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New nuclear fuel source would power human race until 5000AD
The Register ^ | 22nd August 2012 15:13 GMT | Lewis Page

Posted on 08/22/2012 9:24:35 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach

Fission not just safe and affordable: sustainable tooSince the Fukushima meltdown - as a result of which, not a single person is set to be measurably harmed by radiation - we know that nuclear power is safe. New discoveries by US scientists have now shown it's sustainable as well.

That's because US government scientists have just announced research in which they've massively increased the efficiency of techniques for extracting uranium from the ocean - and that means that supplies of uranium are secure for the future even if the entire human race moves to fission power for all its energy needs.

"We have shown that our adsorbents can extract five to seven times more uranium at uptake rates seven times faster than the world's best adsorbents," says Chris Janke of the US Oak Ridge National Laboratory, one of America's top nuke labs.

At the moment people don't use nuclear power much (the UK's small and aged nuclear fleet can barely generate four times as much power as its wind farms, showing just how little energy we're talking about here: just 8 per cent of our national energy needs are derived from nuclear right now). As a result there's no scarcity of uranium, and indeed nobody has bothered exploring for more of it for decades.

But one day people really will have to stop using fossil fuel for nearly everything - either to prevent a global warming apocalypse, or (perhaps more realistically) because supplies will eventually run out. There's no chance of renewables generating the sort of energy the future human race will require to live above the poverty line, so something else will be required.

Anti-nuclear people have always argued that the something had better not be nuclear because more nuclear powerplants equals more weapons-grade material (not by any means necessarily true, though it seemed as though it might be the case back in the early days of nuclear technology). And even if you think nuclear bombs are OK, the fearmongers have always added that there just isn't enough uranium about to keep the lights on for long.

That may very well be correct, provided all the uranium must be dug out of the ground and run through a powerplant just once before being classified as waste and dumped. But in fact almost all of the spent fuel can be recycled and used again (nobody bothers much right now, as new uranium is cheaper - and in the States recycling the waste has actually been banned at the behest of the anti-nuclear tendency).

And best of all, there's an awful lot more uranium in the sea than there is in the ground. But until now, the costs of getting it out have been so steep as to make it unfeasible even given nuclear-power economics. (Normally, fuel price isn't a big deal for nuclear power as it is a tiny proportion of the cost of having a station - so double-price uranium only sends up the cost of the electricity by a few per cent at most. But seawater uranium to date has cost many times double.)

But now Janke and his colleagues at Oak Ridge and the Pacific Northwest federal atom labs have massively increased the efficiency of seawater extraction.

"Our HiCap adsorbents are made by subjecting high-surface area polyethylene fibers to ionizing radiation, then reacting these pre-irradiated fibers with chemical compounds that have a high affinity for selected metals," says Janke. The allied US government experts behind the tech presented details at a major boffinry conference in Philadelphia yesterday.

Nobody's saying that the new HiCap tech can compete with ordinary mining on cost yet - but that's almost irrelevant. What HiCap offers is, first, assurances to nuclear powerplant operators that they will still be able to obtain uranium for the foreseeable future with no more than a massive price increase - say no worse than three or four times over - no matter whether landbased reserves play out or become oversubscribed. That means their plants' total operating costs won't climb by any more than a marginal amount. Thus, a major source of risk for investors is removed.

Secondly, the prospect of being able to extract billions of tons of uranium from the sea means that humanity has access to enough fuel to meet all its energy needs - all of them, not just present day electricity demand but also the other 90 per cent currently supplied in thermal form - for thousands of years.

One US government statement issued this week says that oceanic uranium could last 6,500 years: but a more conservative estimate assuming use of recycling (as offered by Professor J C Mackay of Cambridge) is say three millennia with all humans using as much energy as a present-day European does. So we've gone with that for our headline.

There's more from the US government labs here and here. ®


TOPICS: Business/Economy
KEYWORDS: energy
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1 posted on 08/22/2012 9:24:45 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Nuclear power is safe....Tell that to the Russians...and the folks in Hiroshima.


2 posted on 08/22/2012 9:28:03 AM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Somehow, someway Environazis will make it their mission in life to prevent this from ever coming to market. And Liberals everywhere will be offended and blame Conservatives for any advancement in this area. Bank on it.
3 posted on 08/22/2012 9:28:03 AM PDT by Obadiah (If Reagan had another son he would have looked like Paul Ryan.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Oooonly Threeee Thousand Yeeeears! Thaaaat’s not sustainabllllle!

