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Power Science

The Nuclear Power Renaissance 927

Posted by samzenpus
from the fire-breathing-lizards-soon-to-follow dept.
Actual Reality writes "It is ironic to me that much of the same sentiment that thwarted the nuclear power industry back in the 80's is partially responsible for reviving it. Nuclear power is very clean compared to any power source that burns fuel. The US has missed several advancements in nuclear technology. We can only hope that environmental concerns will not again stifle our progress."
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The Nuclear Power Renaissance

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  • Cost (Score:5, Informative)

    by Graham Clark (11925) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @09:03PM (#21357493)
    I don't know in detail about the US situation, but in the UK what killed nuclear power was not environmental concerns but the cost. When the government privatised the nuclear power stations they had to finally admit what had until then been denied - that it was the most expensive form of generation then in widespread use. It's possible this has changed, but the dearth of new builds despite apparent government sympathy leads me to believe that it probably hasn't.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @09:07PM (#21357545)
    The Greenpeace info site on the nuclear reactor now under construction in Olkiluoto, Finland:

    http://www.olkiluoto.info/en/ [olkiluoto.info]

    Plenty of scandals.
  • Re:Cost (Score:5, Informative)

    by merreborn (853723) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @09:18PM (#21357659) Journal

    it was the most expensive form of generation then in widespread use


    According to CBS/60 minutes [cbsnews.com]:

    Because nuclear plants emit no greenhouse gases, France has the cleanest air in the industrialized world, and because the price of oil is now around $60 a barrel, it has the lowest electric bills in Europe. In fact, France has so much cheap electricity, it exports it to its European neighbors. French nuclear plants supply power to parts of Germany, Italy and help light the city of London.
    ...So, the UK is importing nuclear power from France. I think that's a pretty clear indicator that nuclear power is currently fairly competitively priced.
  • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @09:31PM (#21357861) Journal
    Clean in this case means that if stored properly, the actual "dirty" parts never comes into contact with the environment in such a way that would cause any harm or measurable effect. If it were standard operating procedure to just vent the radioactive waste into the air then you could call it dirty. And that's exactly what coal fired plants do, btw [wikipedia.org].
  • by thermopile (571680) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @09:37PM (#21357923) Homepage
    While your attempt to shield the poor from rising costs of energy is laudable, I submit that basic economics says it won't happen that way. The only way nuclear is going to gain a strong foothold in the market is if the price of coal goes up. Currently, the production of power from coal is about 4 cents per kilowatt-hour. The production of nuclear, including and amortizing the cost of construction over the next 10 years, is approximately twice that. Coal is not going to get more expensive until cap-and-trade economics (or just a flat-out CO2 tax) are introduced into the market. (The aforementioned numbers are based on speeches given two days ago by John Sununu [jhsassociates.com] at the American Nuclear Society's [ans.org] winter meeting, a man for whom I have a lot more respect now that I've heard him speak. Did anyone else know he has a PhD in MechE from MIT?)

    Secondly, reprocessing. The US's main focus for reprocessing is wrapped up in the Bush Administration's Global Nuclear Energy Partnership [energy.gov] (GNEP). This is a freaking scam, and the National Academy of Sciences [fas.org] backs me up. Basically, the types of reactors envisioned require materials science that just isn't there yet, requires funding that just isn't there yet, and requires an infrastructure that Just Isn't There Yet.

    The solution is to turn Yucca Mountain [doe.gov] into a medium-term repository. Bury it, safely, for 100 to 200 years, let the exceptionally hot stuff decay away, and I'm pretty darned sure civilization will be able to find some use for the energy stored in there in 100 years. But until then, let the technology mature. The commercial industry (and, by extension, every person in the U.S. who pays for electricity) has been paying into the Yucca fund for too long not to see any return on that investment.

    Oh, one more snarky comment. Please provide support via links for your assertions; it's not hard. I would like to see evidence that after 30 years, the spent fuel coming out of a burner like envisioned for GNEP is actually less radioactive than the original ore.

  • by john.r.strohm (586791) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @10:07PM (#21358217)
    No, not necessarily.

    You balance the construction cost in year zero with the cost of fuel in the out years.

    If your nuke plant costs four times as much to build, initially, but, over the life of the plant, it saves twenty times as much in fuel costs (numbers pulled at random out of poster's butt), you have saved a whole bundle of money by buying the more expensive plant.

