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Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/19/2015 6:10 PM

"....in today's light water reactors, metal-clad uranium fuel rods are lowered into water in order to heat it and create steam to run the electric turbines. But the water eventually breaks down the metal cladding and then the rods must be replaced. The old rods become nuclear waste, which will remain radioactive for up to 100,000 years, and, under the current American system, must remain in storage for that period.

The genius of the Transatomic design is that, according to Mark's simulations, their reactor could make use of almost all of the energy remaining in the rods that have been removed from the old light water reactors, while producing almost no waste of their own-just 2.5 percent as much as produced by a typical light water reactor. If they built enough molten salt reactors, Transatomic could theoretically consume not just the roughly 70,000 metric tons of nuclear waste currently stored at U.S. nuclear plants, but also the additional 2,000 metric tons that are produced each year.

Like all molten salt reactors, the Transatomic design is extraordinarily safe as well. That is more important than ever after the terror inspired by the disaster that occurred at the Fukushima light water reactor plant in 2011.When the tsunami knocked out the power for the pumps that provided the water required for coolant, the Fukushima plant suffered a partial core meltdown. In a molten salt reactor, by contrast, no externally supplied coolant would be needed, making it what Transatomic calls "walk away safe." That means that, in the event of a power failure, no human intervention would be required; the reactor would essentially cool itself without water or pumps. With a loss of external electricity, the artificially chilled plug at the base of the reactor would melt, and the material in the core (salt and uranium fuel) would drain to a containment tank and cool within hours.".....

Full article.....good read

http://theenergycollective.com/joshfreed/2184016/back-future-advanced-nuclear-energy-and-battle-against-climate-change

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#1

Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Chang

01/19/2015 7:32 PM

Some of the power plants around the world, interesting reading.

Regards JD.

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#2

Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/19/2015 8:19 PM
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#3
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/19/2015 8:35 PM
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#8
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/20/2015 7:55 AM

The chart showing the cost of electricity per kwh is fascinating and surprising. I had no idea that nuclear is so cheap (and that decommissioning is so cheap) nor that solar is so expensive. And I don't understand why the 'production' cost of wind energy is so high. Does it cost a lot to maintain the generators and scrape the dead birds off the blades?

Considering how some countries, like China, desperately need fresh water, I wonder why they spend money on a space program instead of on a program to move fresh water from the Antarctic to China. Roughly 68% of the Earth's supply of fresh water is contained in Antarctica (~58%) and Greenland (~10%).

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#22
In reply to #8

Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/22/2015 11:03 AM

Wind and solar have higher costs of electric capacity construction per quantity of electric energy produced. It is this ratio you are actually looking at.

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#30
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/24/2015 10:23 AM

Figures can lie and liars can figure.

E. g., we are at the leading edge of nuclear decommissioning expense. I suspect that the data do not included real numbers for San Onofre and Vermont Yankee. Thorium cycle due to daughter species is significantly less efficient in using its radioactive basis than uranium species.

If the solar data is just two years old, it is easily 20 percent too high.

But, basically, I am too busy to mount a ground truthing on the various methods for second generation extraction of the tailings of nuclear waste. In the case of waste minimization (mass and radioactivity reduction), any system that achieves what Solar Eagle presents is worth the effort for full evaluation at working scale.

The end game of all things nuclear is not even a clear glimmer over the horizon. Military and civilian nuclear are inextricably connected at the hip. As Rickover said in the final decade of his life, "There is no way out, given all technologies for putting the genie back in the bottle".

What a terrible legacy for future generations.

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#31
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/24/2015 12:06 PM

Terrible or great, it is up to us, and the succeeding generations to decide what to do with the genie, and how to ask the correct wish, is it not? For the lovers, mankind will have his most glorious moment of providing a better, cleaner, safer, more healthy, and more inspired life than ever before, and it will be ours and the next generation of engineers who largely make that happen. Do not lose hope so easily, my friend.

On the contrary, the haters, those who despise freedom, who curtain liberty, equality, and fraternity of all mankind, these would turn the genie toward the destruction of all mankind, in that they despise their own lives possibly more than they do ours. But do not despair, hatred will have its moment, but love conquers all in the end. God is love, plain and simple. So go forth, live long, and prosper, and do well in following all the examples of nature, even knowing that perhaps nuclear particles "love" each other enough to hold a nucleus together.

