View Full Version : The Scientific Nuclear Power Debate.


Abaddon
Feb 03, 2008, 03:49 PM
Nuclear Power has had a lot of bad press, does it really deserve it?

Hiroshima,Chernobyl,Blinky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_animals_in_The_Simpsons#Blinky), the waste, the mutants.

Some environmental groups are 100% against, others accept it the lesser of two evils.


Is Nuclear power going to have to be more accepted as we drive the need for electricity higher?

Is it a risk? How do we dispose of the used fuel? What are the economic costs? What if terrorists get it?

Ok, some of this is better for OT, but I thought I would cover some of the cons to get them over with.

Personally I do not see such pain with burying the waste, but the costs to build and maintain such factorys raises my eyebrows.

carmen510
Feb 03, 2008, 03:53 PM
If we could recycle used fuel, I'm all for it.

Nuclear power will probably be used by non-sunny landlocked nations later on as fossil fuels run out.

Fuel is a risk if its not contained. We dispose of the used fuel by recycling it or burying it. If the terrorists get it, a dirty bomb is mostly psychological. The main damage would be the explosion, not the radiation.

ArneHD
Feb 03, 2008, 04:00 PM
Nuclear research is a given, and in my opinion it ought to be ought to be expanded. For commercial purposes, I think that we ought to wait and see if we can get thorium based nuclear energy on the field.

Abaddon
Feb 03, 2008, 04:01 PM
Is nuclear power economically viable or is it propped up via grants?

I mean, can it be run by private enterprise?

Aramazd
Feb 03, 2008, 05:36 PM
I mean, can it be run by private enterprise?
Yes, it can be run by private companies, at least the ones already built; I don't know if it's affordable for a private company to build a new plant and sell energy without government grants.

Irish Caesar
Feb 03, 2008, 10:41 PM
Nuclear Power has had a lot of bad press, does it really deserve it?

Of course not.

Is Nuclear power going to have to be more accepted as we drive the need for electricity higher?

It already is; most Republican candidates mention it as a necessary option for power. Patrick Moore of Greenpeace has come around, too.

Is it a risk?

Sure, but so's crossing the street.

How do we dispose of the used fuel?

Ideally, by reprocessing it. We'd still need to bury the fission products, but those are relatively short-lived.

What are the economic costs? What if terrorists get it?

Ok, some of this is better for OT, but I thought I would cover some of the cons to get them over with.

Personally I do not see such pain with burying the waste, but the costs to build and maintain such factorys raises my eyebrows.

The up-front cost is the issue here. Once the plant is operating, the electricity is far, far cheaper than any other commercial option; only coal is close.

Nuclear research is a given, and in my opinion it ought to be ought to be expanded. For commercial purposes, I think that we ought to wait and see if we can get thorium based nuclear energy on the field.

We can get a thorium cycle, but that would require a lot more investment in everything.

Is nuclear power economically viable or is it propped up via grants?

The tough part is just the initial investment. Plants may cost billions up front, but after that, they're good to go for at least forty years and fuel is relatively cheap.

Speedo
Feb 03, 2008, 11:32 PM
Nuclear Power has had a lot of bad press, does it really deserve it?

If it was up to me, there would be some people executed for how they've twisted the public's perception of nuclear energy.

Eg a History Channel show I remember watching not long ago ("Engineering Disasters", I think it was) - they're building up to the climax of the accident "where everything goes wrong"... cue dramatic footage... cut to footage of a nuclear weapon detonation. Fking hell.

Most people I've seen talking about nuclear energy in the media obviously know fk all about it, and seem to be blatantly trying to scare people away from it.

Is Nuclear power going to have to be more accepted as we drive the need for electricity higher?

It's the only viable solution until fusion or some other technology becomes viable. Hydro, wind/sea turbines, solar arrays, etc, are good for augmenting it, but can't be the backbone of the powergrid - and we can't continue to rely on coal fired plants, IMO.

Genocidicbunny
Feb 04, 2008, 01:13 AM
I would quote my opinion on how Nuclear energy is displayed from Penn and Tellers BS, but Im pretty sure it would get me an infraction.

Nuclear power is a good way to provide energy, and the risks a plant poses are no worse than with any other power plant. Hell, all the debate about where the waste will go and the inability to move it is the worst problem at the moment. The argument that keeping nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain is dangerous is posing by far the biggest danger insofar.

Ball Lightning
Feb 04, 2008, 03:54 AM
It is not a good solution.

1: it is very expensive to start up, and also involves alot of CO2 output

2: It is short lived

3: waste, what to do with it? How to keep it safe from potential terroists

4: Not much uranium about

aaglo
Feb 04, 2008, 04:05 AM
Since it seems to be impossible to human society to lessen the amount of energy they use, the energy has to be created somehow.

