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Nuclear Power Could See a Revival

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the comforting-bremsstrahlung-glow dept.

Earth 415

shmG writes "As the US moves to reduce dependence on oil, the nuclear industry is looking to expand, with new designs making their way through the regulatory process. No less than three new configurations for nuclear power are being considered for licensing by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The first of them could be generating power in Georgia by 2016."

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glow, baby, glow! (4, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32896778)

honestly, this is 20 years overdue. Especially with the new reactor designs. Now, if we could only reprocess the damn fuel we'd have a clean method of power generation with very little overall waste for a couple hundred years at least.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (5, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32896792)

honestly, this is 20 years overdue.

Maybe nuclear power just needed time to reach critical mass...

Re:glow, baby, glow! (2, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897290)

Finally. The Politicians have stopped splitting hairs, and are going to start splitting atoms.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (2, Insightful)

aramosfet (1824288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897946)

If only we could combine the atoms instead of splitting...

Georgia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897608)

Georgia? Former Soviet republics do not have a great track record on nuclear safety.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (4, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32896816)

Totally agree. Too bad they take so long to build. By the time one is half-built, the dithering morons in congress will probably screw the process uo one way or another. Or the scaremongers will get in there and rile up the fuckarow artists who will go out and get signatures alongside their anti-di-hydrogen monoxide petetions.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (2, Insightful)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32896948)

It's one thing I'm pissed off at a lot of environuts for, they have a short sighted view that is just black and white. We don't have any commercial reactors here in Australia, mainly because of the environut movements. If they wanted to do good they'd stop the crap and find out what's real and what's not.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (4, Informative)

jlar (584848) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897274)

It's one thing I'm pissed off at a lot of environuts for, they have a short sighted view that is just black and white. We don't have any commercial reactors here in Australia, mainly because of the environut movements. If they wanted to do good they'd stop the crap and find out what's real and what's not.

On the other hand you have a lot of coal (85% of the electricity production plus exports). And coal by a conservative estimate kills 3 or 4 times the number of people who died due to Chernobyl each year!

Here is an estimate of the number of people whose health is affected by coal based energy production in the USA:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5174391/ [msn.com]

So in my view the environmentalists are in fact responsible for millions of deaths due to their insistence on yet non-viable clean energy sources and their refusal of nuclear energy.

I don't understand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897336)

People die from Chernobyl each year?

Re:I don't understand. (3, Funny)

dave420 (699308) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897422)

Tourist buses frequently crash in Pripyat.

Re:I don't understand. (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897918)

On the other hand you have a lot of coal (85% of the electricity production plus exports). And coal by a conservative estimate kills 3 or 4 times the number of people who died due to Chernobyl each year!

People die from Chernobyl each year?

English is fun!

And every year, coal kills 3 or 4 times the number of people who died due to Chernobyl!

I have no idea if it's true, but at least that sentence might make more sense to you.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (2, Insightful)

pr0nbot (313417) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897500)

If there were as many reactors as are needed to replace coal stations, we might see many more Chernobyls.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (4, Informative)

KovaaK (1347019) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897650)

And how do you propose that happens? I'm guessing you are unaware of the fact that all modern nuclear power plants have a negative Moderator Temperature Coefficient. A positive MTC as in Chernobyl means that an increased in temperature causes an increase in power (which loops back on itself).

Re:glow, baby, glow! (1)

Demonantis (1340557) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897698)

As having 23% of the worlds supply that is terrible news.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (5, Insightful)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897012)

They take so long to build... and they're so bloody expensive.

Name me one nuclear power station that actually went into operation and stayed within budget while it was constructed, operated and shut down agian. Generally speaking, those things become 2-3 times more expensive, and the shutdown and waste treatment and storage are almost never included in the financial picture before construction starts.

I agree that it seems sustainable. I agree that it's good to consider it - but at least include the entire life-cycle of the damned things before you build them.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (3, Informative)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897100)

You make a fair point except for this bit.

"and the shutdown and waste treatment and storage are almost never included in the financial picture before construction starts."

this line gets repeated over and over and over and over and over and over and over on greeny websites and it has fuck all basis in fact.

that and "the cleanup costs are unknown"

It's fair to say that most reactors go over budget when they're being built(it's fair to say that about almost all large complex costly projects) but to imply that all the engineers, accountants and physicists have somehow forgotten to include waste disposal or decommissioning is absurd.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (4, Informative)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897458)

Ok... that remark was based not on the lack of insight with the engineers. It's based on the fact that it's impossible to predict the costs of decommissioning a nuclear power plant 50 years into the future. The shut down is in fact often more than 50 years after it was started up. Costs are often higher than expected (due to increased safety regulations). And I think it's not uncommon that governments have to financially assist companies when reactors are decommissioned.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (4, Insightful)

KovaaK (1347019) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897706)

I noticed a pretty sharp contrast between you asking for evidence of nuclear power working well, and you providing evidence of nuclear power not working well... Let's compare:

Name me one nuclear power station that actually went into operation and stayed within budget while it was constructed, operated and shut down agian.