To those who think they already know everything there is to know about nuclear energy, think again, we have yet begun to really see, even with the mass of knowledge already on the books. In the next ten years, great and mightly things will take place that ten years ago, no one could have predicted. Hang on, it is going to be a very exciting time to be alive!

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#25
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/22/2015 11:49 AM

Regarding emission: most people do not know that coal plants emit many tons of Th and U. I think it is 7 tons of Th and 5 tons of U per year per 1000 MWe. If a nuclear plant released this much it would have been shut down immediately.

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#27
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/22/2015 12:00 PM

Not to mention all the other nice elements in the periodic table. Did anyone forget to mention these elements are naturally occurring? I am sure that people who live anywhere the wind blows are also exposed to large amounts of Uranium and thorium in the breeze along with the sand. Let us not decide to storm the nearest coal plant just because of this.

Heck if there is as much as "people" make it seem, it would be boon to recover all this metal/fissile fuel, and do something with it.

By the way, do you have an approximate figure on this, or where I can get my hands on the abundance of these trace nuclear materials in coal? I have a project-related need to know on this. Anyone have ANY data on neutron flux from coal?

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#32
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/26/2015 4:39 PM

Anyone notice that the production cost for Natural Gas generation is very close to 4X the cost of using coal?

What happens once we become highly dependent on NG for electric power and they start jacking the price out of the roof? (Like they did in the 70's and 80's by creating false shortages?)

Adopting panic driven measures will cause increased direct cost to the "little guy" at the bottom of the food chain (us) as all energy cost pertaining to manufacturing, transportation, and/or any other business expense is passed on to the consumer.

What's wrong with cleaning up our existing low production cost coal fired units? Or building new cleaner operating units?

The cost to do this would be significantly less than converting to natural gas or solar and extremely cheaper than shutting all of them down.

Interesting that once upon a time in the past I worked for a utility company and had access to the "real" cost of power production at a coal fired facility.

The bottom line actual production cost at that facility at that time was only .3 cents per KWH higher than hydro generation cost out of the Northwest and it was extremely lower than our natural gas generation facilities costs.

The coal fired generation cost was so much lower than the NG units that the NG units were only used during emergencies and for very short periods of extreme high system load demand.

The cost levied on us as consumers in the very near future if there is not common sense applied to this dilemma, will financially overwhelm most of the working class population very quickly and bring our economy to a halt.

As for "global warming";

It is undeniable that the phenomenon is occurring.

The "root cause" is where the argument ensues.

We know and have proof that the earth constantly goes through heating and cooling cycles at random intervals.

We do not know for certain how much if any, we as humans are actually contributing to the heating or cooling cycles.

I am also sure that the countries that are growing in industrial development who are currently polluting significantly more than the US will not in any way entertain nor comply with reducing their pollution at the expense of their economy.

Therefore I am very sure we have time to react wisely but carefully to impressing better technology on polluting plants and other equipment rather than panic and do damage to our infrastructure that we cannot recover from and/or puts our nation insecure and unstable or bankrupt.

We have the technology, we have the intelligence, and we have the ability to accomplish any goal and overcome any/all challenges we face if we work together and do not allow fragmentation to occur.

I see absolutely no reason why we cannot refurbish and/or build new coal fired generating plants and bio-diesel equipment that do not pollute or present risk to our environment.

I also am of the opinion that we need to pursue and develop every low cost, safe method of energy generation no matter what the method but I am not in favor of financially burdening the working class people to the point of bankruptcy to do so.

Utility cost to the consumer is like automobile insurance that despite the age of the vehicle and the associated depreciation of vehicle net worth, the cost of the insurance does not go down.

Once the utility companies get the rate hikes to recover the cost of construction, the cost to the consumer will not go down unless mandated by law.

What the H$#@ happened to using the scientific method for proving a theory before it is published as fact?

Sorry all; Rant over.