    Also, entirely too much of the cost of building nuclear power plants has been fighting totally frivolous bullcrap from enviro-whackos who wouldn't know what a void coefficient was if it tore their leg off.
  • by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @10:08PM (#21358227)
    However, natural gas (mostly methane, CH4) has the highest hydrogen to carbon ratio of any fossil fuel. That makes it produce less CO2 per unit energy than any fossil fuel.

    Anything else has more C-C bonds and so cannot have as high of a ratio.

    Disclaimer: I don't have my chemistry books handy or could make sure the above is compltely true. If I remember correctly, it is. YMMV...
  • It's been done. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Grendel Drago (41496) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @10:15PM (#21358297) Homepage
    The Integral Fast Reactor [wikipedia.org] produces a comparatively small amount of waste (the designers guess estimate than a ton per gigawatt of power per year), and the waste itself is no more radioactive than uranium ore after about two hundred years (as opposed to thousands or millions of years).

    After the project was nearly ready for production, it was torpedoed largely by John Kerry and Hazel O'Leary. This wasn't a partisan thing; two of the biggest backers were Richard Durbin and Carol Moseley Braun. It's one of the biggest wallbangers in political history that I can think of. I am at a loss as to why anyone is considering building a reactor on any other design.
  • It doesn't have to. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Grendel Drago (41496) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @10:24PM (#21358405) Homepage
    There are designs which don't produce long-lived waste [berkeley.edu]. Our lovely government just happened to can the project before it was completed.
  • by Firethorn (177587) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @10:24PM (#21358411) Homepage Journal
    Putting them away from population centers wastes a lot of energy in the transmission lines and also gives people a false sense of security where they won't press for answers or safety. The Enrico Fermi reactor that melted would have contaminated the whole northeast corridor. Too many don't realize that and think setting them 50 or 100 miles away makes them safe. It doesn't.

    This made me think of another point. Any such plant like this creates about 2 units of heat for every unit of electricity.

    While you can't get this up to 100% obviously, you can collocate various industries that need heat - such as ethanol plants*. Heck, run steam pipes to various buildings to provide heat. Ammonia refrigeration [nh3tech.org] using heat is a known technology, so it can even provide AC.

    Even if you end up selling the heat ridiculously cheap prices - it's currently going up the evaporation cooling tower. Just like how a number of pollution products collected by scrubbers are actually valuable materials.

    An ethanol plant getting cheap heat from a nuclear plant for it's processes would help lower the cost of the nuclear power(more money to pay off the building loan quicker) as well as lower the cost for the ethanol(cheaper to produce).

    You're getting up to, at minimum, a large town to provide all the workers in the two(or more) plants, as well as all the support workers for them. People like doctors, teachers, waiters, accountants, police, etc...

    *Many of which are currently coal or gas fired.
  • by 8tim8 (623968) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @10:30PM (#21358479) Journal
    How plentiful is Uranium for nuclear power?

    This link [moneyweek.com] is a pretty good read for that information. Current price of uranium is nowhere near the historic inflation-adjusted high ($75/pound versus $145/pound). However, the author gives some very good information on why the price will be skyrocketing soon:

    -there's a gap between production and consumption that's currently being closed by using stockpiles, i.e. old Russian nukes. Once those are used up, that gap opens up again.
    -there are many nuclear power plants coming online in the next decade or so. 28 are currently under construction, over 100 more in the next decade.
    -at current rates of demand, we'll need 900 new nuclear plants by 2050 to keep up.

    In short, it's plentiful now, but it won't be soon.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @10:34PM (#21358517)
    I have sat here reading so many posts from the usual mountain of slashdot experts about how nuclear is clean, cheap or the only way to go but they all over look the one big insurmountable problem. It is not the tail end waste that is the major problem in nuclear, it is the lead up waste from the refinement process

    2 words....

    Uranium Hexaflouride ( go on google it )

    9 tonnes of Uranium Hexaflouride is produced for every tonne of usable uranium fuel. It is highly corrosive, breaks down on contact with dihydrogen oxide to form UO2F2 (uranyl fluoride) and HF (hydrogen fluoride) both toxic and has a half life in the range of 4.5 Billion years.

    The current method of storage is above ground in steel containers that have a life of only decades and as a result they need to be constantly inspected, repainted and replaced. An expensive option that must be maintained until the uranium threat has gone, and you are still left with the hexaflouride part.

