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Could Nuclear Power Wean the U.S. From Oil?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the just-as-long-as-we-don't-glow-in-the-dark dept.

United States 1615

bblackfrog asks: "Is a Federal nuclear energy program viable? That is, can the USA eliminate our economic dependence on crude oil with a large scale federal program to build and maintain enough nuclear power plants to replace our current oil-based energy needs? The obvious political hurdles are (a) the left opposes nuclear energy, (b) the right opposes federalizing energy, and (c) the oil companies and Saudis wield a lot of clout. This makes a federal nuclear energy program far fetched I admit, however I'm more interested in the economics. Slashdot has covered advances in nuclear power technology. China's doing it." (Read more, below.)"How much energy is required to replace our fossil fuel consumption? What are the initial costs of the program, and just how cheap could the electricity be? How expensive would it be for our industries to convert? How expensive for home and auto conversions? How much of this cost should be picked up by the government? Bottom line: is nuclear power cheaper than our current oil-driven middle-east policy, with all of its blowback?"

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1615 comments

Yes, definitely. (5, Funny)

krog (25663) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723320)

A nuclear disaster would wean the US off a lot of things.... oil, food, water, you name it.

Re:Yes, definitely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723349)

that sounds very similar to what oil is already doing, except it is an ongoing disaster.

Re:Yes, definitely. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723416)

Yeah but there are a ton of nuclear plants running right now. Most are using outdated crappy technology also. And just think of all the nuclear subs and ships out there.

How many accidents have there been? ... Probably less than "normal" energy plants.

Just think what we could do with modern plants. It would be an awesome cheap, non-polluting, power source.

I do wonder how many plants would be required though. Because that would mean more "terrorist" targets. Maybe we could just have one huge national nuclear plant that's protected like Fort Knox. Haha, yes I realize the potential problems involved with something like that, it's just an idea.

Re:Yes, definitely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723499)

Maybe if we got our power from domestically mined uranium, we wouldn't be throwing our weight around on the global stage and pissing people off with our bad behavior so that they become terrorists who want to blow up our nuclear plants. They'd be quite happy to slide back into the 12th century if we just left them alone. (Well, there's still always Isreal to get them worked up about.)

First you need to ask yourself these two questions (5, Interesting)

Darth Muffin (781947) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723509)

1) What will we do with the waste?
2) Do we have enough fissionable fuel to accomplish this?

I know #1 is a problem, I honestly don't know the answer to #2. Either way, these need to be addressed *before* we build more reactors.

And what'll wean us from nuclear power? (4, Insightful)

turnstyle (588788) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723324)

And what'll wean us from nuclear power?

Power? (5, Insightful)

simpl3x (238301) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723495)

The question should be, why do we use sooo much damn energy. I'm all for computers, gadgets, and a variety of power tools, but aren't we just being plain stupid and wasteful? I'm a designer, and the understanding in packaging is, that saving resources upfront (minimal packaging) is much, much more effective than say recycling. Recycling would be absolutely great, if we actually did it, but alas do not do it very effectively.

I ditched my beemer and am walking and such now. Not only is the stress of driving and owning a car that costs way too much to maintain in its glisteney state gone, but I lost ten pounds and save about a thousand a month.

We want it all, but simply cannot have it all. For long anyway.

Why? (1)

sczimme (603413) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723497)


Why would we need to wean ourselves from nuclear power? As we get better at disposing of or otherwise containing the waste, nuclear power will become cheaper and more feasible. We may want to look for an [additional,replacement] power source N years down the road but would not need to do so in the short term.

PS I am referring to generating electrical power to homes, businesses, etc.

Re:And what'll wean us from nuclear power? (2, Interesting)

fmita (517041) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723527)

Yes, I seem to remember reading somewhere that, at the world's current load, there is only enough nuclear fuel to last about 100 years (that's the world, mind you, so who knows about just the US)

The Bush Factor (3, Funny)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723326)

You're forgetting that Bush was just reelected.

Re:The Bush Factor (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723367)

You're forgetting that you're a faggot.

Re:The Bush Factor (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723424)

You're forgetting that Bush was just reelected.

You're making the assumption that Kerry would be more receptive to building more nuclear power plants? ROTFL

Re:The Bush Factor (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723548)

Getting Bush to reduce oil consumtion would be like getting Kerry to reduce ketchup consumtion...
Bush is from an oil family.

Re:The Bush Factor (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723473)

First off, at worst, parent is an insightful troll.

