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 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 158
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...Page 6 of 11    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)
If you like reading about nuclear accidents, the first accident that I know of was in Canada. How the cleanup was managed was actually quite instructive. Cleanup started with the boardroom of AECL. People like the President made a single swipe through the accident area, and got a HUGE radiation dose in doing so. But they actually did a small amount of cleanup. As more and more people went through the zone, the radiation fields went down and people were able to spend longer there, and do more "useful" cleaning. At the end, the company's resources were completely used, and soldiers were doing the last stuff. But nobody was sacrificed at any point, they all did what was judged to be a useful amount of work for the fields present when they were there.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 160
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/19/2007 2:30:50 PM
Having a half life of 11 seconds (like F-20) is really nice, wait an hour or so and all the radioactivity is gone. A few isotopes have half lives that are a function of the environment they are in, typically they decay by K electron capture (I believe). For everything else, the only way we presently know of to alter the decay of a radioactive species, is to force it into some other nuclear reaction. But if we toss a mole (6E24) atoms into a nuclear reactor for some reasonable length of time, we might only activate (neutron capture most likely) 1E12 nuclei. On a chemistry or mass basis, we (essentially) haven't altered any of the matter. Now, if we could find a way to modify even 10% of the nuclei, we could probably design a process to "burn" radioactive nuclei. So, part of the idea is that if we don't "permanently" dispose of waste, if we do find this magic we can reprocess all the waste and make it go away. So far, we haven't had much luck.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 161
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/19/2007 8:51:13 PM
Oh, on the solar cell topic. 2007/05 Advanced Materials and Processes has an article on photovoltaics. They give a useful insolation (wrong word?) of about 700 W/m^2 (about 51% of the 1370 that hits the upper atmosphere). The article goes on to state that if you wanted to power the US with solar cells, you need all of Pennsylvania plus all of Rhode Island.

I actually though State College was a nice place, so I wouldn't want to put solar cells there (I went to school at C-MU for a while). The waitress at the restaurant I ate at all the time got married in State College. Pittsburgh, sure turn it into solar cells. :-) I never could figure out how Pittsburgh was the most livable city in the US when I was going to school there.
 puf_the_majic_dragon
Joined: 12/18/2004
Msg: 162
Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/20/2007 6:25:02 AM

The article goes on to state that if you wanted to power the US with solar cells, you need all of Pennsylvania plus all of Rhode Island.


Found this image on wikipedia's article on solar power:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Solar_land_area.png
When I mentioned Rhode Island I was thinking of this image (black spots represent required surface area to completely power a given land mass) and somehow remembered the black spots being smaller >.< maybe I need my glasses checked.
Full article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power
One thing I've thought about is floating solar arrays which we could place out off the coasts so as not to cover land surface area which could be used for living/agriculture/industry etc. We'd just have to study its effects on the marine ecosystem to stave off the activists, but it's feasible and probably only marginally more expensive than building them on land.

But since the sun only shines for half a day and the cost of storing that much power for night use would be astronomical (no pun intended) solar power could only at best augment other power sources, which brings us back to nuclear power.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 164
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/24/2007 10:54:16 AM
Having played the odd game in hot-atom chemistry (Szilard-Chalmers effect), one thing I've wondered about ever since they discovered buckyballs, is this a useful thing for nuclear fuel? Stick a fissile species inside the cage of a buckyball. The fissile species is then soluble in organic solvents like benzene. If the fissile nucleus reacts, it breaks the cage. The fission fragments may break other cages near them, I would hope they wouldn't. But for the most part the fission fragments will either end up as ionic species, noble gases or carbides (reactions with buckyball cage fragments). If this idea has any merit at all, it could make fuel reprocessing quite easy. Whether that is good or bad is another thing. Or, a person could put a breedable species in the cage, and after exposure to a core, we have the now fissile species that can be separated quite easily. Mind you, the buckyball cage would have to be able to withstand the alpha decays that accompany some of these breeder reactions.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 165
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/24/2007 4:35:20 PM
Arrgh, I think I had a brain fart there. Are there any fissile nuclei generated via alpha decay? Pu-239 and U-233 would only involve beta decay, and I suspect beta decay isn't going to cause any problem to a buckyball cage.
 puf_the_majic_dragon
Joined: 12/18/2004
Msg: 166
Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/24/2007 7:37:46 PM
A friend told me once that "caging" radioactive material in a buckyball effectively blocks the radiation. Since I changed my major from physics to computer science I really don't have a clue whether this is the case or what special circumstances may be involved however.....

