Re: fleet week: just-in-time nuclear electricity?

From: Matt Jensen (
Date: Tue Jan 23 2001 - 11:04:47 PST

First, the exercise bikes.

Have you ever tried one of those science museum exhibits where you have to
pedal the bike to keep a 60-watt lightbulb burning? It's a full-time job.
And the average health club patron probably has >100 watts shining on him,
plus heat and an extra 5 watts per person for the terrible music they have
pumping out of the stereo.

And when you count all the petrochemicals (fuel and fertilizer) that went
into growing and delivering the food used by these bikers, we find that
health clubs are far less efficient as an energy source than solar, wind,
geothermal, or even lemon batteries. [And that's also my biggest
complaint with "The Matrix". The machines need humans around to generate
bioelectricity?!? How did such dumb machines ever take over? Just say
that they enslaved humans to humiliate us, or leave it a mystery, but
don't give us such a stupid reason.]

Second, the nuclear submarines.

Here's an analysis of the power a MIKE-class Soviet submarine produces:

"Jane's suggests a tentative figure of 60,000 shaft horsepower so,
 on this basis, the reactor output would be calculated as follows
 (and working backward from the shaft power to the reactor output):

 shaft horsepower 60,000 shp = 45.0MW
 this figure must be increased to allow for losses in the
 reduction gearing and steam raising system:
 say mechanical efficiency @ 90% => 49.8MW
 say Rankine steam cycle @ 30% => 166.2MWt(loss of power to waste heat)
 reactor services @ 15% => 191.1MWt(some power drawn to
 reactor cooling etc) => 206.1MWt split between two reactors.

 Thus we have a power rating of, say, 103MWt for each of the two reactors
 on board. For comparison, this is about 1/40th the thermal output of the
 land side Sizewell B PWR nuclear power station." [1]

So it could help power a town, although it wouldn't be quite like an
entire power plant.

As for "Darkened By Irony", the resistance to unclean power sources is
only part of the reason for the demand/supply mismatch. It is the part
the coal industry, etc. want you to focus on. A more significant factor
is deregulation which decoupled power generation from power delivery.
Utilities no longer had any incentive to create new power plants.

Perhaps if more Californians were like stereotypical Berkelians,
encouraging clean power, opposing deregulation, lowering thermostats (do
they have those in California?), and doubting industry lobbyists, the
state might have low enough demand and enough clean energy to make it :-)
Of course, for small but fast-growing hot spots, like San Jose's server
farms, a nuclear sub might be brought in on an emergency basis. If so, it
should be seen as a failing of the Valley's libertarian climate, and not
of Berkeley's liberal one.

-Matt Jensen

[1] [Src:
(Only in Google cache, not at original URL anymore.)
Report Ref No. LA RL186B, 12th April 1989
Commissioned by Greenpeace International
Large and Associates, London]

On Tue, 23 Jan 2001, Tom Whore wrote:

> On Mon, 22 Jan 2001, Gordon Mohr wrote:
> --]Anyone here know enough about naval nuclear reactors to say whether parking
> --]a few subs and aircraft carriers in the bay and cabling them to the local
> --]power grid could save silicon valley from rolling blackouts?
> --]
> --]Just wondering.
> --]
> --]If this would work, I'd suggest tethering a sub in the Berkeley
> --]marina, for optimal irony generation.
> Isnt that area a Nuke Free Zone, so that laws set down by the people in
> the throws of anti nuke furvor would disallow this option:)- Yep, you
> could hang a Berkley, Darkened By Irony sign on the place.
> NPR had an interesting story on the whole probelm yestermorning. Seems
> there have been minimal power plants built over the years of growth due to
> regulations communities not wanting big ugly power plants in thier
> backyard. Gas was the answer. To which I guese you can now simply fill up
> on bad boarder mexicale food and toot yourself out of the crisis.
> The question of the whys and wherefores of this cali energy crunch echo up
> here in Oregon. With talk of undoing some of the power producing damns the
> line of power supply versus oregons growth seems wavering if not truly
> bent.
> One solution is a cool two fer one special which i offer up to cali and
> oregon minds alike.
> The health craze, The power shortage two great tastes that go great
> togther. Hook power cables up to the excercises bikes and tread mills of
> all the health clubs on the west coast. First you would charge for the
> usage of the machines, second you can seel off the energy produced and
> third you health care costs would drop over time.
> Hey thats a three fer. Color me greenspan.
> Pump UP For Power folks.
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