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  • OT - Energy Independence

    Evan, I said before that you're a good machinist; are you also a physisist with qualifications, or are you like me; You do a lot of experimenting? Inventors are not respected in their lifetimes. Keep up the good work!

    ------------------
    BFH

  • #2
    It seems to me that homes that are built in areas that suffer winter should be designed to store the summer heat in large masses of earth and rock insulated by at least a foot thick slab of polystyrene foam. 40 or 50 yards of rock and earth could absorb the summer heat and then all winter long could provide a comfortable environment.

    Recently in Salt Lake City the government had a new freeway system built. At first we were told that it was the best designed freeway plan ever, because of new computer technology. Later they introduced the term "design and build" which meant design on the fly. Which also means that they didn't have it designed before they started. I only mention this because of the interesting use of styrofoam in the construction of the freeway onramps and offramps in Salt Lake City. They used huge blocks of styrofoam! I would have thought earth fill would have worked better, but I think they used styrofoam instead. It sounds crazy. When I'm waiting at the light on the offramp my car is bouncing up and down as trucks go by. Styrofoam must be a cheap as fill dirt. I remember seeing huge blocks of styrofoam during the construction. I'm serious. I think they used styrofoam as fill. Does anyone know something about this?

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    • #3
      I didn't know that BBS diseases were catching. WTF happened?
      Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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      • #4
        OT - Energy Independence

        Energy Independence – They’re Back!

        While there is no one single magic wand to the problem, the return of the nuclear power plant may be a reality. I lifted this partial article (under the fair use clause) from Physics Today. There is also a new power plant technology that can use existing nuclear waste and does not produce long term waste (by-products have a half-life short enough that the by-products only need containment for about 120 years). I think it may be the fast neutron reactor and the by-products are not usable for a nuclear bomb. Article follows:
        The US nuclear power industry has been virtually frozen since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, but in the US Congress 2005 energy bill, tax credits worth $3.1 billion, along with liability protection and compensation for legislative delays, were added for the industry. On 30 December 2005, for the first time in years, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) certified the design of a new reactor—the 1000-MW Westinghouse advanced passive (AP) reactor.
        Six US power-plant operators are preparing combined construction and operating license (COL) requests to the NRC that could restart construction in the next five years. NuStart Energy, a consortium of nine nuclear energy companies, submitted plans for a General Electric simplified boiling water reactor at the Grand Gulf nuclear station near Port Gibson, Mississippi, and an AP-1000 reactor at the Bellefonte nuclear plant near Scottsboro, Alabama.
        Two AP-1000 reactors may be built in the Carolinas by Duke Energy, along with another reactor by Progress Energy. "Preparing this application provides us the option to continue using a diverse fuel mix in the future," says Brew Barron, Duke Energy's chief nuclear officer.
        Constellation Energy of Baltimore, Maryland, is in partnership with AREVA, a large French–German engineering firm, to submit COL requests for a European PWR at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant site in southern Maryland and the Nine Mile Point nuclear plant in Oswego, New York. Entergy, another NuStart member, announced it was preparing its own COL request for a new reactor at its River Bend Station power plant in St. Francisville, Louisiana. On 6 December, two electric utilities, Scana Corp and Santee Cooper, filed a letter of intent with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build two new reactors north of Columbia, South Carolina, to meet growing regional power demands.
        According to representatives of the electric utilities involved, the US government and the reactor technology suppliers are paying for most of the $150 million the certification process costs. "The utilities are waiting to see if they can get any more subsidies out of the government," says Lyman, "so it's still premature to say if any of them will go ahead." A satisfactory means for disposal of their radioactive waste products has not yet been announced.
        But the nuclear power industry believes the first new US order is only two years away. Says NuStart Energy president Marilyn Kray, "Our country needs these advanced nuclear plants."
        Paul Guinnessy

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        • #5
          Re-inventing the wheel are we? Canada already has a superior design and has had for many years. Possibly the number one feature that makes it attractive is that it can't be used to make bombs.

