Perhaps we should reconsider and Revisit Nuclear Power Plants to Meet our Energy Needs ?

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
18,510
Yes, there have been a number very serious accidents of the the years , Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichai and yes there iare the issues of what do with the Nuclear waste and radiation products,. But this power unlike to add to the Green house pass issues which Coal and Oil and natural gas have . And Nuclear power is more reliable and more constant than Solar and Wind Power . And Unlike Nuclear Fusion whose achhoiment is beyond current technology , we can build Nuclear power plants right now and with better technology, we can make them safer.

Thoughts ? :(
 

Dave

Non Bio
Staff member
Joined
Jan 5, 2001
Messages
20,711
Location
Way on Down South, London Town
Apart from the huge issue of waste material disposal, there are three points that I would add:
with better technology, we can make them safer.
The accidents generally resulted from, or were certainly exasperated by, human beings, who over ridded safety features, didn't follow protocols, or used materials below the building specifications in construction. I'm not sure how we can ever remove humans and human error from the equation.

Secondly, Uranium is a finite limited resource which has already been very successfully mined. Nuclear power can only ever by a stop-gap solution to our need for power generation. At the moment other power sources are only science fiction. There could be Thorium reactors. They were never developed because they don't make weapons grade Plutonium as a waste product.

Thirdly, the problem of energy supply is, as you eluded to, not just with generation but with meeting the demand. In the UK the we have the Dinorwig pumped-hydroelectric Power Station that lifts water up a hill during quiet periods and then lets it flow back down during busy periods. There are very few methods of generating electricity that quickly on demand apart from nuclear and gas. Battery technology is advancing very quickly and some people believe we can have huge storage batteries. I'm sceptical.

If we want zero carbon emissions, then nuclear energy must be some part of the mix. There is no doubt about that.
 

Foxbat

None The Wiser
Supporter
Joined
Jul 24, 2003
Messages
8,889
Location
Scotland
As somebody who spent 32 years working in the nuclear industry, I think my position is obvious. The problem is that most folk don’t understand base load energy supply (the reason why when there is no wind, waves or sunlight you can still turn on the lights etc. at three in the morning. The other thing that people don’t take into account is the finite resources or particular metals needed for solar panels or that wind turbines have a lifespan of around 25 years. They can be recycled but the turbine blades are dumped as waste. Solar panels are around 40 years. We’re building hundreds of wind turbines and solar panels now and we’ll need to start all over in a quarter of a century.

I’ve always believed in a mixed energy supply strategy and that needs to include nuclear, which is our best option for base load now that fossil fuels are being phased out. The technology is moving towards small modular reactors (cheaper and faster to build) but main concern from a public viewpoint is waste. The technology for dealing with radioactive waste already exists. Vitrification is an example and here’s a link to an article

 

AllanR

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2021
Messages
138
Location
Canada
have huge storage batteries
These can be discontinuous. i.e. say a city has millions of idle electric cars all charged and plugged in (sitting at work garages or homes....most cars are not in use at any given time). A grid could take from this battery (a fraction from each) to meet spike demand and then refresh the batteries once the demand lowers.
At the moment other power sources are only science fiction.
Sadly fusion power always seems to be coming 'in twenty years'

I think the most difficult part of nuclear power is the social stigma. It entered the public consciousness through Hiroshima and stayed in that way for generations due to our MADness.
 

Foxbat

None The Wiser
Supporter
Joined
Jul 24, 2003
Messages
8,889
Location
Scotland
I read a while back that in the middle east, solar energy was being experimentally stored by heating up salt chemicals and that heat can then be used later to drive turbines to create electricity when there is no sunlight. I don’t know how practical that would be in more temperate climates where we get a lot less sun.

All this makes you wonder if we would be better off in the long run converting our electricity supply from ac to dc.
 

Foxbat

None The Wiser
Supporter
Joined
Jul 24, 2003
Messages
8,889
Location
Scotland
I think the most difficult part of nuclear power is the social stigma. It entered the public consciousness through Hiroshima and stayed in that way for generations due to our MADness.
I agree. After Chernobyl, there was a worldwide effort to improve things and WANO was born (World Association of Nuclear Operators). It’s job is mainly peer review. Every station every few years gets a visit from a large team of experts and their job is to study and dig deep into systems and operating practices. They hunt out the slightest flaw and it can be very depressing for the workforce (I know, I’ve been through a few). The review is inherently negative because it’s about uncovering potential problems or dangers. Unless you are doing something positive that is absolutely head and shoulders above the rest of the world, getting a ‘satisfactory’ review is the best you can expect.

I just wish the public was made more aware of these significant changes. It might help persuade some that nuclear was still a viable option.
 

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
18,510
These can be discontinuous. i.e. say a city has millions of idle electric cars all charged and plugged in (sitting at work garages or homes....most cars are not in use at any given time). A grid could take from this battery (a fraction from each) to meet spike demand and then refresh the batteries once the demand lowers.

Sadly fusion power always seems to be coming 'in twenty years'

I think the most difficult part of nuclear power is the social stigma. It entered the public consciousness through Hiroshima and stayed in that way for generations due to our MADness.

