Homepage Forums Aneutronic Contenders Billy's Cheap fission alternative

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  • #11257
    Avatardennisp
    Member

    China infringes a lot of our IP already, and they’ve got serious energy demands, currently being met mostly by coal plants with emissions so bad they kill several hundred thousand Chinese every year. I think it’s safe to say that if anyone tries to lock down a technology that can solve their energy problems, they’ll take giant piss on the international patents. The only way these patents will be respected is if they’re licensed broadly with very reasonable fees.

    #11259
    AvatarHenning
    Participant

    Thumb up for the Chinese.

    #12463
    Avataroldjar
    Member

    Tulse wrote: Chernobyl and Fukushima were/are terrible events, but far more people have died from routine coal production.

    That said, aneutronic fusion is surely the holy grail of energy production.

    Chernobyl and Fukushima were not terrible at all. No people have died from radiation at Fukishima, and at most, 50 have died from radiation at Chernobyl. Fission should be the holy grail of energy production if people actually knew what radiation was. There are a lot more people who die because of a fear of radiation rather than radiation itself. If you get rid of the unnecessary regulations of fission power, fission would be even cheaper than hydroelectric and still be extremely safe.

    #12464
    Avataroldjar
    Member

    zapkitty wrote:

    A high efficiency, low waste fission system is a real threat to the future of fusion. It’s hard to argue against injecting a few neutrons to start an easily sustained chain of reaction.

    I appreciate that there are more efficient energy conversion systems than steam and turbines but they are and will continue to be the backbone of electricity production for a while. They don’t “eat up” any savings compared to another fission power system. Yes, I am comparing to fission for one reason and one reason alone…

    Errrrrrrrrrr… but you didn’t 🙂 You were speaking of TWR or similar fission breeders vs fusion.

    asymmetric_implosion wrote: Fission power is here and working.

    The fission power we have [em]now[/em] is unsustainable and continually creates severe waste problems that future generations will have to deal with… or that we may have to deal with ourselves depending on quakes, floods, wind and human error.

    asymmetric_implosion wrote: The problem of fusion for most folks that work in the power industry is that fusion has yet to produce more electricity than it takes in or even less restrictive, more power generated by the plasma than is required to initiate it.

    Which is analogous to the case for TWR etc until the first prototype goes live.

    asymmetric_implosion wrote: Fukushima was a disaster without a doubt but it placed a reactor in conditions that it wasn’t designed to operate in or deal with in shutdown.

    Fukushima is a continuing disaster and the radiation is spreading with various isotopes of extremely recent vintage popping up in the damnedest places.

    asymmetric_implosion wrote: I would argue siting a nuclear power plant is critical and whoever sited it along a coast in a high earthquake area was nuts.

    … that would be the same sort of people who sited various U.S. plants near faults and water and who will be siting any new fission breeder plants…

    asymmetric_implosion wrote: Potential payoff and risk need to be assessed for all these technologies but practicality needs to be mentioned. Fission power works and has worked for over 50 years. Fusion should be the power of tomorrow but we need power now.

    And any new type of fission breeder plant is… just how far away from commercial use?

    asymmetric_implosion wrote: Even if FoFu or others make a breakthrough tomorrow, it will take a decade to engineer it and start selling electrons.

    Why would you think that? Your estimate somewhat differs from the LPP estimate of 5 years from FoFu-1 feasibility to generator. Why would do you think it would take twice as long when there is no radioactive fuel nor nuclear waste nor even a steam loop to deal with?

    asymmetric_implosion wrote: Countries like China and India refuse to wait that long. India is heavily investing in a thorium reactors because they see a path to electricity in less than a decade.

    ? The soonest estimate I’ve seen from India is that they hope to have a prototype by “the end of the decade.” And I’ve not even heard that much from China…

    asymmetric_implosion wrote: I’m not against fusion or pursuing it but you will not be able to convince people that are interested in the wall plug when fusion hasn’t produced any net power yet.

    I don’t think so. People who are “plugging in” on any commercial scale have a very distinct self-interest in finding, and perhaps funding, the best potential power options. The challenge lies in making them aware of other options.

    asymmetric_implosion wrote: Fission and fusion are on two different levels. Fission is into making it better.

    Fission “as is” cannot continue and, honestly, fission right now is more into “Researching techniques for not adding to an existing potential disaster.”

    asymmetric_implosion wrote: Fusion is still in a “we hope, we think and it should”.

    And, aside from the deliberate tar pit that is ITER, the neutronic fusion contenders are on a time-scale competitive with any new fission breeders… and aneutronic fusion could steal a march on them all due to its very nature.

    Again, given that the <1% will starve all alternative energy options but the one that they figure will give them the best leverage for control, the rational research triage is aneutronic fusion research first and neutronic fusion research second. Preferably both at once.

    The breeders are now funded and might well become the <1% fallback option after fossil but rationally, as I said previously, even fusion-fission hybrid breeders would be the option of last resort.