          <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
          CANDU-specific features and advantages

          Use of natural uranium as a fuel

          * CANDU is the most efficient of all reactors in using uranium: it uses about 15% less uranium than a pressurized water reactor for each megawatt of electricity produced
          * Use of natural uranium widens the source of supply and makes fuel fabrication easier. Most countries can manufacture the relatively inexpensive fuel
          * There is no need for uranium enrichment facility
          * Fuel reprocessing is not needed, so costs, facilities and waste disposal associated with reprocessing are avoided
          * CANDU reactors can be fuelled with a number of other low-fissile content fuels, including spent fuel from light water reactors. This reduces dependency on uranium in the event of future supply shortages and price increases

          Use of heavy water as a moderator

          * Heavy water (deuterium oxide) is highly efficient because of its low neutron absorption and affords the highest neutron economy of all commercial reactor systems. As a result chain reaction in the reactor is possible with natural uranium fuel
          * Heavy water used in CANDU reactors is readily available. It can be produced locally, using proven technology. Heavy water lasts beyond the life of the plant and can be re-used

          CANDU reactor core design

          * Reactor core comprising small diameter fuel channels rather that one large pressure vessel
          * Allows on-power refueling - extremely high capability factors are possible
          * The moveable fuel bundles in the pressure tubes allow maximum burn-up of all the fuel in the reactor core
          * Extends life expectancy of the reactor because major core components like fuel channels are accessible for repairs when needed
          </font>
          http://www.candu.org/candu_reactors.html
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          • #6
            I'm all for energy independence but I question that any new nuclear plants will be built in the US any time soon. The spector of Three Mile Island much less Chernobol (sp) continue to haunt the minds of most people. There could be a reactor design so safe that one could walk through it and the spector would still be there. At one time the Pebble Bed looked as though it might revive the nuclear industry but I don't think it will do it. IIRC research on the Fast Neutron Reactor was being conducted during the Clinton Adminstration as a means to help solve the nuclear waste issue but was killed. I do remember that 60 Minutes did a piece on it. If this type of reactor could be built and reduce the waste problem significantly we would be stupid not to take advantage of them. But there are other options in the energy field besides nuclear. Biogas from land fills along with all of the other standbys, solar (includes active, passive, wind and wave)and geothermal. But one thing that most alternative energy advocates fail to understand is that all of these with the possible exception of geothermal is actually nuclear based. Its just that the reactor is 93 million miles away. Research should be conducted to make these sources more efficent . But at the same time I think we should be devoting more research into fusion. The current trend of fusion research is towards larger and larger research reactors that would have no comercial appliction and would rely on the heat transfer processes the fission plants do. Neutrons slamming into materials with heat transfer systems to generate steam to turn turbines. these plants if they ever worked would have a lot of the same waste problems as the current fission plants. If one is going to do that I would just as soon see solar plants doing the same thing. One thing I think we should do with fusion research is take it away from the Department of Energy and turn it over to the Navy with the mission of building a reactor that could fit into a ships hull. This would focus the research into unconventional reactor types. Two likely avenues for research are the Farnsworth/Hirsch magnetic or electric inertial confinement and the ultra sonic implosion. Would they really work? I don't know, but the idea of spending a couple of billion in finding out is not unreasonable considering the amount that has been spent of fusion research already. But even with out fusion the ability of Western Society to wean itself off of petroleum is there. It lacks not the ability but the will to do so
            Forty plus years and I still have ten toes, ten fingers and both eyes. I must be doing something right.

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            • #7
              Either burn atoms or fossil fuel. I think for safety and environmental resons we should build more nuclear plants.

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              • #8
                Hydroelectric works well.
                Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                • #9
                  The reactor type in question is the "IFR", and is different from the "CANDU" as I understand that technology.

                  It does not just burn uranium more efficiently, it can use every isotope until you get down to (IIRC) iron.

                  "Uranium only" reactors produce the long-lived "nuclear waste", which is just that. At least 80% of the energy is still in there, and cocooning it in an unusable form forever in Nevada is the stupidest idea ever invented by an academic or government person.

                  The IFR produces far less "waste", and what it does produce is much shorter-lived radio-active material. Storage and protection is thus less of a problem, you don't have to protect forever.

                  Plus, the "contaminants" (lower level products) stay in the fuel, thru re-processing, which is used simply to remove spent, inactive products. The "mess" goes back in to be "burnt" to lower and lower level material. The "mess" can't be used to make a bomb with present technology, aside from its pure use as a "poison" in a dirty bomb, which is true of everything radioactive, even naturally occurring ore.

                  Clinton and congress killed research on the IFR just prior to building a test plant. That was because technically it is a "breeder" reactor, and "everyone" knows those are for making bombs....