Fact is, Bush (and Cheney) aren't simply pawns of the oil industry, they ARE the oil industry. Moving away from oil is a conflict of interest for them.

Anyone who thinks that any substantial change in energy policy will happen in the next four years is naive.

It needs to be done .. (0, Redundant)

macaulay805 (823467) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723331)

I believe our (the world in gereral) dependance on crude oil has long been overdue! Its time for a renewable energy source!

(D) One problem (5, Insightful)

Vicegrip (82853) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723334)

(d) In whose backyard does the nuclear waste go?

Re:(D) One problem (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723409)

A bag as nuclear waste is, at least you can confine it to a small area whereas normal power generation waste is released into the atmosphere. To me, a few tons of radioactive material is better than 100's or 1000's of tons of gaseous emissions from a coal power plant.

Re:(D) One problem (2, Insightful)

MrDickey (653242) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723486)

And even better than that- no harmful byproducts. I think its a much better idea to work towards completely safe energy sources than settle for one that isn't as awful as the one we have now. On a side note, once global warming settles in, there will be plenty of drought-stricken areas that will become excellent solar energy producing areas.

Re:(D) One problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723410)

look south... can anyone say mexico?

Re:(D) One problem (5, Insightful)

jgabby (158126) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723456)

Which is worse...a deadly, but containable waste product that can be collected and buried, and thus controlled...or a deadly, uncontainable waste product that cannot be controlled and is simply released into the atmosphere?

Not in my back yard? Screw that!
I say, not in my lungs.

Nevada's (2, Insightful)

wiredog (43288) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723484)

The Yucca Mountain facility is the best we're likely to find (Unless you think there's any site that can be proven utterly safe for 10k years) and certainly better than what we're doing now. So in terms of science and engineering it's the best choice.

Politically it's also a big win. Nevada has a low population, so it has few Representatives in the House. Plus, it voted for the Dear Leader despite his approval of Yucca Mountain. So if any locals do object, there's no real leverage for them politically.

Re:(D) One problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723513)

This leads me to a question that's been puzzling me for some time. From what little I know of nuclear energy/waste:

Fission reactions heat water creating steam turning turbines generating electricity, which is great. However, it seems that nuclear waste is dangerous because it gives off radiation. Radiation is energy, which is precisely what we're trying to obtain. Is there not a way to capture & convert this radiation into usuable energy, instead of burying it?

Re:(D) One problem (3, Insightful)

RevRigel (90335) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723517)

If you allow nuclear reactor operators to reprocess waste in a manner that Al Gore had banned when he was in the Senate, then there's not nearly so much waste. France doesn't seem to have a problem with it, and gets most of their power from nukes. Besides, with nuclear reactors, the waste is small, and easily containable. Existing coal power plants each belch tons of Thorium-234 and other isotopes directly into the air. If coal power plants were regulated to the degree that nuclear power plants are regarding release of radiation, coal wouldn't be economically viable as a power source.

Re:(D) One problem (1)

MacBrave (247640) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723529)

The moon would be a good place to store it, unless we decide to build a base there. Anyone remember Space:1999?

Re:(D) One problem (3, Funny)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723539)

Into the oceans obviously!

Suprisingly if scattered out this is actually a good idea as there as underwater volcanos are already spilling out much more heavy metals and nuclear material than we can possibly dump, of couse as I said it would have to be ground up and spread out evently.

Not that the hippies would understand mind you.

omg fp bia (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723338)

ef pee again?

All for it... (1)

Kazrath (822492) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723347)

I am all for an alternate energy/fuel source we can mass produce to replace a limited resource.

The problem goes back to what /. has said many times. Nuclear = bad word to the public.

A quote from my fav book:

Wizards first Rule: People Are Stupid.

People can be made to believe any lie because they want to believe it is true, or because they are afraid that it is true.

Uranium is a finite resource (5, Informative)

gtrubetskoy (734033) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723348)


With respect to conventional nuclear energy, what many people don't realize is that Uranium is a finite resource which will run out way before oil. Based on what's on this [slashdot.org] page (this was just a quick google, there probably is better data out there), with 4 million t available and at the rate of 34K t per year, there is only 117 years of Uranium left.

So if it's going to be nuclear energy, it will need to be a process that does not require Uranium.

Re:Uranium is a finite resource (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723400)

Can you say "Breeder reactor" you use plentiful U238 and turn it into Plutonium...

