Nuclear Power

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Salty, Apr 20, 2003.

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  1. Persol I am the great and mighty Zo. Registered Senior Member

    Situation 1 (far-fetched): Pipe breaks, gas is still flowing right until the break. Inert gas flows out, and air flows in. When the system reaches 1600°C (which would admittedly take awhile: days/weeks?) the coating starts to degrade. It should be fairly easy for them to limit the amount of flow after a break though.

    Situation 2 (More likely): By either an act of terrorism, or some other accident, the containment vessel is ruptured a exposed to a fire. Basically you can crash a jetliner into a nuclear plant and still have a good chance at containment. A large truck bomb could take this out.
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  3. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    They already explained that the silicon carbide coating does not degrade tell it reaches temps of 2000°C. The other situation those is a problem. Of course we could put containment dome around it but that would increase the price 10-fold.
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  5. Azathoth Registered Senior Member

    Russia is keeping nuclear reactor development alive. I'm not sure this is so great. They have the worst record for safety and environmental concern but Chernobyl taught them a lot. Recently they began building floating reactors for selling internationally.
    There are some revolutionary new concepts for reactors which are incredibly safe. One I know of uses a cyclotron and can be switched on and off easily. Trouble is that its too expensive to scrap all the existing plants and build new largely untested designs. Unless the US keeps pursuing its new plants policy we are unlikely to see anything different emerge. One plant has passed its 60th birthday. Many are over 40 years old and have had their licenses extended to 50 years. The main reason they are so costly is that waste isn't recycled. Originally it was planned to recycle all waste. Getting rid of it which would save on storage costs and increasing production by renewing the fuel over and over almost indefinately. By now the technology would have become very efficient indeed. Its ironic that bloody so called "environmentalists" are ripping their hair out and complaining about the waste problem THEY created.
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  7. Gifted World Wanderer Registered Senior Member

    I believe the main concern with recycling the waste was terrorists hijacking a shipment and using the plutonium to build a bomb.
  8. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member


    It would be very difficult to separate the waste from a pebble bed reactor pebble, also these reactors are much more efficient and much less fissionables are left over.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2003
  9. Salty Registered Senior Member

    How much waste is thier and where does it go?
  10. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member


    About a truck load of used pebbles a year, or under 1ton of actual radioactive waste. In the pebble bed reactor the waste will be stored on site tell the reactor is closed after its 40 year life span. After that a place is needed to store it for at least 300,000 years until most of the waste as fissiled. The silicon carbide coating on the pebbles will last for 1 million years so the waste is already pre-stored all that is needed is a place to barrier them
  11. Azathoth Registered Senior Member

    Thats the dumb reason for Jimmy Carter signing off on a halt to recycling. The dumbass. Almost killed the nuclear industry in one pen stroke. Thank god it kept going or we would be choking from even more coal smoke than we are already. Probably 20% more atleast. One in four kids now have asthma as it is. Those idiot greens pressured him into signing.
    So instead of recycling waste and paying guards with guns to protect the plants and shoot terrorists we now drive tons of waste all around the country or ferry it overseas before finally burying it. All of which is incredibly expensive and drives up the cost of nuclear power to ludicrous heights. Thanks a lot you jerkoff greens. Recycling would have meant more energy for any weight of fuel as it is perpetually recycled and no storage. Cheap electricity.
    As far as I know NO nuclear missiles have ever been stolen. Security issues should be handed over to security experts. Station military guards at nuclear bases. Security issues are not a sane argument against clean cheap electricity production. Thats like closing reservoirs and forcing everyone to buy rainwater tanks because terrorists MIGHT pour arsenic into our water supply.
  12. Emfuser Registered Senior Member

    The major hurdle in getting nuclear power plants built in the USA is the lowest common denominator ignorance and attitude of the American public. Thanks to our wonderful media, sub-standard educational system, and noisy misinformed liberals, people in this country have gotten to the point where they want everything handed to them on a silver platter and NO RISK WHATSOEVER.

    That last point is the real killer. Nuclear power has risks. No matter how well the safety systems are designed, how many redundancies there are, or how good of a safety culture the plant has, nuclear power still has that tiny tiny tiny catastrophic potential that John and Jane Public can't handle any more.