With the myriad types of nanotubes being produced and discovered, it seems to me that it's possible we may discover a species of nanotube that floresces in the visible spectrum when exposed to higher frequency photons. These could be incorporated into the buckyball above so that the radiation from your isotope is essentially converted into a light source. High frequency photo-electric nanotubes would also be quite useful. But this is all dependent upon the reality of my first statement. Wouldn't it be nice...
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 167
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/24/2007 9:14:27 PM
C-60 (the original buckyball) isn't big enough to cage all atoms. Buckyballs (at least the unhydrogenated variety) have most of their bonding as some kind of resonant structure similar to benzene. This resonant structure is apparently the reason why benzene is quite radiation hard. However, bake it in enough gammas, and it still turns into coke. So, being resistant doesn't mean it is radiation proof. I really can't see the buckyball cage as doing a darned thing to a beta. It is just a lonely electron, and it is traveling fast. Now whether a buckyball can contain an alpha particle or a fission fragment is another question.

I can't see a buckyball as having any effect on a gamma photon, but it might on low energy x-rays or Auger electrons.

I had run into another materials paper about nanotubes, and it seemed to me that a person could construct a positron source by putting a nugget of Na-22 or similar at the base of each of an array of nanotubes. There may very well be a tendency to align the propagation direction of the positrons. If there was some way to fix the ground state of all the nanotubes to being the same (nanotubes attached to a graphite plane?), the resulting positron emission might even be correlated from tube to tube in the array.

I would think that you would need a metal atom inside each nanotube in order to get any kind of photo emission. But, perhaps all you need is to mess around with the bonding in each tube. Another paper talked about changing from 6 fold bonding for each carbon atom, to arrays of 5, 7 or 5/7 bonding.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 168
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/29/2007 8:14:58 AM
Buckyballs/fullerenes and radiation.

I am finding references to medical studies involving the ability of fullerenes to absorb electrons from free radicals, and hence cut down on the effect of radiation in biological systems. The only things I am seeing so far with respect to direct interactions with ionizing radiation are a couple of patents, and the patent system is so darned screwy that you can't trust that.

I will keep looking for something on the physics side of radiation interactions.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 170
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/29/2007 2:34:17 PM
More on buckyballs. I did run into a paper on the radiolysis of C60 dry and wet from gamma radiation. They were interested in the cosmic population of C60, asteroids, comets and stuff. C60 is very resistant to damage by gamma photons, and wet environments cause more damage than dry. Polymerization seems to be the predominant mechanism.

As far as making energy out of the waste mass of civilisation - where I would start are some of the very interesting organisms we are finding in hot water, such as vents in the ocean and at Yellowstone. In places where geothermal energy can be used to keep a "pool" hot, I wonder if some of these organisms couldn't process a broad spectrum of waste. With the elevated temperatures, kinetics could be quite high.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 173
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 7/29/2007 8:26:03 PM
I was thinking of a self-contained pool, not an existing hot geothermal water source. Nature doesn't build much that is self-contained, everything communicates to everything else. Works fine for evolution, not so for experiments.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 175
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 8/1/2007 9:12:52 AM
Thermal bacteria pools - actually, I don't think the sorting need be too rigorous. You could probably do a rough sort by magnetic properties and then one on density for the non-magnetic material. The bacteria in the pools would be tailored for what they are digesting.

Just about any discussion looks at replacing one kind of generator with something else. I just read a blurb about nuclear and solar, which said that if one looked at putting a nuke in Nevada, the size of the property needed for a 2 GW reactor would also receive about 800 MW of solar.

