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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

macpacheco Re:Deliberate (623 comments)

When it comes to reactor lives, you're seeing it wrong.

Nuclear reactors weren't expected to be in critical state after 40 years of utilization, not even by a long shot. Instead designers opted for an initial 40 year certification since it would be very hard to *prove* they could last 60, 80 or even 100 years originally. Now that hundreds of reactors are around 40 years old, there is hard data to show that extending their certification for 60-80 years lifespan is perfectly safe and economical. It might be possible to extend to 100 years, but this could only be determined when reactors get close to 80 years operations.

It actually is environmentally advantageous to continue operating reactors as long as possible. Most reactor materials don't require replacement even at 40 years operation. Materials that are continuously irradiated, for instance steel that can't simply be sent back to the steel forge and molten together with other steel to make new stuff. It will eventually be considered medium radioactivity materials that will have to decay for decades before recycling after the reactor is fully shutdown.

Per the usual, those outside the nuclear industry always see everything as some dirty game against the best interests of nature. It just isn't like that.

Realize that large hydro dams are designed to last 150+ years.

If the NRC considers it possible to operate reactors until 80 years, you can be damn sure this isn't some plot to risk mankind. Those reactors can actually take it. The Fukushima reactor survived the earthquake and the tsunami. It was the flooding of the emergency reactors that prevented the reactor from cooling itself down safely. Those were 620MWe reactors or 2000MWt (thermal heat). 1 hour after shutdown a nuclear reactor is still producing 1.5% of its last power setting, so that's 25MWt (mega watts thermal heat) that it was producing when the tsunami hit. Solid fueled reactors operate under significant temperature gradients even when the primary pumps are in full operation (some fuel pins at 1800C, while the coolant is around 350C). At around 2100C fuel pins melt. One of the most critical aspects is usage of Zirconium in the cladding, which reacts with water making H2 gas, which is explosive.

MSRs fully avoid that problem since the fuel and coolant is molten together, making it easy to drain the reactor core into a drain tank designed to halt reactivity and maximize thermal dissipation. This is completely impossible with water cooled, solid fuel reactors, as the water is the coolant AND the moderator. As the moderator it's helping the reactor continue to produce some power. An MSR typically uses solid graphite as moderator, the graphite stays in the core, away from the drain tank. A water cooled reactor doesn't have much temperature margin. An increase in 100C in coolant temp is a critical condition. In an MSR an increase of coolant temp of 100C is within safety margins and automatically reduces reactivity (power production) as the core materials expand. And a very simple safety feature is the freeze plug of core salt that if molten drains the reactor into the drain tank (either due to loss of power to the reactor OR unacceptable temperature excursions).

No Zirconium and no water, no similar reactions that produce explosive gases in MSRs.

I studied all of those criteria. No I'm not a nuclear engineer, but I know enough engineering and physics to understand that stuff extremely well.

Some MSR proponents say that once MSRs are in full scale construction its possible that water cooled reactors will be banned from further construction, considered too risky. That would only go to prove the absurdity of today's nuclear regulatory agencies. We have 400 nuclear reactors in operation, about 350 of those are water cooled, all operating safety, why would a remote risk be considered a serious risk ? It just shows the continuous knee jerk mode nuclear regulators operate under, they have no obligation to prove their very expensive regulatory demands are actually required, cause the people just don't understand it.

In essence water cooled, solid fueled reactors are safe due to advanced safety systems. MSRs can be designed to be safe simply using gravity solidifying a plug of the core salt (see the freeze plug feature of MSRs).

38 minutes ago
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

macpacheco Re:Deliberate (623 comments)

High costs = high profits because it usually means large govt given subsidies. Much like high molten salt reactors development has been stuck for 40+ years. There is a whole spectrum of MSR reactors. In its simplest form it would be so cheap it would replace all demand for new water cooled nukes. The reactor is cheaper, avoids solid fuel fabrication, much easier to reprocess spent nuclear fuel (both reprocessing SNF in solid fuel form and future reprocessing of MSR SNF), at least twice the burnup (raw heat extracted from the same load of nuclear fuel before fuel is done) than a regular water cooled nuke. But that's exactly the reason its not pursued. It would canibalize investment on the latest water cooled nukes: AP1000 (Westinghouse), ESBWR (GE), EPR (Areva) brand new reactors.
Why don't neither of those three companies pursue it and become the first ? Because the current NRC regulatory system makes the first company have to pay for the NRC to develop the whole base regulatory framework, plus actually certifying a brand new type of reactor, call it a billion in direct NRC fees and engineers allocated to prepare the required NRC documentation.
The more you dig, the more you find that the problem with nuclear is too expensive is a result of too much power for the NRC to destroy the nuclear industry. I'm a private pilot, and unlike the FAA where the aviation users groups (private/airlines/business) can actually get some support from the public when the FAA goes too far, nobody actually understands when the NRC is completely gone insane with ridiculous cost, because of the perception that nuclear is too risky !