Given the long lifespan of nuclear power plants, a significant portion of them are still operating today. Asking for an example that completed its entire lifespan is basically asking for the first-of-a-kind reactors and very early generation when people were still learning the hard way. You are bound to see tons of costly mistakes made that were corrected by the industry as they followed in the footsteps of the pioneers.

So, that's the level of detail that you ask for, and this is what you provide in support of your argument:

And I think it's not uncommon that governments have to financially assist companies when reactors are decommissioned.

So, you think... but you provide no source or examples. You give no background on the situation that may have caused this hypothetical, but it is clearly a bad one.

This, my friend, is a double standard.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897944)

The shut down is in fact often more than 50 years after it was started up.

How many nuclear power plants were built pre-1960 that are still running?

Re:glow, baby, glow! (3, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897168)

In almost all cases, the overruns are dominated by the delays causing inflation and other issues. And the delays are caused by lawsuits. If these are done, they will hit budget only if the government makes them unsuable. And shut down isn't as big as the ones that assumed reprocessing of the fuel, then reprocessing was made illegal. But again, that's a legal, not technical issue.

Just about every problem with nuclear is related to the legal issues and not technical ones. Get the plants certified and make design flaws unsuable. Have the plants commissioned and built on government land, with eminent domain and unsuable. Then, if we are to give our infrastructure to private companies to be exploited as we currently do with power, sell it to the operator at the contract rate, after the government built it in an unsuable manner. If the operator screws up the operations, they will be responsible. If the plans are faulty, then the government is on the hook. And the plants will get built, and on budget. Otherwise, I don't see nuclear being something that gets built because no one wants to build a lawsuit.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897876)

Or we could make the lawyers run the nuclear plants, so if something happens they can just sue themselves. As a bonus, when the reactor, uh, accidentally goes critical and there's a meltdown, no one important will be harmed.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897496)

In France, shutdown and waste treatment are taken into account since the beginning of nuclear energy. But this has never been taken into account for wind energy otherwise, it would have been evident that wind energy is far too expensive.

Nuclear is by far the best available energy production mean. Radioactivity is very easy to detect, this allows to control very accurately all involved pollution. This is not the case for all chimic pollution where the proof of the origin is always discussed.

Even taking into account all the measures that are present in nuclear and not in others energy sources, nuclear remains the best solution for now. In the future, solar power remains the most promising. The available technology needs to be improved a lot before it is really usable. In the mean time, nuclear should be favored..

Re:glow, baby, glow! (3, Insightful)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897680)

Decommissioning costs for wind power might not always have been taken into account when plants were build, but at the end of the day it's still more than an order of magnitude less than construction cost ... so it doesn't really factor into the cost of wind energy. The same can obviously not be said of nuclear power.

Not a fan of wind energy, too unreliable, but I recognize FUD when I see it.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (5, Informative)

nukenerd (172703) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897848)

Captainpanic wrote :

Name me one nuclear power station that actually went into operation and stayed within budget while it was constructed, operated and shut down agian.

Sizewell B, a PWR that I was involved in building in the UK, was built within its time and cost budget. Hasn't shut down yet so I can't answer the last part.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (3, Informative)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897026)

But if you don't mind a bit of a long build time, why not something like Dynamic Tidal power? [wikipedia.org] Build a 50km concrete boom straight out into the ocean, another one perpendicular, and there you have an EIGHT GIGAWATT power generator.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897350)

Oh yes, I'm certain the environuts will just LOVE a 50km concrete wall staight out into the ocean. Long build time is the least of that plans issues.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897552)

Since the very bad experience of tidal power plant (for example, the one working on the Rance river, France, since 1966), the word tidal has a very very bad connotation. I think this is the main explication to the fact that dynamic tidal power has not been more developped.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (2, Funny)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897140)

Outlaw the di-hydrogen-monoxide bomb.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (2, Insightful)

M8e (1008767) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897794)

I'll give you my dihydrogen monoxide gun when you take it from my cold, wet hands!

Re:glow, baby, glow! (1)

qpawn (1507885) | more than 4 years ago | (#32896840)

Mr. Burns: I can't believe we've overlooked this week's winner for so very, very long. We simply could not function without his tireless efforts. So, a round of applause for...this inanimate carbon rod!

The new designs use the old waste (5, Interesting)

MacFury (659201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32896928)

Now, if we could only reprocess the damn fuel we'd have a clean method of power generation with very little overall waste for a couple hundred years at least.