Re:Uranium is a finite resource (1)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723524)

...either that, or we need a robust enough research community so that we can discover the next "nuclear power" source before our Uranium is depleted, so to speak. There are already tons of promising leads.

Frankly, if it ever came down to necessity, we'd figure something out real fast. It took us less than a decade to get to the moon, after all...

Re:Uranium is a finite resource (1)

Walkiry (698192) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723541)

Uranium is not the answer. Thorium is. [webelements.com]

Thorium is a source of nuclear power. There is probably more untapped energy available for use from thorium in the minerals of the earth's crust than from combined uranium and fossil fuel sources.

Re:Uranium is a finite resource (5, Informative)

turgid (580780) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723543)

You can recycle the plutonium produced by fission of uranium either to make MOX fuel or use it as fuel in a fast reactor.

The uranium will run out a lot less slowly than oil (in the US) or gas (in Europe) if this is taken into account.

Unfortunately, public anti-nuclear hysteria will prevent us from properly exploiting these resources until our backs are firmly against the wall. If Bin Laden were to disrupt the flow of gas from Siberia to Europe and plunge the continent into chaos, cold, darkness, sickness and death, maybe the politicians will do something about it. However, until their is a major disaster either involving economics (high oil prices) or logistics (Siberian gas supply) nothing will get done.

Meanwhile, we're still developing nuclear fusion [fusion.org.uk] which is coming along a lot better than most people think...No uranium (or oil or coal or gas) required.

Dream on (1, Insightful)

battlemarch (570731) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723350)

Do you really think that President Bush will sell out his oil buddies?

Not likely.

Re:Dream on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723457)

despite what you have been brainwashed he does not have allegiances to oil companies.

the only basis you even have for that is that he is from texas.

he may be a whore for big companies (oil including) but he didnt invent that concept. find me a major politician that isnt, (ie president)

Re:Dream on (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723464)

You may feel the need to vent after the election didn't go your way.

However, the Bush administration has supported nuclear power.

Oh, well, if China's doing it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723361)

Then obviously we all should. Someone go roll some tanks onto some protestors. Kill the newborn females! Burn lots of coal. Keep the internet filtered completely. Yeah!

Separate us from the other animals. (1)

CyberThalamus (822198) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723362)

Realize that the other animals already use all the other forms of energy. Birds use the wind, fish use hydroelectric, and all use hydrocarbons as food. Nuclear is a step forward, which only the sun has mastered. The symbolic value of our progress needs to be considered.

Pop quiz: (5, Insightful)

khrtt (701691) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723369)

The president of a country has a fortune invested in oil. Would that country rather:

1. Develop a nuclear energy program;

2. Develop an alternative energy program;

or

3. Relax regulations for pollution control, so that fossil fuel energy can be more conviniently utilized?

The question is moot anyways (2, Insightful)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723372)

Why would the US need to wean itself from oil? When they need more, they can just steal from their neighbors as usual. And now we know that half of the population approves of this policy ;-)

Re:The question is moot anyways (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723466)

Bitch, whine, piss & moan.

Blah, blah, blah.

Mini Nuke-Plant (2, Insightful)

Delrin (98403) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723377)

Well, we know that in the USA, coal and gasoline cause a large percentage of the pollution. Nuclear power might solve the problem of the coal/other fossil fuel plants. But what about all those Dodge Durango and Surburbans?

Re:Mini Nuke-Plant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723431)

Actually a large percentage of word pollution is coming from your Slashdot posts.

(d) (2, Insightful)

Markus Landgren (50350) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723381)

(d) Creating a dependence on yet another finite resource found under the ground in various countries that may or may not welcome you to dig it up, now and in the future.

Environmentalist for Nuclear Power (5, Insightful)

HeaththeGreat (708430) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723385)

While the damage caused by a nuclear catastrophy is much larger than that of a coal or oil burning plant, isn't the day-to-day pollution from a nuclear plant going to be far less than that of other non-renewable energy sources?

Yes, we should be looking to renewable sources, but its just not cost effective right now. Invest in the distance future with renewable research, and invest in the present with nuclear.

Re:Environmentalist for Nuclear Power (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723490)

The problem is the actual output of pollution is far smaller, but the stuff being outputted is many times as toxic. I think it's insane to create more plants when we don't have enough long-term storage to handle what we're producing now.

Anything to stop the 'burning' (5, Insightful)

rlgoer (784913) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723388)

About the dumbest thing a person can do with fossil fuels is 'burn' them, whether in a power plant or driving to work.