    On the subject of nuclear waste, you once again have the scientific geniuses of left leaning politics to thank for that one. We could produce energy for less, drastically reduce the amount of nuclear waste, and eliminate potential bomb making material if we could recycle our waste.

    FYI, pebble bed reactor designs that work do exist. There are a few running over in South Africa with more in development. I'd like to see them here since they're better in many ways than the light water cooled and moderated designs.
  13. aghart Registered Senior Member

    I'm old enough to remember the claims of unlimited, and ( this is the important bit) 'CHEAP' electricity when the expansion of the UK nuclear sector was announced in the late 1960's. Problem was that they did not take the decommisioning costs into consideration. In the 1980's if the UK coal industry had had the same level of subsidy that was given to the nuclear sector they could have given the coal away for free and still made a profit. The UK's first generation reactors are all due to be closed in the next 10 years and the cost is going to be massive.

    It may be OK and I could be persuaded if it is in public control, but I not trust any private company anywhere in the world to spend the money required to maintain safety standards when profit and reducing costs is the only real priority in our business dominated world. Lets go down the renewable energy road first eh.

    By the way 'somewhere in Scotland' is a nice line of decommisioned Royal Navy nuclear powered submarines still with reactors, and no one has the slightest idea what we are going to do with the reactor's for the next 170,000 years.

    Mind you the Iraqi desert is a big place to lose things, mmmm, Would 6 submarines be noticed amongst the Depleted Uranium shells that every one is getting worked up about. I wonder?
  14. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member


    The really sad part is that coal and oil power is killing us more then any nuclear power plant would! Did you know a 500MW coal power plant spews 11tons of Uranium into that atmosphere every year??? That more nuclear waste release by just one coal power plant then has every been released by all the worlds nuclear power plants!
  15. Carnuth i dont Registered Senior Member

    wooT! i just wrote a huge paper on why we Nukes are good! here it is, this is only the rough draft, but i got my sources if you need them =) I got an "a" btw its a bit long, but if you skim through, it covers most if not all, and more!, aspects of what was discussed.

    The Future of Atomic Power

    Two decades after the worst nuclear disaster in history at Chernobyl

    in what is now the Ukraine, the world still lives in fear beneath the monstrous

    behemoths of tell-tale cooling towers which have become associated with the plants.

    Nuclear plants have been presented in many ways via the media, from the shoddy,

    run down Springfield Nuclear Powerplant in the legendary Fox cartoon The Simpsons

    to upgraded security checks at the San Onofre Plant in the evening news, they portray

    the fear that the word "nuclear" comes with. Dr. Robert L. Dupont, a nationally known
    psychiatrist with much experience in the media, points out, "If all you have to know
    about the automobile is that you can get killed by it, then you do away with the
    automobile. Or,if all you have to know about the airplane is that it can crash and kill you
    and that once you are on the plane there is nothing you can do to protect yourself, you
    would not go up in the air. If all you had to know about food is that you can get fat and
    have diabetes and heart attacks, you would, I suppose, do away with food. This is a
    very strange way to look at any issue. You can understand how absurd this position is
    if you think about water instead of nuclear energy. I can see the television picture
    closing in on a swimming pool, and the voice-over saying, "Do you realize that there is
    enough water in this pool to drown 100,000 people?" It is true, and it is the kind of
    statement we often hear today about nuclear energy. All these statements magnify our
    fears and remove meaningful perspective. This is a powerful technique of persuasion."

    Regardless of public opinion, cynical critics, and media disparagement,

    nuclear power has proven itself as a resilient form of power production, unrivaled

    by any other, yet the benefits downplayed due to fears of radioactivity. With no

    new plants built since the 1970's, these reliable energy producers are not given the

    credit they deserve for supplying the nation with clean power without an incident for

    over three decades.

