amazingly difficult compared to fission. We made the 1st bombs more than 50 years ago, but while you can start a sustained, net energy out fission process in a waste barrel accidentally, you need stuff we still don't have and may never have to show fusion is commercially viable. Yes we can do fusion in the lab, but it takes more energy put in than we can take out...And things like high temperature, high pressure, magnetic confinement, a more elegant way to get waste helium out of the reaction, address neutron activation questions, and further understanding of quantum mechanics and plasma behavior. Because fusion "is tougher than any physicist back in the 40s or 50s dreamed it would be.

People who say "if only we could put more money into it" all our energy problems would be solved by fusion by 2030 are the same people not grounded in any knowledge of technology or thermodynamics that claim if only we spent the money, we would have a 250MPG car engine that would "drive the Saudis to their knees".

There is a significant chance that fusion will never prove commercially viable. That is a critical area ITER will explore.

In any case, it is 2 generations away and may never happen, so we best decide what sort of real, proven energy we will use for the rest of most of our lifetimes.

*************

Jim Baird - "According to the late Charles Hollister of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, DOE killed sub-seabed research in general because it was a clear case of 'not invented here'."

As I understand it,we signed a treaty saying no nuclear dumping at sea because we were concerned about the Soviets growing prediliction to dump nuclear waste directly into the Barents Sea and the Arctic.

So that - as written - precludes using the 3 billion year old deep seabed muds Scientific American thinks is the best place to stick nuke waste, and legally rules out subduction zones.

I personally think the stuff should be vitrified and stuck in SS cannisters after the leftover plutonium and uranium is extracted from any fuel assembly. And any old geographically stable area far from people with low precipitation is likely more than adequate for the hundred years or so it will take for 99% of the radioactivity to cook off - once the PU and uranium isotopes and perhaps a few other useful transuranics are chemically separated.

I've never been too concerned. My home smoke detector's radioactive Americium is essential to detector operation, thus worth being in every house. I have stood for dozens of hours above the opened core of a 2500 MW Thermal reactor. The faint blue light is very pretty in the water that shields you from the lethal radiation. A co-worker who was in the US Navy completed several college courses while studying in a fleet ballistic missile sub's "Sherwood Forest" - where his backrest was one of the ballistic missiles carrying 10 400KT thermonuclear warheads -

The more you work with something, the more respectful but less fearful you get...

Such as ....a dirty bomb would be a minor inconvenience if the Bushies had a competent strategy for cleanup, but ignorant panic would make it a splendid terror weapon as millions clueless of risk ran amok, and those clueless about cleanup cost us many tens of billions on cleanup vs. the 10s of millions another method the Bushies have not factored in would cost.

(Note: if a dirty bomb ever goes off in a city you are in, stay inside, turn off ventilation, chill. Wait half day or so for the panickers to finish trampling one another, then head out if no e-plan people show up with instructions (50-50 they will be overwhelmed) - then hopefully get a rad screening from some "hero" 1st responder somewhere so you don't track radioactive crap back to your house...)

And I think civilians are so unprepared to cope with a real nuclear bomb that the only way to safely manage the situation and prevent far more deaths is to turn the whole job over to the military within a 20 mile zone of a fission bomb detonation, and where fallout needed to be hosed down into designated rivers, drainage fields, and the ocean. I believe a dirty bomb is expected to have small - under 100 curies, and for a large one - 1,000 to 5,000 curies. A real nuclear bomb will release 0.6 million curies of radioactivity per kiloton explosive power - though I may have to check that thumbrule number.

Perspective.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 18, 2006 12:25 AM

Such as ....a dirty bomb would be a minor inconvenience if the Bushies had a competent strategy for cleanup, but ignorant panic would make it a splendid terror weapon as millions clueless of risk ran amok, and those clueless about cleanup cost us many tens of billions on cleanup vs. the 10s of millions another method the Bushies have not factored in would cost.


Katrina gave us such confidence about this, no?

Posted by: | April 18, 2006 12:39 AM

The most important aspect of Nuclear energy is waste management in cost effective way.India has achieved this in its Mixedoxide fuel in which the plutonium is burned to produce electricity instead of being used for Nuclear weapons only as before. The recent nukedeal with India has this reason also.

Posted by: captainjohann | April 18, 2006 12:53 AM

dirty bomb strategy...


they want to reinhabit the region with good towelheads...

they don't want to wait...


that's where they'll be shipping the illegals...

they'll give them their own country, complete with oil and towels...

.

I hear the pope is upfor it?

.

Posted by: there won't be any | April 18, 2006 01:38 AM

thet thar dootooreeum...


that's the ticket...


look, ahm a reeeeeeeeeel scientist...


just drop a nukeclear bouncing betty on them thar towelheds and we kin jus liv thar and eat all thar turkish taffy...

I heerd they got lots of dat and ah laks ut...

nukeular bongs, thas the ticket yep!

.

we'll jes tek thar stuff and live there instead.

.yes.

.

Posted by: yeah, nukeclear fusion bomb | April 18, 2006 01:43 AM

Hi Chris,

1. Do you happen to have any data on the relative cost of making ethanol from corn vs sugar (Brazil's feedstock)?

2. Montana Governor is pushing old German coal to diesel process as a viable option. Is it?

Just thinking about it, it would seem to make most sense to use natural gas for home heating, nuclear for baseload electric grid, hydro for peak load, oil for transportation, and if the governor is right, coal for transportation.

It does seem to me that solar and wind marry up pretty well with peak airconditioning loads and probably serve that purpose reasonably well. Yes/No?

Posted by: Cayambe | April 18, 2006 02:18 AM

Chris Ford: Do you live by a reactor? And do you know what happened to Ellenton, SC so the Savannah River Plant could be built?

There's 2 here: SRS and Plant Vogle. Both have environmental concerns, especially with radioactive (hard water) leakage. In the Plant Vogle situation, testing found that the radiation leaked into the well water (water table) back in the 90's.

To give a smiley face to nuclear energy is dangerous, because it's NEVER a save energy source. So many safety citations have been issued to Plant Vogle (one of the last, and most modern nuclear power plants in the USA -- going online in 1985) to make it a wonder not if, but when a serious nuclear accident will happen (go read it's rich history on violations for a clue). I remember when they were being built with contractors talking about others deliberately breaking values and all to profit from replacements, too (why the cost of that plant spun out of control).

Rather go with wind and solar (at least I can resell the energy back) and not be totally dependent on Georgia Power -- which sells the nuclear energy not to GA residents, but as far away as Texas. We paid for the work while other states profit from it -- what a crock.

And Plant Vogle is built right within a couple miles of Girard/Sardis, GA.

Here's how they look, add a zillion lights to all that for an idea of the GLOW it has...

http://www.cleanenergy.org/Code%20Red/vogle.jpg

Those nights used to be pitch black out there, now it's ruined from light pollution -- no more firefly nights (I grew up there, and despise the night sky being robbed!). >:(

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | April 18, 2006 02:23 AM

Emily,

With 2 reactors in my backyard, you can bet adding 2 more isn't welcomed -- 2 is enough!