yesterday
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

macpacheco Re:Deliberate (623 comments)

I am talking about getting rid of at least 90% of coal usage and at least 50% of natural gas worldwide and 50% of oil too (to start with). So its not just the electrical grid, you also need the heating solution and transportation. We need that to fix climate change.
That's why nuclear is essential. Specifically high temp nuclear (around 700C outlet temps or 1300F).
High temp nuclear is good for:
  Electricity production, increases net efficiency from around 33% to close to 50%
  Mass scale desalination of water, the cooling part of the cycle of a high temp nuclear reactor can boil water strictly using the heat it needs to give off before being heated again, so its a free utilization of high temp nuclear
  Ammonia production for fertilizers
  Cheap and CO2 free Hydrogen production for fuel cells
  District heating
  Industrial process heat
  Using nuclear heat instead of burning natural gas to process crude oil, which would improve total CO2 intensity of gasoline and diesel based transportation by a significant margin (and that natural gas can go into further offsetting gasoline usage)
  The most promising high temp nuclear is development is being funded exactly with tar sands money in Canada. Avoiding burning natural gas to extract tar sands plus refinining that crude with nuclear heat would reduce carbon intensity of the whole supply chain by a serious margin.
Many of the items above are either done by burning natural gas or are just plain uneconomical without cheap heating source.
Anywhere you need a high temp source, its too expensive to use electricity to produce that heating source, directly using a high temp reactor improves the economics over producing electricity using low temp nuclear by a margin of three. Its also not economical to use CSP alone, manufacturing facilities need 24x7 operations to be economical.

I want to fix climate change. What do you want to do ?

yesterday
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

macpacheco Re:Deliberate (623 comments)

Again you're being irrational. Solar and wind can't fix climate change. You keep insisting it can. It's not solar/wind or nuclear. It's about all of the above.
Chernobyl was serious. But it is unlikely to EVER happen again. What part of that don't you GET ? It should NEVER, EVER happen again. We don't need to get rid of all nuclear in the world to prevent another Chernobyl. So we shouldn't use it as an anti nuclear argument. If we took all serious airline accidents that happened since the year of TMI against the airline industry like you'd like to use nuclear accidents, we should ground all airliners and give up air flying altogether.
Fukushima evac is unnecessary. It should be downgraded to an optional evac right away and be lifted completely in a few years.
Look at your own words "Nuclear costs much more than renewables, takes longer to build, and regularly destroys regions.".
Your irrational anti nuclear attitude is the greatest culprit for nuclear being too expensive (in developed countries), also for taking too long to build.
"Nuclear regulaly destroys regions" is utter crap. You are projecting future serious accidents. That's wrong. That's irrational (trying really hard not to curse you).
Do you have any engineering knowledge ? Engineers learn from accidents and improve designs. Your analysis is based on some assumption that mankind is too stupid and will continue being too stupid for nuclear. That is utter CRAP ! I'm sorry it makes me so angry, it makes me think you are a paid anti nuclear shill.
Go study nuclear FACTS. Not anti nuclear fiction. Your arguments show you haven't read a single nuclear FACT article, instead that you are fixated on the anti nuclear CRAP that is reinvented every day.

BEING ANTI NUCLEAR is BEING IMPLICITLY PRO COAL. By shutting down the 5 nukes in Germany, it increased coal and natural gas consumption in Germany. Nukes weren't offset by wind and solar, they were offset by COAL and Natural Gas. That's a fact. First get rid of coal, and half of natural gas consumption, then we can talk about getting rid of nuclear.