What would happen if we put some kind of solar stuff up at any kind of existing plant? Nukes, coal, natural gas, hydropower, whatever. The land is already not being used for aesthetic purposes, adding solar can't make them look worse. You probably need to have some kind of storage (flywheel, batteries, capacitors or something) to level out the solar, but that can go underneath other stuff. In the case of existing fossil fuel generators, you can cut down on the fossil fuels burned in the daytime, when demand is high. You might even level the output from the fossil fuel side, allowing it to operate closer to optional more of the day.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 179
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 9/24/2007 5:08:09 PM
Alberta is looking at a bigger Candu in part to help with oilsands development. And I've seen one anti-nuke from Saskatoon who thinks she successfully tossed an application to install a SLOWPOKE Energy System there a few years ago, who is gearing up to fight this Candu which has got to be a 12 hour drive from where she lives. The watershed of the river this Candu would be on, isn't even remotely close to where she lives either.

Engineers aren't infallible, we occasionally make mistakes (which we are still liable for). We do try to analyze things from independent points of view so as to minimize the chance of mistakes. With respect to Candu performance in Canada (which is mostly in Ontario), I think that most of the problems they see are due to Ontario Hydro re-engineering stuff that had already been engineered by AECL. However, since there are few counter examples it is hard to say for sure.

In the large, we have done a fair job of engineering safe systems. Some problems have occurred, which I think in part are due to this idea that we always accept the lowest cost bidder. There are places for this kind of behavior, but there are all kinds of civil infrastructure type projects where it doesn't make sense. Environmentalists and other anti-nuclear people have brought up all kinds of arguments which sound like science, or are based on science. Rightfully, engineers are trying to address these concerns on a scientific basis. The complaints never seem to go away, in part due to a lack of trust I suspect. I think the anti-nuclear crowd in part doesn't trust engineers to do the job properly after problems are pointed out.

However, I think a far larger part of the situation is that they just don't like nuclear, for any reason. This is a political problem, and I wish they would quit trying to dress it up like a technical problem. Technical problems have been presented, thought about and studied. They will continue to be. But people who make up a problem which sounds technical, and then refuse to argue the problem in a logical and scientific manner, are just engaging in politics. Take that back to where it belongs, the political arena.
 chrono1985
Joined: 11/20/2004
Msg: 183
Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 9/28/2007 1:34:12 AM
I am in favor of nuclear power myself. I'd drive a nuclear powered car if given the chance. I am against putting more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, out planet already makes enough of them to block out the sun with a powerful enough volcano (which according to research has happened at least once before). I would live next door to a nuclear reactor with how safe they are today. The waste isn't as bad a problem as media makes it out to be, there are already several very good storage locations for nuclear waste that never see the camera's of media, good stories just aren't as interesting to the masses as a scare story. Would you rather have an area of the Earth which you can never go near again, or the entire planet struggling to survive when the atmosphere gets thick enough to prevent crops from sprouting, starts the next ice age, so on so forth.

There are better generators though. One has been in existence since the 80's, but guess what, it's used to simulate nuclear bombs. There also isn't much a chance of the schematics being released anytime soon.

Even if you want to keep using fossil fuels for stuff like cars, generators, and the like. There are much much more efficient ways to use it. Like a feed of 93% hydrogen and 7% gasoline, is just as good as running straight gasoline in your vehicle, the 7% gasoline is somewhat required to prevent embrittling the engine block. Could you imagine how long fossil fuel would last, and how very little of it would be used every year like that. In a hydrogen explosion you'll lose body hair, get some very light burns, but not even close to a fraction of the damage gasoline explosions cause.

But there are two reasons truly good ideas are almost never used. Greed and media, it's not a conspiracy, it's conditioning, whether intentional or not. Coal plants themselves, which are still widely used, have killed more than 5 times the amount of people as nuclear reactors.
 RocketMan_Len
Joined: 7/5/2006
Msg: 189
Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 10/8/2007 6:43:08 PM
>> Moon solar power for Earth

I've heard this brought up numerous times in the past, but can't see it happening.

Sure, you have a lot of area to work with on the Moon... but is there *really* any place at the poles that is continually sunlit? The Moon DOES wobble a bit in its' orbit...

Also, there's the question of receiving the energy. You can't set up a fixed spot on the Earth to receive the power - you'd have to ring the Earth with receiving stations. Aiming becomes quite complicated...

