Homepage Forums Policy Earthquake v. Powerplants

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  • #9794
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    Suggestion to use little 10MW fission generators under power stations:
    http://www.kurzweilai.net/is-anything-nuclear-ever-really-super-safe-small-and-simple

    And The Register excoriates the media hype:
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/18/fukushima_friday/

    Nothing else in the quake-stricken area has come through anything like as well as the nuclear power stations, or with so little harm to the population. All other forms of infrastructure – transport, housing, industries – have failed the people in and around them comprehensively, leading to deaths most probably in the tens of thousands. Fires, explosions and tank/pipeline ruptures all across the region will have done incalculably more environmental damage, distributed hugely greater amounts of carcinogens than Fukushima Daiichi – which has so far emitted almost nothing but radioactive steam (which becomes non-radioactive within minutes of being generated).

    And yet nobody will say after this: “don’t build roads; don’t build towns; don’t build ships or chemical plants or oil refineries or railways”. That would be ridiculous, of course, even though having all those things has actually led to terrible loss of life, destruction and pollution in the quake’s wake.

    But far and away more ridiculously, a lot of people are already saying that Fukushima with its probable zero consequences means that no new nuclear powerplants should ever be built again. ®

    Personal bootnote

    As one who earns his living in the media these days, I can only apologise on behalf of my profession for the unbelievable levels of fear and misinformation purveyed this week. I have never been so ashamed to call myself a journalist.

    #9805
    Avatarbenf
    Participant

    Who to believe? Radioactive materials are now showing up in the food supply in Japan. Should you still eat it? What to do with grazing farm animals in the vicinity that you can’t bring to market? Should pregnant women be concerned? What about infants and small children? Can you believe in the [email=http://www.pacificecologist.org/archive/12/behind-the-cover-up.pdf]UNSCEAR reports[/email]? How much exposure is a [email=http://books.google.com/books?id=Uqj4OzBKlHwC&pg=PA128&lpg=PA128&dq=critic+unscear&source=bl&ots=I_PRw5Y-uN&sig=XPLi6UHFdsisDmlgC_Xy7BxdMAE&hl=en&ei=nCGFTe6EB5P6sAOwrunyAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBMQ6AEwADgK#v=onepage&q&f;=false]problem[/email]?
    And all of this shouldn’t be newsworthy? Does it have to be dead bodies to count? Sorry to say it, the news for fission nuclear has been bad.

    Radiation is successfully used in medicine to treat disease and for diagnostic purposes, but in very controlled environments. Fukushima has been out of control.

    Correct me if I’m wrong with this information: With Focus Fusion (using hydrogen and pB11), you won’t be using radioactive materials that can spread into the environment. When it is running neutrons aren’t produced that would make materials radioactive. With Focus Fusion, you wouldn’t have a meltdown, it would simply stop working.

    #9807
    Avatarzapkitty
    Member

    benf wrote:
    Correct me if I’m wrong with this information: With Focus Fusion (using hydrogen and pB11), you won’t be using radioactive materials that can spread into the environment.

    Correct.

    short description relevant to current events

    A Focus Fusion unit is technically a type of aneutronic fusion reactor that uses boron and hydrogen for fuel.

    It fuses ions of Hydrogen (p) and Boron 11 (B11) to generate energy and neither of those elements are radioactive and they do not produce any radioactive waste that has to be stored… much less stored and kept under constant cooling.

    The p and B11 are forced together using a device called a dense plasma focus or DPF. The DPF is powered in pulses by jolts of electricity supplied by a bank of large capacitors. When the unit is running some of the energy generated by fusion is used to recharge the capacitors and complete the circle.

    But the concepts of “chain reaction”, “critical mass” or “decay heat” that are currently wreaking havoc in Fukushima are simply not relevant in fusion reactors.

