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Aluminium

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1050 on: June 07, 2019, 08:33:42 PM »
If nukes were the answer, i would support nukes. But they aren't!

There isn't enough time.

The answer is renewables.
There is not universal answer right now. Renewables are strongly depending on local climate and generate unstable power.

Sam

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1051 on: June 08, 2019, 12:42:17 AM »
JimD is quite correct.

The EROEI calculations that show high numbers are invalid. 2 is a more reasonable estimate. And that is based on light water reactors using uranium from another era. Uranium prices now are highly biased by the conversion of weapons enriched uranium and naval nuclear fuel uranium to low enrichment nuclear fuel. The immense energy required to perform that original enrichment is excluded from the calculations resulting in an over estimate of the EROEI.

Molten salt reactors have much less data. And they are by no means a panacea. They come in several varieties. The most commonly proposed is based on previous reactors and involves using a salt that is made up of sodium, potassium, lithium, beryllium and other fluorides. Notable is the inclusion of the beryllium - an exquisitely toxic and nasty element.

And the most commonly proposed versions are based off of thorium - uranium-235 blends to start. As the reactors age, the thorium is bred into uranium-233. The idea being that in time the reactors become a fully closed thorium-U-233 cycle.

However, the fission product wastes must still be felt with. It isn't as simple as taking them out in the salt and disposing of the whole lot. That idea is part and parcel of the ideas that have gotten us where we are. i.e. dig stuff up, process it to what we want, then throw it "away". There is no place called away in the real world. Whatever we make we are stuck with. Most often the titans of industry and government conclude that somewhere far from most people is a perfectly fine place to put poison that they don't want anymore. In reality, the best place to put waste and poison is right in the middle of the largest population centers. The proximity forces them to deal with the problem, and in the end to choose to not create the waste in the first place, or to reclaim, reuse and recycle it in benign ways. Nuclear fits none of those options.

Worse yet, proposals and tests that electrolyze the salt to separate the uranium, plutonium and thorium from the fission products are immense proliferation risks.

At the end of the operating cycles for nuclear fuel, there are several left overs.

First - intensely radioactive nuclear fission products. These must be isolated and secured for thousands of generations.

Second - thorium and uranium that was not consumed. The isotopic are now different and become a real problem for reusing or recycling any of it. That and contamination with other elements make reuse extremely ineffective and drive the EROEI below 1 for the whole system. This is true whether the product is from a molten salt reactor, a light water reactor, weapons plutonium converted to mixed oxide fuel, or any other. So reuse as any sort of practical matter is out. Also, the neutronics of the reactors based on these recycled fuels in addition to being non cost effective make them vastly more dangerous. They operate far closer to the edge of disaster.

Third - a whole bunch of actinides have grown in. These are immensely dangerous, hard to handle, harder yet to separate from the desired isotopes, and progressively harder to burn up. Many of these are extremely long lived hazards that are even harder to deal with than the spent fuel or the fission products.

Fourth - there are a bunch of light elements to deal with, including tritium, carbon-14, radioactive iodine and others. The industry would very much like to hand wave these away and simple let them blow away not he wind, as yet another externality. In the case of the vitrification plant at Hanford, the original design failed to include any means to capture radioactive carbon-14 emissions from the glass furnaces. And there is a lot of it.

Fifth - there is a lot of neutron embrittled and now radioactive metal. Ideally that would be recycled back into alloys for the reactor industry. But they don't want it any more than anyone else does. It is too hard, too expensive and too dangerous to handle and reuse. Again though, the industry would like to minimize the risks and sell the contaminated metal into the marketplace (especially the nickel from the centrifuges).

Sixth - there is a mountain of lesser contaminated wastes that must be isolated for long periods. These include the bulk of the facility itself.

Seventh - the molten salt reactors are vastly more susceptible to diversion of fissile materials for nuclear weapons use in the form of very high purity uranium-233. U-233 that is very low in U-232 is just about the most ideal nuclear material for a nuclear bomb. Plutonium weapons can be somewhat smaller. U-233 weapons can be vastly simpler.

Eight - worse yet is that uranium forms two stable fluorides, UF4 and UF6. In one of the previous molten salt reactors, no one noticed until decades after it was shut down that U-233 had accumulated to serious concentrations in a side leg, levels that could easily in a power rector become an uncontrolled and uncontrollable criticality hazard. Knowing that now, that can be designed out. However, it points out a fundamental issue that was not recognized and that must be dealt with.