    Constant outcries from the public, as well as private groups such as

    Greenpeace, have wrongly presented nuclear power plants as a dangerous and

    harmful source of electricity, prone to frequent meltdowns. At the end of World War 2,

    the United States and Soviet Union became rivals over Europe. That rivalry became

    more heated when the Soviet Union detonated it's first nuclear bomb in 1949

    (Bahr), causing an uproar among the American public and government, who had

    seen the horrible pictures and stories from Hiroshima. Since 1949, "the Bomb" has

    been associated with nuclear power as the word "nuclear" brings about visions of

    destruction. As bomb after bomb rolled off the assembly line, reaching an

    approximate total of 30,000 warheads (IAE) on both sides, scientists

    experimented with new varieties, increasing both explosive power and radiation yield

    of their mass produced weapons of mass destruction. While the Soviets built extensive

    underground shelters, the American goverment embarked on a program of "civil

    defense", most notably in their endorsement of so called "duck and cover" drills and

    other inadequate means of protection, resolving that in an all out nuclear war, there

    would be no winners.

    Those years and two noteable accidents would lead the American public to fear

    the sight of the dreaded reactors. Previous accidents have instilled much fear in the

    public, though progress has been made in safety and engineering. Through trial and

    error, mistakes made are easily rectified through new safety precautions. These

    modification of regulatory procedure have been in place since the Three Mile Island

    incident and as of today there have been no further problems(Lilienthal). New methods

    safer than pre-existing reactor designs are in their final stages, and improved

    construction and material along with more experience will make future nuclear plants in

    the United States, if built, the safest in the world.

    With cancer leading death rates in the United States behind heart disease, fear

    of carcinogenic radiation is the main fear from opponents of nuclear power. Little

    realize however, that in everyday life, more radiation is absorbed than was exposed

    during the Three Mile Island incident(Adams). Radiation is measured in "rads." The

    average amount of "rads" abosrbed in a year in the U.S. vary by person, place, and

    location, but an average amount is obtaineable. From gamma rays found in rocks, 28

    rads are absorbed yearly, from food and drink we absorb 39 rads, from medical

    procedures we take in 53, from cosmic radiation(ultraviolet) we are exposed to 27 rads,

    from radon 200 rads, reaching a total of 347 rads(Adams). From miscellaneous

    sources, Chernobyl fallout (worldwide average exposure), nuclear powerplants, and

    occupational exposure, we obtain a grand total of 10.01 on average (Adams).

    The sheer numbers of rad's of radiation absorbed in normal life is monumental

    compared with the risk of living next door to a nuclear powerplant power plant.

    The key components of a succesful electrical generating plant : reliability,

    safety, economics, power, and efficiency, are all superior in a nuclear facility than to

    that of a conventional non-nuclear source. The environment is harmed much more by

    conventional power plants than the nuclear variety. Nuclear waste is much reduced in

    volume than the sludge, air pollution, and toxic waste that eminates from the

    smokestacks of fossil fuel burning generators. From nuclear plants, clean steam is the

    only by-product released into the environment. The toxic waste, air pollution, and

    sludge released by fossil burning power plants contains mercury, lead, and other

    dangerous chemicals easily absorbed into the water table as well as the

    environment (Adams). In total volume of waste, there are 2,000 tons of nuclear waste

    produced annually, compared with 100,000,000 tons of ash and sludge from coal, and

    36,000,000 tons of hazardous waste from American industries (Adams). Spent

    nuclear fuel can be safely stored for hundreds of years in a solid state, not easily

    damageable orable to leak into its surroundings by cementing the waste within

    concrete and embedding it within stable mountains, such as Yucca Mountain in

    Nevada, for hundreds of years. Contrary to public belief, nuclear fuel can be recycled

    almost entirely into new fuel, however, the new fuel produced can be used to make

    nuclear weapons, instilling fear within the government to forbid the recycling of spent

    atomic fuel leaving but one option: storage, a simple option, for in fact, all the high level

    waste produced over the past thirty years can fit onto a single football field stacked one

    layer thick of properly sealed containers(EPA).

    Nuclear power plants are more economical than conventional plants.