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#33
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/26/2015 5:31 PM

Politicians (Al Gore as prime example) cannot be bothered with scientific reasoning. To them, it's "so what" if one glaring example of the actual, unfudged data not fitting in conveniently with their "theory" which is actually no better than a weak hypothesis.

Did you know they went back and "normalized" the 1930's data of mean global temperature, so that it would appear colder than it was? Did you know the temperature was actually higher then than it is now, and that now we are a fraction of a degree cooler than just a few years ago. There is no mechanism for CO2 to "trap heat" in the "upper" atmosphere, and not even methane can do that. All of these molecules can radiate infrared or microwave energies quite well. The "Climatologists" seem to believe they are the only personnel capable of discussing this issue, but what they present flies in the face of known energy transfer mechanisms.

Quite simply, it is the "king's new clothes" all over again, and he ain't pretty.

If power generation was based on the cost of production, then coal would totally dominate for the next 100-200 years.

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#39
In reply to #33

Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

02/17/2015 5:50 PM

I prefer the term "climastrologer" to climatologist.

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#41
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

02/18/2015 12:43 PM

Check! I like that word and will start using it in all anti-government rants.

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#34
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/26/2015 9:39 PM

It looks to me like you are not paying attention to the evidence that fast nuclear power is what the world needs. According to the estimates above, it is somewhat cheaper than coal, and a lot cheaper than some of the others. Besides that, fast nuclear is much kinder to the environment than the combustion processes, both coal and natural gas, for generating the electrical power that the whole world is hungry for.

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#35
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/27/2015 12:01 PM

Another factor in siting of any power generation plant is water availability, and extended outlook of water demand vs. supply in that general area. Case in point, most nuclear, and also big coal units require vast sums of water to be available as coolant. How many air-cooled plants of any type have you seen? Based on what I have been faced with here in Lubbock, I can see simple cycle gas turbines (of types that are considerably more efficient that those one or two generations prior) being sited in arid places like this, due to the growing population, increasingly tight supply of water, and issues with continual changes in permit restrictions having to do with wastewater.

Air-cooled is the wave of the future, but it is cumbersome at best. Water-glycol loops yes, but still cooled with air, and without evaporation are what is going to take over. This means a loss of some efficiency for any steam turbine associated with that, but if the thing is operated off "waste heat", then that might not be so bad.

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#36
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/28/2015 2:00 PM

Fast nuclear reactors don't need water for cooling. In fact don't want water in the core since it is a moderator. Thermal reactors use copious quantities of water, but not fast reactors.

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#37
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/28/2015 2:10 PM

Do they only generate hot gas to be expanded and then re-compressed at a lower temperature? Show me one instance of an actual turbine like that which actually re-cycles the operating fluid (an actual installation). Let's say the stipulation is that this plant is more than a test stand, and produces at least 10 MWe.

I know where one closed Brayton cycle is being built, but it is not up and running yet, or I would have heard something.

If the core heat eventually gets converted to steam to power a steam turbine, then water is being utilized (at least in the steam cycle). That is a Rankine cycle last time I checked, and it requires condensing low pressure steam (under a vacuum) back into condensate that can be pumped back around to collect heat once again.

There are only two ways to condense the steam: (1) use water either in an open-cycle evaporative system or once through system, or (2)use a water loop cooled by air only.

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#38
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/28/2015 3:44 PM

If the reactor thermal output is to a steam generator, then the steam turbine still requires some form of cooling, be it ultimately air, water, or air-water evaporation.

http://transatomicpower.com/white_papers/TAP_White_Paper.pdf

excerpt:

9

The basic TAP reactor design described in this report will benefit from future innovations in a number of different ways. Improvements to complementary technology will become commercially available over time. These technologies include high temperature ceramics such as SiC-SiC composites for heat exchangers and other reactor internals, which will allow us to increase the reactor's operating temperature and increase thermal efficiency. The helium sparging in the primary loop off-gas system may be replaced by more advanced cryogenic removal methods. Furthermore, we will likely be able to incorporate closed loop Brayton cycles or open loop air turbine cycles in the future.

That is the develpment I am referring to that still has not come to fruition. I am not saying this cannot or will not happen, as I believe it will. This will make affordable nuclear power available in sites that simply would not work a generation ago.