Ninth - in the event of an accident, the molten salt reactors have hazards vastly different from the light water reactors. The designers of several types of light water and plutonium reactors were absolutely nothing could go wrong with them creating severe accidents. They were wrong. There is no reason to believe that molten salt reactors don't also have hidden severe hazards. It is in the nature of high energy density sources that such things exist.

And these facilities like any other have life spans. At the end of those they cannot simply keep being extended. They wear out. In part that life was determined by cost considerations when they were built that caused the designers to go cheap in the designs. Doing things better to allow longer life costs more and also reduces the EROEI.

And all of this excludes the immense energy externalities involved in the mining, milling, enrichment, fabrication, transport, construction, demolition, transport again, and disposal of all of the things that go into building these plants.

They also cannot be run as other than caseload. They do not do well with cycling power levels. Doing that drives the EROEI to well below 1. And for economy reasons they must be large. Periodically these very large power plants that form the backbone of a network must be taken off line for maintenance (or emergencies). When that happens, there has to be enough spare capacity to replace them. But none of that gets added into the energy costs of these brutes.

Nuclear is seductive because of its extremely how power densities and its seeming quietness and cleanliness while operating. But this is a tiny time slice in their life and excludes the bad bits. The power density though is the single largest draws.

Having personally run a nuclear plant, and having personally been showered in primary coolant, and breathed carbon-14 dust, and handled nuclear wastes, and worked with them and everything that goes into handling them, I have a pretty good idea of what is involved.

The plants running today have severe flaws. Some are running that frankly should not be. Some have broken support brackets for internal electro pumps. Some have fractured control rod drive sleeves. Some have leaking primaries. Many have leaking steam generators. Many have fire hazards that jeopardize the controls. Many have ancient control systems with failing components for which no spare parts have been made in decades. Their control systems are ancient and retrofitting those is no trivial task. Most have severe radiation induced concrete damage and are wholly unaware of it. Worse than all of this, they are getting very very old.

In an ideal world where minimum cost wasn't the deciding factor and where people understood risk and consequence management well, nuclear might have been useful. We don't live in that world.

The numbers of reactors required, the pace at which they would have to be built, and the issues with fuel, recycling, wastes and accidents each and all render nuclear as nonviable in the fight against climate change. They are at best a distraction from doing the real work.

And if all of that isn't bad enough, the world is awash in weapons usable plutonium from weapons production, from nuclear fuel recycling and from spent nuclear fuel. As this ages, difficult isotopes decay away first leaving plutonium and uranium that is vastly easier and simpler to use in nuclear weapons. That "little" problem with be with use for a million years or more.

As to the costs estimates from DOE. The reason for the sudden rise is that they were dramatically low balling the estimates from the time they first prepared them. They have now had to become more honest about the costs. They still haven't come to grips with the whole cost, either in dollars, or in non innumerable costs (environmental and human health particularly).

As to the science issues. This is boogey man proposed by proponents. The problem is not that people who oppose nuclear power don't understand that realities or the science. The problem (for the industry) is that they do.

Sam

b_lumenkraft

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1052 on: June 14, 2019, 06:35:44 PM »

Jim Hunt

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1053 on: June 16, 2019, 02:26:41 AM »
Over at Skeptical Science we've issued a challenge:

https://skepticalscience.com/NuclearEnergy.html

Quote
We have repeatedly asked for nuclear proponents to provide an article for this site which puts the case based on published science but so far we haven't had a taker. The proposal would need to be reviewed by Sks volunteers. In lieu of such an article, this topic has been created where such discussions can take place.

Would any nuclear proponent in here be prepared to pick up the gauntlet?
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one - Albert Einstein

b_lumenkraft

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1054 on: June 16, 2019, 05:27:07 AM »
Here are 100 reasons why NP is shit >> https://100-gute-gruende.de/pdf/g100rs_en.pdf

I can't write though...

Bob Wallace

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1055 on: June 16, 2019, 08:39:42 AM »
Over at Skeptical Science we've issued a challenge:

https://skepticalscience.com/NuclearEnergy.html

Quote
We have repeatedly asked for nuclear proponents to provide an article for this site which puts the case based on published science but so far we haven't had a taker. The proposal would need to be reviewed by Sks volunteers. In lieu of such an article, this topic has been created where such discussions can take place.