The beauty of some of the new reactor designs is that they use old radioactive waste as their fuel source. By some people's estimates we have about two centuries worth of fuel for the energy needs of the entire United States just in our existing stockpiles of nuclear waste. Not only would we not have to mine additional fuel, we would be significantly reducing the amount of waste that we need to store.

Here's a TED talk that covers the subject:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaF-fq2Zn7I [youtube.com]

By the end of life of these new reactors, solar should be cheap, efficient and plentiful.

Re:The new designs use the old waste (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897090)

It only reduces the amount of waste if it doesn't produce other kinds of waste in equal amounts. Also consider that radioactivity is not the only danger with the waste. The materials involved are also very toxic. I highly doubt that even the newest generation of nuclear reactors takes in fissable heavy metals and outputs something at most as dangerous as CO2. I would be happy if you prove me wrong.

Also I wouldn't put all my hopes into this without at least one fully functional power plant.

I am not very fond of nuclear power anymore since I learned about all the corruption and lies around Frances nuclear energy market. That convinced me that even nuclear energy isn't scary enough to make the managers ponder about consequences of saving money on security. Just imagine a fuck up like the oil spill related to nuclear energy.

Re:The new designs use the old waste (5, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897890)

"It only reduces the amount of waste if it doesn't produce other kinds of waste in equal amounts."

It doesn't produce more waste than usual.

"I highly doubt that even the newest generation of nuclear reactors takes in fissable heavy metals and outputs something at most as dangerous as CO2. I would be happy if you prove me wrong."

There will be waste, but most of it short-lived (decay to safe levels in 100-200 years). Not as harmless as CO2, but quite close not to worry about it much. As for chemical toxicity, the amount of waste is so small (even with our current reactors) that it doesn't matter. If our waste were as poisonous as arsenic but not radioactive we could have just dumped it in the sea without any problems.

Re:The new designs use the old waste (3, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897954)

Also consider that radioactivity is not the only danger with the waste. The materials involved are also very toxic.

Pfft. Break them down long enough and they decay into lead. I've nary heard one word about lead toxicity. ~

Re:The new designs use the old waste (4, Insightful)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 4 years ago | (#32898010)

But then CO2 isn't the only problem. A relatively recent designed powerplant (note not a fuel reprocessing plant, or CANDU reactor or anything else fancy, but simply a modern heavy water reactor) which produces a testube sized amount of radioactive waste is equivalent to a coal plant which aside from the CO2 it produces will also produce 300kg of highly radioactive flyash.

Repeat after me. Dilution is not the solution to pollution.

People only fear nuclear waste because it is concentrated in a very dense area. I mean fuck I'd be more worried about the toxicity of the waste of any number of the hundreds of thousands of chemical plants we have around the world, rather than a few hundred plants in the insanely regulated nuclear industry.

Re:The new designs use the old waste (2, Informative)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897718)

It's all very nice in theory. In the mean time two types of reactors get build in number. Water moderated reactors (great safety record, but limited fuel) and molten salt reactors (catastrophic safety record, NIMBY please).

All those other designs are interesting, but by the time they are production ready solar should be cheap, efficient and plentiful.

Re:The new designs use the old waste (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897720)

Oops, meant liquid sodium reactors ... not molten salt ... damnit.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (5, Informative)

Hamsterdan (815291) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897096)

CANDU can already use spent fuel (along with dismantled warheads)

(according to wiki)
*CANDU fuel can be manufactured from the used (depleted) uranium found in light water reactor (LWR) spent fuel.*

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candu#Fuel_cycles [wikipedia.org]

Re:glow, baby, glow! (5, Informative)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897116)

Now, if we could only reprocess the damn fuel we'd have a clean method of power generation with very little overall waste for a couple hundred years at least.

Integral Fast Reactors [wikipedia.org]
On-site reprocessing of fissile materials to feed the reactor, with only minor extra fuel input required (almost 1.0 ratio reacted fuel, after reprocessing) and can be used to "burn" waste products of other reactors.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (2, Insightful)

Wansu (846) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897292)

When I saw the subject line, the first thing that came to mind was a nuke plant accident in the US analogous to the Deepwater Horizon, creating our own version of the Red Forest.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (1)

GospelHead821 (466923) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897666)

We actually can, I think - and not with breeder reactors. I work in an industry that sometimes provides equipment to nuclear power plants and I've heard recently that there are new designs that can use the waste materials without them having to be concentrated in a way that raises fears of nuclear proliferation.

Re:glow, baby, glow! (1)

RandomFactor (22447) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897766)

> Now, if we were only allowed to reprocess the damned fuel

ftfy

Re:glow, baby, glow! (1, Insightful)

mqduck (232646) | more than 4 years ago | (#32898004)

honestly, this is 20 years overdue. Especially with the new reactor designs.