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | April 18, 2006 02:25 AM

Chris Ford

In 1993, the Contracting Parties to the London Convention, the United Nations treaty that regulates the dumping of wastes at sea, banned the dumping of all radioactive wastes from ships, aircraft, platforms and other man-made structures at sea. The status of sub-seabed disposal was ambiguous until 1996 when the Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, (the Protocol) extended the definition of "dumping" to include "any deliberate disposal or storage of wastes or other matter in the sea-bed and the subsoil thereof." Definition, 7, Article 1 of the Protocol states: "Sea" means all marine waters other than the internal waters of States, as well as the seabed and the subsoil thereof; it does not include sub-seabed repositories accessed only from land."

The subductive waste disposal method would access a subseabed repository by means of a tunnel from land and is thus not prohibited.

October 6, 2003, John Mathieson, Nirex Ltd., wrote me "we believe your method would contravene international law and so we would be interested to know what legal basis your method has."

I advised them of the same then read in an October 09, 2005, Sunday Times article, "Plans to bury nuclear waste under the sea" by Jason Allardyce:

Radioactive waste from nuclear power stations would be buried in a network of tunnels deep beneath the sea bed, under a plan being considered by the government.

The tunnels would connect the mainland to underground storage facilities.

Radioactive waste specialists Nirex claim the plan is feasible and points to similar schemes being used in Sweden and Finland. Both countries used repositories under the seabed close to their coasts. Japan is also considering the option.

In its submission to the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CORWM), the expert group set up by the government to identify the best way to dispose of long-term nuclear waste, Nirex claims that an "engineered repository" is "a viable option" that would be acceptable under international law."

Dr. Masao Kasuya, developed the Japanese proposal he called "Sub-Seabed Disposal Using a Submarine Tunnel - A solution to High-Level Waste Disposal in Japan on the basis of my intellectual property.

Posted by: Jim Baird | April 18, 2006 02:41 AM

Whew - it took a while to work my way through the above posts. This topic has apparently captured quite a bit of needed attention and I hope I can contribute just a bit to the debate.

As a former nuclear submarine officer and aspiring atomic entrepreneur, I would like to offer a few comments that might cause a bit of rethinking and refocusing.

1. It is a myth that nuclear energy is only useful for generating electricity. Fission reactors have been used to reliably push ships around the ocean for more than fifty years, ever since the USS Nautilus reported that she was "Underway on nuclear power."

2. The current cost of commercial nuclear fuel is about 0.4 cents per kilowatt hour and the total O&M cost including fuel for the average nuclear plant in the US is about 1.67 cents per kilowatt hour. Coal fuel costs about 2 times as much, natural gas and oil fuel costs between 5 and 10 cents per kilowatt hour depending on the fuel source and the plant efficiency.

3. Nuclear fission is clean enough to run inside sealed submarines. Think about that!

4. Nuclear fission is safe enough to seal inside a ship carrying more than 5,000 of America's finest young people.

5. Nuclear powered icebreakers owned by the former Soviet Union now carry passengers to the North Pole in comfort during summer months.

6. Small nuclear power plants were built using 1950s technology and erected in mere months in places like Greenland, Alaska, Antarctica, and the Panama Canal Zone. In response to a couple of the above posts, one was even built inside what is now "The Beltway" at Fort Belvoir, VA. Not quite DC, but pretty darned close.

7. Used nuclear fuel is not waste - it still contains more than 95% of its initial potential energy. Using a larger portion does not necessarily require the use of recycling or fast breeder reactors, but those technologies can also be used to vastly increase the amount of power that we get from a given quantity of mined uranium.

8. Uranium is not the only potential nuclear fuel - thorium, which is even more abundant, is also useful. It was used in at least one large scale proof of concept in the US; the last core of the Shippingport PA reactor was a "seed and blanket" design with U-233 as the fissile seed and Th-232 as the fertile blanket. That plant actually demonstrated over several years of operation that it was possible for a light water reactor to "breed" more fuel from fertile Thorium than the fissile U-233 that it consumed. In other words, there was more fuel when the reactor was shut down than when it was started up after operating and supplying 60 MW of electricity for several years. Amazing!!

I am out of time. Check out more atomic information at www.atomicinsights.blogspot.com or listen to The Atomic Show at http://atomic.thepodcastnetwork.com

Posted by: Rod Adams | April 18, 2006 04:31 AM

Having gone to college and worked for a number of years in California, I was pretty reflexively anti-nuclear for a long time. Having lived in France for the past 12 years, where more than 75% of electrical power comes from nuclear energy, I've seen that safe nuclear plants can, in fact, be built, and that nuclear power can be an important factor in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I don't have the citation handy, but I've seen calculations that show that, if the US relied as much as France on nuclear-generated electricity, that alone would bring *worldwide* greenhouse gas emissions to below the targets of the Kyoto convention.

Radioactive waste is a huge problem, but one that I think is probably smaller than the problem of sea levels rising 30 feet, as is now likely within 100 years unless something drastic is done to reduce global warming. Our first priority should be conservation. Our second priority should be renewable and non-polluting energy sources. But it seems wildly improbable that those alone can cover the world's growing energy needs, and nukes need to be taken very seriously as an option.

Posted by: Paralogos | April 18, 2006 04:44 AM

In tandem more nuclear-power production of electricity and steam, there needs to be a thrust to use new materials and designs, particularly for illumination and motor-power needs.

Imagine a luminescent wall that passively runs from sunlight, or LED lamping replacing all filaments, super-conductor motors in appliances tools, and super-conductor materials for power lines. A downside is that a lot of the new materials sciences involve relatively rare elements, and would rely inevitably on heavy industry for extraction from soil or seawater.

The consumption side of the equation is equally important in arriving at an energy balance, possibly yielding greater true gains than substituting power sources. If broad efficiencies on the consumption side are in place, then solar can serve a larger share of the total.

Posted by: On the plantation | April 18, 2006 09:25 AM

Nuclear power is here and will grow because there is no other non-fossil fuel alternative that can handle the bulk of our needs. Alternative sources such as wind power, wave power, solar, etc. cannot handle the base load and also suffer from the NIMBY (not in my backyard) syndrome. As for nuclear, one of the main concerns (justified or not) is how to handle the waste fuel. The answer is multiple pass through fuel in which the fuel is reprocessed after it is removed from the reactor where only 3% of the "good stuff" has been consumed. As recycled fuel is used the disposal problem is significantly reduced and the reserve life of the fuel is extended. Bottom line, utilization of reprocessed fuel and more nuclear facilities are both in the foreseeable future.

Side issues regarding nuclear such as reduced manmade greenhouse gases are debatable at best. The debate about the effect of greenhouse gases on climate is still up in the air with evidence pro and con presented by both sides in an endless stream of papers. The lack of verifiable models of the effect of human activities leaves this matter in limbo and, therefore, not part of the "what to do about energy" discussion. Adding to the confusion is the media's undocumented claim that there is a consensus in the scientific community that human activities are a major factor affecting climate change. The media would benefit from learning that in science consensus is a non-issue and not a determining factor in deciding what is right.

