Going nuclear?

I guess the name speaks for its self.

Going nuclear?

Postby Andrea on Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:29 am

After last week's announcement by the UK government to significantly expand nuclear energy (and followed by a chorus of approval throughout the media), the following article in the Financial Times caught my eye (it's always interesting to find out what the media are saying about one's family :-) ): "Mafia rushed through gap in Berlin Wall" http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a46a05f0-d07c ... SID=google

this is a brief extract:

An important sideline in the 1990s, and still possibly today, was trafficking in nuclear material, mostly from the former Soviet bloc but also from the former US Atoms for Peace programme that sent nuclear fuel round the world.

“When the Berlin Wall came down,” Mr Fonti recalls, “all those working for the KGB found themselves out in the street, so they started trafficking – in plutonium and weapons.”

Mr Fonti, 61, claims an ‘Ndrangheta clan in the southern city of Reggio Calabria obtained six cylinders containing uranium, each worth €20m. “Five were recovered by the CIA, the sixth no one knows. They came from Russian nuclear reactors.”

Who's going to guarantee the security of nuclear waste as its production escalates in the coming decades while more and more states enter into "Mad Max" territory?

It makes me wonder whether nuclear is such a good idea. What guarantees do you have about the stability of any state currently developing nuclear energy?

Alison Jamieson, writing for the UK’s Research Institute for the Study of Conflict and Terrorism, reports that formal contacts between Russian and Italian Mafia began across eastern Europe in 1991, focusing on drugs, arms and nuclear components. In 1993 two Italians were arrested near the Belarus-Russia border and charged with smuggling 36kg of enriched uranium.
esse sequitur operari
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Re: Going nuclear?

Postby Neill on Mon Nov 16, 2009 7:08 pm

After last week's announcement by the UK government to significantly expand nuclear energy

Significant timing?
In my research for the "Euro" thread, I discovered that the UK is very close to being a net importer of oil.
The UK is also a net importer of most other things (except services) so it is not surprising that there is now a decision to at least become neutral on energy.

Personally I see nuclear as the current "least bad" solution to the short term energy problem (note: I did not say best :-) )
Neill
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Re: Going nuclear?

Postby Andrea on Tue Nov 17, 2009 10:41 am

Neill wrote:
Personally I see nuclear as the current "least bad" solution to the short term energy problem (note: I did not say best :-) )


I would agree with you if we lived in a totally rational and predictable world. Unfortunately, some individuals sometimes behave in apparently irrational ways, and I am not 100% confident in the future stability of all sorts of systems -- from the climate to nation states.

So, my conclusion is very different to yours. I would favour a low unit-cost, low-tech, low risk and decentralised energy system: wind/wave/tide-hydrogen (e.g.http://www.whlenergy.com/). If a renewable energy-hydrogen unit breaks down, is flooded by rising sea levels or is blown up by terrorists, then there would be thousands more linked to the grid. An explosion would result in localised structural damage and the dispersal of water vapour. It could be put together again in the same place or higher up by a small unit of engineers in a short amount of time. It would certainly not rely on national states with huge amounts of resources to safeguard and protect highly toxic waste for the next 250,000 years.

Nuclear is comparable to the hierarchical telephone network: inflexible, unresponsive, and top-down. Renewable energy-hydrogen is like the Internet: scalable, resilient, adaptable and bottom-up.

I certainly know which energy system I would have preferred Israel, Iran, Pakistan, China, India and North Korea to have. :shock:
esse sequitur operari
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Re: Going nuclear?

Postby Teiana on Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:43 am

I certainly know which energy system I would have preferred Israel, Iran, Pakistan, China, India and North Korea to have.


yeah, we get 'sold' nuclear options here based on a best case scenario safety procedures inspections etc.. but it's not globally enforced at the 'best' level... and even if it was, the whole thing comes down to trust..

i still don't know why we can't produce more energy simply by using people.. but then would we all just eat more food...??
thing is i think if people had to make physical effort to generate power a) we'd all be fitter and healthier and that would help save energy b) people would probably be more careful using it because they'd be aware of the effort.

Why can't they generate power from noise, as well. There's loads of really noisy situations.. the noise energy just gets wasted..
H.R.H. 8-)
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Re: Going nuclear?

Postby Emma B on Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:45 pm

Working as an engineer in the oil and gas industry (yes i know its bad but we all need a job), we have nuclear and renewable wings to our company (huge worldwide company) but we get very little interest in the truely renewable options e.g. wind solar. We've had some success with tyre recycling plants and would you beleave chicken poo (i kid you not) but in the end countries which need large amounts of energy and have little or no oil or gas need nuclear as the current renewable options are just not efficient enough or reliable enough to be the sole energy source.