BTW I am very much pro solar. I'm in the process of investing on a 10kW solar PV solution for my condo in Brazil. And looking into 100kW worth of solar for a family business. I don't have a problem with solar, nor with wind. I have a problem with morons like you that can't think straight. If you aren't an engineer or at least have engineering minded education you should excuse yourself from any nuclear opinions, you just don't have the mindset to analyze things rationally.

yesterday
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

macpacheco Re:Deliberate (623 comments)

The sole problem reactors themselves can't be 100% factory built and shipped as a single contained module is they are too big.
Reactors gain efficiency the larger they get. So the nuclear industry has been continuously increasing new design sizes. They are now thinking about 2100MWe reactors (6000MWt) behemoths.
If instead we do molten salt reactors, those have inherent efficiency, safety, cost advantages we could build reactors 1/5th the size at better economics than proposed 2000MWe reactors (like make 5 400MWe reactors cheaper than one 2000MWe water cooled reactor).
But there is NO govt money for MSR reactors, as the current nuclear establishment is heavily invested on water cooled reactors. That's because its not about costs, its about profits, predictable profits. The current water cooled nuke industry locks customers on long term fuel fabrication contracts, that guarantee billions in profits over the lifetime of each reactor, above any profits on construction of those reactors.
Should a new generation of reactors turn up with economics that make it interesting to canibalize all existing water cooled nukes, that would be bad for Westinghouse, GE, Areva, Hitachi and others. So they do the crony capitalism dance where they push govt to help them make more money from water cooled designs, while blocking revolutionary new designs from getting any money.
And huge nuclear behemoths like GE and Westinghouse aren't keen even on current nuclear projects, they are making far more money from wind turbines, natural gas/coal projects, no nuclear uncertainty.
But this is all useless talk if you all continue to think nuclear power is bad.
COAL kills. Natural gas kills. Coal kills about 500 people daily worldwide (200 thousand yearly worldwide). Natural gas kills 10 thousand people worldwide yearly. Oil kills 20 thousand people worldwide yearly. How many people has nuclear power if fact killed ?

yesterday
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

macpacheco Re:Deliberate (623 comments)

Actually China, India, South Korea, Russia and many other countries are building nuclear plants at less than half the cost of NATO countries estimated construction costs (without the crazy cost overruns they suffer). In the end China is building nuclear reactors around 75% cheaper than the worst nuclear projects with insane overruns in the US and Europe. In a few years China will have its first EPR reactor in operation (that same Areva design that is going through massive overruns in Sweden).
A lot of this is lower labor costs. But a big portion is the absence of insane NRC regulation, no anti nuclear lawsuits, no start/stop construction (due to lawsuits and political anti nuclear pressure).
Its really hard to fix this when the anti nuclear folks keep saying: "Look, nuclear is too expensive" and ignore half of the problem is their fault (selling their own population a lot of anti nuclear lies with the help of lamestream media and the other anti nuclear interests, ie the big coal / natural gas interests).

yesterday
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

macpacheco Re:Deliberate (623 comments)

Except you can't much go beyond 25% solar+wind with current tech. Its not a matter of installing enough panels and doing economical transmission facilities there is the energy storage problem. Pumped hydro is economical, but its a very limited resource. Most pumped hydro sites available in continental USA are used up. Can't double it.
Solar can only go as far as producing 100% of electricity demand when the sun is shining locally (with lots of pumped hydro to store excess generation as you'll have wind, hydro, nuclear and biomass producing at the same time). The plan of generating solar electricity and transmitting it thousands of miles away is batshit crazy. Wind is even worse, as it produces lots of electricity when the grid is at very low demand (11PM-5AM).

yesterday
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

macpacheco Re:Deliberate (623 comments)

Actually increasing solar to 10% is far more doable than 10% wind.
Solar has a predictable production profile.
Wind doesn't.
So solar requires far less energy storage.
Wind produces a lot of power when the grid doesn't need it (11PM-5AM).
And solar rooftop can be installed by the end user. Solar PV makes more sense at the consumer. Wind makes far more sense at utility scale.
With US$ 10 billion in solar PV efficiency upgrades (make the same production line make 18% efficient panels instead of 13%, make another line make 23% efficient panels instead of 17% ones), the current GWp worth of panels built per year could increase by 35% without building new factories.
That's the rational for Elon Musk Solar City acquiring Silevo. They found out with a billion or two in mfg facilities upgrades they could upgrade silevo built panels from 17% to 23% efficiency, and that would make a HUGE payback in Solar City installations.
A 100Km x 100Km sub equatorial area gets 10TW worth of solar radiation at noon. Even with 10% total efficiency (we can build solar farms better than that today), that's 1TW worth of electrical production for a few hours. Or the equivalent in kWh / years to all nuclear reactors in the world. Of course such a huge solar farm would be useless, but 1000 1GW solar farms spread all over the world (10Km2 each) would make a lot of sense. Brazil could build 25 of those easily, as we have the hydro resources to load follow that solar production (it would mean about 10% solar share of our grid). Africa could build 50 of those assuming a few transmitting electricity into Portugal, Spain and France. The USA could build 200 of those in California, Texas, Florida, AZ, NM. Mexico could build 20.
Solar belongs in tropical / equatorial land. Not in temperate land like Germany or northern USA / Canada.