Of major importance, however, is the need in the U.S. for a meaningful energy strategy. Unfortunately, it appears that the political will to generate such a plan is lacking and will not emerge until a crisis appears. For decades the government has failed to provide appropriate planning for the nation and the beat goes on.

Posted by: barb | April 18, 2006 09:32 AM

I see someone put Mr. Ford in his place, as I had to leave work early yesterday and didn't get around to logging back on. You see I am a petroleum Chemist so I do have some insite into scientific matters. Granted I am not a nuclear physisist but Chemistry includes nuclear theory. As usual Ford in his normal rants shows his true ignorance in matters dealing in the sciences. I just love his reasoning that because we have not mastered fusion technology in the last 60 or so years that it will never be done. Here is a perfect example. Man has tried to fly for over 2000 years, so because he didn't do it in the first 60 years that means it will never happen, at least according to Chris Ford. I must be crazy or I must have been dreaming about being on an airplane last month when I flew with my wife to grandmothers 90th birthday party.

I thought that the major problem with fusion technology at least the last time I had read anything on it, had nothing to do with radioactive byproducts, but that it was not cost effective as of yet. The extremely high pressures and tempratures required to produce a controllable fusion reactions made it impractical using todays technology to produce the amount of energy that would be required to justify the expense of building such a reactor. That was why there was such a scramble several years ago to produce energy by a process known as "Cold Fusion". You see Chris all it will take is for a breakthrough in the technology and fusion powered reactors will become a viable source of electrial power generation. As it is right now my 12 year old son is asking what to study in school so he can become rich beyond his imagination, I told him if he could figure out a way to make a fusion reaction to take place at or near room temprature and pressure, that he could sell that technology for billions.

I would like to make a comment to Barb. The matter of "Greenhouse Gases" causing global warming is not as contested as you would think. Just about all mainstream environmental scientists agree that the Earth is warming because of Greenhouse gases. Granted there are a few who you hear pipe off every now and then but, they are in a very small minority and that is the reason you hear their speil. It's no different than the crackpot scientists that say "Intelligent Design" is a science and needs to be taught in school along side evolution.

Posted by: Lab Rat | April 18, 2006 11:14 AM

I have great faith in our men of science and learning. It is our men of politics that I worry about.

Time after time we have seen how politics and power corrupts even the best men. Any rational human being can look at our present energy situation and reach the conclusion that Nuclear power isn't something that is just going to go away. Thus it is imperative that we elect men and women to political office that have not onl a moral center but a rational center as well.

When I observe our present system I see it rewarding not menand women who are both rationally and morally centered but rather those hose morality is dictated and controlled by selfishness, greed and an all consuming desire to maintain power. Those quiet moderate people who are thoughtful, and well centered rationally and morally, are castigated, muzzled, shunted aside.

Just ask Doctor Hansen of NASA'S National Science Board what happens to scientists who try to put out reports and studies that are scientifically valid but fly in the face of the ideological dogma that rule this administration's thinking on a host of issues from energy, to global warming to stem cell research.

Posted by: Jaxas | April 18, 2006 11:15 AM

No time to read all the above...I assume it adheres to the usual high standards of civility.
We have several nuclear plants not 10 miles from me, and I am happy they are there. I'm talking about the nuclear power plants of several navy ships in San Diego Bay. Decades of experience and not one accident or incident.
I would recommend we use that as a model for power plants around the country: several small (ship sized) reactors in close proximity: near enough to be managed together, but far apart enough to avoid a three mile island meltdown scenario. Plenty of navy techs available too.
Thanks,bye

Posted by: lemon grover | April 18, 2006 12:19 PM

Several people have mentioned fusion as a possible energy source. Others have talked about the fact that its success is far in the future.

It is my opinion that fusion is a pipe dream that has consumed a tremendous amount of energy, money and human resources.

Fission is simply easier; it took less than 8 years to move from initial discovery of the phenomenon to a controllable fission reactor that could have produced useful energy. It only took 15 war interrupted years to produce a fully functional power plant that successfully powered a pretty good sized ship for a couple of years without refueling. Why bother with fusion?

With regard to the doubters about climate change - I can only say that nuclear fission does not produce any air pollution at all.

Do you deny the existence and environmental harm of fly ash, mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide as well as the existence and harm from potentially climate changing gases?

Remember, fission is clean enough to run inside a submarine full of people! That characteristic has tremendous value to me; I like clean air and water.

Posted by: Rod Adams | April 18, 2006 12:47 PM

Cayambe - In a past thread, it was generally established that the Brazilian ethanol process using sugar cane is about 3X less expensive than the US corn one. And that ethanol is 1/2 as efficient as gasoline per volume. Figures of 3.63 for Brazil, 7-8 dollars for USA ethanol sans Agribiz subsidies were used. The most compelling stat was supplied by another poster who linked to a study saying we would have to sacrifice over 3/4ths our arable land to ethanol production to achieve a measure of oil independence - and in doing so - become a nation that needed massive food imports to survive.

" Montana Governor is pushing old German coal to diesel process as a viable option. Is it?"

Yes. It works. Wartime Germany partially ran on synth-fuel, and that was what S. Africa used to stay running after the Apartheid embargo. The US ran some new enhanced pilot programs in the 70s by Combustion Engineering, Exxon, GE, etc. to see if new technology, catalysts could lower cost enough to be competitive. Alas, back then, no - so the pilot facilities shut down. Synth-fuel can also come from oil shales. But an additional burden, besides expense, is the synth-fuel process uses huge amounts of water and energy to make. The economics and environmental aspect of that on water-short Western states where most of our coal is have not been discussed. Some proposals have considered building nuke plants to supply the steam CO2-generation free that will free up oil in oil shale, tar sands, and help create oil from coal.

Private investment is exceptionally hard to find because the swings in oil price can make a synth-fuel facility either profitable or a massive money-loser depending on what "the free market" does. Which is why many believe we need to establish both a floor price for oil that protects domestic investors against ruin - and a cap beyond which we tax excess profits. I happen to like the general idea of "Good ol'" Presidente Hugo Chavez's Administration to push for a floor price for oil that will permit Venezuela to add its heavy bitumen deposits (larger than KSA's oil reserves) to its allowable pumpage quota - which would end the global supply crimp in 5-7 years. Chavez wants a floor price of 50 dollars a barrel for OPEC oil. More to come...obviously...Venezuela's idea has merit.

*********************

SandyK - "Chris Ford: Do you live by a reactor?" Why yes, in fact. We moved to do a consult contract for a utility involving it's nukes and liked the area so much we bought a house about 9 miles away from 2 of them. And it is a little off to compare the messes the military made of Hanford and to a lesser extent Savannah at the Cold Wars worst and most urgent point of getting the stuff we needed to make the nukes to defend our country (1947-1954 era)--- to Rod Adam's Nuclear Navy's spotless reputation or to the present well-run, safe, highly efficient civilian nuke plants that we, the Euros, Japanese run.