    The alternative options for storage all require high energy processes to extract the flouride.

    As I said, forgetting about the environmental impacts of nuclear power there are serious issues with the energy and cost calculations that have been touted by nuclear proponents.
  • Do you realize that the reactor core at Chernobyl was moderated with GRAPHITE? Graphite burns in air. THAT is why the radiation release was so catastropic there. US reactors are all water-moderated, not graphite-moderate, so they are inherently safer and the potential for a radiation release on that scale is much less. FURTHERMORE, Cernobyl didn't have a giant concrete western-style containment vessel over the entire place. And do you realize that US's WORST commercial nuclear accident is estimated to have killed *one* person?

    The nuclear waste sites you mention are all, or almost all due to nuclear weapon manufacture, NOT commercial nuclear power.

    Nuclear waste IS an issue, but it is much LESS of an issue than the *billions of tons* of toxic ash, and carbon dioxide produced by coal power, which you advocate using (not to mention lesser amounts of other nasty pollutants such as mercury, sulfur and the like--ever heard of acid rain? Toxic mercury fish? Where do you think acid rain comes from?). Further, that coal is often mined using extremely environmentally destructive strip mining.

    I would like to comment that France has more nuclear power than the USA, but LESS of a problem with nuclear waste. Why is that? It is because we here in the USA are *complete idiots* about safe disposal of waste. It can be done, we're just too stupid to do it! And most of the problem is due to the ignorance and attitude of people like you!

    Coal mining, burning, and transport has probably led to the deaths of millions of people. Nuclear power has NOT come CLOSE to such a death toll EVEN INCLUDING NUCLEAR WEAPON USE ON JAPAN.

    And you know what? The deaths due to burning coal and other fossil fuels are going to exponentiate once much of the planet becomes refugees due to sea levels rising due to global warming due to carbon dioxide emissions!

    I grant you, we SHOULD be using windmills, bicycles, sweaters, walking, transit, hydropower, and solar cells, but advocating the use of *any* carbon-emitting energy source over nuclear power is---your word-- INSANE.

    Here's some more supplementary material:

    Case Study: The Side Effects of a Coal Plant

    A 500 megawatt coal plant produces 3.5 billion kilowatt-hours per year, enough
    to power a city of about 140,000 people. It burns 1,430,000 tons of coal, uses
    2.2 billion gallons of water and 146,000 tons of limestone.

    It also puts out, each year:

    10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide (SOx) is the main cause of
    acid rain, which damages forests, lakes and buildings.

    10,200 tons of nitrogen oxide. Nitrogen oxide (NOx) is a major cause of
    smog, and also a cause of acid rain.

    3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main
    greenhouse gas, and is the leading cause of global warming. There are
    no regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S.

    500 tons of small particles. Small particulates are a health hazard,
    causing lung damage. Particulates smaller than 10 microns are not
    regulated, but may be soon.

    220 tons of hydrocarbons. Fossil fuels are made of hydrocarbons; when
    they don't burn completely, they are released into the air. They are a
    cause of smog.

    720 tons of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas
    and contributor to global warming.

    125,000 tons of ash and 193,000 tons of sludge from the smokestack
  • by djradon (105400) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @10:43PM (#21358633) Homepage Journal
    Yes, you're right about the ratio, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_gas_vehicle#Energy_content [wikipedia.org].

    simply, it's the ratio of carbon atoms to hydrogen atoms:

    methane- CH4 = 1:4 = .25
    ethane -C2H6 = 1:3 = .33
    propane-C3H8 = 3:8 = .38
    butane -C4H10= 2:5 = .40

    Methane has the lowest amount of carbon per mole.

    But no matter how you slice it, all hydrocarbon combustion creates CO2.

    IMHO, If we need to, as a civilization, we can survive on solar power using existing technologies if we reduce our consumption to more modest levels.
  • Re:Nah, fuck off (Score:2, Informative)

    by bcwright (871193) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @10:50PM (#21358713)

    Sure. And there is 'depleted' uranium ammunition too, which is the cause of 'Iraq War Syndrome' and a massively increased rate of birth defects by Iraq war veterans ( US and Iraqi civilians ).

    This is still unproven (there are lots of other noxious things people are being exposed to over there, any of which could be contributing to such problems).

