Wind is NOT the Alternative

Updated 10 June, 2017


How to Get Rid of Coal Burning

New stuff

"Energy crisis cannot be solved by renewables, oil chiefs say"

--headline from "The Times", London, June 25, 2007
Well may they do so. Solar-derived energy resources on the official list of "renewables" are exactly as fickle as the weather. But it could be solved by adopting a nuclear power option which renews the supply of fissile nuclides.

Wind is NOT the Alternative

Why Not?
Wind Turbine blades - longer than Jumbojet Wings California
ugly wind energy factory

Wind Mills and Liberty

Model Tower
1.5-megawatt GE 1.5MW 212 ft 116 ft 328 ft.
1.8-megawatt Vestas V90 262 ft 148 ft 410 ft
2-megawatt Gamesa G87 256 ft 143 ft 399 ft.
Statue of Liberty N.A.N.A. 305 ft
Atomic Insights

SONGS abandoned

This was the swan song of SONGS (San Onofre)
The reactors are now to be permanently shut down, for fear of a leak of radioactive water It tells a different story from the popular environmentalist view that is official in California.
It is in terms that apply to ALL nuclear power, but breeder reactors produce no long lived "waste", and liquid sodium does not rust and eat through its pipes.
How Ontario is Doing It!
Fast Neutron Reactors, WNA site
Fast Neutrons
Bonnie Scotland! Ayrshire
Note the size of the vehicle

Each of these six monster turbines, if the wind is 20 mph or more, produces about 2.1 MW. But in a strong gale, they'd have to shut down. Whitelee wind farm
There are a couple of hundred more of them, maximum total output 539 MW. not enough to replace one base load (1000 MW) coal burner. At a wind speed of 5 metres/second, 10 mph, the output of 232 of these gigantic windmills will be one eighth of what 20 mph produces, i.e. about 60 MW.
Bonnie Scotland! Caithness
Baillie wind farm
Baillie wind farm, run by Stadtkraft of Norway
Palm Springs
ugly palm springs
Windmill Madness in Germany
"Windmühlen-Wahn Von umweltfreundlicher Energie"
From Earth Friendly Energy
"zur subventionierten Landschaftszerstörung"
to Subsidized Destructiom of the Land

Real Options

Two nuclear breeder options exist, one of them well-proven, the other with the advantage of using thorium, which is slightly more plentiful than uranium. At present, the USA's actual annual consumption of fissile uranium is about 50 tons. About 25 tons of U-238 are also fissioned, as plutonium, Pu-239. That's because light water reactors burn up about half the available fissile isotopes.
EIA quotes USA's annual consumption of uranium oxide at 50 million lbs. It's been pretty constant for about 20 years or more. That's 25,000 tons, about 21 thousand tons of the element uranium. It contains about 21x7.2, that's 151 tons of actual fissile U-235, which is 0.72% of natural uranium. Uranium is not scarce, but fissile uranium is. Nevertheless …
Roughly two thirds of that ends up in the "enriched" uranium of fuel rods, which are considered "spent" when half the fissile isotope content has been consumed, by nuclear fission (of course). Neutrons convert a small fraction of the non-fissile isotope U-238 into Pu-239, a fissile isotope of plutonium, and that contributes about a third of the fission energy. So perhaps 75 to 90 tons, total of highly radioactive, short-lived fission products is the true nuclear waste for the nuclear contribution, 20%, to the USA's annual electrical energy consumption. The "nuclear waste problem" is greatly aggravated by the fact that we have a wasteful law that forbids reprocessing of spent fuel, and so the long-lived neutron capture products, and the original unused uranium, are classed as "nuclear waste"
Ironically, three of the four neutron capture products after plutonium are called Americium, Berkelium, and Californium
Where is California's, or even America's, pride?
The fact is that even the word "spent" is an exaggeration. If you have a wood fire that has gone out from its accumulation of ash, you may very well still have wood in it that'll burn. Nuclear fuel rods that have been in a reactor for three years still have about three times as much fissile content as natural uranium, they are "slightly used" nuclear fuel Energy Independence ... continued

Here's how I think we could solve it, modestly called "My Solution"

Also see

Nuclear Breeder Options

In the past 20 years, the US government has grossly neglected some otherwise promising examples of these options.