I hear modern offshore oil rig designs are completely, reliably safe too.

*Waits for Troll moderation from nuclear zealots*

Thorium (1)

MancunianMaskMan (701642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32896784)

What's with the LFTR [energyfromthorium.com] design, is that just some crackpot idea or is is the canine testicles?

Re:Thorium (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32896800)

I have no idea what you're talking about, but I'm praying it's the canine testicles one.

Re:Thorium (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32896826)

There problem with that design is there IS no design. It's a great idea (probably), but there's a lot of work between "good idea" and "ready to deploy"... and for some reason, people insist on a whole lot of testing and failsafes for nuclear plants. AP1000 has taken years and years to develop, and it was just a "relatively" simple upgrade of the AP600 design, compared to changing EVERYTHING for thorium.

Re:Thorium (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897838)

Except there WAS a demonstration LFTR reactor built at Los Alamos and operated for several years back in the 50s and 60s.

LFTR has several advantages over Uranium based reactors.

  • Thorium is a thousand times more abundant than fuel-grade Uranium.
  • We have enough Thorium inside the continental US to supply our energy needs for millenia.
  • LFTR reactors produce a tiny fraction of the nuclear "waste" that Uranium based reactors do.
  • LFTR reactors have a simpler cooling requirement than conventional reactors (at a cost of a more complex chemical reprocessing requirement).
  • The nuclear reaction in a LFTR reactor is inherently thermaly self-regulating (similar to pebble-bed reactor design); i.e., no nuclear runaway reaction.
  • The LFTR reactor design is failsafe. In the event of an accident, the Thorium fuel drains out of the reactor into a storage tank and the reaction STOPS.

We don't have to change EVERYTHING for Thorium RIGHT NOW, but maybe we should be start investigating LFTR technology again so that a decade or two from now so we WILL HAVE a safer, more reliable alternative to Uranium based reactors.

Yeah, I know, LFTR reactor is redundant.

Re:Thorium (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897916)

Except they've built actual thorium reactors to test the technology--and that was many, many years ago at the Idaho National Laboratory in Arco, ID. As such, the technology is a lot more mature than you think.

They've designed a new type of reactor (liquid fluoride thorium reactor) that requires a tiny fraction of the space needed by a uranium water-cooled reactor and also by design cannot melt down, either. As such, since thorium is way more plentiful than uranium, we have a source of fuel that could potentially last thousands of years--of course, in the longer run humanity will get its electric needs from solar power satellites or a power source based on physics principles we've yet to discover.

Re:Thorium (5, Informative)

RudyHartmann (1032120) | more than 4 years ago | (#32896972)

Actually, thorium should not be anymore complex (probably simpler) than a uranium/plutonium based reactor. But all the years of the cold war and the lure of nuclear weapons has prompted all the engineering to be spent on uranium/plutonium reactors. It's not a physics problem. It's just that since all the current reactors are uranium/plutonium, the engineering is far more developed. From a physics standpoint, thorium is well understood. But from an engineering perspective it is mostly still experimental. If energy production is your only motive, eventually thorium has to win over current conventional reactor designs. It's just a matter of time. Heck, even with the current reactors, the main reason we have nuclear waste is because we do not reprocess fuel. You can thank Jimmy Carter for that decision too. But fast breeders that would have used the waste make it easier to get the resources to build weapons too. War sucks. We need LFTR's!!!!!!

Re:Thorium (2, Interesting)

RudyHartmann (1032120) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897084)

I forgot to mention that LFTR's have the potential to produce energy so cheaply, that oil, coal, solar, etc will become irrelevant. Fusion is the dark horse if they EVER figure that one out. So far tokamaks have just been government research projects that sucked in billions of dollars. But if we ever get to the moon we have a chance for mining helium 3 which might make these fusion reactors work. But that is a HUGE engineering problem compared to thorium reactors. Google and Bill Gates have invested boatloads of money into thorium reactors too.

conFusion (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897700)

Fusion is the dark horse if they EVER figure that one out.

More like ... dark cap. We'll never get more energy out of it then needed to keep it steadily contained and under sufficient pressure. Once it is well understood why, they'll generalize it into Fourth Law of Thermodynamics.

Re:Thorium (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897958)

Thorium's easy to get, just go to Winterspring.

Good thing to see ... (4, Insightful)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 4 years ago | (#32896808)

... currently most eco-friendly power source we have actually used instead of being ignored and feared.

Re:Good thing to see ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32896878)

I wanna see some references backing up your claims.

why not just more solar? (5, Interesting)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32896968)

The biggest issue I have with using nuclear energy for power in a widespread fashion is that it is the most dense source of energy known to man by far, and once used it's gone. Future space exploration and colonization will probably require nuclear fuel, especially if it's beyond the solar system.