yesterday
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

macpacheco Re:Deliberate (623 comments)

One more person that thinks killing one fish is just as bad as killing one human.
Except coal does killed hundreds of millions of animals too (over the same time period mankind have been using nuclear power).
Except the comparison of one Chernobyl per year is just a way to show nuclear IS safe. There is no expectation that a Chernobyl size event will ever happen again. If you don't understand why, then go educate yourself. Understand what a secondary containment it. Understand that Chernobyl had no secondary containment to speak of, and Three Mile Island, 10 years earlier had it, and it avoided TMI from being a Fukushima sized accident. Also understand how incompetent the old RBMK Chernobyl reactor design was, the lack of training of Chernobyl nuclear operators. You know that nuclear operators spend weeks every year in training, do you ? You know that reactors have at least sophisticated computerized nuclear monitoring systems that detect problems and either shutdown the reactor if the problem is serious or tell the operators to do it (older reactors).
Oh by the way, Fukushima was the result of the OLDEST reactor type that is still in operation worldwide, suffering from one of the largest Tsunami to ever take place in the earth, with an idiot nuclear operator. Still nobody got killed from radiation sickness. So far I'm still waiting for any proof of increased cancer rates.
Should the Tohoku earthquake / tsunami washed over an AP1000 or ESBWR (latest reactors from Westinghouse and GE) it would have been a non event. Even with the emergency generators in the basement. The reactor would have been restarted as soon as the electrical transmission facilities were repaired, no problem.
We have newer nuclear designs that don't use water for cooling that are at least 100 times safer than an AP1000 and ESBWR. Those reactors are 100% walk away safe. Can't meltdown. Even if the reactor is blown to pieces by a meteor/asteroid/military precision strike with heavy penetration bombs, the core isn't under pressure, so in the military precision strike scenario nuclear materials won't spread more than 10 ish meters away. It would literally take a large enough meteor strike that is the equivalent of a sizeable nuclear bomb to actually mess the reactor up (in the end the meteor strike would kill a thousand times more people than the radioactive release, even if the meteor strikes within meters of the reactor).
Instead popular anti nuclear sentiment drives national govt aways from funding such engineering projects (the base and applied research is all done, it's strictly an engineering problem, unlike hot fusion which is still fundamentally a base research problem with no clear schedule).

Anti nuclear sentiment is irrational. Once you study nuclear facts you see that its all crap. Or do you really think nuclear operators would risk their lives every day in developed countries ?

yesterday
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

macpacheco Re:Deliberate (623 comments)

More likely 20% hydro, 20% nuclear, 20% solar, 20% wind, 20% biomass+geothermal.
I think you are ignoring the fact that many countries have lots of hydro, like Brazil (70-80% of our electricity is hydro). Many other countries have over 50% hydro. The US alone about just as much hydro as nuclear (around 15%). Canada is close to 2/3 hydro.
But then there is this other argument that somehow big reservoir hydro is bad. It takes too much land. But produces ZERO CO2, and is far cheaper than ANY other electricity source. It costs a bundle upfront, but O&M costs are dirt cheap. And hydro dams last 100 years easily.
The resource that is wasted big time is biomass. We must start huge biodigestors in every metro area in the world. It produces methane, the same stuff natural gas is made of. So bio methane and natural gas can be mixed freely. No need to change consumption facilities. Biodigestors are simple civil engineering jobs. Like a big sealed tank where bio garbage is thrown to rot, releasing methane. Methane that would be released anyways into the atmosphere (just slower) in landfills.
It has been said that if Germany went full throttle on biomass it could power its power grid with biomass alone.
But much like big pharma isn't interested in cheap medicine, biomass doesn't have the billions in costs (hence doesn't have high profits). Its not a matter of national pride. The big Germany solar push is a really stupid idea compared to a big solar push in South/Central America / Africa / Portugal / Spain / Middle East. Solar produces next to nothing in the winter in Germany. In my town in Brazil it produces over half in the winter and in the summer. 1500 Km north of here Solar produces essentially the same year round. Or a predictable electricity production except instead of 24x7 like baseload, with the equivalent of 7 hours / day of electricity output every day (with a 2 axis follow the sun panels). In Germany you might get the equivalent of 10 hours in the summer, but down to 1 hour in the winter.

