Author Topic: Nature versus technology  (Read 12430 times)

charles

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #30 on: January 22, 2011, 04:08:54 am »
My main issue with Nuclear power is that its just another limited fuel, like oil, coal and gas.  I don't see us getting away from either of them completely, but thats why I take more of a stance on reducing our usage in order to preserve them as opposed to eliminating them.  How do we plan for further space exploration, or even to travel by aircraft which are much further away from being able to work on any kind of electric technology we possess today.

To be fair, alternative energy sources are viable... as *supplemental* energy sources.  We absolutely should use them, and we *do.*  But unfortunetly, even *combined* all of the alternative energy sources don't produce as much energy as coal or nuclear.

We don't use other forms of energy much, therefore they don't produce as much energy as coal. Some of them are inherently limited. For example we've pretty much run out of places to put new hydroelectric dams. We get more energy from that than from nuclear plants, but we can build more nuclear plants and we can't build more dams. Other sources are less limited.

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There aren't any other magic solutions.  Sure, someday we may well discover an awesome new source of energy, but we can't count on that, nor can we force it to happen.  Counting on it to happen, well I would say that's a REAL case of gambler's ruin.

We use around 300 million BTUs per person per year. We used 15% more before the recession. This is almost twice what Germany or Japan use per capita. Do we need to?

If we were to cut back our per capita energy use to that of europe, we would have a breathing space to figure out what to do. But some of us aren't willing to do that. Instead they say we need to make a lot of radioactivity so we can get more power.
A lot of this is sort of what I'm getting at.  Its not JUST a matter of building more renewable power producing systems but using other technology to reduce our usage or make it more effecient.  Simple things like insulation and energy effecient light bulbs.

There's no magic bullet solution but there is a large array of solutions that can be pushed into use or improved upon with naught more than effort and funding.

Nuclear power and weapons were discovered and developed quite quickly thanks to a significant push and funding during world war II along with many other technologies relating to war.  Its been proposed since 1903 that electric cars would take over from fueled vehicles once a better battery was developed. But research and funding for that technology was non-existent for nearly a hundred years when society's concern for the environment and oil prices finally pushed for funding to be provided.

If we look at carbon fibre, the raw materials are comparible in cost to raw materials of steel and you can save significant fuel costs or power requirements in any vehicle because its much lighter, however the real costs are in the use of it.  The working of steel has been refined for over a hundred years with companies making many small advances that have saved mere cents in the production processes, but have added up over time.  Those same advancements aren't being researched or applied because carbon fibre isn't used in mass like steel, so the costs saving don't add up.

Moving to a core reliance on nuclear power or any fueled substance will encourage advancements in that technology but delay and limit the advancements in renewable energy which has already made significant leaps and bounds over the last 15 years on little more than good will.
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J Thomas

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #31 on: January 22, 2011, 11:41:06 am »
My main issue with Nuclear power is that its just another limited fuel, like oil, coal and gas.

We have a lot of uranium and we can use all of it. We have twice as much thorium and we can use all of that too. And we've been 20 years from a working fusion power plant for almost 60 years. We wouldn't need radioactive fission plants forever, just long enough to get to the next step. It's likely to be a big deal to fix up the radioactive locations where the power plants were, but by that time we might get new technology which fixes it up easily. Maybe we'll be separating out valuable isotopes from the waste and then we instantly flash the radioactivity into stable isotopes. There's no telling what future science will reveal, and in the best case we could do very well with fission plants as long as we need to. What bothers me is the worst case is so bad.

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I don't see us getting away from either of them completely, but thats why I take more of a stance on reducing our usage in order to preserve them as opposed to eliminating them.  How do we plan for further space exploration, or even to travel by aircraft which are much further away from being able to work on any kind of electric technology we possess today.

Aircraft are fast. If we were willing to settle for much slower travel we could use lighter-than-air craft and cut our fuel expense a whole lot. We could cut our rocket fuel a lot various ways, we just haven't yet. The russians once cut theirs some by launching missiles from a sort of ski slope. And we could do a lot by lifting each rocket with a giant lighter-than-air craft first. For both aircraft and missiles the civilian efforts have piggy-backed on the military ones, which had different priorities.