    Compared with other "clean" energy sources such as geothermal, wind, and solar,

    the sheer efficiency and reliability is wholly unmatched. The energy produced from one

    nuclear powerplant is about 1,500 megawatts on average(Cozic). A wind turbine

    generates 50 MW on a windy day, meaning you need to build and maintain about 100

    wind generators at medium capacity to provide a city with the same amount of energy

    as that single plant. Unlike fossil fuel power plants, nuclear fuel is spent slowly

    compared to burning coal which must be replaced daily and which generate enourmous

    amounts of waste per day, approximately 1,500 tons(3,000,000 pounds) of coal ash

    hauled away in 33 large freight cars(Adams). Unlike coal and oil, Uranium is in very

    short supply, but alternate sources such as using existing stockpiles from nuclear

    weapons and using "breeder" reactors which actually create more fuel than they use,

    can prolong the life of nuclear reactors for many hundreds of years. The warheads in

    nuclear weapons provide enough weapons grade fuel to provide energy for 2.26

    billion days, or about 6 million years(Adams). The raw materials needed to power a

    nuclear plant is far short of the quantity combusted in fossil plants, though the

    availeability lowers the cost of coal to make it more economically feasible as the

    country's dirty, yet most abundant source of energy.

    Nuclear energy is unrivaled in its reliability versus every type of existant

    energy source. The average capacity exhibited by nuclear plants are usually at

    seventy-five percent, which is equivelant to every other source of electricity. In fact, in a

    recent five year survey by the Utility Data Institute, five of the top twenty five electrical

    power plants in the country are heated by uranium fuel, though there are much more

    non-uranium power plants than nuclear plants. Other "clean" energy sources are

    dependant on the sun, wind, or unreliable mechanical parts in geothermal plants,

    electrical generators which harness the internal heat of the earth, which must be

    changed often. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission regularly shuts down reactors for

    thourough checkups and yet capacity still remains high despite those shutdowns.

    Ignorance and fear play a key part in the declining usage of nuclear power,

    brought about through years of ignorance. The Cold War era accidents at

    Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, much progress has been made. A proper review

    of safety precautions, or lack of, exhibited during the previous accidents have

    taught technicians a lesson in safety and given the world experience in what not to

    do. What happened at Three Mile Island can be summed up as mechanical failure,

    a simple problem of gauges incorrectly reading the water level(PBS). With

    technicians believing the water level is normal, they do not realize the core is

    overheating from the lack of water, so they do not release any further water to

    cool the reactor. At Chernobyl, the problem was much more complicated. Soviet

    technicians were about to do a test on one of the reactors, foolishly shutting down

    safety procedures resulting in a chain of events which in the end became

    uncontrollable. Further accidents involving nuclear plants have not occured, because

    scientists and nuclear safety technicians have learned much about how to avoid the

    ciritcal decisions made in 1979 and 1986. This should be viewed as evidence in the

    newfound safety and reliability found in todays methods of regulatin the nuclear industry.

    Since September 11, apparent terrorist threats toward nuclear power plants

    have caused widespread fear among the public. This fear is the product of the

    media showing the devastation presented from large airliners crashing into

    buildings.However, the buildings were un-armored commercial structures,

    designed to be flexible and lightweight in the wind. The core of a nuclear reactor

    is pre-stressed to increase its potential for stress. Engineers argue that the

    reactor shell could easily withstand the impact from a 747 Jumbo Jet, the

    largest commercial plane in the world. Infilitrations of power plants is practically

    impossible from a logical stand point as the security forces of power plants are now

    on alert. Regarding hijacking, the new doors in cockpits render the pilots invincible

    from small arms and any availeable weapon found aboard or able to be smuggled

    aboard an airliner.

    Regarding the nuclear industry, the public is largely ignorant aside from the

    negative impacts. Most publicity of power plants have been negative, brought to

    attention via some type of incident or accident involving the plant. Generalized

    information from anti-nuclear propagandists spout misinformation and ignorance

    spread by opponents too happy to spread lies and disparage the energy source.

    Lastly, most knowledge regarding nuclear power plants are from the 1970's and 80's,

    the last time new plants were proposed but not built.

    In the long run, nuclear power has offered overwhelming benefits with relatively

    low risks. The newest form of commercial electricity, nuclear energy used as a

    power source dates back to post-WW2, where the options for civilian uses for

    nuclear powers first began to be explored. During the 1950's, the nuclear age

    was ushered in with the birth of the Cold War and the ensuing nuclear arms race.