Meanwhile we have deserts that are receiving orders of magnitude more solar energy than the world currently uses, that could be harvested using technology we have today.

Re:why not just more solar? (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897020)

Meanwhile we have deserts that are receiving orders of magnitude more solar energy than the world currently uses, that could be harvested using technology we have today.

It could work in the US, which has its own deserts. But do you really think that we in Europe want to give Muammar Qaddafi and his neighbors a big red on-off switch for our entire electricity grids? We cannot rely on these unstable states, which means that we must generate our own power.

Re:why not just more solar? (3, Informative)

Unipuma (532655) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897216)

Actually, Europe is planning to do just that, although possibly not from Qaddafi. See the following article:
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE65J1ZO20100620 [reuters.com]

They are currently looking into receiving power from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

Re:why not just more solar? (2, Insightful)

init100 (915886) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897304)

I know, and as a supplementary option it might be okay. But I strongly oppose those who argue that we don't need any local power generation, since all the power we want is available in the Sahara desert.

Re:why not just more solar? (2, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897836)

Pave France.

Re:why not just more solar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897912)

Getting electricity from northeast Africa is way better then getting natural gas and oil from russia or oil from middle east.

Re:why not just more solar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897656)

Or, alternatively, get the US and Australia (Australia especially, with its vast tracts of desert land) to build way more solar collectors than they could possibly need; use that excess energy to produce energy-producing materials (for example: refine bauxite to aluminium; split carbon dioxide into carbon, or maybe carbon dioxide and water into hydrocarbons; the list goes on); and export those materials to the countries that don't have vast quantities of solar power. These are relatively stable countries, so they're not as big a risk as African nations.

Re:Good thing to see ... (5, Insightful)

Tropico (1855650) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897022)

A lot of people talk big on Nuclear Energy as a solution to our energy needs, but when it comes to actually deciding where to build the reactor, or where to put the waste, no one wants any part of it. I don't see any cities or counties volunteering to house a Nuclear power plant or nuclear waste any time soon...

Re:Good thing to see ... (1)

kvezach (1199717) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897136)

Advanced reactors can deal with the waste problem. I like the energy amplifier [wikipedia.org] , which generates the neutrons required for fission externally. That means that there's no chance of a meltdown (just turn off your neutron source) and that the neutrons can also be used to transmute waste into less harmful types. More conventionally, you also have the sodium-cooled fast reactor [wikipedia.org] (basically the IFR, developed further).

Sodium (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897352)

The problem with sodium is that if it ever cools, it solidifies. If you ever go offline, you need to continuously heat and pump your sodium coolant to keep it from freezing. Maintenance on the system is tricky, at best. So I hear.

Re:Sodium (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897506)

No, that's not "the" problem with using sodium as a coolant, and neither is chemical reactivity (hot sodium explodes energetically in the presence of a standard atmosphere) -- both problems can be engineered around, or avoided completely by using NaK (for example). Modern engineering practices are unlikely to lead to the sorts of "condensation" jams seen in the Fermi meltdown or the SRE. However, "condensation" itself remains a serious problem.

That is, the problem with sodium as a coolant is that the high neutron flux breeds radionuclides from the coolant, and some of them are highly likely to bind chemically with the material lining the sodium containment vessel(s), or to form plaques or other inviscid matrices that can fall out of suspension in the coolant during ordinary online operation. The latter causes turbulent or constricted flow, which may lead to a SCRAM and at the very least will cause poor operating performance. Plaques are a bit more serious because they can both cause and mask corrosion of the container vessel, and certainly contaminate the vessel permanently. Some radionuclide daughter products that can be expected from sodium nuclei immersed in a high neutron flux are highly troublesome and can breed up radionuclides in nearby rebar (54Mn formed by n-p reaction on 54Fe). These radionuclides also degrade the neutron economy of the reactor core, leading to poor operating performance.

BARC has done a lot of work on sodium coolant chemistries including radionuclide trap studies. The Indian nuclear establishment has pragmatically chosen to invest instead in online-reconfigurable PHWR U-or-Th fuel cycle (thorium sands, while plentiful in India, are much more expensive to mine than it is to make lawful purchases of slightly enriched uranium or uranium ore), much like CANDU. (They generally call the strategy something like Thermal Neutron Breeder Reactor).

Re:Good thing to see ... (1, Insightful)

LordOfLead (1121501) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897166)

I'm always negatively amazed on this sort of statement.

What about the nuclear waste? Many countries using nuclear power still don't know where to put it, and probably won't for centuries to come. In the meantime the waste is "safe-deposited" in "interim storage facilities". That's a problem the entire nuclear industry hasn't solved since the inception of the nuclear industry.