Technologically, we're about 100 years away from making Fusion commercially viable. A pity, because it would solve a great many problems.
 

Parson

This world is not my home
Supporter
Joined
Oct 11, 2006
Messages
10,153
Location
Iowa
Nuclear energy has to be a part of the answer to global energy problems. Nothing "green" that we can do today is going to be able to scale enough to take the place of fossil fuels. It is unlikely a "magic bullet" will be found in the next 20-40 years. Success will come incrementally and piecemeal (Parson sighs) if it comes at all.
 

Dave

Non Bio
Staff member
Joined
Jan 5, 2001
Messages
20,711
Location
Way on Down South, London Town
Technologically, we're about 100 years away from making Fusion commercially viable.
Unless you've invented a Time Machine, you cannot predict that. It could be twenty years, but it might be never. In the 1950's, we were going to be able to control the weather by 2000, and all be driving atomic cars.
Sadly fusion power always seems to be coming 'in twenty years'
When I said science fiction, I really meant much more way-out ideas, such as the Zero Point Energy Modules used in Stargate that apparently draw zero point energy from artificially created layers of subspace. To be honest, I think that is just as likely as it is being able to operationally hold a fusion reaction inside a magnetic field and draw power from it without something going wrong. But hey, I don't have a Time Machine either.
 

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
18,510
Unless you've invented a Time Machine, you cannot predict that. It could be twenty years, but it might be never. In the 1950's, we were going to be able to control the weather by 2000, and all be driving atomic cars.

When I said science fiction, I really meant much more way-out ideas, such as the Zero Point Energy Modules used in Stargate that apparently draw zero point energy from artificially created layers of subspace. To be honest, I think that is just as likely as it is being able to operationally hold a fusion reaction inside a magnetic field and draw power from it without something going wrong. But hey, I don't have a Time Machine either.

If Invented a time machine, I would go forward in time to see what the winning number for the next lottery jackpot is going to be. ;)
 

Serendipity

A Traditional Eccentric!
Joined
Feb 16, 2013
Messages
1,224
Location
In Existence Somewhere
Nuclear fusion - depends on which type of reactor they design and get working first - if the first has secondary uses other than generating energy from nuclear fusion, then it will become commercially viable much more quickly. (This ain't rocket science!)
 

Foxbat

None The Wiser
Supporter
Joined
Jul 24, 2003
Messages
8,889
Location
Scotland
There are plans to build a demonstration fusion reactor in the UK (due to be operational circa 2040). It’s all about building a reactor that creates more energy than it consumes. So far, that has eluded us. I might be naive but I’d like to think that if somebody is going to invest a huge amount of money in a prototype reactor, they’ll have some idea of how to achieve this.
 

Robert Zwilling

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Jun 12, 2018
Messages
840
Chernobyl isn't over yet. Nuclear reactions at Chernobyl are spiking in an inaccessible chamber
Fukushima isn't over yet.
Hanford can't be cleaned up because some of it was buried in the dirt and has sunk out of sight.
Siberia is loaded with nuclear dumps. Apparently even the Artic has nuclear waste in it.

----A newly installed melter at the Defense Waste Processing Facility at the US Department of Energy's Savannah River site has poured its first canisters of vitrified radioactive waste.----

The grammar here is amazing. Here is the complete explanation, "It is the third melter in the 20-year history of the facility, and replaced Melter 2 which reached the end of its operational life in 2017 after 14 years of operation. In that time, Melter 2 poured 10. 8 million pounds (4900 tonnes) of glass into 2819 canisters." The good, the bad, and the ugly all rolled into 1 zinger. The low level waste still needs to be disposed of. That is 90 percent of what is there. So the stuff going into glass is 10 percent or less of what needs to be cleanly disposed of.

My message is simple, the nuclear industry has to clean everything up 100 percent or they don't get to do anything. Radiation doesn't go away anytime soon. Sure it keeps diminishing in quantity, the famous half life. The time it takes for it to naturally lose half its radioactivity. Different plutonium isotopes half times range from 14 years to 24,000 years. But they won't clean it all up because there will be no profit for the "owners" for the next hundred years. Interesting situation, provide stable power for the world with no possibility of a profit, or walk away.

Now that the weather has plowed into the next dimension, can we even build a reactor that can withstand the worst weather thrown it's way. Say like 50 inches of rain, with rampant flooding.
 

Robert Zwilling

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Jun 12, 2018
Messages
840
It looks like fusion is not going to be done with brute force. They are doing amazing things positioning atoms with laser beams. Seems more like the way to go, maybe not. The Chinese achieved some sign of success with brute force but how much energy was required to do that. The fusion reaction in hydrogen bombs are triggered by a small fission bomb. That would seem to indicate that brute force method is very hard to control.
 

Foxbat

None The Wiser
Supporter
Joined
Jul 24, 2003
Messages
8,889
Location
Scotland
Low level waste is mostly, old protective clothing, polythene bags, temporary paper floor coverings and various other items (I know this because I dealt with it for many years). The vast majority has little or no radioactive contamination and is classified as low level waste mainly due to legal restrictions. In the last few years, more sensitive measuring equipment (eg. portable gamma spectrometers) has made it more possible to separate more efficiently waste that is contaminated and waste that is not. This has resulted in a significant reduction of low level waste generated in my own place of work…so much so that it became best performing low level waste handler within the UK nuclear generating industry.