*********************
Lab Rat - If you had read my posts more carefully, you would have noticed that I did in fact discuss issues you take umbrage for me supposedly not discussing. The commercial non-starter with fusion are (1)We haven't achieved energy break even (2)We haven't found a way to sustain the process. As for other critics, I did not notice other than the person that leaves incoherent sentence fragments and never signs his name. The poor soul appears a little "tetch'd" as they say - I don't really read his posts and suspect others don't much either.

But again, no matter how much you are infatuated with a technology not proven to work, it is stupid to predicate the nations energy plan on the assumption it will. Especially after 50 years of trouble even with massive R&D investment. And the "fusion makes radioactive stuff" discussion is important because all too many people have the false impression that a functioning fusion plant "makes no rad waste". But it does from neutron activation of structural components and certainly would from building plants (that if other fusion roadblocks are fixed) would make them in the form of fission fusion plants to extract the maximum amount of energy for amount of energy and investment dollars put into the process. Which is a co-dependent cycle where high speed fusion neutron flux makes plutonium and heat from direct fission of U-238, which is used in new fission reactors, which BTW, provide the tritium we need for the fusion process.

"You see Chris all it will take is for a breakthrough in the technology and fusion powered reactors will become a viable source of electrial power generation. As it is right now my 12 year old son is asking what to study in school so he can become rich beyond his imagination, I told him if he could figure out a way to make a fusion reaction to take place at or near room temprature and pressure, that he could sell that technology for billions."

All the unattainable proffered up for investors and gov't grants always comes with the dream of the "breakthrough" permitting anti-gravity, cold fusion, cancer cure, quantum computer, cheap space travel, 250MPG engines, cheap hydrogen from water, special elixer oil that enlarges breasts.

Some breakthroughs may happen. But it is foolish to base todays needs and the near future on the chance of a far future "breakthrough" that just might not happen.

Then once the "breakthrough" happens, you have to see about commercial viability. That is another barrier. Just because a technology is demonstrated to work doesn't mean it will become viable or widespread in application and usage. Tidal power was tested and passed on..We had the personal air car invented back in the 50s - an autogyro on wheels. Never became viable. And there is that long list of "atomic devices" that never caught on...like the plutonium-238 heart pacemaker.

Pie in the sky, or pie on the table 30 years from now - you better have something realistic to survive on in the interim - And clearly understand if it is illusory pie in the sky - like limitless oil from turkey guts you are chasing, or are on track for a realistic fusion alternative that can become commercially available in widespread use 35-50 years out from here.

******************

Jim Baird - Thanks for getting back on the subduction zone work you have done. I'd read about that proposal - in the same Scientific American talking about sticking waste in billions year old deep sea mud that doesn't "communicate" much with the ocean and mud that appears to be perfect to suck up and bind any leaking radioisotopes. I wasn't aware until you wrote that you contributed to the nifty subduction zone idea. Maybe the dumping law will be revised some day. I did remember hearing years ago about some unique geology that you and your Japanese counterparts might have to address because some enviroweenies would find it and use it aganst your proposal. We have found chunks of ancient limestone formations that were subducted down into the mantle, altered by heat and pressure, then disgorged in an upwelling area hundreds of millions a year later, and found. And of course the enviroweenies would raise the specter of subducted waste ending up in a future volcano "spewing" deadly plutonium "the most deadly substance (bogus fact) known to man".

Good luck. If anyone will push for it, given Japan's robust nuclear program, lack of remote deserts, and high seismic activity in a high population density locale, it's the Japanese.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 18, 2006 01:23 PM

We need nuclear power. No American has ever died from it, though we supply 20% of our energy costs with Nuke power. Practical environmentalists (i.e. those who seek pragmatic methods of preservation versus those who simply want evil humans to return to some imaginary pristine utopia without machines) should LOVE this stuff: it generates zero green house gasses.

Too bad we haven't purchased a new plant license since 1974. Oh well, Exxon is quite happy.

Posted by: Jon M | April 18, 2006 01:23 PM

And so is Chris Ford, that waste of blog space.

Posted by: Alberto | April 18, 2006 01:46 PM

We need safe, clean, efficient nuclear power. We need actinide reprocessing that President Carter stopped to drastically reduce both the volume of nuclear waste and the time to achieve natural background radioactivity (330 years with full actinide reprocessing).

Energy is the basis for the entire modern modern economy, technology and agriculture, and if we depend on others for it who have an affinity for flying airplanes into buildings we are going to be sorry.

We need to start turning our own massive coal reserves into transportation fuels, and then move to hydrogen from nuclear and wind energy. Imagine how clean our cities would be if we burned atoms, and used hydrogen for cars.

Posted by: Andy Holland | April 18, 2006 01:59 PM

Worldwide, nuclear has produced about 6,000 gigawatt-years of electricity to date, mostly at the expense of oil-fired generation. So ten billion tonnes of oil that would have been burned were not, and 30 billion tonnes of CO2 have been kept out of the air.

Oil prices have varied over the 30 or so years in which this has been happening, but assuming an average of US$20 a barrel and eight barrels per tonne, US$1.6 trillion has been taken from Big Oil's lunch.

Remarkably, they don't seem to be the ones who are really upset. It is government that really hates nuclear, because along with those trillions there would have been trillions in tax. Persons to whom government cheques are important often say nuclear is subsidized. What they really mean is it has cut into the fossil fuel industry's subsidy of them.

Posted by: G.R.L. Cowan | April 18, 2006 01:59 PM

Texas is having rolling blackouts and is in the midst of a heat wave. Texas is also the nation's largest user of fossil fuel electricity and largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

By contrast, Vermont, which gets 75% of its electricity from a nuclear power plant and some of the rest from hydroelectric, is the nation's lowest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Maybe Texas is getting a dose of its own medicine.

Posted by: RSponsler | April 18, 2006 02:24 PM

It's about time Detroit launched a full size SUV powered by nuclear energy. Fossil fuel industry is rich beyond avarice as it is.

Posted by: Alberto | April 18, 2006 03:04 PM

I don't like the nuclear SUV idea, but do like the idea of a nuclear gasoline plant to feed all the SUVs that need to be fed gasoline or scrapped. If it got its carbon by calcining limestone -- thermally splitting it into CO2 and CaO -- the CaO could go out in the world and pull other CO2 from the air, making this nuclear gasoline climate-neutral.

Posted by: G.R.L. Cowan | April 18, 2006 03:56 PM

Ethanol Fuel More Advantageous Than Thought
By Bjorn Carey
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 26 January 2006
02:01 pm ET

Producing a gallon of ethanol gas from corn requires 95 percent less petroleum than producing a gallon from fossil fuels, a new study finds.

This method might also slightly reduce the production of greenhouse gases that speed up global warming, but the results on that point are not certain.

"It is better to use various inputs to grow corn and make ethanol and use that in your cars than it is to use the gasoline and fossil fuels directly," said Daniel Kammen of the University of California, Berkeley.

Ethanol could be even more energy efficient and 95 percent free of greenhouse gas emissions, Kammen said, if produced from woody plants instead of corn.