When you burn them, they're effectively gone.

When they're gone, you can no longer use them to create the materials that, to a large extent, drive the production of goods in this country. Just think of it: Fertilizer, toys, drugs, etc. They are all largely based on petroleum derivatives.

Some can be recycled, which is great.

But if you just burn the petroleum, you lose it forever, and create toxic emissions to boot.

If nuclear power could help stop the petroleum 'burning' I'd be all for it. The problem is safety.

Can nuclear energy ever be truly safe?

A complete transition is impossible... (1)

dritan (775932) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723392)

...because there are millions of vehicles on the roads that still require gasoline. Nuclear power could be a good replacement for fossil-fuel based power plants, but for the existing fleet of private vehicles, it just won't happen.

Re:A complete transition is impossible... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723522)

If electrisity is cheep enough then it would be trivial to extract carbon from the ocean and of course hydrogen from the ocean and manufacture complex carbon molecules. Hence manufactured fuels for your car. There wouldn't be any need to even chance the current distribution netowrk. Of course, as I said abouve this requires cheep electrisity.

Nuclear yes; fusion not fission. (2)

DeafDumbBlind (264205) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723395)

Once we have efficient fusion power plants, our dependance on oil will go away. With fusion, there's too much radioactive crap left behind that no one wants to deal with.
Too many people are too scared of another 3-mile island or Chernobyl. Fusion plants would be much safer.

Its funny how the left is against Nuclear Power (5, Interesting)

Emperor Shaddam IV (199709) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723399)

In the US. But in Europe and Japan they use Nuclear power extensively. Even though they have much more to lose in the event of a disaster due to the population density. I'm I the only one that wonders about this?

Re:Its funny how the left is against Nuclear Power (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723547)

three mile island

You mean run cars and jets off nuclear power? (1)

UOZaphod (31190) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723401)

Considering that most all of our electrical energy comes from burning COAL and not oil, the only thing switching to nuclear power would do is clean up the air... it wouldn't reduce our dependence on foreign oil to run all of our vehicles.

Re:You mean run cars and jets off nuclear power? (4, Informative)

Emperor Shaddam IV (199709) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723463)

We could also eat fish from our lakes and streams again. Since the methyl mercury being dumped into the atmosphere from the coal plants and other industry has raised the mercury levels in all fresh water fish to high levels.

Yeah! (1)

Ginnungagap42 (817075) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723402)

Nuclear powered Ford Mustang. 0-60 in 5.4 nanoseconds. I'm all over that...

Re:Yeah! (1)

timster (32400) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723465)

You would indeed be all over it -- at least your pulverized remains would be all over everything in a bloody mess.

But it would be fun.

Re:Yeah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723479)

Nuclear powered Ford Mustang. 0-60 in 5.4 nanoseconds. I'm all over that...

Nuclear powered DeLorean. 0-88 in -30 years...

Oil to uranium (1, Interesting)

sameerd (445449) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723411)

It will just push us from depending on the oil rich countries to the uranium rich countries.

huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723415)

That's so hypocrite, USA doesnt want other countries to use nuclear but they would have some kind of nuclear energy program? lol

Impossible... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723419)

...because France have already done it.

Apples and Oranges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723423)

Well since we pretty much don't use Oil in the US for generating power, adding new nuclear power plants is pretty worthless.

Now I guess you could be talking about replacing fuel oil for heating and using nuclear for hydrogen generation and fuel cells for cars. But really any plan for wide spread car conversion is talking trillions of dollars, maybe more with all the infrastructure upgrades.

Plus you still have oil use by industry (creating plastics, etc etc) and thats not going away.

If you want to address (a), (b), and (c) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723433)

They need to develop some friendlier fast-release nuclear power plants (a.k.a. neutron bombs). Go feds!

Dammit (2, Insightful)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723435)

The obvious political hurdles are (a) the left opposes nuclear energy, (b) the right opposes federalizing energy

Crimony--what color is the sky, black or white?

...y'know, one of these days, we'll be able to have meaningful political discussion again. Until then, it'd be really swell if we could minimize trivializing such a complex and nebulous issue as energy policy.

...would you be shocked to find significant numbers of liberals who embrace nuclear energy? Would you be stunned to discover a large cache of conservatives who support a federalized network of nuclear power plants?