As for ‘profit’, that’s not how it works within the UK. By law, nuclear generators have to pay into the Nuclear Liabilities Fund. This money acts much like a pension fund in that it is held and invested by a board of trustees. The cash ultimately is used to fund decomissioning of reactors.

The tools are there. It’s the will to apply those tools that is missing.
 

Robert Zwilling

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Jun 12, 2018
Messages
840
The low level waste is low level salt waste. I'm guessing that is stuff ranging from mild to intense that was embedded in molten salt? The melter in question is at a nuclear weapons production facility. There are 6 nuclear weapon production sites in the US, operating since the 40s and 50s. There are another 20 or so sites handling nuclear weapons for purposes of storage, use, decommission, or waste products. It doesn't matter if the nuclear waste is from commercial power plants or weapon production facilities, it all adds up and it all has to go somewhere.

We had 2 plants that were decommissioned after running 30 years. The electric company consortium did not put anywhere enough aside to pay for the decommissioning. That was supposed to be included in the electric rate. To keep the electric price competitive it didn't include enough for the decommission cost. The price of its electricity was too high to continue using it which was the primary reason for shutting them down. The customers had the decommission shortfall cost included in the future bills. The power companies always manage to let other people pay for their shortfalls. The US has 94 commercial reactors running in 56 plants. Many are still running to put off the decommission cost. They just tack another ten years onto the license. You can get away with that with hot dog stands but not nuclear reactors. The electric companies in the US are run for profit.

Forgot profit, just include the cost of running the plant, handling the waste, and decommissioning the plant. That's all known but the total actual price is never included in all one place. Then there is the money spent on cleaning up excessive messes, like Chernobyl and Fukushima. At the end of the day it is all one big loss. The clean up is never completed because enough money is never collected.
 

Foxbat

None The Wiser
Supporter
Joined
Jul 24, 2003
Messages
8,889
Location
Scotland
I don't know how it's done in the USA but in the UK, this type of low level waste would most likely be placed in a specially adapted half-height ISO container (shipping container). The lid would be sealed and it would then be pumped full of a special water-resistant grout through a number of pipe inlets designed to allow an even spread. When it has set solid, it would prevent spillage or leakage with the waste contained within. It would then be stored in a waste repository.


There are often anomalies in waste. For example, the majority of smoke detectors contain a tiny amount of Americium 241. This is not a naturally occurring element and has to be manufactured through fission. Smoke detectors are present in most homes but are exempt from waste disposal laws and can be thrown away as household waste. The reasoning being that it is a tiny amount of radioactive material and the benefit of possibly alerting people to a fire and saving lives is outweighed by its hazard. On a nuclear licensed site, however, the waste disposal laws kick in to play and smoke detectors have to be disposed of as low level radioactive waste (I once had to process a whole bin full of them...that's a massive amount of paper/spreadsheet work).

Once, many years ago, a worker brought on site an old instrument dial from a WW2 plane, worried that it was radioactive. It was not only radioactive but leaking. Even if it had not been leaking, it still could never leave site in any capacity other than as radioactive waste. This is because once somebody on site accepted it, it had to be inventoried. It was given a unique number and stored in our radioactive source store (it's presence checked every 24 hours) until it could be disposed of a few years later. Needless to say my superiors were not happy that this was brought on site but, once there, it became our responsibility.

It's not without its flaws as can be seen from the anecdotes above but I have confidence there have been vast improvements in the last three decades in the manner UK waste is processed.
 

.matthew.

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2020
Messages
993
To put it simply, more people have died from coal pollution in Germany from the plants they built to replace nuclear in the years since Fukushima than have died as a result of every nuclear accident in history. Now to be clear I can't recall the sources as I saw this a few years ago but remember looking into it quite deeply at the time and it bore out.

  • Kyshtym occurred because of bad design from 1945 and had a failure of the cooling system ignored.
  • Chernobyl was also terribly designed in the early days of nuclear power and also largely failed due to human error.
  • Fukushima was hit by an earthquake and a tsunami, and most places don't risk this.

There are also issues with political pressure and development costs making the advancement of safer methods not worth a company's time. That said, there have been some recent developments with some sort of fast reactors that seem to be safer and not requiring of pressurised tanks that could explode. Some other scientists also worked out how they could reprocess weapons-grade material into a fuel source, which seems pretty good to me.

Now I'm not saying place a nuclear reactor next to every major city, but they are definitely safe enough to build out in the sticks and have the power moved along these magical things called wires :)

As for waste... I'm a simple man... dig a real big hole... *shrug* problem solved.
 

HareBrain

Smeerp of Wonder
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Oct 13, 2008
Messages
11,978
Location
West Sussex, UK
From the thread title, I pictured someone going on a tour of one of these facilities and absorbing the radiation in order to be able to run a marathon.

"Feeling lacklustre? Try a Core Tour!"

Only my own lack of energy prevents me cashing in on this marvellous idea.
 

Top