    However, with the demise of the Cold War, nuclear energy and nuclear weapons

    have become more distant from everyday life, thought to be a remnant from days

    long past. With no new plants being contructed or proposed, these ill-portrayed

    power plants may someday be just another relic of the Cold War.
  16. shutupandshave Registered Member

    Nice - shame you handed it in already - this comment would have been a good addition "Did you know a 500MW coal power plant spews 11tons of Uranium into that atmosphere every year??? That more nuclear waste release by just one coal power plant then has every been released by all the worlds nuclear power plants!"
  17. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    Good Job!

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    Here are some minor corrections I advice:

    -you measurements are in milli-rads (1/1000 of a rad) not rads. Yearly rad exposure is .3-.4rads at sea level.

    -You should mention how coal power plants in one year pump out more radioactive waste then all the nuclear power plants have in history! go here for more info:

    If your going to quote me put in it brackets and say at the bottom "All hail the great fetus!"

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    Last edited: May 12, 2003
  18. Carnuth i dont Registered Senior Member

    oi, thanks for the corrections, wish i could have fixed that before i handed it in =\ And thanks for reading it =) Maybe next time i have a paper to write ill run it through Sci-forums and cite sources such as (Fetus)

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  19. shutupandshave Registered Member

    If you're going to use my name, the please speak to my lawyers, my wife, my children, my parents, my uncles and aunts, and your local police department, to obtain permission.

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  20. morningsideqld Registered Member

    Not true

    WellCookedFetus wrote:
    "-You should mention how coal power plants in one year pump out more radioactive waste then all the nuclear power plants have in history! "

    This is absolutely untrue. The opposite is true by orders of magnitude.

    Both coal combustion and atomic power have large negatives. However, lower comparative radioactive emissions are not a factor in favor of atomic power.

    BTW - I think you intended to say radioactive environmental "EMISSIONS" (which was the topic of the Oak Ridge essay you linked), rather than radioactive "waste".
    Obviously, an atomic reactor produces infinitely greater radioactive wastes than coal burning.
    The US reactor fleet produces FAR in excess of 10,000,000,000,000 millicuries of radioactive wastes EACH YEAR, dwarfing coal off the radar screen.

    But, as I said previously, just comparing EMISSIONS, as in the article, atomic power still is greater by huge margins.
  21. nebulae6 Registered Member

    I agree with what someone else said about people fearing the word "nuclear". There is reasoning behind that fear, though. Humans are lazy. Even if you have the best trained staff running the plant, there is still room for error. I'm pretty sure it was the people running the plant at Chernobyl who were responsible for the accident. Their cooling system alarm was going on but they just ignored it because it had been giving them a lot of false alarms lately. So it was partly the faulty equiptment, but it was also partly human error.

    No one would want to take that chance by building plants across America. Unfortunately, it's probably likely that we'll be getting energy from nuclear fusion before the US turns to building more nuclear power plants.

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  22. Carnuth i dont Registered Senior Member

    Re: Not true

    coal plants Burn Uranium, it exists naturally in coal in miniscule amounts, but the sheer tonnage of coal burned daily puts out far more uranium/radioactive emissions into the atmosphere.
    Nuke plants DO NOT let out radioactive emissions. They have radioactive waste sure, but that is safely containeable...

    "all the high level waste produced over the past thirty years can fit onto a single football field stacked one layer thick of properly sealed containers(EPA)."

    low level waste is easily manageable but since the government is scared it will be stolen to make nuclear weapons, they are overwhelming the Nuke plants storage system. The big fuss about storage is that until yucca mountain, no real place was set aside to store all that, so I expect to hear the hubbub die down.

    But lets be clear about this, Nuke Plants by themselves do not release radioactive emissions into the atmosphere, nor do they produce the Hundreds of Thousands of Tons of Ash, Lead, Mercury, and other toxic substances into the air and water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year....

    hey nebulae that was me

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  23. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    ... What Carnuth said, morningsideqld,

    Lets look at this way: which release more radioactive "material" into the environment, COAL!!! Which release more radiation (unshielded or absorbed, indirectly) COAL!!! Which one cause more cancer and disease world wide… COAL!!!
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