Posts Tagged ‘Nuclear energy’

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November 17, 2013

Nuclear Roundup 11/17/13

If you are worried about CO2 (I’m not), then you should be pro-nuke (I am).

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Japan

Japan slashes climate reduction target amid nuclear shutdown

Japan had previously pledged to reduce its CO2 emissions to 25% below its 1990 levels in a (misguided) bid to battle global warming.  Now it is likely that there will be no reduction below the 1990 level because they have pulled back from nuclear power and have re-embraced fossil fuels 

According to  BBC Asia, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said “Our government has been saying… that the 25% reduction target was totally unfounded and wasn’t feasible.”  Japan’s chief negotiator at UN climate change talks in Warsaw, Hiroshi Minami, said “The new target is based on zero nuclear power in the future. We have to lower our ambition level.”

BBC Asia points out…

Since the Fukushima disaster, Japan has been forced to import huge amounts of coal, liquid natural gas and other fuels.

Reuters reports

“Given that none of the nuclear reactors is operating, this was unavoidable,” Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara said.

Japan’s 50 nuclear plants were closed on safety concerns after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami wrecked the Fukushima reactors northeast of Tokyo. Nuclear accounted for 26 percent of Japan’s electricity generation and its loss has forced the country to import natural gas and coal, causing its greenhouse gas emissions to skyrocket.

Natural-gas consumption by Japan’s 10 utilities was up 8.4 percent in October from a year earlier and coal use was up 4.4 percent as the companies used more fossil fuels to compensate for the nuclear shutdown, industry data showed on Friday.

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United States

As nuclear is shut down in California, CO2 emissions rise.

From Bloomberg

Greenhouse-gas emissions from power generators, oil refineries and other plants in California climbed in 2012 as a nuclear plant shutdown and low hydropower supplies increased the state’s reliance on natural gas.

Power-plant releases rose 35 percent to 41.6 million metric tons last year, according to data posted today on the state Air Resources Board’s website. Total emissions were 437.8 million metric tons, up from 429.3 million in 2011. Edison International (EIX) shut the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California in January 2012, and the state that year faced one of the lowest snowpack levels on record.

“The rise in total emissions is primarily due to emission increases from California electricity generation using natural gas as a fuel,” the board said. “The majority of this additional natural-gas electricity generation is due to a decrease in available hydroelectric generation for 2012 and a reduction in nuclear generated power.”

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Movie – Pandora’s Promise

This is a documentary featuring prominent environmentalists that are pro-nuclear.  It is soon to be released by Netflix

Netflix description…  

Former antinuclear activists and groundbreaking scientists speak out in favor of the much-maligned energy source in this provocative documentary that explores the history and future of nuclear power.

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Nuclear roundup

October 21, 2013

Japan

Abe looks to retain nuclear power in nation’s basic energy policy

Before the LDP [Liberal Democratic Party] returned to power last December and its leader, Shinzo Abe, became prime minister, many members of the committee under the predecessor government, led by the DPJ, had called for the country’s dependence on nuclear power to be phased out.

After Abe and the LDP took over, subcommittee members were reshuffled and there have been no demands from new members for an immediate end to nuclear power.

The existing basic energy policy sees nuclear power as a key source of electricity and has a goal of increasing the proportion of energies that do not emit carbon dioxide, including atomic and hydraulic power, to some 70 percent of the country’s energy mix by 2030.

Read more at Japan Times.

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Hungary and South Korea

Hungary, South Korea sign nuclear energy cooperation agreement.

[Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martony] and his South Korean colleague signed a new bilateral agreement on the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Read more at Politics.hu (Hungary’s non-partisan international political daily)

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Great Britain

Building to commence on Britain’s first nuclear power station in 20 years

The new reactors, which will cost £14bn, are due to start operating in 2023 if constructed on time and will run for 35 years. They will be capable of producing 7% of the UK’s electricity – equivalent to the amount used by 5m homes.

Read more at The Guardian

David Cameron

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Containment is easier for Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR)

February 12, 2013

Check this picture out.  It is a crane lifting a 40 meter wide, 4.5 cm thick dome for the top of a nuclear reactor containment building under construction in China.  The containment building is extraordinarily massive, the dome alone weighs 655 tonnes (1.4 million pounds).

Believe it on not, the containment building’s purpose is to capture a steam explosion.

Steam Explosion

Water boils at 100°C at one atmosphere of pressure, but the boiling temperature goes up at higher pressures.  For example, the water in your car radiator will go to higher than 100°C without boiling because the radiator is pressurized to about 2 atmospheres when the car is warmed up.  What happens if the pressure is suddenly released by a puncture or someone foolishly removing the radiator cap?  See the video below for a steam explosion…

Carnot engine efficiency increases with increasing temperature, so there is a great advantage to running a nuclear reactor (or any heat engine) at high temperatures, which requires very high pressures to keep the reactor’s water from completely boiling.  Conventional boiling water reactors and pressurized water reactors operate at around 70 atmospheres and 160 atmospheres to achieve temperatures of 285°C and 315°C respectively.  If water escapes from the reactor for any reason it will instantly expand to about 1600 times its liquid volume as it explodes into steam.  The containment building is supposed to capture that exploding steam.  It is so massive because it must restrain the steam under great pressure without exploding itself.

Containment building

But this type of massive containment building would not be necessary for a Liquid fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR)!  This type of reactor concept does not use water to transfer heat away from solid pieces of fissioning metals.  Instead, thorium is dissolved in liquid fluoride salts, where it is converted to uranium233, which fissions and generates heat.  One of the beauties of the LFTR is that the liquid fluoride salts can go to incredible temperatures before they boil – temperatures vastly exceeding the operating temperature of the reactor.    Consequently, the reactor operates at atmospheric pressure – no high pressure needed.  In the event of a liquid leak there would be no explosive effect like the water instantly boiling into steam in a conventional reactor.

The LFTR would operate at around 700°C, reaching a much higher carnot efficiency than boiling water reactors or pressurized water reactors.  Yet the fluid medium of the LFTR would not boil until reaching the extraordinary temperature of about 1400°C.

read more…

See the Energy from Thorium website for much more information about this revolutionary concept, or read “Thorium: Energy Cheaper Than Coal,” by Robert Hargraves.

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