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Old 11-09-2008, 06:51 PM   #1
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Go Green, Go Nuclear

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Nuclear power plants smaller than a garden shed and able to power 20,000 homes will be on sale within five years, say scientists at Los Alamos, the US government laboratory which developed the first atomic bomb.

The miniature reactors will be factory-sealed, contain no weapons-grade material, have no moving parts and will be nearly impossible to steal because they will be encased in concrete and buried underground.

The US government has licensed the technology to Hyperion, a New Mexico-based company which said last week that it has taken its first firm orders and plans to start mass production within five years. 'Our goal is to generate electricity for 10 cents a watt anywhere in the world,' said John Deal, chief executive of Hyperion. 'They will cost approximately $25m [£13m] each. For a community with 10,000 households, that is a very affordable $250 per home.'

Deal claims to have more than 100 firm orders, largely from the oil and electricity industries, but says the company is also targeting developing countries and isolated communities. 'It's leapfrog technology,' he said.

The company plans to set up three factories to produce 4,000 plants between 2013 and 2023. 'We already have a pipeline for 100 reactors, and we are taking our time to tool up to mass-produce this reactor.'

The first confirmed order came from TES, a Czech infrastructure company specialising in water plants and power plants. 'They ordered six units and optioned a further 12. We are very sure of their capability to purchase,' said Deal. The first one, he said, would be installed in Romania. 'We now have a six-year waiting list. We are in talks with developers in the Cayman Islands, Panama and the Bahamas.'

The reactors, only a few metres in diameter, will be delivered on the back of a lorry to be buried underground. They must be refuelled every 7 to 10 years. Because the reactor is based on a 50-year-old design that has proved safe for students to use, few countries are expected to object to plants on their territory. An application to build the plants will be submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission next year.

'You could never have a Chernobyl-type event - there are no moving parts,' said Deal. 'You would need nation-state resources in order to enrich our uranium. Temperature-wise it's too hot to handle. It would be like stealing a barbecue with your bare hands.'

Other companies are known to be designing micro-reactors. Toshiba has been testing 200KW reactors measuring roughly six metres by two metres. Designed to fuel smaller numbers of homes for longer, they could power a single building for up to 40 years.
Mini nuclear plants to power 20,000 homes | Environment | The Observer

The NIMBY fools will have a problem with this technology, hopefully we can learn to embrace nuclear technology and get beyond the decades of green propaganda.

to a low carbon future
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Old 11-09-2008, 07:08 PM   #2
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I'm all for nuclear energy. It's been a squandered opportunity. I hope other move beyond the fear and see it's potential.
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Old 11-09-2008, 09:56 PM   #3
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From what I recall from the last time nuclear energy was really discussed heavily (what, the late 80s/early 90s?), the "propaganda" wasn't really based on fear of another Chernobyl, but instead about what to do with the terribly toxic waste. Now, I haven't really kept up to speed with advances in nuclear technology, but I can't say that any solution to this problem has made any mainstream media headway if it exists.
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Old 11-10-2008, 05:14 AM   #4
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The thought of highly toxic nuclear waste surviving us by thousands of years is scaring the hell out of me.

I'm part of my country's green movement and it started when protestors against the construction against a nuclear powerplant formed a movement, then a party.

Being against atomic engergy is still a principle we follow and I totally support that.

I'm all for investing into alternative forms of energy.

And yes, there IS an ongoing discussion about it where I live. Chernobyl affected all of us. There are so many things happening in nuclear power plants all over Europe, many incidents are kept secret or are being downplayed by the people who are in charge.
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Old 11-10-2008, 05:42 AM   #5
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Australia would be a great place for nuclear waste, contain it in the middle of the continent and it will be locked away.
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Old 11-10-2008, 10:53 AM   #6
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Nuclear reprocessing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