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#4

Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/19/2015 8:50 PM

The question is, how many? How long, how expensive.

"If they built enough molten salt reactors they could theoretically consume not just the roughly 70,000 metric tons,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,"

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#5
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/19/2015 9:03 PM

400, 20 years, cost is doable...

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#6
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/19/2015 9:51 PM

I'm fine with nuclear. I live 50 miles from the largest generating facility in the US.

It doesn't use river, lake or ground water for cooling.

It's just a question of acceptance, permitting and construction that are the problem.

I don't think 20 years............................................................

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#7
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/19/2015 11:37 PM

Well I think as time goes on, pressure will continue to grow about the nuclear question, what to do with the waste, and aging existing plants,, a decision will have to be made,,, and with global warming becoming more of an issue, our best shot at making maximum impact is to reduce fossil fuel(coal) use for electricity generation...so replacing our aging nuclear plants with next generation models, will be a win win situation, and continued construction of plants to meet increasing demand will naturally fall to nuclear, which can produce hydrogen directly from water, and desalination to meet continued fresh water demands....It's really , by far, the cheapest and most effective way to go...by addressing nuclear waste, CO2 reduction, fresh water, hydrogen, and electric...it's the answer to all the needs most pressing now and in the future...

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Non-Power-Nuclear-Applications/Industry/Nuclear-Desalination/

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Non-Power-Nuclear-Applications/Industry/Nuclear-Process-Heat-for-Industry/

http://www.cder.dz/A2H2/Medias/Download/Proc%20PDF/PARALLEL%20SESSIONS/[S04]%20Production%20-%20Thermochemical%20Cycles/13-06-06/352.pdf

http://thebulletin.org/nuclear-aging-not-so-graceful

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#26
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/22/2015 11:55 AM

We also need to remember that fast nuclear (thermal nuclear too, but that is undesirable) can be the heat source to replace the current coal and natural gas plants. That is, we do not have to scrap the infrastructure already existing to serve the coal generating plants--generators, substations, transmission lines, etc.

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#15
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/21/2015 10:49 AM

It uses waste water from Phoenix for cooling. I hope they have an emergency access to CAP water !

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#9

Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/20/2015 8:42 AM

Great read, thanks for posting that! I think this sums up it's near term future...

"On Capitol Hill, an unholy and unwitting alliance of right-wing climate deniers, small-government radicals, and liberal anti-nuclear advocates have joined together to keep nuclear lab budgets small. And since even naming a post office constitutes a huge challenge for this broken Congress, moving forward with the funding and regulation of a complex new technology seems well beyond its capabilities at the moment."

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#10
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/20/2015 9:04 AM

Moving forward with anything productive is well beyond their capabilities.

They only respond to bribes, and the next election cycle.

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#11
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/20/2015 4:49 PM

The quote from the article writer (Josh Freed) that you show in italics...

On Capitol Hill, an unholy and unwitting alliance of right-wing climate deniers, small-government radicals, and liberal anti-nuclear advocates have joined together to keep nuclear lab budgets small. And since even naming a post office constitutes a huge challenge for this broken Congress, moving forward with the funding and regulation of a complex new technology seems well beyond its capabilities at the moment."

... is simply not true and reflects either his political bias or the bias of the people he interviewed. In fact the budget for nuclear energy has expanded over recent years. Here is a chart from the DOE of their budget from the years 1977 - 2015 showing the spending within each sector DOE manages. Even after the Republicans took control of Congress in 2011 the nuclear budget remained large compared to the years 1997 - 2006.

It seems to me the writer just wanted to take a cheap shot at political groups he doesn't like.

The chart is via the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

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#12
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/20/2015 7:35 PM

Are you serious? Look at it next to the NNSA,,,a dept that is a relic of the cold war, that nobody has hardly even heard of....and they only get about $4bil....the two dept's should switch budgets....

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#13
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/21/2015 8:12 AM

Look closely and you'll see the 2014 budget for nuclear is 6 times what it was in 2007. That's a 500% increase, in constant 2014 dollars. Everyone seems to think government can fix problems just by throwing money at them, but there is a practical limit to how much money can be meaningfully spent (vs just wasted) on a problem within a reasonable schedule. (Hello, Solyndra...)