If we're going to explore the option of using space-based solar power, let's give some thought to SATELLITE-based solar generators. A satellite placed in geostationary orbit can focus its' transmitter on a fixed point on the Earth, to feed power into the grid from there. You only lose the beam for a short time, and only occasionally, when the plane of the orbit puts the satellite in eclipse. (And, if you use solar-thermal generators instead of photovoltaics, it won't matter at all...)

My opinion of nuclear...? It's a LOT better than some of the other technologies we currently use. Lots of people fret about the 'hazardous waste' it produces - but choose to ignore the millions of tons of CO2, SO2, etc., that get dumped into the atmosphere annually by coal and oil installations, or the dozens of square miles of land that get flooded by hydroelectric dams...
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 196
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 10/18/2007 5:29:55 AM
Re: Moon solar power

The idea that I have seen proposed is not to generate all of the power from regions of (nearly) permanent sunshine, but rather to generate most of the power from more equatorial places (which has a 2 week day and a 2 week night from Earth's point of view), and then transfer that power to Earth. The transfer could happen via satellites circling the Moon, or from polar transmitters. At Earth, it is likely there would need to be satellites in orbit, to transfer power to "farside" as well as nearside.

The thing that is nice about the lunar plan, is that we don't need to haul materials to the moon to make the solar cells. They would be made from lunar soil, in situ. Well, except for the small amounts of dopants needed to make N and P regions. Space based power needs us to haul everything up from somewhere. If we had manufacturing on the Moon, it would be cheaper to haul it up from the Moon than from here. But, that means getting manufacturing stuff to the Moon, or at least getting enough there to bootstrap manufacturing.

Reception isn't a problem, if you use the right wavelength. If you pick a wavelength that isn't strongly absorbed by anything except specially designed antenna, focus and tracking isn't important. The amount of power you are sending back isn't large compared to incoming sunlight.

Geosynchronous satellites are fine if you live near the equator, become a problem as you get closer to the poles.
 RocketMan_Len
Joined: 7/5/2006
Msg: 197
Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 10/18/2007 1:17:55 PM

Geosynchronous satellites are fine if you live near the equator, become a problem as you get closer to the poles.


But won't your relay satellites be in geostationary orbit as well...? From the lunar surface, beam spread over distance becomes a problem.

The whole idea adds an entirely new layer of infrastructure, as well. Generators and transmitters on the Moon, then receivers and re-transmitters in orbit, and finally receivers on the ground. Why not just cut out the one stage, build the generators in orbit, and not worry about relay satellites?

As to raw materials - it would be less costly to snag a Near-Earth asteroid (lots of high-quality metals in those...), bring it to a high-orbit mining/refining/manufacturing facility, and go from there. Since we're assuming easy and regular access to orbit, this would be easier than hauling stuff up from even the Lunar gravity well.

Why would reception from GSO be a problem at the poles...? If you can receive satellite-TV in Alaska, you can receive a power beam. True, the beam will tend to spread a bit more - you just have to make your receiver a little bigger. (And don't forget - this would be a problem with a satellite-relay system as well...)
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 198
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 10/19/2007 8:01:18 AM
Just short: don't want to hijack thread.

If we aren't sending highly focused beams, we don't really need to track things. For a power transmitter on the Moon, what we want are "bending satellites" that are stationary from the point of view of the Moon. I am not a celestial mechanics person, but I don't think that orbit is geostationary.
 fortran
Joined: 2/21/2004
Msg: 201
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Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 10/23/2007 6:49:13 AM
That the US has a power plant or two in a bad location, determined before or after the fact, isn't necessarily a bad thing. Japan almost has no choice but to build power plants in bad locations. The question is, how do you build a power plant safely in a bad location?

If you look at places like Mexico City, if they have a big earthquake, the ground starts to behave like a liquid. If the structure is less dense than the fluid, it floats. If it is more dense, it sinks. Having a power plant float is probably preferable to having one which sinks. Where is the center of gravity of this "boat"? You want the power plant to stay in near the same orientation, whether it is being supported by the ground, or is floating during a seismic event. You can't rely on the transmission system to stay connected, so you do want to shutdown as quickly as is possible. Not having control rods jam would be important. During the shutdown, is coolant available enough?