    However more to the point, depleted uranium is not particularly radioactive; if you had a brick of it in your hand, you would be exposed to relatively little radiation. Remember also that much of the radiation in that brick will itself be locked up in the interior of the brick because it is also a good shield material.

    The issue with depleted uranium is not so much the density of its radioactivity, but the fact that when it's used in munitions it gets burned and pulverized into dust particles which are more easily absorbed by the body. You're not likely to eat a brick of DU and, quite frankly, even if you did swallow a small marble of DU the body is not able to absorb much of it and it will quickly be eliminated. However you could easily inhale small particles of oxidized or pulverized DU which allows for both heavy metal poisoning and longer-term exposure to the radioactivity since the small particles and heavy metal oxides would remain in the body for longer periods of time, and the smaller particles present a higher surface-to-volume ratio for the radioactivity to escape into your body.

    The jury is still out on whether this is enough to account for the observed health issues, though there is cause for concern. But it is not an issue outside of military scenarios because you wouldn't be making pulverized and oxidized DU and spreading it all over the environment.

  • Re:The thing is (Score:3, Informative)

    by Firethorn (177587) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @11:09PM (#21358869) Homepage Journal
    Note: I don't think orbital power's going to be a solution any time soon, but I had to respond.

    You want to show me where the prototype exists to convert a very-high-powered laser beam to an electricity source

    First, most proposals I've seen merely reflected and concentrated the sun.
    Second, the 'prototypes' would most likely be solar thermal plants [fsu.edu], merely adjusted for receiving more energy.

    We just don't have the launch capacity, keeping the mirror focused on the right spot would require the satellite to perform gymnastics that would tear one big enough to be useful to shreds. Coordinating multiple satellites is still too complicated, and our orbitals are too dirty, as they'd be too large to dodge like the ISS and shuttle currently do.
  • Re:nuclear waste (Score:2, Informative)

    by WeirdJohn (1170585) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @11:14PM (#21358909)
    Yes, the long half-life materials are low-energy emitters, but some of their decay products have halflives in fractions of a second, along with the associated high energy particles. Telling half the truth is a kind of a lie, and yes, I'm aware what I've just said isn't the whole story either.
  • Re:Fine (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2007 @12:06AM (#21359277)
  • by lwiniarski (105158) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @12:17AM (#21359363)
    Jimmy Carter studied to be a nuclear engineer while in the Navy. So he probably knew better than any other
    politician what the risks were.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_carter [wikipedia.org]

    Breeder reactors _are_ a proliferation concern. You clearly don't know what you are talking about.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breeder_reactor#Reprocessing [wikipedia.org]

    Separating isotopes _IS_ possible...Maybe difficult, but not impossible. Fuel reprocessing is done
    to make this purposely more difficult.

    And it's easy to look back with 30 years of hindsight and criticize, but it was an intelligent decision at
    the time, and might still be today. Breeder reactors have proven to be better, but I'll bet it wasn't
    so obvious 30 years ago. And the proliferation issue still hasn't gone away.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2007 @12:43AM (#21359547)
    The design of the Chernobyl and 3 Mile Island Nuclear reactors was based on our primitive understanding of how to harness nuclear energy. But these incidents have by and large shaped the way 90% of the people today see nuclear power generation.

    Pebble reactors change the risk equation and can be thought of as "failing safely" if cooling fails (as long as the container can withstand high temperatures of around 2000K.)
    An easy to understand reference on pebble reactors: http://pebblebedreactor.blogspot.com/2007/01/pbr-passive-safety-comes-from-basic.html [blogspot.com]

    China is doing it - http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.09/china.html [wired.com]

    I believe that pebble reactors also change the equation when it comes to "spent fuel" but I'll leave that for someone else to follow up on.

  • by Grendol (583881) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @12:51AM (#21359617)
    Well, in addition to the above concerns about Coal. There are things that simply are poorly explained regarding "Nuclear Waste". Nuclear Waste is a political term to describe nuclear material that is forbidden from reprocessing due to an anti-proliferation minded President Carter's Presidential Directive, which was based on reaction to a recently nuclear India. Quote from Wikipedia Nuclear Reprocessing Article.

    "In March 1977, fear of nuclear weapons proliferation (especially after India demonstrated nuclear weapons capabilities using reprocessing technology) led President Jimmy Carter to issue a Presidential directive to indefinitely suspend the commercial reprocessing and recycling of plutonium in the U.S. Other nations did not copy the policy and continued to reprocess spent nuclear fuel."