And what about availability? Just like oil, there's only a limited quantity of U-233 and U-235 available on Earth. If that's used up, that's it!

Sorry, but nuclear power is definitely NOT eco-friendly.

Re:Good thing to see ... (3, Interesting)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897288)

("most eco friendly", see coal power plant for exact opposite)

Nuclear waste is, unlike other waste

a) Overrrated danger.
b) Potentionally valuable fuel.

There are problems with its storage because people are scared of it, hence few want it anywhere near their homes and safety precautions are expensive.

Avaialability is always concern, but unless you have better idea what to do with it ... Not to mention that this does not have much to do with ecology.

---

Anyhow, all other options are way less eco friendly. Yeah, lets burn some carbon and ejoy smog. Or no, lets build dams and flood valleys. Maybe solar cells are safe ...

Nuclear has yet to do some lasting enviromental damage, and in fact location of worst accident is now better of than ever (thanks to humans moving avay and letting nature take over 20km radius).

Re:Good thing to see ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897298)

Can you provide us with links to data supporting your "most eco-friendly power source" claim .

Obligatory? (4, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 4 years ago | (#32896812)

Do they automatically post this article every couple months? It seems like Nuclear has been on the verge of revival for a couple decades now. I doubt we will ever see it.

Re:Obligatory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32896924)

I really don't doubt we'll see it. Unless there's a truly radical breakthrough in alternative energy sources, or in energy consumption, it's inevitable. You've been hearing it before because it's also overdue.

Re:Obligatory? (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 4 years ago | (#32896996)

It seems like Nuclear has been on the verge of revival for a couple decades now. I doubt we will ever see it.

All the Nuke-related things do have something in common :)

Re:Obligatory? (5, Informative)

KovaaK (1347019) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897780)

Highlights in the past 4 years:

  • In 2007, NRG files for two ABWRs as the first mover in quite a while.
  • This year, the Obama Administration has awarded loan guarantees for new reactors and more are being pushed.
  • While the Finnish OL3 reactor is taking more time and money, major lessons are being learned as it is the first reactor being built in nearly 3 decades.
  • Four reactors are under construction in China.
  • More small reactor firms are popping up and gathering attention.
  • New uranium enrichment plants are being built, and one has a green light from the NRC to begin operations in New Mexico.
  • The nuclear supply chain is ramping up with new component manufacturing plants being built in Louisiana, Virginia, Ohio, and elsewhere.

Source [blogspot.com]

And of course, the article that was for this story has more information. But who reads that?

Re:Obligatory? (3, Funny)

Racemaniac (1099281) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897866)

Isn't it amazing that this nuclear revival is happening in the year of the Linux desktop!

"Pebble bed" reactor? (4, Informative)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 4 years ago | (#32896916)

I thought I saw this supposedly quite safe "Pebble Bed" small-scale reactor design reported on then linked to by Slashdot some time ago, but I don't see it mentioned in the article. I am not having luck finding it in the Slashdot search either. Did I dream that? One of the important features of it was that it was "walk-away safe" - as in, were the cooling system to catastrophically fail, it could not achieve "meltdown." In fact, it could be safely repaired and re-started with very little material damage whatsoever.

Re:"Pebble bed" reactor? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32896942)

Apparently not. [wikipedia.org]

Re:"Pebble bed" reactor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32896944)

There is a prototype at the NWU in South Africa. (nwu.ac.za) You might want to see if there is anything on the website, I haven't looked.

Re:"Pebble bed" reactor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897348)

On February 18, 2010 the South African Government announced that the funding of PBMR will finish end of March 2010, because PBMR was not able to attract investors or customers.

Can you imagine a government being so short sighted, yet they have money to invest in corrupt weapons deals, money to spend on entertainment like soccer.

Re:"Pebble bed" reactor? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 4 years ago | (#32898028)

Pebble bed reactors are only one type of modern design. They are still heavy water reactors and do not address the waste issue. But honestly the world has an irrational fear of nuclear meltdown. Your typical oil refinery will have about 20 highly exothermic reactions involving very dangerous and toxic chemicals and will quite happily hum away under the guidance of a properly designed emergency shutdown system. The industry has come a long way since Chernobyl.

If you want to really blow your mind, google CANDU reactor. I'd much rather one of those in my backyard than a pebble bed.

Obligatory (-1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 4 years ago | (#32896932)

Nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.

Updated title (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 4 years ago | (#32896980)

Forgot to add 'In the US'. Lots of other countries are still using it and building new ones.

Energy should be a tad more expensive (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32896990)

The sad thing about all of this is that the most promising energy "source" is just wasting less.

And to tap into this "source" (at least in our extremely "capitalist" economy) the energy price would have to rise. There are strong interests against this to happen.

predictable comment theme (5, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897010)

Following hot on the heels of, "American manufacturing is dying because of the unions," we'll see, "America lacks nuclear reactors because of the environmentalists."