Re:Dammit (1)

Ktulu_03 (668300) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723549)

I'm a conservative, but I would be for a larger federal system of nuclear plants if it meant that we could wean ourselves off of mideast oil. I would definelty be in favor of any new policies which divert our money away from those countries. I would hope that once we have cheaper, cleaner electricity that we could then focus attention on coming up with replacements for goods today that require so much oil. So much of the northeast of this country requires huge amounts of heating oil for the winter, compared to the midwest which is usually electric or natural gas.

oh GREAT! (1)

Nihilanth (470467) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723436)

that's just what we need, more nuclear reactors on the surface of our planet! Hey, here's an idea, put them in space and microwave the energy back to us. Nuclear reactors have no business on inhabited planets.

But. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723438)

The dependancy on oil is not just as an energy resource. Most of our belongings are manufactured from oil by-products. Just to throw an insensitive clod in the already muddy water!

Uh... (4, Insightful)

CodeWanker (534624) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723442)

We don't use oil as our primary means of generating electricity. We use coal. And then natural gas. Neither of which are big foreign dependencies for us. I guess you're suggesting that we use nuclear energy to break down water for hydrogen power? But the cost of that is more than the cost of gasoline at the current rate. Electric cars, maybe?

As much as some people hate to hear it, we're not fighting in the Middle East because of oil. We're there because we're fighting Islamofascism. Otherwise, we would have used Saddam as an oil-for-food crony the way France and Germany were.

We can wean ourselves off oil better with deisel-electric hybrids, which would give us the same efficiencyt as is projected with fuel cells, and burn vegetable oils as well as (or instead of) petroleum. Vegetable oil powered electric hybrids are actually Solar Powered (think about it.) Which means they're Nuclear Powered. So maybe that's how nuclear weans us off petroleum.

France did it! (1)

Jeppe Salvesen (101622) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723511)

I'm sure you'll be outraged to learn that France gets most of its elecriticy from nuclear plants - I think the percentage is somewhere around 60-80%. So - their reliance on oil is much less than yours.

Re:Uh... (2, Interesting)

khrtt (701691) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723514)

..we're not fighting in the Middle East because of oil.

Yes we are. But we are not fighting for oil. With our President invested in oil as heavily as he is, I think the purpose of our fight in Iraq is to create a price hike. Which we are succeeding at, so far.

Replaces coal not oil (2, Informative)

TheConfusedOne (442158) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723446)

A lot of electrical power is generated using coal and natural gas. Very little is generated using oil.

Oil is popular for uses that require portable power storage (planes, cars, etc.).

But what about arctic drilling?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723449)

But if we switch to nuclear power, then oil demand and prices will drop. And THEN what justification would there be for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?! That's the GOAL, and we need to line up REASONS-- don't you understand? So switching to nuclear is a dumb idea, at least in the short term.

not just China... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723452)

...in both Eastern and Western Europe nuclear has been standard for some time.

All the same, I'm not in favour of further adoption: for all the arguments of the safety of nuclear power plants, the fact is, as the duration of a plant's operation approaches eternity the probability of human or manufacturing errors causing an accident approaches 1. And in the case of nuclear power, the cost of a single accident make it not worth the risk.

Sure, by the same reasoning as California will one day fall into the ocean, and geologic time gives the same level of precision as the probability for a competently-run nuclear plant to experience an accident, so one might say that I should argue that no one should set forth on California. But there are better alternatives, less "20th century" than nuclear, which I believe could be made feasible with sufficient investment.

Since the oil companies are holding the patents on most of these viable alternatives, however, I won't hold my breath.

Biggest point being missed for ALL alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723460)

This is true for solar, ethanol, fuel cells, nuclear, etc energy sources - how much oil will it take to produce the infrastructure to supply those sources to the public, to ship them, to build the factories that create them, to even POWER the factories that create them? Will it even be worth the cost (in oil as well as $$)?

Re:Biggest point being missed for ALL alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723481)

Great point - here's a mod without mod points.

Several small issues (1)

$criptah (467422) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723462)

There are several issues that may not pass with the U.S. public:

Where do you store nuclear waste?

Where do you put nuclear plants? If you like it so much, would you like having a plant in your backyard?

How do you keep it safe?

Do not get me wrong, I am all up for alternative sources of energy; however, there are issues with most all of them that we need to consider.

mmm Nuclear powered cars! Droool! (1)

b4rtm4n (692708) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723468)

A nuke powered Dodge Viper would totally rock!

Just trying to make the point that electric powered cars + nuclear power would be a good step on the long road to weaning the US (and subsequently the rest of the world) off oil.