Would any nuclear proponent in here be prepared to pick up the gauntlet?


You mean ...

"This time we've got a nuclear design that will absolutely produce affordable electricity.  Yes, we've told you that a few times before and failed, but trust us, we'll get it right this time."

... isn't adequate?  You want science and facts and all that stuff?

b_lumenkraft

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1056 on: June 16, 2019, 08:56:50 AM »
You need two data points:

1) How much time do we have to cut down CO2 emissions to ~0?
2) How much time does it take to replace CO2 emitting plants with nuclear plants?


For the sake of argument let's assume 12 years for point 1 (IPCC).

So, assuming nukes are the right answer, can we theoretically replace all CO2 emitting plants with nukes in 12 years?

You'll not even find enough sites to build this in this time frame.

And btw, the huge amounts of concrete needed would certainly cause a spike in CO2 emissions.

Also, nukes do not produce power without producing CO2.

Mining nuke fuel is environmentally harmful too, just like mining coal.

The list goes on and on and on...

sidd

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1057 on: June 16, 2019, 09:11:54 AM »
And the fact that no bank in the USA will finance a new nuke. Just look at Vogtle.

sidd

b_lumenkraft

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1058 on: June 16, 2019, 09:15:38 AM »
... and no one would insure them either.

When something goes wrong, the tax payer's paying.

Externalities, wherever you look...

bluice

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1059 on: June 16, 2019, 09:37:26 AM »
Nothing can replace all co2 emitting plants in 12 years, neither theoretically nor practically. To leave one zero carbon technology out of the equation just makes things more difficult.

Nukes have their issues, sure, but we mustn’t forget that nuclear power has a proven record of bringing down per capita emissions. Whereas high adoption of renewable energy doesn’t equal to very low per capita emissions anywhere in the world. Maybe this will change in the future with storage techonolgy and whatnot, but maybe it won’t.

A reasonable person would build both nuclear and renewables as fast as possible. Unfortunately people are either not caring or downright denying AGW, or they are using all their efforts advocating against nuclear power instead of fossil fuels.

b_lumenkraft

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1060 on: June 16, 2019, 09:52:02 AM »
Nothing can replace all co2 emitting plants in 12 years, neither theoretically nor practically.

This again? You keep saying that.

I showed you prove, why and how it is possible (with renewables). You never even made an attempt to argue why it wouldn't be possible (with renewables). Still, you are beating this dead horse over and over again.

How about making a valid argument for once? Stating the same debunked stuff over and over again doesn't make it true.

I get it, it's true in your head for some reason. Let me know the reason!

Bob Wallace

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1061 on: June 16, 2019, 10:14:38 AM »
Nothing can replace all co2 emitting plants in 12 years, neither theoretically nor practically. To leave one zero carbon technology out of the equation just makes things more difficult.

Nukes have their issues, sure, but we mustn’t forget that nuclear power has a proven record of bringing down per capita emissions. Whereas high adoption of renewable energy doesn’t equal to very low per capita emissions anywhere in the world. Maybe this will change in the future with storage techonolgy and whatnot, but maybe it won’t.

A reasonable person would build both nuclear and renewables as fast as possible. Unfortunately people are either not caring or downright denying AGW, or they are using all their efforts advocating against nuclear power instead of fossil fuels.

We have a limited amount of capital to spend.  It shouldn't be so limited based on the danger we face, but it is.  Do we spend $1/watt to install solar, $1.60/watt for wind or $8/watt to install nuclear?  Even adjusting for CF nuclear is multiples more expensive than solar or wind. 

Nuclear has a CF roughly 3x that of PV solar.  In order to get the same total output we'd need to install $3 worth of solar to generate the same amount of electricity as $8 worth of nuclear.  Wind CF is about half that of nuclear so $3.20 vs. $8.  Hardly requires any time at all to contemplate.

Spending limited money on nuclear would mean that we get less generation for the money we have.  Less generation, obviously, means more fossil fuels burned.

And we need to stop using fossil fuels as rapidly as possible.  We can build a wind or solar farm  and have it online producing electricity in a year or two.  A nuclear reactor can take 8 to 12 to many more years before it replaces any fossil fuel.  That's many more years of making our condition even more dangerous.