    Now seeing that other nations do reprocess, and our reason was politically based, not scientifically based, AND SEEING HOW OUR HALTING OF ALL COMMERCIAL FUEL REPROCESSING HAS NOT STOPPED OTHER NATIONS FROM DOING SO FOR WEAPONS PURPOSES, we should realize what is labeled as wasted could be "reduced - reused - and recycled". Reprocessing our spent fuel will also have an effect on the type of long term waste storage method needed. A significant majority of the high dose rate fields come from relatively short half lived materials compared to the millions of years many debaters claim Yucca Mtn needs to last. Sr-90 has a half life of ~28.8 years and Cs-137 has a halflife of 30.23 years. Given 7 to 10 halflives at which point isotopes are generally accepted as being 'gone' That means we only need ~ 300 years of storage for the high dose rate field.

    There are other aspects of this that could be answered with other solutions if the rules were relaxed to scientific based reality, instead of failed political reasoning. Some uses for these 'waste materials' (read radioactive elements with no political use) can be used in medical radiotherapy, as industrial radiation sources for thickness gauges, and since these materials generate heat as a decay byproduct, they have functioned as thermal sources for various applications.

    An additional point to the above post by Peter is that while he pointed out that the RBMK reactor at Chernobyl used graphite for neutron moderation, BWR and PWR reactors here in the states use water to thermalize neutrons, and should a Loss of Fluid Accident occur, ultimately, the reaction would halt because the water would evaporate away and leave nothing to moderate the neutrons so they can split other atoms and keep the reaction going. This prevents things like the extreme core meltdown that Chernobyl experienced. Look of the Loss Of Fluid Test at the INL for additional information

    One of the interesting Next Gen reactor Proposals is the Very High Temperature Reactor which not only would generate electrical power, but potentially co-generate Hydrogen gas, which would be a nice potential alternative chemical fuel source.

  • Re:bleh (Score:3, Informative)

    by phobos13013 (813040) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @01:01AM (#21359691)
    Yes, we have so many roadblocks in place to stop new nuclear power plants from becoming a reality like a $500 million dollar insurance subsidy to anyone willing to build new plants with $250 Million per year for five years after, [sciam.com] and credits for nuclear energy production... [wikipedia.org]

    I hope someone does something to stop them and their overhyped [wikipedia.org] fears [nytimes.com] of nuclear materials [stanford.edu], so we can start making new nuclear weapons [aip.org]. Everybody knows we have solved any technical issues [sric.org] with dangerous nuclear power production! [washingtonpost.com]
  • by Z34107 (925136) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @02:10AM (#21360227)

    why sequester the methane when you can turn around and burn it again?

    Because it's a joke. Natural Gas = Methane. Parent is suggesting that we burn natural gas, convert the CO2 back into natural gas, and then pump it back underground.

    Now mods have to take away the parent's "funny" modifier, because I explained the joke, therefore killing it.

  • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @02:16AM (#21360273) Homepage

    With a slight change of method reprocessing yields weapons grade plutonium, an ability which most of the world still cannot be trusted to use in good faith. It has been illegal in the US for the past 30 years for this reason. There are only a handful of sites in the world presently performing this operation.

    Which reprocessing method? There are a bunch of different methods that have been suggested, with properties / design goals ranging from "produce weapons-grade plutonium as the primary output while retaining some claim to being a nuclear power process" to "produce a horrible mixture of hard to separate isotopes that would be harder to turn into a nuclear weapon than natural Uranium ore, but which works great in a reactor".

    Furthermore, reprocessing still produces radioactive waste requiring secure long-term storage. It is not possible to completely close the fuel cycle by recycling (only about 95% reuse is achieved on each cycle). It also requires high security transport for spent nuclear fuel, extensive handling precautions and lots of messy chemistry.

    With the better recycling schemes, especially some of the "in plant" schemes, the long term storage that the high level waste requires is on the order of 300 years - so you build a reinforced concrete building on reasonably stable ground and your fine. Note that this is vastly unlike the 100,000 years that once-through spent fuel requires, where you have to worry about questions like "Will the creatures that stumble into this storage area still understand the concept of written language?"