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We use around 300 million BTUs per person per year. We used 15% more before the recession. This is almost twice what Germany or Japan use per capita. Do we need to?

If we were to cut back our per capita energy use to that of europe, we would have a breathing space to figure out what to do. But some of us aren't willing to do that. Instead they say we need to make a lot of radioactivity so we can get more power.

A lot of this is sort of what I'm getting at.  Its not JUST a matter of building more renewable power producing systems but using other technology to reduce our usage or make it more effecient.  Simple things like insulation and energy effecient light bulbs.

There's no magic bullet solution but there is a large array of solutions that can be pushed into use or improved upon with naught more than effort and funding.

Nuclear power and weapons were discovered and developed quite quickly thanks to a significant push and funding during world war II along with many other technologies relating to war.  Its been proposed since 1903 that electric cars would take over from fueled vehicles once a better battery was developed. But research and funding for that technology was non-existent for nearly a hundred years when society's concern for the environment and oil prices finally pushed for funding to be provided.

If we look at carbon fibre, the raw materials are comparible in cost to raw materials of steel and you can save significant fuel costs or power requirements in any vehicle because its much lighter, however the real costs are in the use of it.  The working of steel has been refined for over a hundred years with companies making many small advances that have saved mere cents in the production processes, but have added up over time.  Those same advancements aren't being researched or applied because carbon fibre isn't used in mass like steel, so the costs saving don't add up.

Moving to a core reliance on nuclear power or any fueled substance will encourage advancements in that technology but delay and limit the advancements in renewable energy which has already made significant leaps and bounds over the last 15 years on little more than good will.

If we didn't depend so much on imports/exports, I'd suggest a great big carbon tax.

You put a great big tax on fossil fuels when they are extracted/imported. You don't need much regulation for that, just collect the tax from oil companies and coal companies etc, and monitor how much they actually produce, and you're set. They will pass the tax on to their customers.

Then you take the tax money -- all of it -- and distribute it equally to all taxpayers. They could each have a debit card, and the government could take each week's income and divide it by the number of voters, and put it on the cards.

So, say you pay $20/gallon for gasoline. Maybe $300 to fill your tank. But the government puts $300/week on your card. That's enough to pay for 2 tanks of gas a month, plus your heating bill. If you use more than 30 gallons a month you pay extra. If you use less, you can pocket the money. Would you buy a fuel-efficient car? Would you look for ways to minimise your driving? Would you insulate your house?

Anybody who used the average amount of fossil fuels would come out even. The people who use more subsidise the people who use less.

Businesses would not get debit cards. They could add the cost of the fossil fuels they use to the price of their products. So any business that finds ways to avoid fossil fuels gets to cut prices or keep the difference as profits.

I think it would work very well to encourage conservation and investment in alternate energy. The problem is, imports would be made with untaxed fossil fuels so they would be unnaturally cheap. It would take a large bureaucracy to figure out how much of a tariff each import should have to balance that. And exports would be unnaturally expensive because they would be built with heavily-taxed fossil fuels. So they couldn't compete. It could be argued that the USA shouldn't depend on fuel-intensive exports anyway, but....

Churba

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #32 on: January 22, 2011, 11:38:50 pm »
My main issue with Nuclear power is that its just another limited fuel, like oil, coal and gas.  I don't see us getting away from either of them completely, but thats why I take more of a stance on reducing our usage in order to preserve them as opposed to eliminating them.  How do we plan for further space exploration, or even to travel by aircraft which are much further away from being able to work on any kind of electric technology we possess today.
That's easily solved - Fast breeder reactors are already a reality, and already in use. The UK has one, France has three, Russia had four, with two more on the way, Germany has two, Japan has one and one on the way, even india has one, with more on the way. Current Breeder Reactors use a fraction of the fuel that old-style reactors do, and output a fraction of the waste, especially waste that emits hard radiation. Also, part of the problem with Nuclear fuel is that current active designs tend to use about one percent of the fuel that is put into them.