yesterday
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

macpacheco Re:Deliberate (623 comments)

You are so wrong its hard to correct politely. Go study nuclear FACTS.
Your view of nuclear power is the result of irrational analysis.
There are around 400 nuclear reactors in operation worldwide today. They produce enough electricity just about to power all of north america electricity's demand. That's a LOT of electricity (400GW of power, or 22 times the largest hydro dam in the world, three gorges in China).
Coal power has killed tens of millions of people over the same time we've been using nuclear power.
How many people has nuclear power killed, while generating over 1/5th of coal generation.
Rational numbers are in the around 10 thousand people, half of that related to Chernobyl.
Yet coal hasn't been outlawed, and nuclear is still considered unsafe. Coal kills around 500 people every day (200k / yr worldwide).
Chernobyl was the only really serious nuclear accident. It was the result of an utterly incompetent USSR that gave very little value to human life. Should the reactor had a proper secondary containment, standard in every nuclear reactor built in the west since the 60s, Chernobyl would have been between 1% and 10% of radioactive release.
Three Mile Island killed nobody, caused zero cancers.
Fukushima killed nobody from radiation or cancers.
Rational arguments by nuclear experts state the mandatory evac of Fukushima should have been downgraded to an optional evac around 18 months ago.
Their argument is that living in downtown Tokyo represents a much higher cancer risk than in Fukushima. Yet Tokyo was never evacuated, while Fukushima is no mans land.
Even today conspiracy theory abounds that the Japanese govt is hiding Cancer cases, and in every instance no proof is given, just arguments that it's a massive cover up.
I was moderately pro nuclear when Fukushima happened. After I saw even CNN bringing up lots of nuclear sensationalists and ZERO nuclear engineers / nuclear medicine experts, I decided I had to dig for facts. And I found the other big problem. Nuclear is like airplane accidents. Its the stuff 24x7 news media love, because it has drama, it has suspense, it has hiperbole. And the truth is thrown under the bus right away.

yesterday
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

macpacheco How many times we'll have to say ALL OF THE ABOVE! (623 comments)

How many times we'll have to say: WE NEED AN ALL OF THE ABOVE solution.
We need as much solar as possible. As much wind as possible. As much biomass as possible. As much geothermal as possible. As much new hydro as possible. And yes, as much nuclear as possible.

The real problem in this debate are the ideologues that want solar+wind and reject nuclear.

But it's not enough to just say yes to nuclear. We must undo a lot of the regulatory runaway regulation the NRC created over the last 2 decades. Most of what the NRC did AFTER Chernobyl contributed nothing to nuclear safety. I'm not saying they did nothing good, but most of it was worse than useless, because it added many tens of billions of dollars to the cost of the US nuclear industry with nothing to show for it.

The NRC is doing a huge hatchet job on new nuclear technology. New nuclear R&D has been leaving the USA for China, India, Canada because the NRC demands a prescriptive regulatory model where in order to create a new type of nuclear reactor the NRC must be PAID (US$ 300/hour) to create the regulatory demands on this new nuclear, without an ounce of predictability on the process. Which venture capitalist on its sane mind would accept this model ?

Nuclear reactors should be buildable at least 25-40% cheaper than today if the NRC was being rational.

yesterday
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Rooftop Solar Could Reach Price Parity In the US By 2016

macpacheco Re:"eye sore" (516 comments)

France is nuclear friendly ? It might have been in the 80s.
New nuclear is being built at sane prices in China, India, South Korea and a few other countries.