< /watermelon>


4 posted on 08/22/2012 9:30:37 AM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Interesting. Very interesting. Thorium is another good source for fuel.


5 posted on 08/22/2012 9:30:37 AM PDT by techcor (I hope Obama succeeds, in being a one term president.)
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To: Sacajaweau

Not to put too fine a line on it, but my impression is that “fusion based” nuclear power, when things go wrong, results in a melt down, but “Fission based” nuclear power, when things go wrong, results in a rather large, uh, “things go boom”.

But I am no expert and could be wrong about this. I was wrong about something once in the third grade, so it’s possible.


6 posted on 08/22/2012 9:39:23 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

A buddy took delivery of a Rossi-Focardi Nickel-Hydrogen fusion reactor a few weeks ago. He paid $4K for it and so far is satisfied. Why isn’t fusion being considered as a cheap energy source by this article?


7 posted on 08/22/2012 9:40:21 AM PDT by BuffaloJack (Repeal Obamacare, the CITIZENSHIP TAX)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

I don’t know. There’s been a huge increase in thyroid abnormalities in children in Fukushima (the area around the plant). Things may not be as sunny as the Japanese gov chooses to portray it. http://thyroid.about.com/b/2012/08/06/fukushimas-children-facing-high-rate-of-thyroid-irregularities.htm


8 posted on 08/22/2012 9:41:24 AM PDT by MetaThought
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To: Sacajaweau

[Tell that to the Russians...and the folks in Hiroshima.]

Given that the technology used in both places was ancient (better than 50 years old) that is a moronic statement. Compared to current technologies, it is like faulting stone age technology for being inefficient. In fact, anti-nuke protestors have delayed the adoption of new technologies, and have guaranteed future deaths.
Thanks for nothing.


9 posted on 08/22/2012 9:41:45 AM PDT by DaxtonBrown (http://www.futurnamics.com/reid.php)
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To: techcor

I was expecting a thorium update here......


10 posted on 08/22/2012 9:42:52 AM PDT by Uriah_lost (Is there no balm in Gilead?....MiE (Mainer in Exile))
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Brings new meaning to the sign some scientists put on their door “Gone fission.”


11 posted on 08/22/2012 9:44:26 AM PDT by Hillarys Gate Cult (Liberals make unrealistic demands on reality and reality doesn't oblige them.)
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To: zot

nuke power ping


12 posted on 08/22/2012 9:45:19 AM PDT by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: Sacajaweau

by the same reasoning (or lack there of) bath tubs aren’t safe, just look at how many people have died in them.


13 posted on 08/22/2012 9:46:35 AM PDT by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

It’s only safe for grown ups.


14 posted on 08/22/2012 9:46:53 AM PDT by ImJustAnotherOkie (zerogottago)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

bump


15 posted on 08/22/2012 9:51:08 AM PDT by jonno (Having an opinion is not the same as having the answer...)
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To: Sacajaweau

I don’t claim to be an expert, but I’ve read that both plants were very old tech. In addition both plants were poorly managed, and with safety protocols ignored, and especially at Chernobyl. There are apparently ridiculously safe methods now available. Question is maybe whether you can get them built.


16 posted on 08/22/2012 9:51:51 AM PDT by catbertz
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To: cuban leaf
...but “Fission based” nuclear power, when things go wrong, results in a rather large, uh, “things go boom”.

It's my understanding that in commercial nuclear power plants, intended for the generation of electricity, the enrichment level of the uranium is too low for "boom".

Not absolutely certain, but that's the claim I've heard.

17 posted on 08/22/2012 9:55:04 AM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: BuffaloJack

“cold fusion” is more of a electrochemical reaction than a nuclear one.
It is not totally understood yet and it is interesting but the lack of neutron emissions indicates it is not fusion.

Fusion is the direction of the future. Just not an easy one to sustain for more than miliseconds.


18 posted on 08/22/2012 9:57:14 AM PDT by Zathras
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To: DaxtonBrown
“In fact, anti-nuke protestors have delayed the adoption of new technologies”

I am a Hazmat fire officer. We drill frequently with local military teams and state and local authorities using radiation detection equipment to prepare for different scenarios. It always amazes me the amount of misinformation that people believe regarding the dangers of ionizing radiation. People fear most what they know the least about regardless of the actual risks.