    There is no waste problem with fission. All the high level waste can fit inside a football field that is only about 10 meters deep. The low level waste is safe in about 50 years, and much of the low level waste isn’t even radioactive. This is the shorter than the timeframe of mainstream fusion designs, and is much less radioactive during that timeframe. Besides, the transuranics produced from fission reactors can be very useful once we find better ways to separate them. Fission products are easy enough to dispose of, but why dispose of them when they can be useful in the future? The radiation being detected by Fukishima in “Far-flung places” is less than 1% of background radiation. Levels that are 100X background radiation levels are completely safe to humans. Background radiation levels in certain places of the world are over a 100X background in U.S., and they have lower cancer rates.

    #12465
    Avataroldjar
    Member

    asymmetric_implosion wrote: The message is that every energy producing system to date has problems. They have safety that needs to be addressed and we are learning from our mistakes. The mistake at Three Mile Island was a return signal. That was corrected. Chernobyl was a flaw from its design and should never have been built. The USSR had different safety standards than the west. Fukushima started because of a once in two lifetimes event. Errors made after the fact made the situation worse. Why didn’t they design the plant for a 9.0 earthquake and a tsunami? It has to do with risk analysis and cost. All engineered systems have to address these issues as the final product or during production. For example, solar is very clean once the panels are built but building the panels requires toxic chemicals.

    I’m not saying that nuclear waste isn’t a problem. In fact it is the biggest problem of fission power. I believe it is a problem within our ability to solve using reprocessing and either fast reactors or particle accelerator driven systems to burn up the waste. There are plenty of systems that can burn the waste and produce energy. If you are asking for a perfect system with no impact it doesn’t exist. Even p-11B will have some by-products that will be undesirable. The one that come to mind of great concern is diborane and other boron containing materials; bad stuff from the chemical side.

    The PF can continue to fire after the fuel is expended which is useless but relatively safe. The key questions about a pulse power system are less safety and more about reliability. One might argue that a unreliable power source can cause as many deaths as a power source that produces waste. Imagine losing traffic lights at rush hour because the pulse power failed on a PF. Good news, it produces little waste; bad news, it only works some of the time. I think the pulse power can be overcome but again, like gain from a p-11B fusion reaction, it needs to be demonstrated. I support funding p-11B systems and other fusions systems. If fusion is to be practical, an aneutronic solution is required. The DT reaction produces almost as much waste as a fission plant when you consider the replacement rate of wall materials and other structures.

    I know tokamak bashing is popular on this site and I agree that the tokamak is far from ideal, but one should look at the history and compare to the plasma focus. The tokamak is a stable pinch device designed to eliminate the end loss problem of linear pinches (like the plasma focus). Stuff squirts out the ends and the tokamak was supposed to solve it. It sort of solved the problem but introduced new problems. The PF took the other path which is fast pinch devices. Fast pinches have a number of problems which I have mentioned in this thread. They can be solved but the biggest problem remains the net energy problem. I feel safe in saying that those of us that support fission don’t do it because we think it is the best option that could be done, but rather it is the best option we have right now.

    Of course, dennisp said the same thing as I’m typing. A thousand curses upon your fast fingers. 🙂

    I actually think Chernobyl was a very good design. It did what it was supposed to do which is to provide a large amount of power very cheaply. A liquid cooled, graphite moderated reactor was the best way to do that. If it wasn’t for the complete overreaction by the Soviet government, the damage could have been minimized and people in the area could have moved on with their lives. Actually, the Soviet Union’s nuclear safety standards are more strict than the west’s in many areas. For example, the exclusion zone around Chernobyl is at 1 mSv/year while occupational limits are at 50 mSv/year. Chernobyl RBMK type reactors have better safety in some areas than western nuclear plants. For example, a loss of primary coolant in RBMK reactors is nearly impossible. If nuclear waste is the biggest problem of fission, than give me more.

    #12466
    AvatarTulse
    Participant

    oldjar wrote: Chernobyl and Fukushima were not terrible at all.

    Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced. The economic costs were in the tens of billions of dollars. Huge swathes of once-productive land now lies unused. How is that not “terrible”?

    #12469
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    asymmetric_implosion wrote:


    I would argue siting a nuclear power plant is critical and whoever sited it along a coast in a high earthquake area was nuts. …

    Unfair. Japan’s geography offers little in the way of alternative heat sinks, etc., to the coastline. And the whole chain is part of the Ring of Fire.

    #12470
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    Tulse wrote:

    Chernobyl and Fukushima were not terrible at all.

    Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced. The economic costs were in the tens of billions of dollars. Huge swathes of once-productive land now lies unused. How is that not “terrible”?

    Displaced mostly because of misplaced fear and the tsunami. And “terrible” is death and destruction. D*** little of that, in reality.

    #12471
    Avataroldjar
    Member

    Brian H wrote:

    Chernobyl and Fukushima were not terrible at all.

    Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced. The economic costs were in the tens of billions of dollars. Huge swathes of once-productive land now lies unused. How is that not “terrible”?

    Displaced mostly because of misplaced fear and the tsunami. And “terrible” is death and destruction. D*** little of that, in reality.