2 days ago
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Rooftop Solar Could Reach Price Parity In the US By 2016

macpacheco Re:"eye sore" (516 comments)

The sun doesn't shine at night. I do however like Solar PV rooftop, very effective utilization of idle roof space.
Wind is extremely unreliable. Its impossible to run a country on solar+wind with 50% of the grid.
Geothermal typically is low temperature which makes it very inefficient for electricity generation. It works very well in Iceland since the Earth's crust is thin there (high temperature geothermal).
Biomass is the most flexible source, as it essentially means methane, or natural gas. It can directly offset natural gas consumption without any changes in equipment that uses it. But it is fairly limited to extract in economical fashion in large scale. I'm all for developing biodigestor technology to the maximum extent, but since its a simple technology that doesn't result in billions of profits its not quite as used.
The conclusion is nuclear is the only power source that is CO2 and that could power the whole earth. I think it would make sense to have a 20-35% nuclear world. Or double what we have today. No we won't run out of Uranium. For each 10 regular reactors make one large fast reactor that breeds plutonium. With plutonium fuel can be made from depleted uranium and spent nuclear fuel. If all spent nuclear fuel were reprocessed and converted into more plutonium then all of that plutonium combined with spent nuclear fuel we could power 100% of mankind demands for hundreds of years without mining a single ton of uranium.

We came "close" to WW3, but it didn't happen. Without nuclear weapons I'm sure we would have had WW3 and WW4. Good judgement is the result of Mutually assured destruction. People aren't stupid. The cold war didn't killed hundreds of millions of people. The reality is the USSR barked like a really mean pitbull, but after Stalin died their resolve for war changed quite quickly. Of course I'm in no way shape or form in favor of having nuclear dictatorships.

Then you come to the conclusion that I somehow liked the cold war. I don't liked or hated it. I'm analyzing facts and related information instead of look at it with emotions. That's the typical difference between pro nuclear and anti nuclear people. Pro nuclear use their brains, anti nuclear use their hearts.

2 days ago
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Rooftop Solar Could Reach Price Parity In the US By 2016

macpacheco Re:"eye sore" (516 comments)

Nuclear reactors don't have to be more expensive then solar and wind.
The utter freedom the NRC has to create unlimitedly expensive regulation is the main cause for expensive nuclear reactors.
Some in the nuclear community question if the vast majority of post Chernobyl NRC regulations are totally unnecessary.
Regulatory agencies in the USA have zero concerns about the cost of their regulatory demands placed on their regulated areas.
There were lots of important regulatory decisions between TMI and Chernobyl, but after that the NRC went deep into knee jerk mode.
I studied as much about nuclear power as one might without getting a nuclear degree or intending to work for the nuclear industry. Water cooled nuclear reactors are a kludge that was meant to bridge nuclear until we got fast breeder reactors and/or molten salt thorium reactors, but those got canned due to various political / military interests. MSR reactors specifically seem like a far less complex, hence far cheaper alternatives to light water reactors in a world filled with insane NRC regulatory demands, but the NRC works with a prescriptive system, and since there are no molten salt regulations yet, why would a company develop an MSR without knowing what kinds of insanity the NRC will come up with to multiply costs. So MSR R&D is proceeding outside the USA.
I hope solar + wind does the job, I am a big believer in solar, but not in wind. Solar at least is fairly predictive power generation characteristics, wind doesn't. And solar PV modules could still drop by 50% over the next 10 years or about 25% in total costs, which would make solar cheaper than natural gas peaking plants, but wind isn't a mass consumer market, it has much less economies of scale still to come.

2 days ago
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Rooftop Solar Could Reach Price Parity In the US By 2016

macpacheco Re:Small nuclear vs. solar PV vs. a singularity (516 comments)

Molten Salt Reactors != Thorium
There are Thorium fuel experiments with water cooled / solid fuel experiment underway (Thor Energy, Halden Reactor)
The IMSR from Terrestrial Energy will be an MSR fueled with Uranium
The big hype about MSRs is Thorium cause that allows for breeder reactors, but there are plenty of regulatory / extra costs required to make those happen, much more logical to break it down in steps and get an MSR to the market ASAP (IMSR from Terrestrial) and to certify solid Thorium / Plutonium fuels for water cooled reactors first.