The study is detailed in the Jan. 27 issue of the journal Science.

http://www.livescience.com/environment/060126_ethanol_better.html

Posted by: It's always nice to deal with people that honestly prevent facts from being heard by people that nee | April 18, 2006 04:06 PM

Ethanol Fuel More Advantageous Than Thought
By Bjorn Carey
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 26 January 2006
02:01 pm ET

Producing a gallon of ethanol gas from corn requires 95 percent less petroleum than producing a gallon from fossil fuels, a new study finds.

This method might also slightly reduce the production of greenhouse gases that speed up global warming, but the results on that point are not certain.

"It is better to use various inputs to grow corn and make ethanol and use that in your cars than it is to use the gasoline and fossil fuels directly," said Daniel Kammen of the University of California, Berkeley.

Ethanol could be even more energy efficient and 95 percent free of greenhouse gas emissions, Kammen said, if produced from woody plants instead of corn.

The study is detailed in the Jan. 27 issue of the journal Science.

http://www.livescience.com/environment/060126_ethanol_better.html

Posted by: It's always nice to deal with people that honestly prevent facts from being heard by people that nee | April 18, 2006 04:06 PM

Andy Holland...just one thing. It may make sense for using wind (that very small supply) or nuclear to make hydrogen, but only if you can't get electricity directly to market.

The problem is in thermodynamics. And lack of rational energy use policy in America. We can get hydrogen directly from natural gas, but we decided that we could build gas turbine plants to generate electricity without fears of NIMBY-ism. Which, as "we" consultants warned, would drive up demand and price in a few years are screw not just electric rate payers, but homes and industry using nat gas directly with far higher nat gas bills.

Gas used to make electricity is 45% efficient (power vs. 55% lost as waste heat), but not as efficient as other uses where 100% of natural gas's energy is used directly. Nuke is about 33-36% efficient at making electricity, but nuke fuel is now dirt cheap...it's other factors that make up most of nuke power's cost.

So we have a windmill that is 15-20% efficient at making electricity or nuclear devoted to electrolysis of hydrogen at the cost of 5 ergs of electricity to make 3 ergs of hydrogen.....(and making, compressing, and storing hydrogen at many dispersed low energy, low profit windmills would be difficult and expensive - though it might work in making wind energy useful at a time when the wind blows when electric demand is low). I haven't seen any studies of the cost of windmills making electricity and storing unwanted off-peak energy created in the form of hydrogen. It might work..

The rational thing would be to replace the 30% electric generation from nat gas with nuclear and a tiny amount of wind power -and use the 90% efficient natural gas cracking process to make hydrogen instead of burning it - rather than the 18% efficient electrolysis process.

It will be hard though, because short term bottom line thinking has "gifted us" with wads of natural gas fired power plants that rewarded decision-makers with good quarterlys back in the 90s, but now stand to screw the clueless American public for another 25-30 years of planned gas turbine plant lifetime - so they will keep nat gas prices high and stay grabbing a huge part of the nat gas supply through the long-term guarantees they got from nat gas pipeline operators, to assure they could always get supply to make electricity.

And the situation is worse because now the environmental activists have decided the Next Great Evil Thing to be Opposed At All Costs - natural gas imports in the form of LNG. LNG is now the in the Unholy Trinity, shared with nuke power and evil SUVs.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 18, 2006 05:04 PM

The sunny west and the windy plains, plus super conductors, will provide all of the seed energy needed to produce hydogen fuel for all time to come. As for the atomic option, we need a fail-safe space ship that transports the waste material to the sun. Otherwise, whoa, are you mad.

Posted by: Paul Cross | April 19, 2006 12:03 AM

Spaceships for transporting nuclear waste off the earth, although extravagant, would not need to be failsafe if the stuff were stored for 20 years or so and then launched over deep parts of the ocean.

This can be seen to be true by considering the natural radioactivity of the 4 billion tonnes of uranium in the ocean, plus the much larger amount of radioactive potassium. When ships would fail and drop their loads to the sea bottom, the backup plan would be for it to lie there, undissolving; obviously no harm to ocean nor land could occur then.

But it's also true that if they DID dissolve, no harm could occur, for their radioactivity, mixed through the ocean, would be small compared to that already there. So there would be two degrees of fail-safeness to this rocket launch scheme.

The attempt to raise fear of nuclear waste always involves the deceptive omission of this vital fact. It is like saying we, who live in a house with flush toilets and a thousand-acre cornfield out back, can't get a hamster because there is no way to get rid of its droppings.

There is a *reason* nuclear waste was never taken seriously in the early years of nuclear energy: it's not serious.

Posted by: G.R.L. Cowan | April 19, 2006 12:28 AM

I see no logic at all in proposals to launch atomic "waste" into space. The material is safely handled here on earth. I have been looking for years for even a single story about a person who has been harmed by exposure to the waste products of atomic power plants.

Launching anything into space is quite expensive; the last time I checked, NASA estimated that it cost more than $10,000 per kilogram to put something into orbit, and the cost goes up the farther from earth that you want to go.

Most of what is now considered to be waste has incredible potential energy value. We only use the easy 3-5% so far.

Atomic power plant by-products also have lots of potential uses and could be quite valuable for applications like nuclear batteries (Sr-90), irradiation for sterilization (Cs-137), and medical diagnosis (Tc-99).

We need to stop thinking of them as only waste and stop encouraging huge contracting firms from thinking about the dollars that they will make producing over engineered containers, special rail lines, and drilling and boring equipment.

Leave the waste where it is and allow entrepreneurs with good ideas to demonstrate that they can safely store and/or convert the material into useful products.

BTW - time for a shameless plug of my blog and podcast. (http://www.atomicinsights.blogspot.com and http://atomic.thepodcastnetwork.com)

Posted by: Rod Adams | April 19, 2006 04:02 AM

I agree launching nuclear waste into space is illogical; "extravagant" was the word I used.

But there was a suggestion, possibly merely ignorant or maybe something worse, that this very high-cost approach, unlike lower-cost ones such as burying it, would not be completely safe and effective, even with failure-prone space freighters; of course it would be.

People need to understand that there are no -- zero, 0 -- conscientious objectors to nuclear waste production. Better a thousand spent-fuel storage pools like the one(s) at Chernobyl than a single butane heater emitting fossil waste in a Spanish hostel (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4241599.stm).

Posted by: G.R.L. Cowan | April 19, 2006 09:35 AM

Lab Rat, you say that nearly "all mainstream environmental scientists agree that the earth is warming [by how much and by what measurement?] because of Greenhouse gases."

First, although you might believe it to be true, you have no evidence that a majority of environmental scientists support the position that greenhouse gases are the major factor in global warming. This is the same error that MSM repeatedly makes. When was the last time a consensus regarding global warming was documented? As far as I know, it was the petition to the Senate that sunk ratifying Kyoto.

Secondly, even if it were true that a majority believed that greenhouse gases were the main culprit, that does not make it true. Science is not based on consensus. Until verifiable models are produced we will not know the effect of human activities versus natural effects on climate change. At this point, claims regarding this are quite speculative and a poor basis for making political and economic decisions.