The first sources to consider should be renewable, relatively non-polluting energy sources - which include wind-power, solar-power and hydro-plants. Since these sources are far from viable in some parts of the world, nuclear power comes very viable option.

There was about 5 years ago a big debate about wether to build a nuclear power plant over here in Finland. The government decided to build a new plant - and it's going to be the most powerful nuclear plant in the europe (maybe in the world) when it gets finished - but there are already more powerful plants to be built - in France I guess.

Brighteye
Feb 04, 2008, 08:37 AM
It is not a good solution.

1: it is very expensive to start up, and also involves alot of CO2 output

2: It is short lived

3: waste, what to do with it? How to keep it safe from potential terroists

4: Not much uranium about

I was under the impression that there was plenty of uranium around, for our purposes.
Would it cost too much to throw waste into space on a rocket? Put all our waste on the moon and then in a few thousand years' time we can go and mine it all up again.
Why is nuclear energy short-lived?

Genocidicbunny
Feb 04, 2008, 10:46 AM
It is not a good solution.

1: it is very expensive to start up, and also involves alot of CO2 output

2: It is short lived

3: waste, what to do with it? How to keep it safe from potential terroists

4: Not much uranium about

True that the production of Uranium does output a lot of CO2, but that cannot be avoided as the vehicles that are used run on gasoline.

Short lived? What do you mean?

Waste: put it into Yucca mountain as opposed to just keeping it on the power plants premises as they do now.

There's plenty of Uranium for what we are trying to do.

Falcon02
Feb 04, 2008, 11:56 AM
Would it cost too much to throw waste into space on a rocket? Put all our waste on the moon and then in a few thousand years' time we can go and mine it all up again.

yes, it would cost way too much to throw the waste into space...

Normal launch costs now adays is ~$10,000 per kilogram to LEO (Low Earth Orbit)

Also, add onto that the high density of Nuclear Waste, and required protection for contingencies (ie. catastrophic failure during launch creating radioactive fallout).

For Nuclear Reactors that go on deep space probes it's more pratical to encase the materials in protective shell designed to survive a catastrophic failure at launch, since it's only a few kilos. But for "waste disposal" you're talking sending up thousands of kilos and providing protection against a launch failure.

As for "Moon" vs. Earth Orbit...

Well Earth Orbit will eventually fall back down (in general a no-no for radioactive material), and going to the moon orders of magnitude more expensive (particularly for such large payloads)

Disenfrancised
Feb 04, 2008, 12:29 PM
1: it is very expensive to start up, and also involves alot of CO2 output


Less than coal (and less radioactivity released to the air too).


2: It is short lived


Not sure what you mean by this?


3: waste, what to do with it? How to keep it safe from potential terroists


Pebble bed and breeder reactors, less waste and faster degrading waste and no way to meltdown.


4: Not much uranium about

I'm suprised an Australian would think that ;). There is enough know reserves for at least 70 years of current usage, and consider no one has bothered doing much prospecting for more since 1985, there is probably more about. Plus the transistion to thorium seems doable.

Serutan
Feb 04, 2008, 01:32 PM
It is not a good solution.


No, it's an excellent solution, provided that you don't used a
graphite moderated design for the reactors (e.g. Chernobyl). The
Western design was vindicated by Three Mile Island, where the
accident was contained despite the saftey systems being deliberately
overriden . The board of directors of the power company should have
been summarily executed for that happening.


1: it is very expensive to start up, and also involves alot of CO2 output


It is expensive to start up. And has been mentioned, it's cheap to run.

And there's going to be no CO2 generated
constructing / starting up any other sort of power plant?


2: It is short lived


Please clarify this statement. What is short lived?


3: waste, what to do with it? How to keep it safe from potential terroists


A lot of it can be reprocessed; the rest can be buried. And it's not like
nuclear fuel is the only thing we have to worry about getting into the hands
of terrorists...


4: Not much uranium about


Don't need much if you build breeder reactors.

Masquerouge
Feb 04, 2008, 02:06 PM
Nuclear power has killed far less people worldwide than oil and coal. Mining accidents happen yearly all across the globe, they're deadly, and yet no one gives a freaking damn.

have a lightbulb go out in a nuclear power plant, however, and we're in Defcon 1.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/361189/relative_dangers_of_nuclear_power.html

Put it another way; worldwide, for the electricity gained, per billion megawatt-hours, there have been:

* 101 hydroelectric deaths.

* 39 coal-related deaths

* 10 gas-related deaths

* Less than one nuclear-related death -- and that's in spite of the Chernobyl accident.