19 posted on 08/22/2012 9:58:49 AM PDT by fireman15 (Check your facts before making ignorant statements.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

bflr


20 posted on 08/22/2012 10:02:41 AM PDT by Captain Beyond (The Hammer of the gods! (Just a cool line from a Led Zep song))
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
" New nuclear fuel source would power human race until 5000AD"

5,000 A.D.? It will take that long just to get the permits to build a new reactor.

21 posted on 08/22/2012 10:03:01 AM PDT by Flag_This (Real presidents don't bow.)
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To: cuban leaf

Actually when things go wrong in Fusion power, it just stops. The toughest part getting the old ‘50s H-bombs working is keeping the reaction going.

The radiation produced cools the reaction below ignition point (near 20M deg with Deuterium-Tridium reaction, 40M with H3 reaction) If I remember correctly, just trying to keep it simple.


22 posted on 08/22/2012 10:06:33 AM PDT by Zathras
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To: Sacajaweau; All
Nuclear power is safe....Tell that to the Russians...and the folks in Hiroshima.

Quite an ignorant point of view you got there. One of your examples is a reactor where the safety interlocks were disabled, and the other is the result of the Japanese war machine being locked into a struggle to the death with the West.

Nuclear power IS our future. Uranium is almost as abundant on earth as tin is, and there's more thorium than that. If we'd stop THROWING AWAY the products of nuclear power, and process our waste like France does, we'd have power that actually renews itself.

23 posted on 08/22/2012 10:07:33 AM PDT by backwoods-engineer (My game is disruption. I will use lethal force --my vote-- in self-defense against Obama.)
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To: BuffaloJack
"A buddy took delivery of a Rossi-Focardi Nickel-Hydrogen fusion reactor a few weeks ago..."

Really? That's probably the most newsworthy/noteworthy bit in this whole thread. All the skeptics quoted in here would definitely like to know if:
(a) your buddy is still alive and healthy after a month or two; and (b) if his electric bill is now zero (or less) thanks to the output of the thing.

24 posted on 08/22/2012 10:11:58 AM PDT by alancarp (Liberals are all for shared pain... until they're included in the pain group.)
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To: alancarp
hmmmm... not sure what happened to the link I tried to setup: Let's try this..
25 posted on 08/22/2012 10:16:33 AM PDT by alancarp (Liberals are all for shared pain... until they're included in the pain group.)
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To: Sacajaweau
"...the folks in Hiroshima."

You mean the ones who live here?


26 posted on 08/22/2012 10:17:24 AM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: Zathras

27 posted on 08/22/2012 10:18:13 AM PDT by mikrofon (I kan Hazmat)
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To: alancarp

He’s had it about 3 weeks. He’s gotten power from it and he’s run little tests with it, but it is mostly waiting for other hardware on order to make it useful. It needs a transfer switch and disconnect and some other stuff to be able to use it for his house. I figure he’ll have it done and running full time some time by the end of September.


28 posted on 08/22/2012 10:21:15 AM PDT by BuffaloJack (Repeal Obamacare, the CITIZENSHIP TAX)
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To: Zathras

Let me get this straight. You are trying to tell me that for the second time in my life I am wrong? Is that correct?

Well, **** you!

;-)

Yeah, my understanding is one of the problems of Fusion power is getting it going, but I thought once a “chain reaction” got going, the results are hinted at in the phrase “chain reaction” and it continues until starved of food.

Now, are you going to suggest that I could be wrong twice in the same day?!


29 posted on 08/22/2012 10:22:35 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: cuban leaf
“Not to put too fine a line on it, but my impression is that “fusion based” nuclear power, when things go wrong, results in a melt down, but “Fission based” nuclear power, when things go wrong, results in a rather large, uh, “things go boom”.”

There are no commercially viable “fusion based” nuclear power plants. There probably will not be for another 50 years or so if ever. All nuclear power plants are currently “fission based” the newer designs are extremely safe. According to the article there will be enough fuel to power fission based reactors for thousands of years.