There will have to be methods of reprocessing nuclear waste. I guess France would be a model since much of their electricity is from nuclear power.
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Old 11-10-2008, 06:33 PM   #7
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As I've mentioned before, I'm supportive of nuclear power, and I'm also considerably in favor of nuclear fuel reprocessing, provided there is sufficient oversight of the by-products. Considering that Europe never stopped nuclear fuel reprocessing, in contrast to the U.S., it's pretty obvious that it is possible to do it in a way that does not violate nuclear nonproliferation. Why the U.S. sits on so much nuclear waste and does not even consider reprocessing is further evidence of how wasteful our economy is on pretty much everything.
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Old 11-10-2008, 07:03 PM   #8
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My Environmental Science class in high school changed my opinion in favor of Nuclear Power, you'll find the green movement is growing in its support of nuclear power
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Old 11-10-2008, 07:21 PM   #9
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I supported the Green movement for a long time, and I´m not in favor of Nuclear Power. I think it can be extremely dangerous, near to our border we have nuclear power plants and there´s a little accident every now and then. Not an accident like Chernobyl, but enough to keep us alerted. There have been numerous accidents, not only the disaster that happened in Chernobyl (Sellafield, Harrisburg anyone?) but when you ask about them, everyone downplays it, which is a clear sign of propaganda. Another sign is that with the current energy "crisis" it seems an easy solution (when the solution is just need to waste less energy) and before we have any serious thought about water or sun energy, it´s easier and more convenient to go with nuclear power.

It depends on public opionion too I think. One year after Chernobyl only a leftover minority advocated for nuclear power, but a majority of Europeans is against it. 20 years after Chernobyl, everyone tends to forget how dangerous a plant CAN be. Not only accidents, also terrorist attacks can happen.

Here´s a list of the major accidents (atomicarchive.com)

Major Nuclear Power Plant Accidents

December 12, 1952
A partial meltdown of a reactor's uranium core at the Chalk River plant near Ottawa, Canada, resulted after the accidental removal of four control rods. Although millions of gallons of radioactive water poured into the reactor, there were no injuries.

October 1957
Fire destroyed the core of a plutonium-producing reactor at Britain's Windscale nuclear complex - since renamed Sellafield - sending clouds of radioactivity into the atmosphere. An official report said the leaked radiation could have caused dozens of cancer deaths in the vicinity of Liverpool.

Winter 1957-'58
A serious accident occurred during the winter of 1957-58 near the town of Kyshtym in the Urals. A Russian scientist who first reported the disaster estimated that hundreds died from radiation sickness.

January 3, 1961
Three technicians died at a U.S. plant in Idaho Falls in an accident at an experimental reactor.

July 4, 1961
The captain and seven crew members died when radiation spread through the Soviet Union's first nuclear-powered submarine. A pipe in the control system of one of the two reactors had ruptured.

October 5, 1966
The core of an experimental reactor near Detroit, Mich., melted partially when a sodium cooling system failed.

January 21, 1969
A coolant malfunction from an experimental underground reactor at Lucens Vad, Switzerland, releases a large amount of radiation into a cave, which was then sealed.

December 7, 1975
At the Lubmin nuclear power complex on the Baltic coast in the former East Germany, a short-circuit caused by an electrician's mistake started a fire. Some news reports said there was almost a meltdown of the reactor core.

March 28, 1979
Near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, America's worst nuclear accident occurred. A partial meltdown of one of the reactors forced the evacuation of the residents after radioactive gas escaped into the atmosphere.

February 11, 1981
Eight workers are contaminated when more than 100,000 gallons of radioactive coolant fluid leaks into the contaminant building of the Tennessee Valley Authority's Sequoyah 1 plant in Tennessee.

April 25, 1981
Officials said around 45 workers were exposed to radioactivity during repairs to a plant at Tsuruga, Japan.

April 26, 1986
The world's worst nuclear accident occurred after an explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. It released radiation over much of Europe. Thirty-one people died iin the immediate aftermath of the explosion. Hundreds of thousands of residents were moved from the area and a similar number are belived to have suffered from the effects of radiation exposure.

March 24, 1992
At the Sosnovy Bor station near St. Petersburg, Russia, radioactive iodine escaped into the atmosphere. A loss of pressure in a reactor channel was the source of the accident.

November 1992
In France's most serious nuclear accident, three workers were contaminated after entering a nuclear particle accelerator in Forbach without protective clothing. Executives were jailed in 1993 for failing to take proper safety measures.