Then there's the problem of a lack of trained and experienced nuclear engineers and workers.  It would take several years to train a new generation of people who have the competency to build a reactor.  Just look at the problems new nuclear builds have run into over the last decade because, basically, people didn't know what they were doing. 


b_lumenkraft

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1062 on: June 16, 2019, 10:21:31 AM »
Thank's, Bob, for phrasing it so well.

One thing though, the 8 to 12 years time frame for building a nuke applies for China maybe, make that 30 years when we talk Europe.

Bob Wallace

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1063 on: June 16, 2019, 10:22:25 AM »
Quote
but we mustn’t forget that nuclear power has a proven record of bringing down per capita emissions.

Let me address that, specifically.  First the large nuclear fleets we have now were not built to lower CO2 emissions.  The US built reactors because the public was sold on the promise of cheaper electricity.  France built reactors because they relied very heavily on imported oil for electricity generation, OPEC had formed and was threatening the world's oil supply.  France built reactors as a part of their national security program, not for low GHG electricity.

Neither country built wind and solar back then for the simple reason that wind and solar were very expensive at that point in time.  Now, a few decades later, wind and solar are our two most inexpensive ways to generate electricity while the cost of nuclear continues to rise.


b_lumenkraft

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1064 on: June 16, 2019, 10:27:40 AM »
Let me just add, the cold war and the political will to build massive amounts of atomic bombs was also a reason for building nuclear plants in the US. Also played a role in France i think.

You are right Bob, this technology is here for the wrong reasons in the first place.

bluice

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1065 on: June 16, 2019, 10:54:18 AM »
Bob, records show that high adoption of wind and solar does not equal to low enough per capita co2 emissions. As you wrote nuclear power decreased emissions even when not intended to do so. At the time of climate crisis this is not something to simply ignore.

B_l my problem with trusting renewables comes from lack of real world data showing emission cuts. German electricity mix is maybe green but it is certainly not clean. I am deeply concerned we are betting our money on the wrong horse without any kind of backup plan.

b_lumenkraft

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1066 on: June 16, 2019, 11:27:02 AM »
I am deeply concerned we are betting our money on the wrong horse without any kind of backup plan.

Same goes for me. This is why i'm arguing so strongly for renewables!

The best horses to bet on are the energy sources that emit the least amount of CO2 which are renewable ones.

Second-order issues are cost (renewables win), risks involved (renewables win), political will (renewables on a good way), decentralisation, (renewables win big time), and possible speed of deployment (and again, renewables win).

So again, do you have a valid argument, to why we should waste resources on megaprojects that only profit big energy companies who outsource their externalities to the taxpayers?

Bob Wallace

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1067 on: June 16, 2019, 06:58:32 PM »
Bob, records show that high adoption of wind and solar does not equal to low enough per capita co2 emissions. As you wrote nuclear power decreased emissions even when not intended to do so. At the time of climate crisis this is not something to simply ignore.

B_l my problem with trusting renewables comes from lack of real world data showing emission cuts. German electricity mix is maybe green but it is certainly not clean. I am deeply concerned we are betting our money on the wrong horse without any kind of backup plan.

The only country that I can think of that has a low CO2 footprint due to high nuclear penetration is France.  France generates between 70% and 75% of its electricity with nuclear.  France also gets close to 20% of its electricity from hydro, wind and solar.

I can't think of a country that gets nearly that much of its electricity from wind and solar.  Until we see a country where 90+% of electricity comes from RE then making a claim that high RE penetration doesn't lead to a low CO2 per capita like France's can't be made.  Common sense tells us that we don't actually need to see a real world example.  Wind and solar have lower lifetime carbon footprints than nuclear.

That is not to say that nuclear's footprint is problematic, it isn't.  If nuclear was affordable, quick to install, and did not introduce unnecessary dangers into our lives then we should be using nuclear to replace fossil fuels.  But, unfortunately, nuclear is expensive, slow to implement, and dangerous.

Germany.  As the German grid has become greener Germany has enjoyed a decrease in CO2 per capita.  In 1985 German electricity emitted 2.0 million tonnes of CO2 per TWh of electricity generated.  By 2017 that had fallen to 1.2 million tonnes.