Ridiculous.

wicshade
Feb 04, 2008, 02:17 PM
The worst thing about Nuclear plants is the amount of fresh water they need to operate the turbine, in fact this is probably the main reason we have so few nuclear power plants.

Water
See also: Water#Industrial_applications and Environmental effects of nuclear power
Nuclear power plants are big water consumers. Two-thirds of the energy produced by a nuclear power plant goes into waste heat. Water is used in cooling towers discharge part of that heat into the atmosphere and into large bodies of water - lakes, rivers, and oceans.[40] Droughts can pose a severe problem by causing the source of cooling water to run out.[41][42]

Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station near Phoenix, AZ is the only nuclear generating facility in the world that is not located adjacent to a large body of water. Instead, it uses treated sewage from several nearby municipalities to meet its cooling water needs, recycling 20 billion US gallons (76,000,000 mģ) of wastewater each year.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power#Economics

aaglo
Feb 04, 2008, 02:57 PM
Who cares, we have more than enough of fresh water here in Finland. :p

Abaddon
Feb 04, 2008, 04:12 PM
Why not use all that heat?


Up in Newcastle we have a lugworm farm using the affluent water to heat sandbeds, breeding millions of worms for the bait industry and shimpfarming industry!

xienwolf
Feb 06, 2008, 10:25 AM
For Nuclear Reactors that go on deep space probes it's more pratical to encase the materials in protective shell designed to survive a catastrophic failure at launch, since it's only a few kilos. But for "waste disposal" you're talking sending up thousands of kilos and providing protection against a launch failure.

To my knowledge, the closest anyone has come to thinking of actually sending a Nuclear Reactor on a space probe is still just a Nuclear Battery (http://www.tfot.info/articles.php?itemId=26/64/).

Currently, we have utilized Radioisotopic Thermoelectric Generators (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator), but that is just the decay of radiative material, not a full on nuclear reaction.

Falcon02
Feb 06, 2008, 12:26 PM
To my knowledge, the closest anyone has come to thinking of actually sending a Nuclear Reactor on a space probe is still just a Nuclear Battery (http://www.tfot.info/articles.php?itemId=26/64/).

Currently, we have utilized Radioisotopic Thermoelectric Generators (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator), but that is just the decay of radiative material, not a full on nuclear reaction.

Yes, RTG's are really the only "nuclear" power plant we've used in space, to my knowledge. That however doesn't mean that there haven't been designs for full fledge reactors to go into space, attempting to take into account a catastrophic failure during launch.

The SP-100 Reactor is a reactor designed to be used for space applications and the JIMO (Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter) mission design called for the use of a Nuclear Reactor.

Autonomous Space Nuclear Reactor Control for Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (http://128.102.216.35/factsheets/view.php?id=90)

However, most missions that try to use a Nuclear Reactor are either forced to change or get canceled, due to how unpopular Nuclear Power is and fears of what would happen if the Launch Vehicle Catastrophically Failed. That was the fate of JIMO which got canceled, among the reasons was it's Nuclear Power plant.

Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter - Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter_Icy_Moons_Orbiter)

Echse
Feb 07, 2008, 02:45 AM
I want to know how many of the people here that are pro nuclear power actually do remember 1986.
And would you intentionally move to a house near a power plant although itīs a fact that people living close to a nuclear power plant have a significant higher chance for cancer.

CivGeneral
Feb 07, 2008, 02:51 AM
With the use of Breader Reactors along with safe reactor designs and top notch quality control to ensure that no melt down or other radioactive nasties. That Nuclear Power can be a safe form of energy for the future.

Though sadly, with reminders of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island kind of made the Atomic Age take a back burner.


although itīs a fact that people living close to a nuclear power plant have a significant higher chance for cancer.
A Coal Power Plant generates far more radioactivity than a Nuclear Power Plant.

aaglo
Feb 07, 2008, 03:43 AM
And would you intentionally move to a house near a power plant although itīs a fact that people living close to a nuclear power plant have a significant higher chance for cancer.

I don't believe your statement to be correct. It's actually this:
Scientists in Germany say young children living near nuclear power plants have a significantly higher risk of developing leukemia and other forms of cancer.
According to reports a study by researchers at the University of Mainz has found a connection between the distance between a child's home and the nearest nuclear power plant and the risk of developing cancer, such as leukemia, before their fifth birthday.

The study was conducted at the request of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BFS) in regions near 21 reactors or former reactors.

In those areas, 77 cases of cancer were found among children under five and 37 children living within a 5-kilometer (3-mile) radius of nuclear power plants had developed leukemia between 1980 and 2003; a 60-percent increase over the national average of 17.