America lacks nuclear reactors because we have a strong oil lobby tied with government, and America lacks manufacturing because it's cheaper to outsource somewhere with lower CoL and a glut of desperate workers. In each case, precisely as is logical, it's the people in control who get to make the decisions and not some group convenient to demonise.

Re:predictable comment theme (3, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897462)

Personally, I think there's plenty of blame to go around. Environmentalist wackjobs shouldn't get a free pass on their irrational fear of nuclear power just because the oil and coal industries (and their workers, represented by large unions) want to keep making money.

Re:predictable comment theme (4, Interesting)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897560)

Environmentalist wackjobs shouldn't get a free pass on their irrational fear of nuclear power

Yes, but you're not going to get anyone on-side by complaining about "wackjobs" with an "irrational fear". It is quite healthy and rational to fear nuclear power, just as it is healthy to fear a tiger - but the response to fear doesn't always have to be to run away. Translate into a list of perceived hazards; provide explanation of how resultant risks are managed.

It is also important to be honest about the unique problems of nuclear power - waste management in particular - with a demonstration of how any expansion of a nuclear power programme can be matched by increased waste containment.

Fossil fuel lobbyists aren't going to change their minds because they already know you're right - it's just not in their interest to admit it. But some environmentalists are simply misguided by a lack of knowledge of nuclear power or by rhetoric from those who have a pecuniary or power interest in pseudo-environmentalism (Greenpeace, PETA, etc.). These organisations aren't "wackjobs" either - they're working on the same basis as the fossil fuel lobbyists.

Re:predictable comment theme (2, Insightful)

Orgasmatron (8103) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897858)

So the NIMBY hordes are secretly funded by the oil industry? Seems unlikely to me considering that the oil industry hasn't been able to build any new refineries here for decades because of essentially the same NIMBY nutjobs.

Nuclear power is the safest.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897046)

..using modern reactor designs that focus on using physics to help with a safe power generation source and aren't required to generate weapons grade plutonium for the military.

We all know the problems with Oil, here's where you can educate yourself about 'Natural' Gas, http://gaslandthemovie.com/.

Good idea (4, Insightful)

f3rret (1776822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897114)

Nuclear power is the way to go, pity it wont ever get done though; soon as your Senate, Congress or whoever handles the decisions on these sorts of things decide to move forward on the issue someone is going to stand up and say "Chernobyl", "Three Mile Island" and possibly "dirty bomb" or "fallout (not the game mind you)" and the whole proposition is going to die right there.
Even if that does not happen there will be widespread protests with other people chanting the words above.
Not to forget that The West have been continually spurning other countries for wanting to build nuclear reactors for years and years, so suddenly deciding to build more reactors of their own is going to put the US in a tough spot geopolitically.

The way I see it though is that for the time being fission plants along with a gradual move towards a hydrogen economy offer the best chance for independence from oil. In the long term though we need to focus on getting a commercially viable Fusion reactor design up and running, it is basically the only fuel source that offers any chance of us not having to hollow out our planet in the long run.

Re:Good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897388)

I seriously doubt they're going to say "fallout parenthesis not the game mind you close parenthesis".

more power (1)

bakamorgan (1854434) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897266)

more nuke power stations...it's power level is over 9000!!!! sorry had to be said. I say build them and kill the hippies. And then just bury the waste in all the caves in the mountains in the middle east. Then the taliban can get sick off of radition posion.

creators' newclear power method to revive all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897310)

we're not interested in seeing a man made big flash to augment our already positively fatal track record with inner earth, & land/atmosphere damaging stuff. always check the motive(s) of presenters of stuff that (potentially) matters. you may continue to pretend if you wish.

meanwhile (& a difficult 'while' it may be)-; the corepirate nazi illuminati is always hunting that patch of red on almost everyones' neck. if they cannot find yours (greed, fear ego etc...) then you can go starve. that's their (slippery/slimy) 'platform' now. see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder
never a better time to consult with/trust in our creators. the lights are coming up rapidly all over now. see you there?

greed, fear & ego (in any order) are unprecedented evile's primary weapons. those, along with deception & coercion, helps most of us remain (unwittingly?) dependent on its' life0cidal hired goons' agenda. most of our dwindling resources are being squandered on the 'wars', & continuation of the billionerrors stock markup FraUD/pyramid schemes. nobody ever mentions the real long term costs of those debacles in both life & any notion of prosperity for us, or our children. not to mention the abuse of the consciences of those of us who still have one, & the terminal damage to our atmosphere (see also: manufactured 'weather', hot etc...). see you on the other side of it? the lights are coming up all over now. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be your guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. we now have some choices. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on your brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

"The current rate of extinction is around 10 to 100 times the usual background level, and has been elevated above the background level since the Pleistocene. The current extinction rate is more rapid than in any other extinction event in earth history, and 50% of species could be extinct by the end of this century. While the role of humans is unclear in the longer-term extinction pattern, it is clear that factors such as deforestation, habitat destruction, hunting, the introduction of non-native species, pollution and climate change have reduced biodiversity profoundly.' (wiki)

"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."--

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 10,000 years ago) it was determined that hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

consult with/trust in your creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." )one does not need to agree whois in charge to grasp the notion that there may be some assistance available to us(

boeing, boeing, gone.