2 days ago
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What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

macpacheco Re:Hindsight is 20:20 (519 comments)

The dirty bomb scare is a result of LNT radiation model.
If LNT were true, Chernobyl would have killed millions, when in reality it killed a few thousands (less than 150 from radiation sickness, a few thousands from cancers, 95% of those deaths were from people that were a few Km away from the reactor in the first few years, the remaining 5% within a few tens of Km in the first months until the radioactive iodine decayed completely).
If LNT were true, Three Mile Island would have caused a small, but measurable increase in cancer rates close to the reactor, none were found.
If LNT were true, Fukushima would have caused hundreds to thousands of cancers and tens would have died already, where are those ?
Ok. I haven't done some precise math that arrived at those numbers. All I'm doing is following the dire predictions of the most serious and logical anti nuclear activists made right after those accidents, always end up wrong by several orders of magnitude.
Please go study radiation facts. We should be FAR more concerned about poisonous metals (Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Arsenic, ...), which are routinely dumped into open piles of coal ash and many other chemical processes. But instead of going after the real danger, the anti nuclear idiots focus instead on the remotely potential hazard to human life, instead of the certain ones.

about a week ago
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What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

macpacheco Re:I'm quite surprised it wasn't (519 comments)

50 Kg of Pu238 in the ocean is a tiny drop in the bucket compared to all the lead we dumped there from leaded gasoline combustion. We used hundreds of millions of tons of lead over the last 100 years mostly ended up in the oceans.
After 250 years 80% of the Pu238 decays to Uranium-234, there are hundreds of thousands of Uranium-238 already dissolved in the oceans. Again, drop in the bucket.

about a week ago
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What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

macpacheco Re:I'm quite surprised it wasn't (519 comments)

While Hydrazine is next to useless on a rocket booster (first or second stage). Hydrazine is still the most commonly used rocket fuel on satellites, space capsules, any application that requires that a rocket engine can be used weeks to years after launch. Its by far the most commonly used hipergolic (fuel that combusts in contact with its oxydizer, needing no spark/flame to combust).
Satellites are slowly migrating to ion drive engines, but they offer very low thrust (but very high specific impulse). It is limited to situations when its ok to fire the engine for hours to weeks instead of seconds to minutes.

about a week ago
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Rooftop Solar Could Reach Price Parity In the US By 2016

macpacheco Re:They WILL FIght Back (516 comments)

The problem with wind isn't land mass consumed. Its that wind is a massive jobs program. Wind turbines are maintenance hogs. And worse of all wind output is proportional to wind speed cubed (usually 45-80km/h winds power output is flat, and below 45km/h its cubed), so if wind drops from 45 to 30 km/h (a 1/3 drop), power output drops 70% !
Ok, so the argument is install lots of turbines spread over thousands of miles, wind is always blowing somewhere... But you disregard the massive cost of long distance transmission upgrades to share the wind output where the wind is blowing the hardest with the rest of the country. And transmitting electricity to 1000 miles away also incurs serious power losses, or even more expensive HVDC transmission solutions (that loose just 10% or so of transmitted power).
Or you need lots and lots of pumped (or regular) hydro to store energy surplus. With regular hydro and spare reservoir capacity you can just reduce hydro output, save water and produce more when wind dies.
But all of that has serious costs and drawbacks.
See, land consumed is just a minor portion of the real problem.
Its no wonder that the largest supporters of solar and wind power are ... transmission electrical suppliers, like ABB. They profit more from renewables even than solar PV and wind turbine suppliers.

about a week ago

Submissions

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GPS L2C/L5 pre operational signal available

macpacheco macpacheco writes  |  about 7 months ago

macpacheco (1764378) writes "For ages, high accuracy GPS meant using a mix of civilian and military signals.
In order to obtain high accuracy GPS positioning (better than 2 meters) receiver must know local ionosphere corrections. This requires two GPS signals at a minimum, the difference between both is used to calculate ionospheric corrections which is then applied to either one.
However since GPS doesn't offer two usable civilian signals, a technique known as semi-codeless was devised, that calculates ionosphere corrections by using the two military encrypted signals L1P(Y)+L2P(Y), then applies the iono corrections to the civilian L1 C/A signal, however the military was never to fond of that usage, since it limits what changes they can do with the military signals. Specially changes in power levels.
Since September 26, 2005 GPS satellites capable of broadcasting the L2C (2nd civilian signal) and since May 2010 GPS satellites capable of broadcasting the L5 (3rd civilian signal, usable for aviation) have been launched, however those signals are still not fully usable.
Today those signals were enabled in a pre operational format meaning:
  1 — All messages required for full L2C and L5 utilization are broadcast
  2 — L5 signals are broadcast with an alert flag (not usable), L2C is broadcast without an alert flag
  3 — L2C/L5 almanac and ephemeris will be updated about twice a week, while regular L1 C/A updates happen typically twice a day, so L2C and L5 signals will be less accurate in this phase