The risk was apparently 117 percent higher when only leukemia was considered.

The report suggests other radiation experts believe the study understates the issue and say there is an increased cancer risk for children living within 50 kilometers of a reactor.

The German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel is said to be looking closely at the study but Germany already has plans to prematurely shut down all of its nuclear power plants by the early 2020s.

Link. (http://www.news-medical.net/?id=33273)

That study does not say anything about the parent's of their children - and what do they do.
Heck, they might be working inside the power plant and screw up their testies & overies - and the resulting children might get leukemia that way.

... would you intentionally smoke cigars although itīs a fact that it significantly inrceases the risk to have cancer.

... would you intentionally have active sex lifre although itīs a fact that it significantly inrceases the risk to have STD's - including babies ;) :p .

... would you intentionally drive car although itīs a fact that it significantly inrceases the risk to be killed in a car crash.

I bet many people do.

Echse
Feb 07, 2008, 05:01 AM
Yes thats what i meant. I just forgot that the study was about children, sorry.
But this makes it even worse. You canīt compare it with smoking because most of the time smokers only harm themselves.
This is like intentionally harm your children and I personally wouldnīt do that.

Although i have to admit that i am not living in a dreamworld like many of my fellow citizen that we can live without nuclear power.
We just should reduce it over time and the governments should put some pressure on the companies that run these plants to research for an alternative.

xienwolf
Feb 07, 2008, 09:14 AM
I want to know how many of the people here that are pro nuclear power actually do remember 1986.
And would you intentionally move to a house near a power plant although itīs a fact that people living close to a nuclear power plant have a significant higher chance for cancer.


Having only been 5 at the time, I do not recall 1986, and having little interest in History in general (beyond learning from the major mistakes), coupled with a poor memory, I don't think I have a clue what you are referring to.

HOWEVER, having worked in the Navy on nuclear reactors for 6 years, I can tell you that you could stand as close to our operating reactor as you are physically capable of (ie - pressed up against the wall) for 12 hours and just BARELY recieve as much radiation as you will recieve from 30 minutes of sunbathing. If you worked & slept in one of our plants for a month solid you would recieve about as much radiation as you would recieve from sitting in a brick basement for 2 days.

And yes, the Naval program tends to have some very stringent requirements for our shielding and whatnot, but having been the primary funding for any Nuclear Power research in the US for the past couple decades, it has set the standard that people are following now.

If you want to talk about potential increase in Cancer rates due to living position, why not revive the old debate about living underneath Power Cables? That one was fun enough to spark a movie even as I recall.

Anyway, to actually contribute to the discussion, I must appologize for not having a link to their work, but I will search for one when I get time later. I just got back from a Colloquium discussing a potential energy gaining Fusion Reaction as early as 2011 in California. The laser setup to trigger the reaction is quite impressive, so if I find a decent link for information I'll probably start a new thread to discuss it. But, Fussion as a power source would be decades away. Till then, the improvements in transparent conductors will make Solar Power more viable, and numerous small advances in alternative power will continue to develop, but for a long-term, full scale replacement to fossil fuels... Nuclear Power is the only real option.

Irish Caesar
Feb 07, 2008, 10:10 AM
I want to know how many of the people here that are pro nuclear power actually do remember 1986.
And would you intentionally move to a house near a power plant although itīs a fact that people living close to a nuclear power plant have a significant higher chance for cancer.

Living near anything carries a risk; it's more dangerous to travel by airplane than live near a reactor, as far as receiving radiation goes. How deeply have you studied nuclear power and radiation in general?

For what it's worth, yes, I intend to live near experimental reactors.

Having only been 5 at the time, I do not recall 1986, and having little interest in History in general (beyond learning from the major mistakes), coupled with a poor memory, I don't think I have a clue what you are referring to.

He's referring to Chernobyl, which happened before I was born.

peter grimes
Feb 07, 2008, 10:14 AM
1986 refers to the Chernobyl catastrophe.

It irks me when people invoke Chernobyl as evidence that nuclear power plants are dangerous. It all depends on the design. In that out-dated soviet design, there is no containment structure and it didn't have a failsafe coolant system, and the rods are inserted from above, not up from below. I'm sure there are other design flaws that I'm forgetting.

Engineers and designers have long known that particular design to be risky - that's why the design is no longer implemented.