I think they also come up against the public, e.g. you could upset a few people in one area by building a nuclear plant or upset loads by dotting windfarms etc all over the place, we need to change public attitude as well.

I agree its not ideal but until there is some real interest and serious work into renewable energy i think we'll just keep going down the nuclear option. Which i think my employer agrees with having just set up a nuclear team in our UK office ahead of the predicted enquires for nuclear in the UK and europe in the near future.

Noise energy, thats interesting, i dont know if its ever been done before, not sure how it would be converted into a useful energy form though, if thats even possible. How would you 'catch' it and transport it :?
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Re: Going nuclear?

Postby Teiana on Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:04 pm

something that worked like a microphone does, converting a sound signal into an electrical one... but somehow in a way that produced enough electricity to run itself? i imagine attaching them to school playgrounds at breaktime, or busy stations, or football grounds..

it couldn't work because if it did someone would have done it already....
H.R.H. 8-)
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Re: Going nuclear?

Postby Emma B on Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:58 pm

Teiana wrote:
it couldn't work because if it did someone would have done it already....


I wouldn't be so sure, it was only last week i was talking to a collegue who used to work for a major petrol company, he said that part of his role was to keep an eye on the devlopment of alternatives fuels for vehicles and buy the patents if they looked realistic. In so stopping their development and keeping the petrol/oil industry in business. Apparantly there are some really good useable alternatives which we probably wont see until the oil reserves are used up and these companies with the patents will then unveil these alternatives.

So there are some good 'green' alternatives, probably not sound energy but i used the above as an example, but hey you never know :P
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Re: Going nuclear?

Postby Neill on Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:47 pm

Emma wrote
need nuclear as the current renewable options are just not efficient enough or reliable enough to be the sole energy source.

which was exactly why I suggested "least worst".
It is "bad" but it works and doesn't add to global warming.
All these new electric cars are great but what is going to power them?

Neill
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Re: Going nuclear?

Postby Andrea on Wed Nov 18, 2009 1:16 pm

Emma, your postings are interesting because on the one hand you are saying that renewable technologies aren't reliable enough and on the other hand, you're saying that oil companies have actively worked to undermine these technologies. So there is a very vicious circle going on here. For example, electric cars were actually invented at the same time as diesel and petrol powered ones towards the end of the 19th century. So we've had more than 100 years to develop and test this technology. Indeed, they have always been far cheaper to run per mile compared to fossil fuel powered ones. So somebody somewhere must have actually been actively suppressing the large-scale rollout of electric cars. More recent examples include BP buying up solar cell companies and shutting them down, and Shell supposedly "investing" in the Thames estuary mega-windfarm to only pull out at the last minute -- thus scuppering the whole project. The indirect funding of political parties by fossil fuel industry (including car companies) is also an interesting area to investigate.

If you look at nuclear, there is also a very tight link between the nuclear energy and military industries. In fact, the cost of nuclear power is almost always subsidised by the "sale" of nuclear material to the military industry (funded by the taxpayer). It is no coincidence that just as the British government is proposing to significantly expand its nuclear energy provision, it is also planning to invest billions of pounds in its upgrade of the Trident nuclear missile arsenal.

So, it seems to me that there are some very powerful political and economic vested interests at play here. The "unreliable technologies" argument is just a smokescreen to continue the status quo.

Just like governments have now indebted every single citizen for generations to come with the burden of bank bailouts, we will also be indebted with the financial, environmental and social costs of the nuclear industry. As far as I can see, the only group significantly benefiting from this are those already at the top of the economic pile.

So maybe, the problem is more of a psychological one rather than a technical one. Why are people so willing to put up with the current 'least worst' situation rather than try something new and clearly a much better option?
esse sequitur operari
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Re: Going nuclear?

Postby scootrider on Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:18 pm

This was an interesting little discussion back in 2008.

I think Sue's SMART GRID post tells of the way forward on this topic.

Doing T206 "Energy for a sustainable future" I formed the opinion that nuclear was an interim energy source until renewables technology comes of age. May be that time is now and nuclear should be abandoned sooner rather than after the next generation of reactors are installed.

Anyways the main point of this post was to highlight a radio 4 program on disposal of nuclear waste: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... ear_Waste/

Interesting for me was the idea that the disposal seems to be centered around the soft social factors first, then the harder geological and economic factors. I think the contributors see this as a seed change in the approach to disposal of nuclear waste, which could bear fruit on this occasion.

I think its worth a listen if you need a little diversion from exam revision.

RR
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