The Difference is that a Breeder reactor puts out More fuel than it uses, by not only using fuel, but by neutron irradiation of Fertile substances - For example, Uranium-238 and Thorium. We can actually run them off the waste that our current stations generate, and when we run out of that, we can run it on thorium - of which the planet has enough of, and the reactors use so little of, that we could power the planet at current levels on thorium till the sun went nova. And I don't mean it started pumping out shitty pop all day long for 20 something receptionists to listen to.

charles

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #33 on: January 23, 2011, 02:57:48 am »
But there will still be times when we need faster aircraft.  Rescue helecopters and aircraft, military, etc.  And while there are a number of ways to cut back on rocket feul usage, that still doesn't eliminate it completely.  Its just more effecient use of a resource thats still limited (though thats not to say those effecient methods shouldn't be applied to further reduce usage).

Carbon tax is generally a good method to apply.  You don't outlaw the poluting technology but you make it more expensive so suddenly the market is far more interested in buying and researching carvon saving technology for you, or alternate energies.  As you pointed out though, its a difficult one to push if the entire planet doesn't agree together, otherwise you hamstring yourself for the greater good only to watch other nations take advantage by continuing and expanding on their poluting power sources to jump ahead.  Personally, I think we're headed there though and governments would do well to put their countries in the lead with funding on research lest they get left behind when it finally comes.  See the American automotive industry for an example with how they lagged behind in fuel effecient technology compared to Europe and Asia thanks to subsidies and are now under the hammer.

I'll need to do some further research on the thorium and other nuclear based fuels to see how they stack up with both availability of the fuel and waste that could still contaminate or require storage (can we stack that up until the sun goes nova?).  Although I'm with Brion and others on not avoiding nuclear power out of fears that are not yet realised or even theorised because we somehow don't fully understand the technology to know the full ramifications.  We don't fully understand the universe yet so pick any religion (heck, all of 'em if you can) and join 'em just in case there's an afterlife that could see you in limbo if you don't.  Same sort of deal with little loss if the religion is bogus (depending on how much you donate) but plenty of loss if you're due for ETERNAL hell.  BUT... having said that, I can also see how the prolification of nuclear power would obviously increase risks with more availability, but I'm probably more concerned about their use as weapons, particularly the fuel wastes.  The more plants and waste there is the more you have to protect from those who will seek to gain and use it for mass destruction.  As a solution for the world, this obviously means that even countries who are potentially hostile to either the western nations, or other nations, will have much easier access to the harmful fuels and waste to use in battle.

I'll look further into the nuclear energy systems available.  Its been ages since I had a good Wikipedia advernture on the stuff and I never went all that far.
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Churba

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #34 on: January 23, 2011, 06:45:38 am »
But there will still be times when we need faster aircraft.  Rescue helecopters and aircraft, military, etc.  And while there are a number of ways to cut back on rocket feul usage, that still doesn't eliminate it completely.  Its just more effecient use of a resource thats still limited (though thats not to say those effecient methods shouldn't be applied to further reduce usage).
I was speaking specifically on Nuclear power, I'll admit, not transport and the like.

There is practically no waste from a Breeder reactor, and on top of that, the waste it produces isn't as dangerous as non-breeder reactors, because it uses it's fuel till it's absolutely, 100% burned out - to the best of my knowlege, anyway, a nuclear physicist I am not. While you can use a breeder reactor for enrichment of uranium and plutonium, you have to build or modify specifically for it, because it involves pulling out enriched fuel halfway through the cycle, when it's been enriched, but not used up.

I must admit, it annoys me how hippies tend to portray nuke power as mushroom clouds, and leaky, dangerous, ready-to-meltdown-at-the-slightest-error deathtraps just waiting to irradiate the landscape - when in reality, even the underbuilt, shonky Soviet reactors like Chernobyl were surprisingly safe - as mentioned before, the Chernobyl meltdown was because of what would be a stretch to call human error - more like crass and dangerous stupidity, forcing a meltdown. Until the moment of the actual disaster, it could have been averted at any time, but they had to push the experiment when it clearly wasn't safe to do so.
Shit, the Greenies down here, as a party, are 100% opposed to Nuke power, even though with the breeder reactors, we could power the country, slash our c02 Emissions by a massive, massive amount(by not needing to use and therefore shutting down the dirty, carbon-pumping power plants the greens seem to favor for no more reason than it's not nuclear), we could literally power our nation off other countries nuclear waste, and we could assist in disarming the world's supply of nuclear weaponry, since the materiel in nuclear weapons can be used in breeder reactors as fuel - and create both white and blue collar jobs, with the running and building of the plants.