November 1995
Japan's Monju prototype fast-breeder nuclear reactor leaked two to three tons of sodium from the reactor's secondary cooling system.

March 1997
The state-run Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation reprocessing plant at Tokaimura, Japan, contaminated at least 35 workers with minor radiation after a fire and explosion occurred.

September 30, 1999
Another accident at the uranium processing plant at Tokaimura, Japan, plant exposed fifty-five workers to radiation. More than 300,000 people living near the plant were ordered to stay indoors. Workers had been mixing uranium with nitric acid to make nuclear fuel, but had used too much uranium and set off the accidental uncontrolled reaction.

Tha said, if anyone wants to convince me to advocate for nuclear energy, first invent a system to deal with fissile material. As long as we (the society we live in) just dump it into the deep sea illegaly without worrying about the effects (the "easy" solutions that mankind always prefers), I prefer to wait another 10,000 years until the technicians have developed a bullet-proof system to deal with possible accidents and leftover fissile material.

Funny that if it doens´t do harm to anyone, how no one wants to keep the fissile material for the next half million of years.. the countries´politicians quarrel about where to put it. To be fair, everyone who favors nuclear power should check if he´s ok with a few tons of fissile material just at the front door of his house. You wouldn´t worry now, would you?
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Old 11-10-2008, 07:27 PM   #10
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Nuclear plant designs have dramatically changed since Chernobyl to the point that such a disaster is theoretically impossible, even in the worst of incompetence. Notice that the post-Chernobyl incidents are unfortunate, but relatively minor. Contrast this with the number of people who will die from pollution due to the burning of fossil fuels, and the risks from modern-day nuclear power is dwarfed in comparison.

I believe that solar power has a long way to improve and will eventually. Nuclear power, I believe, is necessary as a bridge technology.
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Old 11-10-2008, 07:55 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by melon View Post
Contrast this with the number of people who will die from pollution due to the burning of fossil fuels
don't forget the wars.
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:00 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by melon View Post
Nuclear plant designs have dramatically changed since Chernobyl to the point that such a disaster is theoretically impossible, even in the worst of incompetence. Notice that the post-Chernobyl incidents are unfortunate, but relatively minor. Contrast this with the number of people who will die from pollution due to the burning of fossil fuels, and the risks from modern-day nuclear power is dwarfed in comparison.

I believe that solar power has a long way to improve and will eventually. Nuclear power, I believe, is necessary as a bridge technology.
Well, the first incident at Forsmark two years ago was more a case of luck that no meltdown occurred. The theoretically impossible almost became practically possible since the emergency systems to power the plant failed terribly. And almost all European power plants are pre-Chernobyl. They were upgraded as far as possible, but are not as safe as they should be.

So far, the research on the CO2 emissions examining the whole production chain seems to indicate they are indeed greener than coal power plants etc. However, there is no consent that this advantage will remain with the declining resources of high-grade, easily extractable uranium. The issue of sustainability is still in question. BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Nuclear's CO2 cost 'will climb'

And refuelling can only be done so often. The question of nuclear waste is not sufficiently solved in my eyes as long as it seems the only answer is to dump it in some salt domes with questionable long-term effects.

I guess we have to put up with nuclear energy for the decades to come, but would rather divert research energy into ways of reducing our need for power in general (especially our senseless waste of power) and other means of generating power. The energy mix of the future shouldn't rely on nuclear energy.
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Nuclear plant designs have dramatically changed since Chernobyl to the point that such a disaster is theoretically impossible, even in the worst of incompetence.
Interesting that I heard exactly the same argument when I visited Sellafield in 1987. The visitors were told that such a disaster is theoretically impossible.

Fast-forward to 2005:

Tens of thousands of litres of highly radioactive liquid leaked unnoticed for up to nine months from a ruptured pipe in the controversial Thorp reprocessing plant at Sellafield in what the IoS can reveal was Britain's worst nuclear accident for 13 years.

The leak, detected last month, was the result of a catalogue of human and engineering errors which resulted in a pool of nuclear liquor, half the volume of an Olympic swimming pool, being accidentally discharged. The magnitude of the incident throws the future of the troubled reprocessing plant into doubt this weekend as copies of an internal investigation circulate among senior ministers and officials.