    Instead it goes like this: a proton (the Hydrogen atom’s nucleus) is fused with a Boron 11 nucleus to form a Carbon 12 nucleus (C12). But although the C12 atom is very stable and not radioactive in and of itself, the C12 thrown together by the FF unit is rockin’ out with the energy of the fusion process that created it… and it breaks apart into 3 helium nuclei (He4) carrying a lot of energy and some X-rays.

    And the He4 nuclei, which are called alpha particles when they’re out and about on their own, these can be directly converted into electricity as can the X-rays

    No neutrons needed, no steam and no expensive turbines.

    benf wrote: When it is running neutrons aren’t produced that would make materials radioactive.

    Correct: An aneutronic reactor is one that has less than 1% of its output energy carried by neutrons. An FF unit meets that criteria by a large margin, with only 0.2% of its output energy carried by neutrons.

    So while some neutrons are produced in an FF as the result of occasional secondary reactions they are a minor pest, something easily shielded against but otherwise ignored. These neutrons do not carry enough energy to make the FF core a radioactive hazard and FFs produce no radioactive waste. None whatsoever.

    Now, technically speaking, an end-of-life FF core will be a bit more radioactive than when it started but the radiation would be about the same as…

    … check this out…

    … a classroom full of kindergarteners.

    Terrifying, no? 🙂

    Myself… I’d use it as a bookend or a paperweight but then I’m a silly person (FF cores are tiny things for all the power that they handle.) The actual plan is to recycle the core materials into new cores.

    benf wrote: With Focus Fusion, you wouldn’t have a meltdown, it would simply stop working.

    Correct. Full Stop. Period. Perambulate No Further. End Of Discussion.

    Now, there is one detail about an FF that has been shut down (whether the shutdown was intentional or not) but it is truly a minor one: During FF operation an occasional nucleus of C11 is created instead of C12. This C11 is radioactive but the half-life is 20.38 minutes and it decays into not-radioactive B11. Back to where it started.

    During operations this is unnoticeable compared to the main fusion process going on… but it is why you’d want to wait about 9 hours after shutdown before opening an FF for servicing.

    But *after* that 9 hours has passed then there will be no radiation hazard in the core. None at all.

    #9808
    Avatarbenf
    Participant

    Thanks Zapkitty…you nailed it… 😉
    -bf

    #9846
    AvatarIvy Matt
    Participant

    There’s an interesting thread on fusion safety concerns in the Talk-Polywell forums.

    #9848
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    Actually, Zapkitty, considering the benefits of moderate radiation (the hormesis phenomenon), operators of FFs should charge admission for a few hours exposure to the gamma in their containment buildings. 🙂

    #9849
    Avatarzapkitty
    Member

    Brian H wrote: Actually, Zapkitty, considering the benefits of moderate radiation (the hormesis phenomenon), operators of FFs should charge admission for a few hours exposure to the gamma in their containment buildings. 🙂

    Errr…. what FF containment buildings?

    Anyways, people can get that sort of stuff for free by sunbathing on granite outcroppings and they’d get a wider selection as well :coolgrin:

    #9852
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    zapkitty wrote:

    Actually, Zapkitty, considering the benefits of moderate radiation (the hormesis phenomenon), operators of FFs should charge admission for a few hours exposure to the gamma in their containment buildings. 🙂

    Errr…. what FF containment buildings?

    Anyways, people can get that sort of stuff for free by sunbathing on granite outcroppings and they’d get a wider selection as well :coolgrin:
    Not sure what term to use; the little garage-sized buildings that house the FF core and caps, and provide access for servicing.

    I understand concrete and brick are pretty good sources, too. 😉

    #9853
    Avatarzapkitty
    Member

    Brian H wrote:

    Errr…. what FF containment buildings?

    Not sure what term to use; the little garage-sized buildings that house the FF core and caps, and provide access for servicing.

    Call it the housing, I’d guess. Then heading inwards the shielding would be “the shielding” 🙂 Then the FF reactor itself consisting of the caps, onion, vacuum chamber, ion coil, and the core itself… good terms for common use?