Posted by: barb | April 19, 2006 11:08 AM

Most of what has been said about fusion is true. It has the potential to be a big source of energy, would eliminate the ability of rouge states to hide their nuclear weapons programs behind "legal" civilian program, still has many technical hurdles and, employing the lowest order fusion reaction, would generate high energy nutrons that could be used for fision-fusion hybrids or would cause radioactivity. That having been said, higher order fusions can be nuetron free and allow collection of energy with magneto-hydrodynamic efficiences (90%) rather than carno-cycle limitations.

All that having been said, the potential of consumption reducing technology is being largely understated by most posters. It is highly instructive to look to the computer industry where processors are being made vastly more efficient, with higher processing power and DRAMATICALLY less electricity consumption. From computers to LED lights to more efficient appliances, the ability of knowledge to provide product services at higher efficiency is exploding. Chris Ford likes to talk of "Quads", but ignores that forecasters fail to see the impact of technology. As energy gets more costly, innovations will change our rate of use. We dramatically shifted the energy use/GDP ratio in the 70'/80's and will have the knowledge and incentive to do so again.

The problem with solar cells was not (rediculously) "using up the electrons" or (technobabble) "dopant shift", but more mundanely the degradation of contacts to the solar cell when the pannels were set out in the environment (you know moisture, temperature cycling, that kind of stuff).

The ideal of a floor on oil prices is very good and the previous commentator on Venuselas (sp?) heavy oil are valid (sheesh, I worked on this stuff nearly 30 years ago! Right when the Hunt brothers were cornering the silver market, it was profitable to process the stuff just for the silver in it!). The author omitted Canadian tar sands which are also economically valid at prices over $30 per barrel and have greater than Saudi reserves. Frankly however, I doubt this administration would accept ANY idea of Chavez, no matter how valid.

The CERN idea for nuclear power and nuclear waste waste disposal is very interesting. The disposal technology could be useful for disposal of more than nuclear waste (dioxins, etc.)

Thanks all

Posted by: Ynot | April 19, 2006 11:35 AM

Vis Global warming:

Undoubtedly increasing carbon in the atmosphere reflects back an increasing fraction of the earths black body infared radiation effectively trapping heat that would otherwise be radiated into space. Period end of story, there is no scientific debate on that issue.

That having been said the trickier part is what other buffers are in the system (the earth and its atmosphere) and how does increasing carbon dioxide push the system? Is the push so mild that nothing happens? Is there a (or a series of) critical points above which some expansion of warming occurs? Does the increased energy in the system just lead to more violent weather?

These are all unknowns to some degree or another and there is room for arguement.

Frankly I'd rather not find out with an empirical test.

Posted by: ynot | April 19, 2006 11:45 AM

I have lots to say on this topic, as an environmental engineer who specializes in radioactive waste management, but I don't have the time to read all these posts and respond right now.

But I would like to add just a quick correction to Rod Adams' statement about potential uses of, in particular, Tc-99. That's technetium-99, a very long-lived (half life over 200,000 years) bad actor in the environment, since it scoots along in water and has a high dose potential. There is nothing good or useful about Tc-99, and it is a major troublemaker for rad waste sites.

What Rod is referring to is Tc-99m, that is, a metastable isotope of Tc. Despite the similarity in name and in chemistry, Tc-99m is an entirely different beast from Tc-99. Tc-99m has a half-life of only about 6 hours, and is indeed a workhorse in nuclear medicine. It is not a fission product from nuclear power, as is Tc-99, but is a decay product from the also radioactive Mo-99, which is made in nuclear reactors.

But, please be careful in your identification. Tc-99m has no issues in radioactive waste disposal, but Tc-99 is a major problem.

Posted by: Engineer John | April 19, 2006 11:49 AM

"..eliminate the ability of rouge states to hide their nuclear weapons.."

It's not 'rouge', it's 'rogue'. If you must parrot govn't lingo, Ynot, at least do it correctly, cretin.

Another astute comment, Jaxas. Makes one think of Galileo, Copernicus and other thinkers who met the sad end in the hands of ignorant villains in power.
Ford, on the other hand, is a useless windbag desperate to convince us of the possibility of makinga living out all this non-sequitur he's so capable of producing in enormous quantities. Personally, Ford, I'm convinced, especially if one peddles all that tripe to the government with plenty of money to waste.

Posted by: Alberto | April 19, 2006 12:16 PM

Right on, Alberto. No need to disseminate the news though.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 19, 2006 12:26 PM

if that's your name.

it's interesting that the presidents yes men consistently switch to womens names when they don't want to be challenged....


if most of the worlds governments have signed off on environmental measures as being needed to address multiple topics...

oceanic damage, global warning, deforestation and we haven't joined in then I would say that YOU are sadly mistaken if _you_ think we're not in the minority _as a nation_

that is ruled by corporations,

you've sseen your brothers and your sisters jobs traded to countries overseas,

for the dollar.


you've sseen factories closed and shipped in toto off to foreign lands and you and WE have to deal with the economic fallout...


how can you in any sense believe what WE as a corporate ruled entity put out when you can so clearly see that your government and your corporations care about you not at all..........


how about Big Tobacco? can you say "legalized murder?" or as stephen king would say

redrum

how long will it take you to pull your head out of your rectum to see what is happening in front of your eyes?

is unhandled and unmonitored pollution any good for anyone?

is relentless consumption of a non-renewable resource a thoughtful practice?

is equating a penis with an suv a thoughtful blow for motherhood?

thanks so much for your clueless contribution in the war against disinformation...

your dad's would be proud of you.

.

Posted by: dear barb, | April 19, 2006 01:32 PM

I was going to get into isotopic details too, and now I will. I am not a fan of strontium-90 batteries because strontium-90's disintegration is almost free of gamma rays; there is a world of difference between almost free, and free, as I seem to recall some Russian hunters learned when they salvaged a former-USSR radiostrontium generator.

And just as 90-Sr isn't quite gamma-free, 137-Cs isn't really the business as far as gamma rays are concerned; it doesn't emit *enough* of them, and is born in the midst of 50 other fission products and actinides. What *is* the business is cobalt-60: you just make the shape you want of cobalt-59, put it in a large reactor for a few days or a few months, and you've got a clean gamma ray source many times stronger than any nuclear waste.

So while agreeing with Adams on nuclear waste's history of harmlessness in practice, I don't agree with the quotation marks he puts on the second word.

Posted by: G.R.L. Cowan | April 19, 2006 01:51 PM

dopant drift is the primary cause of chip failure..

if what you have to say about connectivity issues is true...

it doesn't have to be an issue.

you can use gold plating and enclosed connections, like you do in a car...


non-weather exposed connections can also be kept to a minimum by having the gangs of solar arrays hardwired, with minimul connecting points that can be placed near a roof edge to be easily checked or snapped apart, cleaned and snapped back together..


there are always solutions to any problem.


the current administrations nay-sayers/corporate stooges that insist on failure

if it means that we can't invade another country need to be dragged to the streets and set in public pillories to face the results of their treasonous actions...


here's a can of tomatoes you can use to wash their lying facists...