I came across an article about Fusion (http://www.triplepundit.com/pages/compact-stellarator-fusion-rea-002846.php) a couple of months ago - maybe this is related to the Colloquim?

xienwolf
Feb 07, 2008, 11:27 AM
No, I believe that one is one of the older models. We HAVE done fusion reactions, the problem is getting more energy OUT than you had to put IN. For us Scientists, that doesn't matter, because we want to know about what is happening with the Fusion reaction and the results from it. But for power generation, you sorta have to see a net gain for it to be worthwhile ;)

The proposal for a viable power-source version of Fusion deals with the Petawatt Lasers. Overall the facility is gargantuan and the laser is formed in 2 seperate chambers, oscillating to build up the neccessary power and shape the actual yields appropriately to trigger the Fusion in the method desired. End result when they get to the target is that they have split the beam up into something like 240 seperate beams, all of which will strike the target simultaneously and with equal energy, causing it to compress evenly to the point of Fusion.

Very complicated mathematically and whatnot, but incredibly interesting to look at now that they are so close to completion of designing :)

peter grimes
Feb 07, 2008, 12:48 PM
End result when they get to the target is that they have split the beam up into something like 240 seperate beams, all of which will strike the target simultaneously and with equal energy, causing it to compress evenly to the point of Fusion.

Interesting! But what is the target, and how would the energy be captured and put to work?

Masquerouge
Feb 07, 2008, 01:35 PM
I want to know how many of the people here that are pro nuclear power actually do remember 1986.
And would you intentionally move to a house near a power plant although itīs a fact that people living close to a nuclear power plant have a significant higher chance for cancer.

Do you you how many people die EACH YEAR in coal mine accidents?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_accidents_and_disasters_by_death_toll#Coal _mine_disasters

Do you realize how bad for the environment a coal plant is?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_mining#Environmental_impacts_and_mitigation

Would you live near a coal plant?
http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/0506/images/0506feature2.jpg



Although i have to admit that i am not living in a dreamworld like many of my fellow citizen that we can live without nuclear power.
We just should reduce it over time and the governments should put some pressure on the companies that run these plants to research for an alternative.

If you really have mankind's best interest at heart your first priority should be to find an alternative to coal. Coal energy kills more people and pollutes more than nuclear energy.

wicshade
Feb 07, 2008, 02:18 PM
Do you realize how bad for the environment a coal plant is?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_mi...and_mitigation

Today mining in a first world country is much less hazorudous then it would of been 40+ years ago. And 2nd 3rd world countries don't have the resources to own/opperate nuclear plants.

I do remeber reading how coal mining is going to have to undergo a massive overhaul, because majority of the easy to access coal is depleted.
not to mention the massive uderground coal fires that have occured from mining.

just the mercury released from burning coal has probably already caused more health problems then nuclear power ever would. radiation only effects a radius (pun intended). Mercury from a coal plant in ohio could end up in an Austalian's brain.

peter grimes
Feb 07, 2008, 03:35 PM
And 2nd 3rd world countries don't have the resources to own/opperate nuclear plants.

I'm not sure about this - or, maybe I'm wrong about what a 2nd and 3rd world country is :crazyeye:

I found a paper (http://www.uic.com.au/nip07.htm) on Nuclear Reactors in the world.

I was surprised by some of the countries that have power generating reactors, as opposed to research reactors:

[alphabetically, for no good reason]
Argentina
Armenia
Belgium
Brazil
Bulgaria
Canada
China
Czech Republic
Finland
France
Germany
Hungary
India
Japan
Lithuania
Mexico
Netherlands
Pakistan
Romania
Russia
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
South Korea
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Ukraine
United Kingdom
United States of America

In my mind, once you exclude former Soviet Bloc and Warsaw Pact nations, there are still some 2nd world (developing) nations on the list:
Pakistan
India
Brazil

But those nations do have a claim on 1st world status at this point.

Masquerouge
Feb 07, 2008, 03:47 PM
Today mining in a first world country is much less hazorudous then it would of been 40+ years ago. And 2nd 3rd world countries don't have the resources to own/opperate nuclear plants.

That is completely true, by my point was more to say that it's silly to fear nuclear plants because you think they're unsafe. Coal mining is unsafe. IIRC there was a lethal accident in the US a couple of months ago. Where were the protesters then? Why did nobody ask for coal mining to be stopped?

Serutan
Feb 07, 2008, 08:19 PM
just the mercury released from burning coal has probably already caused more health problems then nuclear power ever would. radiation only effects a radius (pun intended). Mercury from a coal plant in ohio could end up in an Austalian's brain.

And burning coal also releases radiation, because a lot of coal has small
quantities of uranium in it.

Serutan
Feb 07, 2008, 08:22 PM
I want to know how many of the people here that are pro nuclear power actually do remember 1986.
And would you intentionally move to a house near a power plant although itīs a fact that people living close to a nuclear power plant have a significant higher chance for cancer.

