Comments on: Nuclear power: Going fast A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: AuldLochinvar Sat, 03 Jul 2010 18:12:20 +0000 The biggest commercial problem with nuclear power, and especially from breeder reactors, is that it costs next to nothing to run.
If you count on the energy companies to embrace it, you’re asking them to put all their other businesses out of business.

Plus, for too many liberals, the distinction between nuclear weapons and nuclear power is emotionally too difficult. Any decent American knows that we should be ashamed of the bomb we dropped on Nagasaki, three days after the Hiroshima bomb for which we might have an excuse.

For my part, ascoss, I’d rather live next to (or downwind of) an Integral Fast Reactor power plant that’s got a few tens of tons of radioactive fuel, none of which can escape, than a comparable coal burner emitting millions of tons of poisonous gases, aye, and even radioactive thorium fly ash.

And I’d rather have a 1000 MW nuclear power plant at the bottom of my favorite range of mountains than 800 wind turbines, each 600 feet tall, over the same mountains, generating maybe the same total annual amount of energy, but without regard to the actual demand.

The crucial advantage of nuclear power is that chemical processes involve the atom’s electron energy, which is about a millionth of what holds the nucleus together.

So a very small amount of uranium, which produces an even smaller amount of waste products, gives you as much energy as millions of barrels of oil.
Or put it another way:
Uranium and Thorium are the product of the violent cataclysmic death of a huge star, an event that we call a supernova.
Fossil carbon was laid down during about 64 million years, by energy from our quiet little sun.
Our rate of consumption of fossil carbon could use it up, and all of the oxygen in our atmosphere, in a few hundred thousand years.

It’s not likely that we can find ways to use solar energy to keep up with that rate.

By: ascoss Thu, 29 Apr 2010 11:55:31 +0000 Hello, sorry always the same discussion. Switch off the politicians in Germany to discuss the nuclear reactors when they want. Other states want to build new plants. Which is correct? I do not want to live next to radioactive garbage!

By: Josh Witt Mon, 29 Jun 2009 06:42:52 +0000 Mike – *some* technologies of reprocessing of the spent fuel separate Pu. The kind of reprocessing used in IFR/PRISM, pyroprocessing, does _not_ separate Pu, only separates fission products and keeps all the fuel – U, Pu, Am, … together. Therefore IFR is proliferation resistant.

By: Joel Upchurch Fri, 26 Jun 2009 05:31:09 +0000 There is a web site on this topic.

I have been touting the idea over at Energy From Thorium: iewtopic.php?f=39&t=1569&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

Crystal River has 4 coal plants and 1 nuclear plant. If the coal plants were converted to IFR, then the spent fuel they already have on site could run them into the 22nd century.

By: Rod Adams Thu, 25 Jun 2009 01:50:05 +0000 One of the decision makers behind the choice to kill the IFR was Hazel O’Leary, a woman who had just finished a stint as executive VP at an electricity/natural gas company. From her Wikipedia entry:

“In 1981, O’Leary and her husband established the consulting firm of O’Leary & Associates, where she served as vice president and general counsel. From 1989 to 1993, she worked as an executive vice president of the Northern States Power Company.
In 1993 President Bill Clinton nominated O’Leary as Secretary of Energy.”

The chief of staff at the White House at the time was a guy named Mack MacLarty an FOB whose Wiki entry contains the following paragraphs:

“McLarty was born in Hope, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1969. He is a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity. He was elected to the State Legislature at the age of 23 and served as chairman of the state Democratic Party from 1974–1976.”

In 1976, he became the youngest member ever elected to the Board of Directors of the Arkla Gas/Arkla, Inc., a Fortune 500 natural gas company. In 1983 he became Arkla’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. During his tenure, the company was recognized by Forbes, The Wall Street Transcript, and The Financial Times for management excellence, in addition to his automotive endeavors.”

Killing the IFR and slowing nuclear development as much as possible was part of the plan to pay back the natural gas interests that helped to get Clinton-Gore elected.

Simple – reduce competition, drive up the demand, increase the price. Econ 101. By 2000, the price of gas had more than doubled. It doubled again by 2004 and again by 2008. Pretty effective plan, you might say.

(Gas price chart – e30)

Rod Adams
Publisher, Atomic Insights
Host and producer, The Atomic Show Podcast

By: Zachary Moitoza Wed, 24 Jun 2009 19:17:12 +0000 The pyrometallurgical processing and electrorefining used in the IFR is very different from the PUREX process now used in France. The IFR mixes materials in such a way that plutonium is not weapons grade and dangerous to handle. They took this stuff over to Lawrence Livermore labs and it was determined that making a bomb from IFR fuel would be the most technically challenging way to make a bomb possible i.e. its not going to happen. Just enriching uranium with a centrifuge and making a uranium bomb would be vastly easier.

By: Zachary Moitoza Wed, 24 Jun 2009 19:07:46 +0000 We’d be building `em now if the Clinton administration didn’t cancel the IFR and order scientists who worked on the project not to talk about it in 1994!

By: Mike Hamer Wed, 24 Jun 2009 13:43:01 +0000 Just a few facts to educate those who supplied a few bits of misinformation above;
– France reprocesses spent fuel and creates MOX fuel for their reactors. When a fuel rod is no longer capable of sustaining fission and is replaced, it still contains 80-90% of usable, fissionable uranium.
– Reprocessing fuel does in-fact separate the plutonium that could be used in nuclear weapons. This was the primary reason for the Carter administration’s reasoning for shutting down fuel re-processing in the US, to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
– MOX fuel (short for mixed-oxide) is a mixture of uranium and weapons grade plutonium. To date, one US reactor has purchased and used this fuel successfully. Production of this type of fuel has also reduced the worlds inventory of wepaons grade plutonium present in the 70s to less than 50% today.
– If spent fuel is recycled, the leftover waste products will be drastically reduced. However, a lot of mining companies will be put out of business, and I’m sure they have lobbyists in Washington to keep in business.

By: dsquared Wed, 24 Jun 2009 08:52:51 +0000 By the way, “runs on the nuclear waste generated by all the previous generations of nuclear power stations” is a wonderful piece of nuke industry spin. It *sounds* like you can just take the nuclear waste, shovel it into your wonderful IFR and bingo!

In fact, you have to process the nuclear waste, via some means that nobody knows how to do on a commercial scale, which is the real “big problem” with IFRs. It is yet another example of a problem that’s been solved in the lab but not on a commercial scale, and the nuclear industry’s track record in scaling these things up is, shall we say, poor.

By: A Bit of History Wed, 24 Jun 2009 06:47:03 +0000 How many breeders are running in the whole world at the present time? How many years have they been working on breeders? What’s the track record on sodium cooled reactors? Why is it that these “too cheap to meter” plants can’t get money from the private sector?

Finally, how about a bit of historic perspective in your stories rather than just writing down what these people tell you?

One finally note, Ford put a halt to reprocessing and Carter only put the finishing touches on that option. Reagan re-instated the opportunity but most realized that it was way too expensive and nothing was done with it that the government wasn’t involved in directly.

A study of reprocessing in France around 2000 indicated that France took a multi-billion bath on reprocessing vs. once-through burial.