Remember, a lot of CO2 per capita statistics do not separate sources of CO2.  If you look at a CO2 per capita number for Germany or any other country you are looking at electricity generation, vehicles, and other CO2 sources combined.


rboyd

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1068 on: Today at 02:28:18 AM »
Germany.  As the German grid has become greener Germany has enjoyed a decrease in CO2 per capita.  In 1985 German electricity emitted 2.0 million tonnes of CO2 per TWh of electricity generated.  By 2017 that had fallen to 1.2 million tonnes.

German emissions were greatly reduced when East and West Germany merged, as the extremely dirty and inefficient East German electrical generating units and manufacturing plants were closed down en masse. Since then, slow GDP growth (and resulting low/no growth in energy demand) together with the usual yearly reductions in energy intensity of 1-2% a year have been the predominant drivers of emission reductions. Actual fossil fuel usage for electricity has hardly moved since 2003 (368 to 328 terawatt hours).The change in mix to natural gas from coal also understates emissions as it does not count methane (CH4) emissions.

Overall emissions fell for the first time in four years in 2018, but with exceptionally warm weather being the main reason. Germany is certain to miss its 2020 emission targets. If they were not shutting down their in place nuclear industry, German emissions would be significantly lower.

I tend to agree with respect to building new nuclear plants, but closing down fully operational and well engineered ones in a country with little risk of major natural disasters is quite ridiculous when our focus should be on GHG emissions.

https://energytransition.org/2018/01/german-energy-consumption-2017/

https://e360.yale.edu/features/carbon-crossroads-can-germany-revive-its-stalled-energy-transition

https://www.dw.com/en/german-greenhouse-gas-emissions-fall-for-first-time-in-four-years/a-48167150

Bob Wallace

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1069 on: Today at 03:28:02 AM »
I'm using numbers from the just released 2019 BP Statistical Review of Global Energy.  According to that database Germany generated 378 TWh of electricity using fossil fuels in 2003 and 317 TWh in 2018.  Over that same range renewables grew from 46 TWh to 226 TWh.  Nuclear fell from 165 TWh to 75 TWh.

In terms of total generation fossil fuels fell from 61% in 2003 to 49% in 2018.  Low carbon (RE and nuclear) generation rose from 34% to 47%.  Those numbers do not sum to 100 due to  "pumped hydro, other fossil generation and statistical differences".

Obviously had Germany not closed reactors their percentage of low carbon generation could now be higher, but as I'm not one who lived under the Chernobyl cloud and don't live close to a operating nuclear plant I'll withhold my judgement against Germans who did not wish to continue live with nuclear plants in their midst.

As for not meeting their 2020 goals, I'm not sure but I think there are two separate goals.  One was a EU agreed upon goal which Germany may have already met and the other a more aggressive goal Germany set prior to the Fukushima meltdown.  They may fall somewhat short of the more aggressive goal due to their decision to speed up nuclear reactor closures. 

And now with the Green Party taking a larger role in Germany's government we should see a stronger push to increase the move to renewables.   Apparently the needed north/south transmission lines have move forward which should be a large help.  Germany should be able to move more offshore wind electricity to the south and more southern solar to the north.

b_lumenkraft

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1070 on: Today at 03:32:43 AM »
Rboyd, in your opinion, what should Germany do with nuclear waste?

Bob Wallace

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1071 on: Today at 03:47:52 AM »
Quote
The change in mix to natural gas from coal also understates emissions as it does not count methane (CH4) emissions.

Just looking further at the BP data - Germany generated 305 TWh with coal in 2003 and 229 TWh in 2018.  A drop of 76 TWh for coal.

Over the same period generation using natural gas rose from 56 TWh to 83 TWh.  An increase of 27 TWh.  Just over one third of coal's loss was made up with NG.

BTW, does anyone have data on how large NG losses are for German power plants?  In the US most NG losses appear to be in the consumer distribution system and not at power plants.  But the plant data is sparse.

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Re: Nuclear Power
« Reply #1072 on: Today at 05:02:44 AM »

[size=78%]https://wolfstreet.com/2019/06/06/the-gas-flaring-crisis-in-the-us-oil-patch/[/size]
12 billion cubic meters per year of natural gas are wasted in the Permian and Bakken oil patches. Its bad enough when the gas is used for something but to just burn it is insane. :'(  That exceeds the volume of natural gas demands of such countries as Israel, Columbia or Romania.