Finally, looks like the start of the right thing (5, Interesting)

jcochran (309950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897408)

Nuclear power is one of the cleanest sources of power we have so far. Now if Obama will correct the damn stupid mistake Carter did, things will be a heck of a lot better. Yes, we have a nuclear waste problem and it's a large one. But it's not a technical problem, it's a political problem. President Carter back in 1977 issued a directive that stopped reprocessing of civilian nuclear waste. Mind, the US nuclear industry was built with the assumption that waste reprocessing would be available. So the result is that we have more waste than planned for being stored for longer periods than planned for, all because of a decision to change the way things were done. And said decision was made without putting into place an alternate method of handling the waste. Yes people, we have a nuclear waste issue, and if Obama can reverse the brain dead stupid decision made 33 years ago, that would be one of the best possible things he could do for the United States. But some people still hear the word "nuclear" and suddenly their brains and reasoning turn off and they start thinking worse case issues and problems ignoring the fact that many of the problems are political and not technical. What about cost overruns? Well, stop dragging them into court attempting to stop construction. What about the nuclear waste? See the beginning of this post people. What about Three Mile Island? Your point is? The safety measures worked and the public never was in danger. During TMI, they debating for *three days* about whether or not to evacuate the area. Next time a damn bursts, be sure to take three days to come to the decision about heading for high ground. The safety measures *worked* even though the operators practically did everything they could to screw things up.

Re:Finally, looks like the start of the right thin (2, Funny)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897628)

To think that Carter was the last President that was an Engineer !! Now all we have are lawyers

G

Nuclear for Oil? (4, Informative)

necro81 (917438) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897502)

Why does everyone think of nuclear power (or coal, or natural gas, or renewables) and oil as some sort of zero-sum game? Oil is used for three things mainly: transportation fuel, heating fuel in some parts of the country, and as a raw material for industrial processes. Nuclear power is good for one thing: generating electricity. While I will admit that there is plenty of small ways that we can trade off oil usage for nuclear-generated electricity, there aren't many wholesale ways of reducing oil consumption via nuclear. Are you going to heat your New England home with nuclear electricity? Will you create plastics feedstock from nuclear electricity? Even though in both cases one can do these things, we aren't about to because it's cheaper to do them using oil.

The big one is electricity, and I for one am pessimistic that we'll see a wholesale shift away from gasoline/diesel (i.e., more than 1/3 of all vehicles on the road propelled by electrical power)in anything less than 25 years.

And even then, it's not like we'll magically be trading nuclear electricity off for only imported oil. Oil is a global commodity. The determining factor of where the U.S. gets its oil from is where how much it costs. If it's cheaper or more profitable to bring it by tanker from the Middle East than it is to pull it from the Gulf of Mexico, you can bet that is where we'll get most of it. In truth, where does the U.S. import most of its oil from? Canada. Mexico provides us with as much oil as Saudi Arabia. We get more from non-OPEC nations than we do from OPEC [lots of stats here [doe.gov] ]. I am glad that the summary used the term "dependence on oil" rather than the more politically useful "foreign oil". I just wish that everyone else could wrap their head around it.

Finland approved a total of 3 new nuke plants (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32897810)

The first is almost ready (was approved in 2002) and 2 more have been recently approved by parliament. The current 4 plants produce a total of 2721 MW, which is 30% of the total finnish electrical power, and the fifth, soon to be put into use (around 2012 - ok, soonish), will add another 1600 MW. The other two, recently approved, plants would add about 1400-1500 MW each.

The interesting thing is, the plants were approved mostly based on economic criteria, but everybody had in the back of their had the higher market stability of the fuel prices for nuke plants, and the independence on, shall we say, problem-prone sources (arab countires and russia). The group that lobbied against the plants proposed building natural gas plants, fueled by gas imported from Russia. After Russia used their natural gas supply as a political weapon, that group got pretty much stunted (even though it's not politically correct to say so). By the way, Libya used their natural gas as a weapon, too, for instance against Croatia, when that country criticized the PLO at the UN. Just in case you think Russia is the only country engaging in such tactics.

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