    And finally, there is general consensus from economic analyses that the reprocessing method is more expensive than open cycle with direct disposal, so ensuring its widespread use would have to mandated by law.

    Yea, and there's an economic consensus that burning Petrol is more efficient than any other plan. Unfortunately, with an "open cycle with direct disposal", we'd run out of Uranium before we ran out of Petrol. Fuel recycling laws aren't just a good idea - they're the only way that nuclear-fission power is even vaguely viable even in the medium term.

  • Re:Troll news? (Score:3, Informative)

    by mqduck (232646) <mqduck AT mqduck DOT net> on Thursday November 15, 2007 @02:29AM (#21360381)

    Most environmentalists supporting the Nuclear option do so only because it is the lesser of two evils, the latter of which (Global Warming) was not known of or understood back when the Nuclear Power protests were going on. This isn't ironic
    Actually, that's kind of the definition of irony.
  • by Calinous (985536) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @03:59AM (#21360855)
    Just to define long time...
          The sarcophagus over the Chernobyl reactor was built some 20 years ago, and it might survive another 20.

          Long term for current radioactive waste would be something like 10,000 years
  • by lwiniarski (105158) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @05:08AM (#21361227)
    The mojave is the best, but any place in Nevada or Arizona is pretty damn good
    and anyone who's driven across the miles/and miles of empty BLM land knows
    that the US still has plenty of land w/o water and any farm value. Way more
    than necessary to power the US completely.

    The yearly income from an acre of solar panels would be far more than farming.
    It's the startup costs which need to come down.

    Land costs would never be an issue except in urban/suburban areas. Never in
    agricultural areas.
  • by plague3106 (71849) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @09:21AM (#21362691)
    Actually what is suprising is that it hasn't collapsed already. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster#The_need_for_future_repairs [wikipedia.org]
  • by Ash Vince (602485) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @09:23AM (#21362711) Journal

    Give me nuke plants (modern breeder types)
    No, don't. Chernobyl was a type of Fast Breeder Nuclear reactor. They are not any safer than traditional nuclear power plants, they are just cheaper.

    For a safe design go and look up "Pebble Bed Nuclear Reactor". These have the capability to become a much safer design but they are still on the drawing board.

    For a decent article discussing the various types of reactor currently in use look here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_reactor_technology [wikipedia.org]

    It seems to suggest that Pressurised Water Reactors are the safest design.
  • by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Thursday November 15, 2007 @09:36AM (#21362881) Homepage
    Nuclear reactors are very safe. The dangerous part is us.

    Chernobyl: The idiots turned off the pumps.
    Three Mile: The idiots went cheap with the sensors.

    A well funded plant with competent people running it is very safe.
    The environmental FUD has ensured that modern reactors have both.
  • by jamstar7 (694492) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @12:21PM (#21365331)
    You'll need at least double the peak capacity, spread all over the place, to ensure a decent supply. Solar cells don't produce at night. You'll also need something to store the power produced. We have a small solar setup we use for our network here. Three 30 watt panels feeding a pair of deep cycle batteries run 4 access point radios on a hilltop about a mile & a half from here, providing internet access for the downtown of my home town. We're thinking of adding some basic router and shaping capability with a small braindead router, but we're not finding anything that'll do what we need without adding at least 3 more panels. That's about $2100 we don't have a budget for at the moment.

    The app works good cause we're in northern Arizona, plenty of sunshine at least 350 days out of the year. We still get some cloud cover, and if the clouds hang over for a week, the net goes down. This is why I really don't see solar power being widespread for power generation.

  • by marcansoft (727665) <hector@mar c a nsoft.com> on Thursday November 15, 2007 @02:28PM (#21367631) Homepage
    Lights don't burn watts per hour, they burn watts. 2000 watts will give you 2000 watts of light for as many hours as you want. If you ran twenty 100watt bulbs at once, you'd use up that 2kw for as long as you wanted.

    Watts are not a measurement of energy. They are a measurement of energy per time. The "per time" part is built-in to the unit watt. A 100 watt light bulb uses 100 joules per second, or 0.134102209 horsepower. Energy is also measured in watt-hours. That's watts TIMES hours, not watts per hour. a 1Wh battery will deliver one watt for an hour. Twenty 100watt bulbs at once will use 2kWh in an hour.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watt#Confusion_of_watts_and_watt-hours [wikipedia.org]

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