    Exactly. The exclusion zone in Fukishima is 20 mSV, while Chernobyl’s is 1 mSv, which is lower than flying regularly and is below background radiation levels in most places. The occupational limit is 50 mSV. There is no evidence at all that anything under 100 mSv is dangerous, and it is doubtful that radiation has any effect until it is 300 mSv+, as some places have this as background radiation with no higher amount of cancer incidences.

    Radiation effects on humans have been studied on Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims. Many of these people were exposed to radiation levels well above 1 Sv. It was found that at very high radiation levels, the amount of deaths increased in a linear fashion as the dosage went up. This is the basis for the linear no threshold (LNT) model. This model extended down to lower levels of radiation under 1 Sv, even though there was not as much proof about radiation effects at these levels. The LNT model just assumes that any amount of radiation is bad, even though there is no evidence of this. This is why you get death tolls in the thousands from Chernobyl, even though it is known that only 50 people have died from the effects of Chernobyl. It’s just like anything really. If you have too much of certain vitamins it is bad for you, but if you have it in low amounts it is good. Radiation is no different. Even those at Hiroshima and Nagasaki who were exposed to very high amounts of radiation above 1 Sv, if you didn’t die within the first few weeks, very few developed any long term effects from radiation exposure.

    #12480
    Avatarvansig
    Member

    oldjar wrote:
    There is no waste problem with fission. All the high level waste can fit inside a football field that is only about 10 meters deep. The low level waste is safe in about 50 years, and much of the low level waste isn’t even radioactive. This is the shorter than the timeframe of mainstream fusion designs, and is much less radioactive during that timeframe. Besides, the transuranics produced from fission reactors can be very useful once we find better ways to separate them. Fission products are easy enough to dispose of, but why dispose of them when they can be useful in the future? The radiation being detected by Fukishima in “Far-flung places” is less than 1% of background radiation. Levels that are 100X background radiation levels are completely safe to humans. Background radiation levels in certain places of the world are over a 100X background in U.S., and they have lower cancer rates.

    Chernobyl remains among the top ten most polluted places on this earth. I invite you to live there.

    But you know, maybe the region would make a good place to store fission wastes long-term?

    #12481
    Avatarbenf
    Participant

    @oldjar

    Personally, I would not want to be a first responder to a breach of containment and loss of coolant at a fission power plant. One has to admire and respect the bravery of those that do.

    Focus Fusion wouldn’t require a life or death struggle with runaway fuel rods. In event of a failure the call to answer to would be…Why did the generator turn off? A much better scenario in my view.

    #12482
    Avataroldjar
    Member

    benf wrote: @oldjar

    Personally, I would not want to be a first responder to a breach of containment and loss of coolant at a fission power plant. One has to admire and respect the bravery of those that do.

    Focus Fusion wouldn’t require a life or death struggle with runaway fuel rods. In event of a failure the call to answer to would be…Why did the generator turn off? A much better scenario in my view.

    You can’t compare technology that hasn’t even been show to work yet with something that has proven to work reliably for over 50 years. And there’s always going to be industrial accidents that require heroic actions. We all know how important energy is to the economy and the amount of wealth it creates. Nuclear power plants have produced about 10% of our total energy needs in the U.S. for over 30 years, and there are no deaths from radiation in the U.S., and at most 50 have died worldwide from nuclear power plant radiation. Energy accounts for nearly everything we do in society, os is worth trillions of dollars every year. No other system in the entire economy has the safety record of nuclear power per dollar generated. With the number of people who die prematurely from other causes, there are much more important things to worry about than a struggle with runaway fuel rods.

    Now, if focus fusion does end up working out in an optimistic timescale at an even cheaper cost than Soviet designed fission, than there will be not be a big need for fission in the future except for research purposes. But I don’t think it’s smart to put all our eggs in the focus fusion basket. While fusion is being perfected, we could use a better solution now to phase out other energy sources.

    #12507
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    Chernobyl remains among the top ten most polluted places on this earth. I invite you to live there.

    But you know, maybe the region would make a good place to store fission wastes long-term?

    Polluted mostly by fiat. Those who remained are fine, and so are the plants and animals. A label does not create an underlying fact.

    #12512
    Avatarrashidas
    Participant

    I visited the Chernobyl Museum in Kiev, Ukraine, a few years ago. There is a photo gallery of volunteers who went to Chernobyl to contain the radiation from the nuclear power plant after the core melted. Most of these volunteers died of radiation exposure and cancer. The Chernobyl accident contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union 5 years later.

    #12529
    Avataroldjar
    Member

    rashidas wrote: I visited the Chernobyl Museum in Kiev, Ukraine, a few years ago. There is a photo gallery of volunteers who went to Chernobyl to contain the radiation from the nuclear power plant after the core melted. Most of these volunteers died of radiation exposure and cancer. The Chernobyl accident contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union 5 years later.

    It’s not true that most of the volunteers died of radiation exposure and cancer. It’s probably closer to 10-20% of the emergency workers that were at the plant the night of the accident, which numbers in the hundreds. Show me proof that most of the volunteers died of radiation exposure and cancer.

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