.

thanks so much.

.

Posted by: regarding techno babble.. | April 19, 2006 02:11 PM

re: rouge and rogue

Sorry, mistyped. It warmed my day to be called a cretin for that typo. Hope you felt superior for days on end for catching that gaffe.

Re solar cells:

Although solar cells and todays microchips have a common ancestor, they are essentially different animals. Solar cells do not fail like normal chips fail. They have only 1 or at most 2 doped layers (always the front, sometimes the back). They also have little or no microstructure that is the essence of chip manufacture. Essentially the entire surface is one transistor. For dopant drift to cause a failure, you would have to have so much migration that the dopants nearly leach out of the doped layer, not simply that some have crossed transistor boundaries (when I was working on solar cells, we believed this was a failure mode on the order of centuries).

You can fix any problem, I agree. To do it cost effectively in the volume required to make a significant impact on energy use is another story.

Gold contacts do not prevent contact delamination. Most people seem to have evolved to transparent contacts over the entire surface of the cell. This mitigates the effect of some delamination.

Temperature cycling is an almost unescapable issue. Ensuring the survival of acres and acres of solar cells panels that need to survive 20 years of 365 daily diurnal cycles is far beyond what is required in the automotive industry. It is even worse since the place where solar cells work best, the desert, has the greatest diurnal cycle and the highest average temperature (high temperature degrades plastic packaging material faster).

Posted by: ynot | April 19, 2006 02:50 PM

Asserting like Chris Ford does that each bit of capacity from variable sources like wind and solar would require an equivalent amount of conventional capacity as bacup in case the sun doent shine is ignorant. Caos theory, its predicessors and derivatives enable one to assign firm values to the amount of conventional capacity that could be effectively displaced.

This is a red herring disproven by people with the appropriate math skills more than 30 years ago. In the interim, the results have only been refined through the use of more powerful mathematic techniques.

Posted by: Caos Theory | April 19, 2006 03:05 PM

Nuclear power will return as there are too many potential uses for new nuclear reactors. What is going to produce Hydrogen for the next generation of Fuel Cells....Nuclear. What can be used to desalinate water when fresh water becomes a commodity...nuclear. Solar and Wind will never reach the potentials of nuclear power. Right now nuclear energy costs on average about 4.5 cents per KWh. That includes the cost of waste management.

As far as terrorists....I work at nuclear plants...I would love to see a terrorist try to walk away or get near some of the spent fuel to make a bomb. Better have a crane since fuel assemblies are 12' tall and underwater. Even dry storage is too radioactive to get at, so noone will be making any dirty bombs out of that stuff.

The U.S. gov't made a promise when nuclear plants were getting built, so they will put there foot down on all these lawsuits and Yucca Mountain will open.

Posted by: J.P. | April 19, 2006 04:03 PM

I have recently found and am interested in this discussion, and hope that we can refrain from the silly name-calling that is starting to take over. As for my position on nuclear power, I am ambivalent. What I would like to see done for nuclear power as well as the renewable sources, is a full cradle to grave analysis. This includes mining, manufacturing, production of waste involved at all stages, environmental impacts, and long-term waste disposition. Until we see something like that (perhaps the Union of Concerned Scientists could do it?) much discussion amounts to no more than hyperbole.

I am a rad waste engineer, and have serious reservations about the long-term prospects for disposition of spent nuclear fuel. On the other hand, I have equally serious reservations about coal andother fossil fuels and their long-term effects on the atmosphere and the environment - mercury, CO2, sulfur, etc. Solar is cool, but those cells are not cheap or clean to produce. And, as one who appreciates desert flora and fauna, I take issue with those who see deserts as some vast wasteland waiting to be plastered with solar cells. Rooftops, however, are ideal locations. Wind - I need to see some numbers on what it takes to produce a substantial fraction of our power needs, but i the mean time I am taking advantage of a wind farm in souther New Mexico for the power needs of my residence.

So -- can we drop the hyperbole and look at the numbers? Does anyone have reliable numbers? For example, how much is the cost (including mining, manufacturing, energy necessary to produce the hardware, costs to the environment, long-term waste issues) per unit of energy produced for each of the following: nuclear, coal, natrual gas, hydropower, wind, tide, solar, etc. Do these numbers even exist? And, more importantly, can we even have a useful discussion without them?
_______
A reponse to G.R.L. Cowen:
I agree that Co-60 is a much better gamma source than Cs-137 for another reason: the waste. Co-60 has a relative short half-life of 5+ years, whereas Cs-137 is more like 30 years. When designing a facility to "lock up" the waste, the former is much easier to deal with.

Posted by: Engineer John | April 19, 2006 04:08 PM

Nothing to feel superior about, Ynot. It's just that you happened to supply a sad example of thought/language control in a "democratic" society. The pervasiveness of government propaganda is annoying.
As for the alternative sources of energy, whatever scientific conclusions may be, this administration will do nothing to harm the fossil fuel industry, and I seriously doubt the next one will either, which makes this debate rather a pointless exercise.

Posted by: Alberto | April 19, 2006 04:26 PM

I think talk about net-energy fractions tends to go like this--

A. Why don't nuclear and solar partisans ever address the ratio of energy invested to energy returned by their favoured energy technologies?

B: We do. The energy payback ratio of a concentrated-sunlight heat engine can be estimated by a crude model, if all we want is a conservative lower bound. The energy invested in a mirror system very likely will be dominated by the energy invested in the mirrors themselves. A square km of mirror, suitably sited, gets 250 MW of sunlight as a year-round average. If it succeeds in averaging 150 MW of sunlight concentrated onto the hot end of a 25-percent-efficient heat engine, and 30 percent of that heat engine's output is worthless because of intermittency, we have 26 MW of usable output.

Suppose the mirrors are centimetre-thick fused silica. A square km has volume 10,000 cubic metres, mass 22,000 tonnes. How long does it take to melt 22,000 tonnes, 366 million moles, of silica with 26 MW? This (NIST table [http://tinyurl.com/6hbd5 ] lets me estimate heating silica from 298 K (room temperature) to its 1996-K melting point costs 119 kJ/mol, and heat of fusion is 8.2 kJ/mol, total 127.5 kJ/mol. So the melting energy is 4.667 terajoules, and divided by 26 MW that gives a melting time of 1.795 million seconds. That's a little less than three weeks, so if the mirrors last 30 years they pay back at least 150 times.

Similarly, nuclear power stations use a lot of concrete -- 190 cubic metres per electrical megawatt, it says at http://www.nae.edu/nae/bridgecom.nsf/weblinks/MKEZ-5S3Q6M?OpenDocument -- and so do wind turbines (870 m^3 per average electrical MW).

Approximating the density as 2500 kg/m^3 and the composition as all clinker, we can use the 1.30-megawatt-hour-per-tonne average energy cost of clinker given at http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/epic/internet/inggeb-aceges.nsf/vwGeneratedInterE/ge00109e.html to derive upper bounds for the times these electricity sources would take to run an electrical clinker furnace long enough to make their twins: respectively 26 and 118 days.