However this means there is no technical excuse for GPS equipment manufacturers to finalize their L2C and L5 offerings, since they now have a complete signal to test against, and right after GPS satellites have received an upload they should have similar accuracy as L1 C/A.
This should continue for the next few years, until the new GPS control segment, OCX comes online, OCX block 1 is needed for full L2C capabilities and OCX block 2 is needed for full L5 capabilities.
Notice that it will take at least another 12 GPS launches for L2C to reach a state known as FOC (full operational capability), meaning that are enough satellites with L2C capability for L2C to be usable for standalone positioning and it will take another 19 GPS launches for L5 to reach FOC as well."

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Forbes tries to smear Tesla and gets burned !

macpacheco macpacheco writes  |  about a year and a half ago

macpacheco (1764378) writes "Very interesting to read a clearly Big Oil sponsored article, and then read all comments, not a single comment supporting the writer's stupid, short sighted views.

Forbes needs to first write articles scathing the trillions of dollars the Oil + Coal industry got in subsidies over the last 50yrs before they be allowed to try to criticize the solutions to our pollution problems !"

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USA Election. It's the productivity dummy !

macpacheco macpacheco writes  |  more than 2 years ago

macpacheco (1764378) writes "Another critical fact neither the GOP nor the Dems address which is critical to economical recovery:
In 1970, a business needed as many as 10x more employees to accomplish the same administrative tasks (invoicing, payroll, accounting, IT, production planning, inventory), as today.
After the PC revolution, businesses needed less people to do the same, they got fired, but the services sector re-used them for other jobs, many started businesses of their own. However their a limit to how many people large businesses can fire until the economy can't re cycle them. The current economy is getting too productive. B2B and B2C processes are further reducing the number of employees needed to get the job done.
Eventually there will be next to none clerical employees, forklift jobs get automated, robots take over production. How can the economy re accomodate that labor force ? The services sector need customers ! Eventually unemployment will rise. Don't we need to have some limits to automation to ensure that manufacturing actually hires ?
If the whole economy hires 10% of what it did in the pre PC age, how is full employment possible ?
That's a difficult question no sides are willing to answer."
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Mitt Romney, conservative/moderate or just plain liar ?

macpacheco macpacheco writes  |  more than 2 years ago

macpacheco (1764378) writes "After listening to the 47% tape, following the Republican primaries and the first month of all out electoral campaign, I'm puzzled.

Is Romney just a flip flopper, or is he a pathological liar ?
People that tell you what they want you to hear, just because they can get away with it, no matter how untrue, are the worse type of politician and human beings on the planet.

I'm not from the US (I'm from Brazil), if I was a US citizen, I'd be an independent, I would vote for Obama not because I like him, but instead because I think the current generation of Republicans are just 10 times worse !

I do have an agenda, I'm a pragmatic environmentalist, and I'm against all kinds of corporative inefficiency, specially the government type of corporative inefficiency. The Dems have their faults, but the GOP fails to show any way that they actually mean to do the positive side of their agenda."
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Smaller, cheaper lighter atomic clocks are here

macpacheco macpacheco writes  |  more than 3 years ago

macpacheco (1764378) writes "Atomic clocks for a long time have been a research lab item, used in production environments only in high budget, ultra performance demanding environments. Their high power consumption, 4U size and weight also didn't help.
Chip scale atomic clocks (CSAC) have been a promise for a long time. They're finally here. Typical atomic clocks cost tens of thousands of dollars each, this first generation CSAC costs US$ 1400 in small quantities. 1 cu inch volume (16 cc), 115mW power consumption (down about 1000 fold), and just 35 grams weight, will make them more interesting than current GPS based frequency standard.
They're called frequency standard, because 99% of the time someone needs an atomic clock, it's not to actually track time (day, hour, minutes, seconds, milliseconds), its used instead a replacement for quartz crystal oscillators, mainly transmitting and receiving radio signals, synchronizing telecommunications equipment. This atomic clock claims to be about 10000 times more accurate than typical quartz based oscillators.
This is very exciting, as it will enable better 4g/WiMax/... base stations, better ultra high speed networking equipment, and will help tremendously in GPS augmentation solutions like WAAS, EGNOS, DGPS. Having an atomic clock on a GPS receiver works like an extra GPS satellite."

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