British Nuclear Group, the company that runs the plant, last night admitted that workers failed to respond to "indicators" warning a badly designed pipe had sprung a leak as long ago as last August. The pool of nuclear liquor, 83,000 litres, was eventually discovered on 19 April. The company has ordered a review to check for other potential leaks caused by metal fatigue and an urgent drive against staff "complacency". (Francis Elliot, independent.co.uk)

Quote:
Originally Posted by melon View Post
Nuclear plant designs have dramatically changed since Chernobyl to the point that such a disaster is theoretically impossible, even in the worst of incompetence. Notice that the post-Chernobyl incidents are unfortunate, but relatively minor. Contrast this with the number of people who will die from pollution due to the burning of fossil fuels, and the risks from modern-day nuclear power is dwarfed in comparison.

I believe that solar power has a long way to improve and will eventually. Nuclear power, I believe, is necessary as a bridge technology.
A bridge technology leaves the problem of radioactive waste unsolved. As Brian Greene (stopsellafield) pointed out, all reactors create deadly by-products that must be isolated for centuries. These wastes will have to be moved throughout the nation on trucks and trains, which could themselves have accidents and become terror and proliferation targets. There is no storage site even planned for the wastes that would come from new reactors. The controversial dump under construction at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, which may never open, cannot handle even the waste from reactors already in existence.

Rob Edwards (Guardian): "Rising to four floors at the sprawling Sellafield complex on the Cumbrian coast, it is probably one of the biggest technical and economic disasters in the history of the British nuclear industry. For an industry with more than its fair share of mishaps, that is saying something.

The plant was originally meant to process 120 tonnes of MOX fuel a year, but it has yet to manage even three tonnes a year. As the Guardian reported in February, a grand total of only 5.2 tonnes have been produced in the six-year commissioning phase from 2001 to 2007."

I believe solar energy can improve a lot in the next 3 decades, but only with proper financing and being a priority. To believe scientists who say it could be bridging technology totally ignores the fact that you´d need a century to deconstruct this "bridge".

A spokesman for Sellafield Ltd.: “Sellafield isn’t a place that can just be closed down. It is about the removal of plant and equipment from the building, it is about decontaminating and knocking them down, that takes decades.

A lot of work has been done but with a site as complex as Sellafield that will take a long time to do carefully and safely, which is the priority and can’t be compromised on.”

He said it would cost £73bn to decommission the plant over the next 112 years.

Melon, don´t you think it would be wiser to invest these billions into efficiency of solar energy? Also, don´t ignore wind and water energy technologies - they are quite efficient. Believe me, if they were priority, and the money for research and development is invested, our technicians would be quick to find new ways to make them more efficient. they would not need 112 years to come up with a solution, let alone 10,000 years.

Fact:
Don´t believe any spokesman for the nuclear industry. When there´s an accident, the industry will hide it first - every country is afraid of international consequences. When they can´t hide it anymore, they will say it´s a minor accident, not a disaster. When proved it is a disaster, they will try to downplay it in the media until another topic takes the lead.

Don´t believe when the industry - or politicians who take money and gifts from the nuclear industry - say they intend to use nuclear as a bridge. You don´t invest trillions of dollars in a bridge technology, with leftover fissile material that can´t be controlled and continues to be a threat to public safety. As soon as the "bridge technology" is up and running, it will be convenient enough (for our society) to leave it at that - until an accident happens that takes thousands of lives.

Or do you invest in a SUV (without airbags or properly working brakes) as a "bridge" until a bike is efficient enough?
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Old 11-11-2008, 05:15 AM   #14
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The nucleas industry and the "lobbies" are strong; God knows how many incidents happen and just don't make it into the news or public attention because they are hidden. Now and then something occurs and it's scary enough to be surrounded by nuclear powerplants who don't have the security standards they are supposed to have (i. e. Eastern Europe).

For a really more environment-friendly future more money has to be invested into the development of alternative energy.

Instead of relying on the "convenient" forum of energy generated in Nucleas Power Plants, people have to start contributing to a better environment on an individual basis.
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