A. Why don't nuclear and solar partisans ever address the ratio of energy invested to energy returned by their favoured energy technologies?

Posted by: G.R.L. Cowan | April 19, 2006 05:52 PM

Ah - these back-of-the-envelope calculations are useful. It's not comprehensive, but it's a start, and an example of the type of calculations we need to be doing.

Can a non-politicized cost/benefit analysis be done on various sources of energy?

Of course, another approach is to simply diversify where we can. Use ALL these technologies to replace fossil fuels.

Hmm... Do we all agree that fossil fuels need to be phased out for generation of electrical and motive power? Aren't they going to be more valuable as chemical feedstocks than fuels?

Posted by: Engineer John | April 19, 2006 06:03 PM

Chris Ford is too a nooklear expert! He learned everything he knows from Homer Simpson. My theory is that Chris Ford doesn't live NEAR a nuclear reactor... he lives IN a nuclear reactor. Speaking of, I wouldn't give too many details out about where I lived if I were Chris Ford... Israeli intelligence forces might locate him and deal with him appropriately.

Posted by: ErrinF | April 19, 2006 07:08 PM

Nobody talks about reducing energy consumption.

The USA is the most energy consuming country in the world.

I've read that the best investment is done when you reduce instead of increase energy consumption.

Some thoughts regarding this issue?

Posted by: Fern | April 19, 2006 07:40 PM

Government taxes energy, especially fossil fuel energy. That means government never wants people to reduce energy consumption.

So the approach of taxing energy to make people consume less has the fatal flaw that government looks for ways to make them still consume as much. You could drive at the speed limit, but government functionaries will be flashing past you, and it's really safer to keep up with traffic.

If energy prices are GENUINELY higher, not artificially, then of course people will conserve. They would also be likely to do this if government were genuinely interested in encouraging them to do so; this might be true if energy were taxed no more than other commodities, and would definitely be true if energy were subsidized.

If energy were subsidized, and you let your speed on the highway drift up two miles an hour above the posted limit, you could count on a prompt warning from a cop, or maybe a radar-triggered warning light, flashing amber I would guess, on the roadside.

All that said, whatever energy is used, it is better it be nuclear than fossil.

Posted by: G.R.L. Cowan | April 19, 2006 08:27 PM

ErrinF writes:
"Chris Ford is too a nooklear expert! He learned everything he knows from Homer Simpson. My theory is that Chris Ford doesn't live NEAR a nuclear reactor... he lives IN a nuclear reactor."

This sort of vitriol contributes nothing to the debate. Why do you attack Chris Ford - just because he as a different position from your own? I have found his arguments to be generally cogent, and backed up. Not that I agree with them all, but he is contributing in a positive way, giving us a genuine perspective and real talking points.

As I've said, I am ambivalent about nuclear power, and I appreciate reading sensible statements of all positions. What I cannot stand is name-calling and hyperbole. Let's keep this civil, and let's keep this intelligent.

As far as living near a nuclear power plant - I would much sooner live downwind of a nuke than a coal-powered plant, that's for sure. And, in fact, I do live in close proximity (< 1 km) to large amounts of radioactive waste, a legacy of the Manhattan Project that we are still grappling with. But for now, at least, the air and water are clean. Far cleaner than the air and water in the nearest metropolitan area.

Posted by: Engineer John | April 20, 2006 10:32 AM

What I cannot stand, John, is overstatement. "Engineer"?.. I find it hard to believe.
Unless you retired long time ago. Very long time ago, that is. Am I not right?

Posted by: Adam | April 20, 2006 11:56 AM

"I've read that the best investment is done when you reduce instead of increase energy consumption.

Some thoughts regarding this issue?" writes Fern.

To persuade American consumers to reduce energy consumption, Fern, is like asking bears to stop deficating in the forest... like asking a government bureaucrat to do something remotely humane once in a while... it's like asking Hamas and Israel to coexist peacefully... it's like... I don't know, man.

Posted by: Adam | April 20, 2006 12:16 PM

Huh?
Adam writes:
"What I cannot stand, John, is overstatement. "Engineer"?.. I find it hard to believe.
Unless you retired long time ago. Very long time ago, that is. Am I not right?"

You are not right. I am a practicing registered Professional Engineer, seven years running. Why is that hard to believe?

Posted by: | April 20, 2006 12:39 PM

Oh.

Posted by: Adam | April 20, 2006 01:01 PM

"This sort of vitriol contributes nothing to the debate" -- that was the intent. Oil and gas money can't win a debate that stays civil and intelligent, and here in Ontario, it seems it's not winning at all.

To persuade scores of millions of American consumers to reduce *fossil fuel* consumption, reduce taxes on it. By this means, people in this multitude will each save a little; if nothing else changed, they might put some of the savings into buying and burning a little *more* fossil fuel.

But that's unlikely, I think, for the following reason: small savings for them mean much larger losses of income for millions of the government bureaucrats Adam suggests are inhumane -- and these are the people decide whether speeding will be discouraged or encouraged, whether cities will be laid out to require much driving or little, whether building codes will be passive-solar-friendly or not, and so on.

In short, fossil fuel taxes benefit those with a disproportionate influence over everyone's decisions on how much to burn.

Fossil fuel tax reduction will help; the "carbon taxes" these people often propose, as if fuel carbon were not already specially and heavily taxed, they propose with their own nests' feathering in mind, not the public interest, which would be harmed.

There is no good reason to persuade the American public, or any public, to reduce energy consumption per se. Just fossil fuels; and it will help when the supposedly virtuous persuaders aren't themselves the main fossil fuel interest.

--- G.R.L. Cowan, former hydrogen fan
B: internal combustion, nuclear cachet
http://tinyurl.com/4xt8g

Posted by: G.R.L. Cowan | April 20, 2006 01:12 PM

G.R.L.

I cannot understand why you are more focused on explaining a certain portion of anti nuclear behaviors on bureaucrats protecting fossil fuel tax revenues instead of talking about the actions by fossil fuel interests to protect the much larger incomes that they are obtaining through the fossil fuel sales themselves.

Though I will agree that us bureaucrats like to spend other people's tax money, our motivation is now where near as focused as is the motivation of fossil fuel interests. We have lots of other revenue sources to worry about.

In contrast, the energy interests have one major revenue source to worry about. They are capturing hundreds of billions of extra dollars each year, partially due to the energy scarcity that has been enabled by opposition to nuclear fission.

Their support for anti-nuclear organizations has been generous and long term.

Posted by: Rod Adams | April 20, 2006 10:58 PM

well, my contention would be that you could build the cell in an "organic" fashion with deposition...


couldn't you?

you could even protect the surface with diamond deposition.

.

Posted by: oh, delamination... | April 21, 2006 01:30 PM

Poor Engineer John doesn't appreciate the comic aspect of Chris Ford, Nooklear Expert. I for one am still laughing. LOL! : )

Posted by: ErrinF | April 21, 2006 05:05 PM

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