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Jim Hansen on nuclear power
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clv101
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:21 am    Post subject: Jim Hansen on nuclear power Reply with quote

10 minute video from Hansen:
http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/23/jim-hansen-presses-the-climate-case-for-nuclear-energy/?comments%23permid=52&_r=1
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He's long been against the prevailing nuclear technology while suggesting that 4th generation design may be a future worth pursuing, or should have been pursued from the start.
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Little John



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What I still don't understand is why nuclear waste can't be used to generate power and, when that is spent, used again until all that is left is a small amount of very highly radiative and very hot material (in the literal thermal sense due to its very short half life, by that point) which could then be simply used to power heat engine power generators of the Stirling type. Such end-stage material would have a relatively very short half life of maybe only several decades and the thermal output would be strongly correlated with the radioactive output. Thus, when it was no longer putting out enough heat to efficiently power a heat engine, it would also have reached sufficiently low enough radioactivity levels to be safely stored above ground for the remainder of the dangerous phase of it's existence (which would be, by that point measured in less than a human lifetime). Beyond which, it could be safely reintroduced to the environment.

In other words, what I am getting it is that nuclear material ranges from the very long lived/low radioactivity levels through to the very short lived/high radioactivity levels. Due to the passage of time on earth, the only stuff we find in the natural environment is very long lived/low radioactivity material. It is only when we first process it in a nuclear power station that we turn it into slightly shorter lived/higher radioactivity material. It is the storage of this secondary material that is the most dangerous because it falls between two health and safety stools. On the one hand, very long lived/low radioactivity material is relatively safe because, although it hangs around for ages, it is not sufficiently radioactive to worry about and, on the other hand, short lived/higher radioactivity material is relatively safe because, although is it dangerously radioactive, it is not so for very long. First generation nuclear waste, on the other hand, is neither of these extremes. It is, instead, radioactive enough to be dangerous and long lived enough to not be able to forget about. It's also a terrible waste of energy.


Last edited by Little John on Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:22 pm; edited 2 times in total
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JohnB



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stevecook172001 wrote:
What I still don't understand is why nuclear waste can't be used to generate power and, when that is spent, used again until all that is left is a small amount of very highly radiative and very hot material....

Can it produce suitable materials for killing people, and make big profits?
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Little John



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Found an answer:

http://www.monbiot.com/2011/12/05/a-waste-of-waste/

Quote:
Why bury nuclear waste, when it could meet the worlds energy needs?

By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 6th December 2011

Its a devastating admission to have to make, especially during the climate talks in Durban. But there would be no point in writing this column if I were not prepared to confront harsh truths. This year the environmental movement to which I belong has done more harm to the planets living systems than climate change deniers have ever achieved.

As a result of shutting down its nuclear programme in response to green demands, Germany will produce an extra 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide between now and 2020(1). Thats almost as much as all the European savings resulting from the energy efficiency directive(2). Other countries are now heading the same way. These decisions are the result of an almost mediaevel misrepresentation of science and technology. For while the greens are right about most things, our views on nuclear power have been shaped by weapons-grade woo.

A fortnight ago, the Guardian examined the work of a Dr Chris Busby(3,4). We found that he has been promoting anti-radiation pills and tests to the people of Japan, which scientists have described as useless and baseless. We also revealed that people were being asked to send donations, ostensibly to help the children of Fukushima, to Busbys business account in Aberystwyth. We found that scientists at the NHS had examined his claims to have detected a leukaemia cluster in north Wales and discovered that they arose from a series of shocking statistical mistakes. Worse still, the scientists say, the dataset has been systematically trawled: theyre accusing him of picking the data that suits his case(5). Yet Busby, until our report was published, advised the Green party on radiation. His findings are widely used by anti-nuclear activists.

Last week in the New York Times, the anti-nuclear campaigner Helen Caldicott repeated a claim which has already been comprehensively discredited: that close to 1 million people have died of causes linked to the Chernobyl disaster(6). The study on which it is based added up the excess deaths from a vast range of conditions, many of which have no known connection to radiation, in the countries affected by Chernobyl and attributed them to the accident(7,8,8a). Among these conditions was cirrhosis of the liver. Could it have any other possible cause in eastern Europe? Earlier this year, when I asked Caldicott to provide scientific sources for the main claims she was making, she was unable to do so(9,10). None of this has stopped her from repeating them, or has prevented greens from spreading them.

Anti-nuclear campaigners have generated as much mumbo-jumbo as creationists, anti-vaccine scaremongers, homeopaths and climate change deniers. In all cases, the scientific process has been thrown into reverse: people have begun with their conclusions, then frantically sought evidence to support them.

The temptation, when a great mistake has been made, is to seek ever more desperate excuses to sustain the mistake, rather than admit the terrible consequences of what you have done. But now, in the UK at least, we have an opportunity to make amends. Our movement can abandon this drivel with a clear conscience, for the technology I am about to describe ticks all the green boxes: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Let me begin with the context. Like other countries suffering from the idiotic short-termism of the early nuclear power industry, the UK faces a massive bill for the storage and disposal of radioactive waste. The same goes for the waste produced by nuclear weapons manufacturing. But is this really waste, or could we see it another way?