I was 26 in 1986, and I remember it well. I also remember 1979 (3 Mile Island) well, also. The containment structure at TMI did its job (very little radiation released). As has been noted, Chernobyl had no such containment features, and
had a much more hazardous graphite moderated design. And neither has affected my pro-nuclear stance
. As a professor of mine once put it, the
chief problems with nuclear power are political, not techical.

Irish Caesar
Feb 07, 2008, 10:14 PM
It irks me when people invoke Chernobyl as evidence that nuclear power plants are dangerous. It all depends on the design. In that out-dated soviet design, there is no containment structure and it didn't have a failsafe coolant system, and the rods are inserted from above, not up from below. I'm sure there are other design flaws that I'm forgetting.

Most notably, graphite leads on the control rods. When the operators tried to put in the control rods, the graphite went it first... so they were adding positive reactivity before the control rods. This led to a steam explosion.

Today mining in a first world country is much less hazorudous then it would of been 40+ years ago. And 2nd 3rd world countries don't have the resources to own/opperate nuclear plants.

There seems to be a major news story every year where some American miners get trapped in a coal mine and die; I'm sure the same happens in every other coal mining country as well.

And burning coal also releases radiation, because a lot of coal has small
quantities of uranium in it.

Thorium, too.

A nuclear reactor does not release any radioactive material into the environment, while a coal plant does. Inhaling thorium or uranium will screw you up really badly; touching it basically won't do a thing.

Speedo
Feb 07, 2008, 10:43 PM
I want to know how many of the people here that are pro nuclear power actually do remember 1986.
And would you intentionally move to a house near a power plant although itīs a fact that people living close to a nuclear power plant have a significant higher chance for cancer.
I would build my own freakin' nuclear power plant in my basement if the FBI wouldn't come and make me vanish for doing so.

No offense, but in my experience most people who rant and rave about Chernobyl are in fact very ignorant about what happened there and the plant's background.

If you really want to learn I'd suggest starting with "The Legacy of Chernobyl", by Zhores Medvedev, ISBN 0-393-30814-6

brennan
Feb 08, 2008, 05:12 AM
I want to know how many of the people here that are pro nuclear power actually do remember 1986.
And would you intentionally move to a house near a power plant although itīs a fact that people living close to a nuclear power plant have a significant higher chance for cancer.
Chernobyl used an obsolete design that is fundamentally unsafe. Reactors can be designed so that a run-away reaction shuts the reaction down rather than continuing. This is how UK reactors are designed.

Nuclear is only a stop-gap to Fusion power anyway.

The waste issue is solved by temporary storage and then shooting the stuff at the sun when we've advanced enough.

Masquerouge
Feb 08, 2008, 11:17 AM
The waste issue is solved by temporary storage and then shooting the stuff at the sun when we've advanced enough.

We're not? It's not really hard to sling some stuff at the Sun, methinks.

brennan
Feb 08, 2008, 11:24 AM
We're not? It's not really hard to sling some stuff at the Sun, methinks.At the moment that'd be a little expensive. Wait till it's more affordable.

Falcon02
Feb 08, 2008, 12:37 PM
At the moment that'd be a little expensive. Wait till it's more affordable.

~$10,000 per kilogram multiplied by the number of kilograms of nuclear waste....

and that's just to LEO throwing it into a Heliocentric orbit (at minimum) adds additional cost.

Masquerouge
Feb 08, 2008, 04:15 PM
At the moment that'd be a little expensive. Wait till it's more affordable.


Gotcha. I thought you were talking about the technical details, not the financial ones :)

Abaddon
Mar 26, 2008, 08:10 AM
Really, what is the harm in burying the stuff?

brennan
Mar 26, 2008, 08:24 AM
It can contaminate groundwater. It may also become a problem at a future date when we aren't around to do something about it. Huge piles of radioactive waste are a bit of a crappy thing to leave lying around for the next Civilisation on Earth. Most responsible thing is to keep it around till we can dispose of it permanently, not bury it and pretend we've done the job properly.

AL_DA_GREAT
Mar 26, 2008, 11:10 AM
I find the risk of a meltdown laughable. Seriously it isn't going to happen. Storage I don't find that bad. Sure we might contaminate a bit of waste land but it is so much less than contaminating the entire atmosphere.

peter grimes
Mar 26, 2008, 04:45 PM
What do the French do with their spent rods? From what I understand, they produce more megaWatts from nuclear sources than any other nation.

AL_DA_GREAT
Mar 26, 2008, 05:35 PM
A few months ago a Swedish family was killed during a storm by a wind turbine. The article was on page 15 in the newspaper and the accident was described in 10 sentences. On the evening news they talked about storm related deaths without mentioning the windpower. Imagine what would have happend if a family had died from a nuclear power plant. It would be on every headline for a month. Even CNN would have had it as important news. There would be large campaigns against nuclear power.