So called “cold fusion” or “low-energy nuclear reactions” (LENR) is still more in the realm of perpetual motion machines. Unfortunately, after several decades there still are no useful heat generators based on this process that have held up to full the scrutiny of the scientific community.

30 posted on 08/22/2012 10:24:01 AM PDT by fireman15 (Check your facts before making ignorant statements.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Original Reference from Oak Ridge National Labs

http://www.ornl.gov/info/press_releases/get_press_release.cfm?ReleaseNumber=mr20120821-00


31 posted on 08/22/2012 10:24:40 AM PDT by HangnJudge
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To: BuffaloJack

Actually I believe he bought a Defkalion unit (Rossi Competitor), because it make electricity directly.


32 posted on 08/22/2012 10:26:32 AM PDT by BuffaloJack (Repeal Obamacare, the CITIZENSHIP TAX)
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To: techcor

Thorium would power us for another 5 million years EASY!


33 posted on 08/22/2012 10:34:12 AM PDT by GraceG
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To: Sacajaweau
Nuclear power is safe....Tell that to the Russians...and the folks in Hiroshima.

I must have slept through a news cycle. What reactor was it that failed and caused harm to the people of Hiroshima?

34 posted on 08/22/2012 10:34:12 AM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.)
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To: BuffaloJack

A buddy took delivery of a Rossi-Focardi Nickel-Hydrogen fusion reactor a few weeks ago. He paid $4K for it and so far is satisfied. Why isn’t fusion being considered as a cheap energy source by this article?

And when it is all spent out he can sell the core for copper!


35 posted on 08/22/2012 10:35:37 AM PDT by GraceG
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To: Zathras

“cold fusion” is more of a electrochemical reaction than a nuclear one.
It is not totally understood yet and it is interesting but the lack of neutron emissions indicates it is not fusion.

Fusion is the direction of the future. Just not an easy one to sustain for more than miliseconds.

Thorium Salt Fission is a far better idea which can be implemnteded a LOT sooner than Hot Fusion ever will be


36 posted on 08/22/2012 10:36:23 AM PDT by GraceG
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To: Bloody Sam Roberts

[ Nuclear power is safe....Tell that to the Russians...and the folks in Hiroshima.

I must have slept through a news cycle. What reactor was it that failed and caused harm to the people of Hiroshima? ]

Boiling water High Pressure reactors are just plain stuipid when we can have atmospheric pressure reactors that have chemically inert ionically bonded reactants with PASSIVE safety systems.


37 posted on 08/22/2012 10:38:01 AM PDT by GraceG
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To: fireman15

So true. A 10 gray source is fatal if you get a dose all at once, but just stand a few meters away and you will get a much lower dose.
For those interested, on YouTube you can watch the excellent made for TV movie “the day after” from 1983 in its entirety. Its a very nice depiction of a serious radiation situation and generally accurate.


38 posted on 08/22/2012 10:39:38 AM PDT by lefty-lie-spy (Stay metal. For the Horde \m/("_")\m/ - via iPhone from Tokyo.)
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To: BuffaloJack
He’s had it about 3 weeks. He’s gotten power from it and he’s run little tests with it, but it is mostly waiting for other hardware on order to make it useful. It needs a transfer switch and disconnect and some other stuff to be able to use it for his house. I figure he’ll have it done and running full time some time by the end of September.

There are three likely possibilities. 1. Your “friend” has been ripped off. 2. Your “friend” is trying to rip you off. 3. You and your “friend” are trying to rip other people off.

None of Rossi’s “E-Cat reactors” have been released and validated by third parties. It is always just a month or two away and then some new claim is made which they say they need to work on first. This has been going on for quite some time. I would love for you to prove me wrong.

39 posted on 08/22/2012 10:42:32 AM PDT by fireman15 (Check your facts before making ignorant statements.)
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To: BuffaloJack

Actually I believe he bought a Defkalion unit (Rossi Competitor), because it make electricity directly.

- - - - -

I wasn’t aware that Defkalion was selling products yet.

It doesn’t appear they are aware of it either:

http://www.defkalion-energy.com/products

The technology is currently in its final stages of becoming an industrialized and commercially viable prototype.