The writer claimed the nuclear budget has been shrinking, but in fact it has expanded dramatically.

That doesn't include money spent on nuclear programs under other categories such as the general Office of Science R&D.

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#14
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/21/2015 10:20 AM

I don't believe that the NNSA is involved in research for the development of power plants... which is what's needed here.

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#16
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/21/2015 5:48 PM

Rather than guessing what the activities of the NNSA are, a bit of googling will show exactly what they do.

Yes they are involved in some nuclear research.

And it not just "a relic of the cold war, that nobody has hardly even heard of".

Gee, with a bit of googling you can actually see what it does with its money:

http://nnsa.energy.gov/aboutus/budget

Everyone thinks their pet program ought to be getting more money - and that money for other guy's program is equivalent to subsidizing a buggy whip factory. As I pointed out above, nuclear research is getting more money these days not less. The author's comment contrary to the truth added a wrong and unnecessary sour grapes ending to an otherwise interesting article.

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#17
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/21/2015 5:59 PM

Would you have us believe that Congress was not, is not, and will not be in the future a group of childish, selfish and dysfunctional do-nothings who are more interested in self preservation than anything else?

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#19
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/21/2015 6:12 PM

I didn't say that, I'm not saying that now, and I would never in the future say that.

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#21
In reply to #16

Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/21/2015 6:33 PM

I didn't have to Google them...I know what they do and do not do.

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#23
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/22/2015 11:16 AM

Just because a government agency has an increasing budget (or an increasing budget category) does not mean anything with respect to anything productive. "Government is not the solution, it is the problem!"-Ron Reagan.

As to climate change, that is "The King's New Clothes", and it is not a pretty sight to see "The King" in such an embarrassing condition.

The BIG LIE is that so-called "Human Caused Climate Change" even exists. There is far too much emotion, too much pseudo-science, and outright falsifying of data to make this anything relevant to the survival of civilization, unless we eventually have war over it, but there again, mon amis, war has never needed such a grand excuse.

For a thing to be science the basic premise of the hypothesis must be true, and for the hypothesis to be true, there can never be even one contradictory substantiated observation, much less a complete set of observations that is utterly contradictory to the hypothesis.

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#28
In reply to #13

Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/22/2015 12:05 PM

I see that the numerical amount of the budget for nuclear has expanded, what I haven't tried to figure out is what percent it is of the total. I'm suspecting that is why he is saying "shrinkage." (I printed the article to read later.)

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#29
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/22/2015 2:44 PM

That is political speak for "we still ain't gonna do anything about anything", but we are going to tax the dog poo out of the little guy, the middle guy, and the big guy, hell we would even tax God if we knew how to get Him to file a 1040.

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#18

Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/21/2015 6:10 PM

Another version of the molten salt reactor was discussed in this TED talk a few years ago:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2vzotsvvk

A number of investors such as Bill Gates are putting money in research into this.

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#20

Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/21/2015 6:16 PM

Yep this is good stuff, and it will be useful even if Nuclear fusion gets up and running (soon we hope). I have been learning some interesting things about certain nuclear reactions of late, that I never ever thought might work before, but it does appear likely.

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#24

Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

01/22/2015 11:43 AM

Looks like I'm coming into this discussion late. From what I have learned, almost all fast nuclear reactors have many of the same features: much, much safer; less volume of waste; shorter radioactivity in the waste; will use as fuel current reactor waste as well as U-238 and Th; not highly pressurized like water moderated thermal reactors; etc. I prefer the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) but realize I need to know more about the other types of fast reactor: molten salt, pebble bed, thorium, etc. Do you have sources to learn about those, the technology not just the selling points?

However, I thought the burn-up limit of the thermal reactors was due to the loss of reactivity because of buildup of fission products instead of degradation of the cladding.

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#40
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Re: Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

02/18/2015 12:42 PM

There may be a combination effect in the PWR/light water reactor where neutron poisons (fission by-products) pile up within the cladding and start parasiting all the neutron flux to the point that control rod cannot be withdrawn any further. There are other reactor designs (I presume some of the fast-breeder reactors) where the rod has to be inserted further over time to maintain control over criticality.

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