But no - Because they have a comically incorrect image of nuclear power stations that is cobbled together from vague, exaggerated recollections of Chernobyl, 3 mile island, and mostly, the Simpsons. I mean, christ, Chernobyl was the worst nuclear disaster in history that wasn't a direct nuclear strike, and nowadays, you can take bloody tours to Piripyat (For those who slept through history class, and didn't play S.T.A.L.K.E.R or Modern Warfare 1 and 2, that's the town right next to Cherny where all the workers and families lived), and within spitting distance of the plant itself.

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #35 on: January 23, 2011, 11:10:10 am »
I've also heard that spent uranium can be recycled, now?  Is that true?

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #36 on: January 23, 2011, 07:50:34 pm »
I've also heard that spent uranium can be recycled, now?  Is that true?
It is - It's because of how a Breeder Reactor works. Instead of just taking uranium and using what it can of it, you start the reaction, and part of the process actually produces fissile materiel, by neutron irradiation of Fertile materiel - Which is essentially something that can't undergo even an induced reaction, but with neutron irradiation, can actually be changed fundamentally into Fissile materiel - for example, thorium-232 which converts into uranium-233.

On top of that, what we think of as "Spent" uranium, from regular reactors, is very rarely actually fully spent, it's just burned out enough that you can't use it in a regular reactor - which consume only about 1% of the natural uranium that starts the fuel cycle.

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #37 on: January 23, 2011, 08:11:05 pm »
I've also heard that spent uranium can be recycled, now?  Is that true?

It's been true for a long time.

You start out with fuel that's enriched for U235. When it's spent, it has less U235 and lots of plutonium in it, plus some breakdown products. So you add more U235 and you can use it a second time.

By this time it has lots of breakdown products and it's highly radioactive and no fun to be around. So you don't try to recycle it a third time.

It would be possible to recycle it again. In a heavily-shielded automated facility you'd chemically separate the uranium and plutonium from everything else, and maybe add a little more U235, and it would be OK except for uranium isotopes. But there's enough fuel available now that it isn't worth the expense the third time around.

Thorium has a lot of potential. On average it releases one neutron when it fissions instead of two or three. (One lost to convert to U233, one lost to fission the U233, two released.) so it needs an external neutron source or it fizzles out. There's twice to four times as much thorium as uranium in the world. But it has less military potential, and mostly the nuclear energy stuff has been a spin-off of the military side, so it hasn't gotten a lot of attention. They're trying it in India.

I don't know why anybody keeps using U235. If you don't have a neutron source to get U233 or plutonium then U235 gives you one way to get one, you can make a U235 reactor and use its neutrons. I guess maybe established nuclear powers keep using it because they already have it, and new nuclear powers use it because they think that's the way it's done. Or maybe they all know something I don't know. I don't understand why anybody would keep using the stuff when they have other ways to get neutrons. But it isn't my field.

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #38 on: January 23, 2011, 08:30:26 pm »
I've also heard that spent uranium can be recycled, now?  Is that true?

It's been true for a long time.

You start out with fuel that's enriched for U235. When it's spent, it has less U235 and lots of plutonium in it, plus some breakdown products. So you add more U235 and you can use it a second time.

By this time it has lots of breakdown products and it's highly radioactive and no fun to be around. So you don't try to recycle it a third time.

It would be possible to recycle it again. In a heavily-shielded automated facility you'd chemically separate the uranium and plutonium from everything else, and maybe add a little more U235, and it would be OK except for uranium isotopes. But there's enough fuel available now that it isn't worth the expense the third time around.
Irrelevant, when you use a breeder, because a breeder leaves damned near nothing in the way of waste, and it produces more fuel than it consumes, as what it does. With reprocessing, the small amount of waste drops even further. On top of that, the waste that comes out is almost entirely spent, and only remains radioactive for a relatively short period of time.

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #39 on: January 24, 2011, 02:50:16 am »
Irrelevant, when you use a breeder, because a breeder leaves damned near nothing in the way of waste, and it produces more fuel than it consumes, as what it does. With reprocessing, the small amount of waste drops even further. On top of that, the waste that comes out is almost entirely spent, and only remains radioactive for a relatively short period of time.