40 posted on 08/22/2012 10:43:40 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: lefty-lie-spy
A 10 gray source is fatal if you get a dose all at once

I gotta get my eyes checked. I thought you said A 10 gay source is fatal if you get a dose all at once

41 posted on 08/22/2012 10:45:15 AM PDT by Focault's Pendulum
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Reactors operating in the US are 30-40 year old designs. That and we haven’t reprocessed spent fuel rods for close to 40 years. In the mean time other countries have surpassed us in nuclear plant design, with improved efficiencies, safety, and cycle life. We have even let our military outpace our commercial reactors with their technology, and most of the people operating commercial plants are former Navy trained personnel.

If you want to get serious about nuclear power, lift the spent fuel reprocessing ban, develop a standard reprocessing progam, and license the building and use of a standardized proven reactor design. The US is 30 years behind the rest of the world in terms of nuclear power generation, it’s time to catch up.


42 posted on 08/22/2012 10:45:55 AM PDT by factoryrat (We are the producers, the creators. Grow it, mine it, build it.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Reactors operating in the US are 30-40 year old designs. That and we haven’t reprocessed spent fuel rods for close to 40 years. In the mean time other countries have surpassed us in nuclear plant design, with improved efficiencies, safety, and cycle life. We have even let our military outpace our commercial reactors with their technology, and most of the people operating commercial plants are former Navy trained personnel.

If you want to get serious about nuclear power, lift the spent fuel reprocessing ban, develop a standard reprocessing progam, and license the building and use of a standardized proven reactor design. The US is 30 years behind the rest of the world in terms of nuclear power generation, it’s time to catch up.


43 posted on 08/22/2012 10:46:09 AM PDT by factoryrat (We are the producers, the creators. Grow it, mine it, build it.)
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To: BuffaloJack

What, really, where, how and what power output?


44 posted on 08/22/2012 10:55:39 AM PDT by Sequoyah101 (Half the people are below average, they voted for oblabla.)
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To: techcor; Ernest_at_the_Beach

Thorium is the answer.

Neither will be done though. This, like other issues, is one of the heart and emotions controlled by ignorant people. Ignorance leads to fear and fear leads to violence. They win unless they are removed.


45 posted on 08/22/2012 10:58:00 AM PDT by Sequoyah101 (Half the people are below average, they voted for oblabla.)
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To: factoryrat

Well said.

If our nation dropped half the money into infrastructure improvements that they do into entitlements and social programs, we’d live in a very different country.


46 posted on 08/22/2012 11:01:22 AM PDT by Heavyrunner (Socialize this.)
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To: Sequoyah101

I don’t know the power output.
My buddy works at the local university, but he ordered this for himself before xmas and just got it. It cost $4k and change and shipping. I assumed it was the Defkalion because it outputs electric power as well as steam and I didn’t think Rossi’s unit did the voltage output. I’ll have to ask where he got it. It may have even been one of the other 2 dozen plus outfits that have appeared this past year with Rossi type designs. This is my buddy’s toy and he’s still in the playing and testing stages.


47 posted on 08/22/2012 12:08:57 PM PDT by BuffaloJack (Repeal Obamacare, the CITIZENSHIP TAX)
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To: cuban leaf
my impression is that “fusion based” nuclear power, when things go wrong, results in a melt down, but “Fission based” nuclear power, when things go wrong, results in a rather large, uh, “things go boom”.

Nope.

1. There is no "fusion power" now, so things don't go wrong. Fusion power has been "20 years away" for 50 years now.

2. Fission power "may" melt down if things go wrong, but highly dependent on the design of the system. It is supposedly very nearly impossible to make one go "boom," even on purpose.

48 posted on 08/22/2012 12:24:24 PM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: Sherman Logan

Yeah. I got fusion and fission completely backward. Sorry. And yeah, again. There is no working fusion plant. I’m talking about what I read about the risks of fusion based power plants if it were to ever lead to a runaway chain reaction.

That’s all.


49 posted on 08/22/2012 12:35:47 PM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
At the moment people don't use nuclear power much (the UK's small and aged nuclear fleet can barely generate four times as much power as its wind farms, showing just how little energy we're talking about here: just 8 per cent of our national energy needs are derived from nuclear right now). As a result there's no scarcity of uranium, and indeed nobody has bothered exploring for more of it for decades.

Leave it to the Brits to ignore the French who get 75% of their electricity from nuclear power.
50 posted on 08/22/2012 12:42:08 PM PDT by aruanan
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