                  Nobody in congress wanted to be painted as a radical nuclear freak "making bomb reactors", even though the IFR is no good for that.

                  Sure, it "breeds" plutonium, etc. And promptly "burns" it too. At no time is bomb quality plutonium or other product available.

                  You can look it up, it was even discussed here a year or two back, the links are in teh archives somewhere.


                  [This message has been edited by J Tiers (edited 02-02-2006).]
                  1601

                  Keep eye on ball.
                  Hashim Khan

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                  • #10

                    If the Candu reactor is so good (ie safe, clean, and efficient), why can't we get approval to build one in our own country?

                    Cam

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                    • #11
                      If we have many more coal mine disasters with loss of life, such as January's two in West Virginia, maybe folks will begin to realize that coal firing generators isn't as safe as believed. Charles

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                      • #12
                        It's the "we don't want no atoms 'round here" syndrome.
                        Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                        • #13
                          <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by J Tiers:

                          It does not just burn uranium more efficiently, it can use every isotope until you get down to (IIRC) iron.

                          "Uranium only" reactors produce the long-lived "nuclear waste", which is just that. At least 80% of the energy is still in there, and cocooning it in an unusable form forever in Nevada is the stupidest idea ever invented by an academic or government person.

                          The IFR produces far less "waste", and what it does produce is much shorter-lived radio-active material. Storage and protection is thus less of a problem, you don't have to protect forever.

                          Plus, the "contaminants" (lower level products) stay in the fuel, thru re-processing, which is used simply to remove spent, inactive products.
                          </font>
                          Yes, iron-56 is the lightest atom which releases energy when it's split. And it's true that the daughter isotopes have plenty of energy left. But the fact that they're shorter-lived is what makes them dangerous. U-238 has a half-life of four and a half billion years. U-235 has a half-life of just over 700 million years. The "hotter" isotopes will eventually release the same amount of radiation, but will do it in a much shorter time. The total radiation damage that one mole of U-238 would do in a time far exceeding the lifetime of the human race could be done by a mole of, say, strontium-90 in about 28 years. That makes the strontium-90 far more dangerous than the parent uranium. Now it is difficult to sustain a chain reaction in a fuel which is made up of a jumble of different isotopes, because some won't sustain a chain reaction no matter what; your "critical mass" (a misnomer - it's a geometric property, rather than a function of mass) of uranium goes to hell (so no more chain reaction there); and other isotopes will sustain a chain reaction but not with the same neutron energies as any uranium isotope. That is, the structure of your neutron moderators must be different for the different isotopes. So for efficient use the isotopes must be separated ("reprocessed" in newspaper-speak), and the different isotopes used to fuel reactors with different construction and operational details. Separation can be done chemically (unlike the problem of separating isotopes of an element), and would be a relatively easy task, except that they're radiologically hot, much hotter than uranium fuel. Which makes them difficult to handle.

                          And of course even if all the energy of all the daughter isotopes can be used, the major waste product will still be some isotope of iron. Lighter elemental waste products may become spontaneously stable by neutron emission, and if that happens in a reasonable time, then storing the waste for a decade or so should give it time to render itself safe. For example, sodium-22, the most stable of the 18 or so radioactive isotopes of sodium, has a half-life of two and a half years. These light-element (lighter than iron-56) isotopes don't split when they decay, they just release a neutron or two and settle down to being some other isotope of sodium.

                          Interesting problems. I don't believe a word of any news releases about these things, though - the chances of a reporter or PR type understanding any of it are zilch.

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                          • #14
                            The CANDU does a pretty good job of burning light water reactor "waste".

                            <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
                            Studies using the unadjusted mix of plutonium and actinides from spent LWR fuel show a net destruction efficiency of 60% for the total actinide inventory, and 90% for the fissile inventory.</font>
                            http://www.nuclearfaq.ca/brat_fuel.htm
                            Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                            • #15
                              <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Evan:
                              Hydroelectric works well.</font>
                              Environmentalists don't like hydroelectric. It ruins the view.
                              The you have places like the midwest.There is no appreciable drop of any major river to provide enough power to power anything.
                              There was a big move here(Kane county Illinois) to build a windfarm. Nobody wanted the windmills in their back yard. So instead a 'peaker' plant was built. Those are basically 747 engines powerd by natural gas. One giant step backward.

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