Yeah, I've heard the technology for Nuclear Plants has advanced a lot, but I didn't know the details.  That's interesting.

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #40 on: January 24, 2011, 06:42:06 am »
Anyhow though, if we could research a way to safely accelerate the half time of the waste, we could actually be producing lead...

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #41 on: January 24, 2011, 07:09:56 am »
I've also heard that spent uranium can be recycled, now?  Is that true?

It's been true for a long time.

You start out with fuel that's enriched for U235. When it's spent, it has less U235 and lots of plutonium in it, plus some breakdown products. So you add more U235 and you can use it a second time.

By this time it has lots of breakdown products and it's highly radioactive and no fun to be around. So you don't try to recycle it a third time.

It would be possible to recycle it again. In a heavily-shielded automated facility you'd chemically separate the uranium and plutonium from everything else, and maybe add a little more U235, and it would be OK except for uranium isotopes. But there's enough fuel available now that it isn't worth the expense the third time around.
Irrelevant, when you use a breeder, because a breeder leaves damned near nothing in the way of waste, and it produces more fuel than it consumes, as what it does. With reprocessing, the small amount of waste drops even further. On top of that, the waste that comes out is almost entirely spent, and only remains radioactive for a relatively short period of time.

Well, kind of. You start with plutonium mixed with U238, and you end up with more plutonium than you started with mixed with U238 plus lots of waste products. You still have to separate out the waste products because they absorb neutrons, wasting some of your neutrons. And some of them are intensely radioactive -- which is good in a way because they will go away quick, and bad in another way because they're hard to handle.

If you just leave the waste products in the reactor they absorb neutrons which is an issue if you need the neutrons, but also it transmutes them into other things. Highly radioactive isotopes might get converted into something more stable. But then stable isotopes might get converted into something with a short halflife. There's no stable point where you can say it's all spent.

So you get the advantage that you can use U238 to convert to P239 and there's plenty of U238 compared to tiny amounts of U235 that mostly differs by weight. That's a big advantage. And you can separate the plutonium from everything else chemically (and also the uranium) which is a whole lot easier than separating radioactive isotopes by weight. So you're left mostly with isotopes of plutonium (and uranium) and some of them can be troublesome but not crippling.

I found a public link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isotopes_of_plutonium
It looks like a whole lot of this stuff is public now.

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #42 on: January 24, 2011, 07:24:44 am »
Anyhow though, if we could research a way to safely accelerate the half time of the waste, we could actually be producing lead...

I've never heard of any research aimed that way. Like, nobody's even considering it. The assumption is that things have a natural half-life and there's nothing you can do to change it except maybe add neutrons to turn it into something that has a different half-life or possibly get it to fission.

They write that into textbooks. They say that things decay entirely at random and there's absolutely nothing anybody can do to influence the rate. Like they're certain of that, they know it, even though as far as I know nobody's ever done much to test it. But they say it's completely impossible.

Just imagine that you could put a bunch of plutonium into a magnetic field that varied at just the right frequency and all of one isotope decays at once. Or even fissions all at once. Pick the right frequency and blow up any radioactive isotope you wanted. We could run power plants on nuclear waste. Run through each element in the sequence until you get to something stable, making heat all the way. Probably a lot cheaper too.

And the bombs, you could make incredible bombs with it, cheap. If the military guys thought that everybody was about to learn how to do that they'd freak out. They'd make the whole thing top secret and try to keep anybody else from finding out. They'd do their best to make everybody think it's completely impossible.



.... Oh.

Churba

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #43 on: January 24, 2011, 08:41:47 am »
I've also heard that spent uranium can be recycled, now?  Is that true?

It's been true for a long time.

You start out with fuel that's enriched for U235. When it's spent, it has less U235 and lots of plutonium in it, plus some breakdown products. So you add more U235 and you can use it a second time.

By this time it has lots of breakdown products and it's highly radioactive and no fun to be around. So you don't try to recycle it a third time.

It would be possible to recycle it again. In a heavily-shielded automated facility you'd chemically separate the uranium and plutonium from everything else, and maybe add a little more U235, and it would be OK except for uranium isotopes. But there's enough fuel available now that it isn't worth the expense the third time around.
Irrelevant, when you use a breeder, because a breeder leaves damned near nothing in the way of waste, and it produces more fuel than it consumes, as what it does. With reprocessing, the small amount of waste drops even further. On top of that, the waste that comes out is almost entirely spent, and only remains radioactive for a relatively short period of time.