    “Containment” implies we’re trying to contain something that’s wants to get out… say, after an accident… and the word will have a definite meaning to the public post-Fukushima.

    The only thing that might possibly worry the public after an FF shutdown would be the C11… and you’d have to break into the vacuum chamber from the outside in order for that to be a problem… and it would still only be a problem inside the shielding even then. Might be a good point to make when talking FF safety?

    Brian H wrote:

    Anyways, people can get that sort of stuff for free by sunbathing on granite outcroppings and they’d get a wider selection as well :coolgrin:

    I understand concrete and brick are pretty good sources, too. 😉

    I suppose the best spot for that would be be sunbathing on a granite outcropping that juts out over an exposed coal seam while a classroom’s worth of kindergarteners build a brick wall around you… but we don’t want people to get the wrong impression…

    #9854
    Avatarjamesr
    Member

    Of course you’d be eating a nice Brazil nut & banana desert at the same time.

    #9856
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    benf wrote: Who to believe? Radioactive materials are now showing up in the food supply in Japan. Should you still eat it?

    Given that it’s actually minute fractions of safety standards, and the standards are probably 100-1000X more twitchy than they need to be, I’d have no hesitation in eating it. Or animals that fed on it. Specifics matter; this is not Strontium-90, that sits in your bones forever!

    #9857
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    jamesr wrote: Of course you’d be eating a nice Brazil nut & banana desert at the same time.

    Don’t forget the peanut butter cookies! Sounds like a grand picnic, to me.
    :coolgrin:

    #9858
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    Zapster;
    Ya, the C11 is even harder to get to than the decaborane plasma which implodes and congeals as soon as you break into the vacuum chamber. Oh, well, I s’pose you could lick the cathodes! After checking to make sure they weren’t hot or “hot” (receiving lotsa KV from the the caps).

    zapkitty, indeed!

    #9860
    Avatarzapkitty
    Member

    Brian H wrote: Zapster;
    Ya, the C11 is even harder to get to than the decaborane plasma which implodes and congeals as soon as you break into the vacuum chamber. Oh, well, I s’pose you could lick the cathodes! After checking to make sure they weren’t hot or “hot” (receiving lotsa KV from the the caps).

    zapkitty, indeed!

    Well, I was thinking of post-shutdown radiation worries of a jittery public, but the fuel has a chance of being toxic as well if you broke into the chamber and stuck your head in… but there’s no particular reason for the disassociated fuel gas to reassemble itself as decaborane, is there? From the plating issue Lerner mentioned I suspect you’d mostly have solid B11, free H2, and some hydrogen boranes…

    Hmmm… if someone took an axe to an active FF, wouldn’t the disassociated fuel gas still just plate out as B11 and a somewhat randomized collection of boranes as the air hit it?…

    #9861
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    zapkitty wrote:

    Zapster;
    Ya, the C11 is even harder to get to than the decaborane plasma which implodes and congeals as soon as you break into the vacuum chamber. Oh, well, I s’pose you could lick the cathodes! After checking to make sure they weren’t hot or “hot” (receiving lotsa KV from the the caps).

    zapkitty, indeed!

    Well, I was thinking of post-shutdown radiation worries of a jittery public, but the fuel has a chance of being toxic as well if you broke into the chamber and stuck your head in… but there’s no particular reason for the disassociated fuel gas to reassemble itself as decaborane, is there? From the plating issue Lerner mentioned I suspect you’d mostly have solid B11, free H2, and some hydrogen boranes…

    Hmmm… if someone took an axe to an active FF, wouldn’t the disassociated fuel gas still just plate out as B11 and a somewhat randomized collection of boranes as the air hit it?…
    Yeah, the actual mass of gas in the vacuum space is quite small, and would solidify as soon as it cooled, I think.

    Joking aside, the take-away is that it requires a hyperactive imagination and rapid application of destructive force and violence to achieve even a small risk exposure.

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