Seismic events in rocky places would be different than in places like Mexico City. But there are likely still a bunch of things which can be done, to produce a safe power plant.

And I am not assuming nuclear in any of the above. Any kind of power plant is sensitive to being situated in the wrong place. Sure, it is nice to be able to not build them in those kinds of places, but some regions of the world need power and having nothing but bad places to build. It is just a matter of how bad, and can you design around it.
 guitarguy10
Joined: 11/24/2008
Msg: 202
Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 5/27/2009 9:15:49 PM
I think it's a good idea. Nuke power all the way. I feel like the risks are very small. Nuclear power has a very good safety record.
 phundango
Joined: 5/7/2009
Msg: 203
Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 5/27/2009 11:00:40 PM
Hey PSUgrad,

Go Lions!

My biggest concern is the same as Neils Bohr, Albert Einstein, Teller, etc. North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan... who's next? Adolf Madoff?

What is a Nittany, anyway?

Cheers
 RocketMan_Len
Joined: 7/5/2006
Msg: 204
Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 5/28/2009 6:07:18 AM
Fortran...


If we aren't sending highly focused beams, we don't really need to track things. For a power transmitter on the Moon, what we want are "bending satellites" that are stationary from the point of view of the Moon. I am not a celestial mechanics person, but I don't think that orbit is geostationary.


If you're not sending tightly-focused beams, then you need an IMMENSE collector area... roughly the entire surface of the planet. Hardly a practical idea there...
 agent_ozzy
Joined: 5/22/2009
Msg: 205
Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 5/28/2009 8:57:28 AM
I think its one of the best sources of energy we will know because of the power it holds, but I dont belive that we have found the way to fully use its power to its potential. maybe before I die, but not right now.
 monalee1
Joined: 10/22/2007
Msg: 206
Your thoughts on nuclear power...
Posted: 5/28/2009 8:35:48 PM
hi.. I think that I prefer a garden, with a couple of fruit trees and a babe like Adam for a mate.... the tree of knowledge of good and evil, " do not touch it, do not even go near it".... some things were best left alone, I believe nuclear power is one of those things... warmly Mona
 GoBears1987
Joined: 7/9/2008
Msg: 207
Reprocessing and ADM Rickover, 2 solutions to nuclear power
Posted: 5/29/2009 1:54:16 PM
Nuclear power is only a viable option for this country if we do 2 things to ensure safety and minimize waste. The basics of the plan are allowing reprocessing and copying the US Navy's methodology as established by ADM Hyman G. Rickover.

1: We need to repeal Gerald Ford's 1976 ban on the reprocessing of nuclear fuel. I understand why the ban was put in place as there were major concerns in the 1970s about nuclear proliferation and reprocessing obviously produced a plutonium that could be further refined to weapons grade or even supergrade material. It was a fair concern in the 1970, but modern technology allows us to reprocess spent uranium in a way that produces fuel grade plutonium, but not weapons grade plutonium. We have plenty of spent uranium sitting in storage and hundreds of nuclear facilities while politicians debate what to do with it. With the Yucca Mountain plan falling through, this is a wise course of action. It both provides power and reduces our supply of uranium that is just sitting around in facilities with poor security.

2: We need another Hyman Rickover to set forth strict standards for the DoE and NRC. Since the USS Nautilus first went "underway on nuclear power" in 1954, over 200 cruisers, aircraft carriers, and submarines have been put to sea by the US Navy. The nuclear navy has operated for a total of over 5,000 combined years without a single nuclear incident. There is a reason for that. Rickover demanded excellence all the time. He set up ORSE teams that regularly drilled crews and inspected reactor spaces to insure that crews could deal with anything that could possibly happen and that safety was the primary concern. In fact, the one complaint leveled against Rickover by modern sub commanders is that he had them focus too much on safety and not enough on tactical readiness. This of course is not a concern with civilian nuclear power. After the Three Mile Island incident, Rickover even commented that such an accident could not occur on his submarines because one of his men always stood watch, not looking over the reactor, but looking over the men operating the reactors. Any idle conversation was disallowed in Rickover's reactor rooms. Any discussion must have been pertinent to the operation of the reactor.
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