Well, kind of. You start with plutonium mixed with U238, and you end up with more plutonium than you started with mixed with U238 plus lots of waste products. You still have to separate out the waste products because they absorb neutrons, wasting some of your neutrons. And some of them are intensely radioactive -- which is good in a way because they will go away quick, and bad in another way because they're hard to handle.

If you just leave the waste products in the reactor they absorb neutrons which is an issue if you need the neutrons, but also it transmutes them into other things. Highly radioactive isotopes might get converted into something more stable. But then stable isotopes might get converted into something with a short halflife. There's no stable point where you can say it's all spent.

So you get the advantage that you can use U238 to convert to P239 and there's plenty of U238 compared to tiny amounts of U235 that mostly differs by weight. That's a big advantage. And you can separate the plutonium from everything else chemically (and also the uranium) which is a whole lot easier than separating radioactive isotopes by weight. So you're left mostly with isotopes of plutonium (and uranium) and some of them can be troublesome but not crippling.

I found a public link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isotopes_of_plutonium
It looks like a whole lot of this stuff is public now.

Ah, that makes sense. I'm knowledgeable, but I'm no physicist. However, isn't there a way to safely store it for the time needed? I know we store current spent fuel rods in deepwater pools, and it's apparently a workable solution to just shove it in a pool of water for 20 years, emitting a lovely blue glow.

Random - Cherenkov blue is pretty much my favorite colour.

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #44 on: January 25, 2011, 01:09:08 pm »

However, isn't there a way to safely store it for the time needed? I know we store current spent fuel rods in deepwater pools, and it's apparently a workable solution to just shove it in a pool of water for 20 years, emitting a lovely blue glow.

People have worked out various expensive ways to store radioactive waste that might be reasonably safe. Part of the problem is deciding how safe you want it.

As long as radioactive stuff decays whenever it wants to, where each isotope has its own half-life but we don't know anything about why one atom decays and another one doesn't, radioactive waste will be potentially dangerous for many thousands of years. How dangerous is it really? We don't know. Having a lot of it in a few sites that kill people isn't so bad, really -- a few people go into those places and die and the rest are OK. Spreading it around so the background radiation count goes up? Nobody knows whether that has a long-term effect or not. There are complicated arguments about it which I will discuss if somebody wants to. The bottom line is, nobody really knows.

If our radioactive waste gets spread around, it's very hard to collect it again. It could be almost as harmless as spreading that much nitric acid. Or possibly it could drive us extinct a thousand years later.

Here's a story that I can't support much. The fact is, that there is a radioactive isotope of potassium that's spread everywhere on earth. There's nothing we can do about it. You have about a quarter pound of potassium in your body, and it is making beta particles and gamma rays all through your body right now. It has a half life of one and a quarter billion years. (It isn't very radioactive.) So presumably when life first arrived on earth there was around 8 times as much of it as there is now. And that was survivable for the things that lived then.

Here's where my story gets fanciful. Right now, we have 3 kinds of potassium. K39, K40, K41. K40 is the radioactive one. It's about 93% K39, 7% K41, and 0.01% K40. Aren't we lucky that there's so little of the radioactive one, snuggled right between the others! I want to imagine that maybe a long time ago, somebody got rid of the extra K40. Perhaps a previous human civilization tens or hundreds of thousands of years ago that has left no obvious traces. Perhaps space aliens. But somebody had the technology to get rid of the stuff and they did, and that's why it's mostly gone now. I have no evidence for this, it's just a story I'd like to believe. Maybe we can learn how to get rid of the extra uranium and plutonium etc that we are now spreading through the world.

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #45 on: June 08, 2011, 06:14:17 pm »
Excuse me for butting in but the topic caught my eye. Unless I am incorrect breeder plants are much less common than normal plants which produce the waste. The waste which can remain radioactive for quite a while is just sitting around doing little except decaying.. then the waste would be piling up and as it serves no other purpose why don't the power corporations build more breeder plants to use what could probably be a cheaper fuel than acquiring new isotopes? (forgive me if I am incorrect) Also there are other things which can be done Coal plants can be equipped with scrubbers which filter some of the pollutants out. Coal pollutes now but if anything goes catastrophically wrong (a la Chernobyl) an area can be radioactive for quite a while. 
   Side note: your comments were quite informative on the subject of Nuclear power vs. coal!