Abaddon
Mar 27, 2008, 12:30 AM
:lol: But the Wind Turbine didn't directly cause the death, you have just as much chance from a tree.

Nuclea power however unlikely can have a much more dangerous outcome

Agent Cooper
Mar 29, 2008, 04:05 AM
I don't mind nuclear power, but to design and operate nuclear power plants commands the highest level of integrity and skill - no shortcuts.

I was a teenager when the Chernobyl reactor blew up, so I remember that incident quite well. I would like to note though, that the Chernobyl disaster was directly caused by human errors and the lack of back-up systems to prevent those human errors from turning into a full scale catastrophe.

You can't really blame nuclear power as a whole for what happened at Chernobyl.

I believe I read an article in a science magazine a couple of years ago, that mentioned how they were constructing a huge and very safe nulcear power plant in Finland - a meltdown was not possible with this construction or something like that - I don't remember the details. Anyone know anything about this?

Abaddon
Mar 30, 2008, 10:36 AM
I still don't even understand what a meltdown is

Cutlass
Mar 30, 2008, 11:14 AM
A meltdown of a nuclear reactor is when the cooling system fails and the fuel overheats. When uranium overheats, it can become hot enough to melt concrete. So what happens is that the fuel rods melt into a puddle of liquid uranium and iron on the bottom of the containment vessel, and then melt their way through the bottom. The classic worst case scenario of a "China syndrome" is that the uranium stays liquid until it has gone below the whole building and reached ground water and the whole region is poisoned by radioactive steam.

That hasn't happened (that we know of, the Soviets didn't admit to things) but is the real reason that nuclear power is so frightening to so many people.

peter grimes
Mar 30, 2008, 12:51 PM
...[A meltdown] is the real reason that nuclear power is so frightening to so many people.

Though I agree that most people seem to fear a meltdown or some other sort of unintentional release of radiation, I'd say the fundamental reason so many people fear nuclear power is Ignorance. Ignorance of the chain of events necessary for a meltdown, ignorance of the safety systems, ignorance of the risk factors.

If nuclear power really were as dangerous as many people imagine it to be, why on earth would the navy rely so heavily on it? ;)

It all comes down to the design. Reactors that melt down are, de facto, poorly designed.

Cutlass
Mar 30, 2008, 02:38 PM
It's not even so much ignorance as human nature. We all "know" that we are more likely to break our necks falling down a staircase than we are to die in a plane crash, but the spectacular nature of the plane crash elicits more fear than the prosaic concern of a common accident. The more dramatic and large the consequences, the more the fear.

But I'm just trying to describe where the fear comes from, not say that it's legitimate to base policy on it.

As I have said in other venues many times, when French bureaucrats can do something more efficiently that American capitalists, something is very wrong with this picture. Yet the French nuclear power industry is much better than the US one.

So:

1 We know that it's reasonably safe, but we also know that fears of safety will cause heavy opposition.

2 We know that it's possible to permanently store the waste products, but for a variety of reasons we have absolutely failed to implement a plan. And that raises the risk and costs that nuclear waste represents.

3 We know that nuclear power is not as environmentally benign as some would claim, because processing the fuel is messy as hell.

4 We know that nuclear power is somewhat cost effective, but we do not know how cost effective because there are so many government subsidies and secrets involved that a full accounting is impossible.

5 We know that well designed nuclear plants are safe, but we don't know what happens when terrorists put a real effort into blowing one up.

6 We know that there is a lot of uranium in the ground now, but we also know that nuclear power based on uranium is not a permanent power source because the uranium will become scarcer and more expensive over time.

7 We know that as more nations seek to use nuclear power, the costs will go up he time when nuke plants must be replaced with something else draws nearer.

Therefor, why not bypass nukes and go to renewables now?

Slobadog
Mar 30, 2008, 07:55 PM
I wonder if the civ franchise is contributing to the publics fear.

Ur_Vile_Wedge
Mar 31, 2008, 01:51 PM
I also think that ignorance as to what a meltdown *is* contributes. Some of the people I've spoken to (and sadly, some that I'm related to) can't tell the difference between a meltdown of a Nuclear plant or that of a nuclear weapon going off. (and I don't mean a radiological bomb) I know quite a few people who are absolutely convinced that the Chernobyl Meltdown caused a massive fireball that obliterated a small city off the map. Granted, a meltdown would be catastrophic, but it's not a fission bomb.

Chandrasekhar
Mar 31, 2008, 03:28 PM
~$10,000 per kilogram multiplied by the number of kilograms of nuclear waste....

and that's just to LEO throwing it into a Heliocentric orbit (at minimum) adds additional cost.