In his book Prescription for the Planet, the environmentalist Tom Blees explains the remarkable potential of integral fast reactors (IFRs)(11). These are nuclear power stations which can run on what old nuclear plants have left behind. Conventional nuclear power uses just 0.6% of the energy contained in the uranium that fuels it. Integral fast reactors can use almost all the rest. There is already enough nuclear waste on earth to meet the worlds energy needs for several hundred years, with scarcely any carbon emissions. IFRs need be loaded with fissile material just once. From then on they can keep recycling it, extracting ever more of its energy, until a small fraction of the waste remains. Its components have half-lives of tens rather than millions of years. This makes them more dangerous, but much easier to manage in the long term. When the hot waste has been used up, the IFRs can be loaded with depleted uranium (U-238), of which the world has a massive stockpile(12).

The material being reprocessed never leaves the site: it remains within a sealed and remotely-operated recycling plant. Anyone trying to remove it would quickly die. By ensuring the fissile products are unusable, the IFR process reduces the risk of weapons proliferation. The plant operates at scarcely more than atmospheric pressure, so it cant blow its top. Better still, it could melt down only by breaking the laws of physics. If the fuel pins begin to overheat, their expansion stops the fission reaction. If, like the Fukushima plant, an IFR loses its power supply, it simply shuts down, without human agency. Running on waste, with fewer pumps and valves than conventional plants, they are also likely to be a good deal cheaper(13).

So theres just one remaining question: where are they? In 1994 the Democrats in the US Congress, led by John Kerry, making assertions as misleading as the Swift Boat campaign that was later deployed against him(14), shut down the research programme at Argonne National Laboratories that had been running successfully for 30 years. Even Hazel OLeary, the former fossil fuel lobbyist charged by the Clinton administration with killing it, admitted that no further testing is required to prove its feasibility(15).

But theres a better demonstration that its good to go: last week GE Hitachi (GEH) told the British government that it could build a fast reactor within five years to use up the waste plutonium at Sellafield, and if it doesnt work, the UK wont have to pay(16). A fast reactor has been running in Russia for 30 years(17) and similar plants are now being built in China and India(18,19). GEHs proposed PRISM reactor uses the same generating technology as the IFR, though the current proposal doesnt include the full reprocessing plant. It should.

If the government does not accept GEHs offer, it will, as the energy department revealed on Thursday, handle the waste through mixed oxide processing (mox) instead(20). This will produce a fuel hardly anyone wants, while generating more waste plutonium than we possess already. It will raise the total energy the industry harvests from 0.6% to 0.8%(21).

So we environmentalists have a choice. We cant wish the waste away. Either it is stored and then buried. Or it is turned into mox fuels. Or it is used to power IFRs. The decision is being made at the moment, and we should determine where we stand. I suggest we take the radical step of using science, not superstition, as our guide.

www.monbiot.com
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stevecook172001 wrote:
What I still don't understand... On the one hand, very long lived/low radioactivity material is relatively safe because, although it hangs around for ages, it is not sufficiently radioactive to worry about...


Oh if only it were so simple. But it isn't.
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Little John



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

biffvernon wrote:
stevecook172001 wrote:
What I still don't understand... On the one hand, very long lived/low radioactivity material is relatively safe because, although it hangs around for ages, it is not sufficiently radioactive to worry about...


Oh if only it were so simple. But it isn't.
For fucks sake B, you are bathed in long lived low level radioactivity all your bleeding life! You live in this universe. Get a bloody grip and let go of the woo woo.
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Calm down Smile

I don't have time or energy to write a long essay about it and anyway it's all been written before better than I could, but for instance, take plutonium, which has a long half-life and is very unsafe to have around humans in any quantity at all. Not at all a case of "very long lived/low radioactivity material is relatively safe".
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Little John



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

biffvernon wrote:
Calm down Smile

I don't have time or energy to write a long essay about it and anyway it's all been written before better than I could, but for instance, take plutonium, which has a long half-life and is very unsafe to have around humans in any quantity at all. Not at all a case of "very long lived/low radioactivity material is relatively safe".
Jesus wept, you're like a Pavlovian dog with your posts in this topic.

If you had actually read my post in any depth above the most trivial, you would know that the kind of first generation waste from nuclear power stations such as plutonium is precisely why such waste should be futher processed to reduce it's half life.

Plutonium is precisely the kind of nuclear material that falls between the two stools I mentioned. It does not exist in nature (or at least, it exists in infinitesimally small amounts) because it would have long since decayed to nothing. The only kind of nuclear material we find in nature is far longer lived and so far less radioactive than plutonium. That's the point

On the other hand, very short lived material that would exist after several processing iterations would be far more radioactive than plutonium, but far shorter lived..

for someone who so often chooses to employ the cheap rhetorical tactic of claiming that other posters do not understand how "complex" a given topic is (as you have already done here), your lack of understanding of basic nuclear physics is laughable. Either that, or you just can't help responding Pavlovian-style to any arguments about nuclear power that do not strictly comply with your own a-priori irrationally based conclusions about it.

