[FoRK] Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Thu Mar 24 09:43:45 PDT 2011

On 3/24/11 3:12 AM, Eugen Leitl wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 24, 2011 at 02:04:41AM -0700, Stephen Williams wrote:
>> On 3/24/11 12:42 AM, Eugen Leitl wrote:
>>> ...
>>> We're running on 15 TW. A typical reactor is 1 GW. That's
>> That's 15 TW in 2008 for all energy used, period.  And it went down 1.1%
> ...
>> in 2009.  Electricity is only 1% of that. [1]  20% of the US's
> This means that we need to boost electrical production by
> two orders of magnitude by 2050. Still think nuclear is up
> to the task?

We have enough fuel for 10,000-250,000 years at 1999 production levels:

Everything else is just refining, building, recycling, concentrating, etc.  So, yes, it is probably possible.

> Do you think you can build 500 breeders/year, every year,
> for the next 40 years? Including fuel reprocessing, and spent
> fuel storage, and mining?

Everything else is just refining, building, recycling, concentrating, etc.  So, yes, it is probably possible.

> Do you realize how ludicrous this sounds, even if you have
> a small inkling of this world's physical realities?

Well-motivated mining seems very efficient.  The rest is just chemical plants and building plumbing.

> ...
>> Hard to tell how the electricity vs. oil mix will end up, but bio
>> oil/diesel with a very efficient plant/algae source will likely be
> You'd do better to run synfuel driven by PV photovoltaics.
> There's no way algae in photobioreactors with CO2 enrichment
> will be able to beat the>20% efficiency of solar synfuel.

There have been some interesting new algae that go from light->oil, but photovoltaics are great too.

>> interesting for at least non-fuel oil needs.
> We need to move to circulated electrons where it is feasible.

Electrons -> plastic is not an efficient path, nor is electrons -> lubrication.

> ...
>> As of 2009, there were 436 commercial land nuclear reactors already,
>> producing almost a TW.  (Plus 180 marine and 250 research reactors.)
>> Maybe you should be in your bunker already?
> Maybe the politicians and nuclear industry managers should be cleaning
> up Chernobyl and Fukushima with their bare hands?

Snarky!  In Chernobyl, yes...

> Electricity production should be as much hydroelectric, solar, wind,
>> wave, and geothermal as possible with nuclear providing the remaining.
> In practice solar will kill about everything, long-term.

All of those are indirect solar, except geothermal of course, but that is just a toy production method.
I still like heliostat concentration, perhaps to satellites that concentrate and direct power to my floating lighter/semi-lighter 
than air storage/factory/long-haul bases with docking transport/factory modules.

>> We should save coal for the post-apocalypse.  With electric cars, perhaps
>> some portion of oil usage can shift to nuclear also.
> Just substitute nuclear with solar, and you're there.

There are certainly areas where we could do solar very well: In the US West, Austrailian outback, space, perhaps moving ocean 
patches, etc.  Probably not great for England, Japan, etc.


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