We'd need a space elevator to make it remotely efficient, I think. From there, it shouldn't be too tough to launch it on an eventual crash course with the sun.

AL_DA_GREAT
Apr 01, 2008, 04:58 AM
A meltdown of a nuclear reactor is when the cooling system fails and the fuel overheats. When uranium overheats, it can become hot enough to melt concrete. So what happens is that the fuel rods melt into a puddle of liquid uranium and iron on the bottom of the containment vessel, and then melt their way through the bottom. The classic worst case scenario of a "China syndrome" is that the uranium stays liquid until it has gone below the whole building and reached ground water and the whole region is poisoned by radioactive steam.

That hasn't happened (that we know of, the Soviets didn't admit to things) but is the real reason that nuclear power is so frightening to so many people.

The China syndrom can be stopped. Anyone who constructs a nuclear power plant surounds the reactor with many meters of concrete which would be to thick to melt through. The tjernobyl peoplöe had a thin layer of concrete around it. If the same thing had happend in a modern reactor nothing would have leaked.

brennan
Apr 01, 2008, 06:08 AM
The Chernobyl reactor was an obsolete and fundamentally dangerous design. It is entirely possible to built reactors in which the increased temperature of a run-away reaction leads to the reaction short circuiting itself (the increase in temperature inhibits the actual fission process). This is how all UK nuclear plants are designed, and presumably pretty much everyone else's as well. Meltdowns should not be a worry.

Genocidicbunny
Apr 01, 2008, 10:16 AM
Unfortunately, politicians will not see it that way. "Think of the children" and nuclear power makes people lose all common sense.

brennan
Apr 11, 2008, 12:48 PM
Grand scale of a nuclear clean-up (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/highlands_and_islands/7322253.stm)



Scotland's fast reactor research site, Dounreay in Caithness, is gradually being cleaned of radioactive contamination and demolished. The decommissioning project will take decades to complete at an estimated cost of Ģ2.9bn.

AL_DA_GREAT
Apr 11, 2008, 01:51 PM
Grand scale of a nuclear clean-up (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/highlands_and_islands/7322253.stm)

And how bad would it be if they had just put a fence around it.

peter grimes
Apr 11, 2008, 08:27 PM
How much does it cost to 'clean up' the coal mines in West Virginia and Montana? I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's an order of magnitude more. :p

Sidhe
Apr 18, 2008, 10:50 AM
In case someone hasn't said it yet fusion is the wtg.

Pros

Fuel: sea water (deuterium, or more precisely heavy water) and lithium (to make tritium)
Waste: radioactive Tritium: half life 12.32 years, decays into helium. Amount produced,virtually none in the waste products, most of it will build up in the reactor meaning it will have to be cleaned every x years. Actual amount of waste minimal. Also tritium can be reused as fuel. Plus Helium (inert).
Amount of fuel on Earth: comparatively inexhaustible, about a million years of lithium which is also fairly abundant in our solar system. Sea water, inexhaustable.
Safety of reactor: chain reaction or breakaway fusion is impossible, the reactor will shut down if fuel is not introduced, leaving it completely inert apart from residual heat and relatively low level radioactivity. A terrorist strike is unlikely to be any more damaging to the environment than a strike against a coal/gas station.
Cost: once up an running comparable to nuclear, if waste processing is included substantially less.
Cannot use it's waste products to make weapons.
Because of the low cost of fuel 1% efficiency would pay for itself in a sufficient time frame, although 1% efficiency has only been obtained once and the result has yet to be repeated since that reactor shut down.

Cons:


Currently not efficient.
Research costs are prohibitive and it may even not pan out.
Technological limitation make the process limited to only advanced countries without aid projects.

Er I can't think of many more?

Cutlass
Apr 18, 2008, 01:14 PM
Cons: No one has figured out how to make one yet.

Sidhe
Apr 18, 2008, 01:29 PM
Cons: No one has figured out how to make one yet.

What you mean like ITER and all the other fusion generators? They've made them and run them that isn't the issue the issue is efficiency, more energy out than in and sustainable reactions, current estimates say it may be feasible by 2030, although its possible it may well not work, current work seems promising.

http://www.iter.org/

This is a proposal for a joint engine to be built, lots of images here that show it's internal design. This basically a larger version of other generators that already work. It is thought the reactors construction will be under way by late 2008 although this is not a certainty as all sorts of political wrangling needs to be overcome first. It could be delayed for a while.

http://www.iter.org/pics/ITER_col.jpg

Fusion engines have already been produced on a smaller scale though and have run successfully if not efficiently.