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #46 on: June 10, 2011, 06:31:39 pm »
All nuclear plants are expensive. Breeder plants even more so.

As for accidents, they will always happen, however they are much more rare than people believe. There being two major accidents in human history, Chernobyl and Fukishima. Only one has been really bad. The other took a tsunami to go critical. It was even designed to stand against a couple meter tall waves, but this was too big. And a key thing to note, both of these plants were actively cooled. Had they been passively cooled, you would not have had this situation. They could go without power and water for several weeks.

Churba

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #47 on: June 10, 2011, 06:41:20 pm »
All nuclear plants are expensive. Breeder plants even more so.
That's true, though over it's lifetime, a breeder reactor would be cheaper - the initial outlay is greater, but the overall running cost is not, mostly because they're like a giant Mr Fusion, you can chuck damned near anything in one, and it's going to run.

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #48 on: June 10, 2011, 06:53:27 pm »
I agree, but from a capitalist standpoint, something that gives revenue now is better. Also, nuclear reactors take longer time to build so you are getting no revenue back from it the time it takes to build.

I wish we got most of our power from them right now to be honest, but the way capitalism works, that is not going to happen. They must become cheaper first.

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #49 on: June 10, 2011, 07:03:32 pm »
I agree, but from a capitalist standpoint, something that gives revenue now is better. Also, nuclear reactors take longer time to build so you are getting no revenue back from it the time it takes to build.

I wish we got most of our power from them right now to be honest, but the way capitalism works, that is not going to happen. They must become cheaper first.
I disagree. With capitalism, profit is king, no matter if it's now or a little later. We LIKE an immediate payoff, but to expect things to be immediately profitable is foolish.

Also, I don't think it's capitalism that's keeping us back. It wouldn't matter if we lived in an Ayn Rand Wet dream, or total communism, it'd still be hard to get the reactors build, because when people hear nuclear, they think...Well, nothing. They don't think. They simply react with Arse-clenching fear and similar emotions, and will immediately reject the idea without thinking.

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #50 on: June 10, 2011, 07:25:45 pm »
Well, true, but with a capitalist society, it means people will stop buying from the ones who supply nuclear power. Making the other "cleaner" options better.

I'm not saying capitalism is holding us back. Just the sheer price of each reactor. To make a safe reactor will cost several times more than any other type of power plant. The initial cost is just way too great to be taken by a single company alone in most cases.

As for a communist society, it will probably be easier to get done as the state does have quite a lot of money to use. A lot of the more worthless things would not be produced if you built one instead.

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Re: Nature versus technology
« Reply #51 on: June 11, 2011, 07:16:25 am »
Getting of topic a bit but *shrug*

The other thing to remember is that the value of money goes down over time.  $100k for a house 10 years ago was fairly regular while $400k for a house is much closer to the value today.  But we also earn more and, through that, the governments get more money.  So Presume it costs $4billion to build a reactor today and its loaned money, that could be more like a $1billion dollar debt in a few years time.  The monetary value of electricity would have gone up as well.  So in 10 years time the government will be getting more money from the people and more money from the electricity the plant is selling so the loan is suddenly much less significant.

The real danger in the plants being more economical in the long run is the amount of time they need to run for them to pay off that economic benefit.  Fukishima was nearly 40 years old and the design is even older than that.  Technology and design have moved on from both it and Chernobyl but any plant which is built is likely to be kept running for 40 years or more.  Despite how quickly their initial cost can become insignificant, they'd still be quite expensive to dismantle and you won't be producing electricity to pay for something you've ripped down compared to something you've built.

The other problem you get is with provision to remote communities.  Nuclear power and power plants are great for dense city areas and tightly packed countries, but you get to a country like Australia, and sure its good for the major cities and probably a good bit of the coast.  However, electricity doesn't travel great distances too easily which is why a number of rural towns actually tend to run on diesel generators rather than one of the many coal power plants in the country.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2011, 07:19:50 am by charles »
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