Jokes can often be +1 insightfull too.

Why not use Wind + Hydrogen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723478)

Windfarms generate Hydrogen which can be used for fuel cells. This way, you can take Wind (which is inconsistent) and convert it to something more consistent. Utsira Island, in Norway, already has it up and running.

Is nuclear the answer? (1)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723480)

This is an interesting question, and I hope a lively discussion. I think one thing is perfectly clear and that is that oil is a finite resource and something must be done in order to shift reliance from oil. I don't think nuclear is the step. It just costs too much money. I understand that energy is 'clean' and efficient once the reactor is running, but the costs at startup are astronomical and maintainance is lethal. The government in Ontario recently felt that when trying to modernize their Nuclear power plant in Pickering. The cost for overhaul for $4B. This is not chump change. I think, perhaps, the solution to the energy crisis that s coming (and it IS coming) may not be invented yet. In fact, I suspect that the West (its not only America that loves oil) will have to invent their way out of the problem. Although I think that the clout wielded by the oil barons will stall this development for years to come.

First question to be answered ... (1)

WinkyN (263806) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723487)

... is who would profit from it. If a new industry is going to make trillions by selling the same stuff the old industry does, those old industries (oil/coal/current nuclear plants) are going to fight tooth-and-nail to keep things in the status quo.

Overall, I think changing the base infrastructure of electric generation is a good thing. New industries mean new jobs, and the benefit is a cleaner electric generation model. But it won't happen until something sates the old industry financially.

My main complaint about capitalism is when businesses become large, they don't want to make major changes to their business because it will increase cost. Thus, they lobby in Congress, pursue marketing campaigns and everything else to make sure consumers keep using their products without having to change their ways. Making money without change is a businesses dream, but unforuntately that can contradict what's in the benefit for the many. And that's what's happening today.

Very 20th Century (2, Interesting)

Albanach (527650) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723500)

Nuclear power may be considered clean energy in light of hydrocarbon emissions, but it's hardly clean when you consider the environmental impact for the next few thousand years. That's not even considering that there's supposed to be a War on Terror taking place, and a nuclear power station must be one heck of a terrorism target. Why import a dirty bomb when the government just built 20 for you. And we're not just talking about the plants themselves, consider the ships and trains carrying new and spent fuel every four weeks, perhaps within a mile of your doorstep.

The US is a huge country with huge natural resources and a lot of wealth. With every other fuel resource being finite, wouldn't it make sense to try and lead the world in renewables. Tidal Power along that massive coastline, wind power along the sparsely populated plains, hydro power in the mountains. Those sort of developments would not only reduce reliance on foreign supplies in the short term, but would provide massive economic benefit in the medium to long term.

cars (1)

cwebb1977 (650175) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723505)

Well, nuclear energy could help, but the problem is, that you won't be able to fit a nuclear reactor into a car. And no one in the whole world drives cars that need more gas than US citizens.

Quick Answer (4, Insightful)

rkischuk (463111) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723516)

Yes. But too many people would rather fear-monger the ills of nuclear power than join a rational discussion of how it can be widely implemented in a safe, clean, and effective manner.

Biodiesel (4, Informative)

wherley (42799) | more than 9 years ago | (#10723531)

* can make in USA (no foreign dependence).
* runs in existing diesel engines.
* less toxic than regular diesel, in fact biodegradable.
* creates more demand for US soybean crop.
* no new infrastructure needed, just more diesel engines.
* emissions better in almost also cases than existing diesel emissions.
* can mix in any percentage with existing diesel fuel.

yes i know it would take *a lot* of soy crop to meet the US oil consumption - but check out some of the research on using algae for biodiesel production at a much higher land density.

overall there are a *lot* of pros vs. cons regarding this alternative fuel IMHO.

for more information:
http://www.grassolean.com/ [grassolean.com]
http://www.biodieselnow.com/ [biodieselnow.com]
http://forums.tdiclub.com/postlist.php?Cat=&Board= UBB44 [tdiclub.com]

There is not enough uranium (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10723542)

As another poster here mentioned, there is simply not enough uranium to provide for the worlds energy needs. Also, one needs to build a staggering amount (1 per day for the next 50 years) of new nuclear plants in order to provide for the worlds energy need (about 10 TW). There is only enough uranium for 10 years at our current energy consumption rate. Check out http://nsl.caltech.edu/energy.html for a talk that a caltech professor gives all the time before congress and other places. (sorry in powerpoint)
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