Nest time you are going to respond to a post on this topic, read it properly first and hold back on the knee jerk rehearsed response or I, for one, won't bother replying.
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Little John



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In fact as I read up more on this topic, there already exists fast breeder technology that can completely consume all plutonium waste to nothing. In other words, by the end of the process, there is no waste left.

Such fast breeder power plants could, conceivably be used to consume the UK's entire current plutonium waste deposits in as little as 30 years.

So, why the hell are they trying to bury such a dangerous material when they could complete get rid of it via fast breeding and get energy out of the process into the bargain?

I think the answer to that question is influential idiots in our culture who are so irrationally against all things nuclear, that our governments dare not introduce such fast breeder technology and so would rather bury the problem, literally.

People like you are the reason why we will end up with this shit below our feet for the next few thousand years Biff.
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JohnB



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stevecook172001 wrote:
So, why the hell are they trying to bury such a dangerous material when they could complete get rid of it via fast breeding and get energy out of the process into the bargain?

I think the answer to that question is influential idiots in our culture who are so irrationally against all things nuclear, that our governments dare not introduce such fast breeder technology and so would rather bury the problem, literally.

Or maybe there would be too much pressure to use nuclear weapons for fuel, and it might produce so much energy that we could cut down on drilling big holes all over the planet. The government seem happy doing things that are unpopular, even with their own voters, when it comes to energy (as we may see in Balcombe this weekend, where Caudrilla are moving in the first drilling rig).
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clv101
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stevecook172001 wrote:
In fact as I read up more on this topic, there already exists fast breeder technology that can completely consume all plutonium waste to nothing. In other words, by the end of the process, there is no waste left.

Such fast breeder power plants could, conceivably be used to consume the UK's entire current plutonium waste deposits in as little as 30 years.


Yes indeed, fast reactors are an answer to long lived nuclear waste. The only problem is that they are significantly more complex than thermal reactors - the same type that we're just now figuring our are too expensive to build. In some ways it's sad that we ended up with the reactors we have now and not fast reactors - but from where we are now, fast reactors should be classified in the techno-fantasy bin.

Here's a presentation on 4th Generation nuclear power from our conference last month: http://glocast.com/webcasts/global_energy_systems_conference_2013/2.6_Richard_Stainsby.html
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Little John



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

clv101 wrote:
stevecook172001 wrote:
In fact as I read up more on this topic, there already exists fast breeder technology that can completely consume all plutonium waste to nothing. In other words, by the end of the process, there is no waste left.

Such fast breeder power plants could, conceivably be used to consume the UK's entire current plutonium waste deposits in as little as 30 years.


Yes indeed, fast reactors are an answer to long lived nuclear waste. The only problem is that they are significantly more complex than thermal reactors - the same type that we're just now figuring our are too expensive to build. In some ways it's sad that we ended up with the reactors we have now and not fast reactors - but from where we are now, fast reactors should be classified in the techno-fantasy bin.

Here's a presentation on 4th Generation nuclear power from our conference last month: http://glocast.com/webcasts/global_energy_systems_conference_2013/2.6_Richard_Stainsby.html
Even if fast reactors are economically infeasible, they should still be built to get rid of the waste as we do not have the moral right to bury this shit under the feet of our grand kids. However, i would question the economic infeasibility argument anyway as both China and Russia use these fast breeders and several other countries are seriously considering doing so.

If it is to be reintroduced to the environment, then it should be done in extremely diluted form over extremely large volumes of earth as opposed to in extremely concentrated form over extremely small volumes of earth.

The above, though, is by far a less desirable solution to fast breeding the stuff out of existence.
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Little John



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

clv101 wrote:
stevecook172001 wrote:
In fact as I read up more on this topic, there already exists fast breeder technology that can completely consume all plutonium waste to nothing. In other words, by the end of the process, there is no waste left.

Such fast breeder power plants could, conceivably be used to consume the UK's entire current plutonium waste deposits in as little as 30 years.


Yes indeed, fast reactors are an answer to long lived nuclear waste. The only problem is that they are significantly more complex than thermal reactors - the same type that we're just now figuring our are too expensive to build. In some ways it's sad that we ended up with the reactors we have now and not fast reactors - but from where we are now, fast reactors should be classified in the techno-fantasy bin.

Here's a presentation on 4th Generation nuclear power from our conference last month: http://glocast.com/webcasts/global_energy_systems_conference_2013/2.6_Richard_Stainsby.html
You do realise that presentation is an argument for the feasibility of fast reactors (in particular, the molten salt fast reactor), don't you?

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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even the US wants to bury it. See here: http://rt.com/usa/us-bolloxed-nuke-waste-209/

(Just had to leave the full link showing rather than shorten it and hide it from view!)

And the Finns are usually a bit more sensible than some - they're doing the most towards burying it.

Why, if there are alternatives? Nuclear has always been uneconomic (well, like fossil fuels, really Laughing), so it can't be that.
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