Note that both of these are renewable, sustainable alternatives to every other energy resource. They consume ALL of the fuel provided, and the waste products are short lived, — they do not include uranium or plutonium.
Electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles are only as "clean" as the source of their electricity or hydrogen. These nuclear reactors can supply either of these, especially if you have enough reactors to supply near-peak electrical demand — they can charge batteries, or fill hydrogen tanks, at off-peak.
One kilogram (about 2.2 lbs.) of fissile isotopes consumed in today's reactors provides ten million kWh of electrical energy. At the current average price in the USA of about $0.10 per kWh, that's about a million dollars. Subtract from that the cost of sequestering 1 kg. of fission products for a couple of centuries, not hundreds of millennia, a breeder reactor is a huge economic and environmental bargain compared with coal and fracking un-"natural gas"
In terms of availability-on-demand, wind and direct solar are almost useless, although photovoltaics do respond to the same sunshine that sends up the demand for air-conditioning. Even hydroelectric and biomass are dependent upon the previous year's weather.

  1. LMFBR- Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor

    Fast neutrons create 239U -> 239Np -> 239Pu from 238U, the common isotope of uranium. The coolant is liquid metal, in this case sodium, which melts at the boiling point of water.
    The prime example of this was the IFR program, which was canceled as "unnecessary" by the Clinton administration in 1994.
    It had already proven itself effective, and proof against meltdown. The closed fuel cycle makes it resistant to anything less than terrorists who already have nuclear weapons.
    See Advanced Reactor Concepts for one of its descendants.

  2. LFTR- Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor:
    Search also "LFTR Kirk Sorensen "
    But note that in comparing the thorium-to-uranium process with uranium fueled reactors, Sorensen usually ignores the fast breeders, and makes a virtue, which it isn't, of not producing trans-uranium isotopes

    In this case, the fuel itself is in solution, which has certain advantages. Like the IFR, it can consume ALL of its nuclear fuel, so the only wastes are the short-lived fission products. The fissile material will be 233U, but the two other fissile species can perhaps be used as starters. In one of Sorensen's videos, he compares the neutron-capture behavior of U-233, U-235, U-238, and Pu-239. It is quite possible that the LTFR will prove superior to the IFR, but I think we need the IFR right now The "fertile" material is 232Th, the common isotope of thorium. By neutron capture, it is turned into 233Pa which decays to 233U, a uranium isotope which like 235U and 239Pu is fissile.

It should be noted in the above that the IFR generates and consumes fissile plutonium from a uranium feedstock, while the LTFR consumes fissile uranium from a thorium feedstock, but both will depend upon a startup fissile component, which at first means that BOTH depend upon 235U for startup or for the production of the startup load.

Any one of India, China, Russia, Japan, France, or the Czech republic may very well become the world leader in civilan nuclear energy. Let's hope it isn't Russia or China. Maybe Iran is truly only hoping to develop civilian nuclear. Civilian renewable nuclear energy could dominate the world the way oil does now, when the reserves are used up,

How the USA can have Energy Independence
and Export to Others, Freedom From Oil, Gas, and Coal

Fissile Nuclei

An element can exist with different numbers of neutrons in its nucleus. The masses differ, and these variations are called isotopes. Hydrogen has three isotopes, one of which is radioactive. Elements with massive atomic nuclei can include isotopes which easily capture neutrons and split, releasing energy in amounts that are huge compared with chemical reactions. For some reason, the fissile isotopes of uranium and thorium are shorter-lived, and therefore scarcer, than the non-fissile.

Radioactive Water

Senator Barbara Boxer made a great fuss about the danger to California residents of a possible leak of "radioactive water", but there was nowhere any indication of how  radioactive the water would be, nor what the radioactive species was. Perhaps she did not know or appreciate that the leak was between two totally enclosed high pressure water systems, in their heat exchanger. Nor was there any comparison with the radon emitted by the shale fracturing to replace the nuclear power with " clean, natural " gas.

The tube in question did not “rupture.” It began leaking at a rate of less than 150 gallons per day, which is less than a pint per minute.
Detectors installed in the secondary system immediately registered the leak by sensing the N-16. The operators on shift took appropriate immediate actions and began a controlled shutdown so that the leak could be isolated and its nature determined.

Because the primary coolant the tubes contain has just passed through the reactor core, it contains a constant concentration of a highly radioactive isotope N-16, which has a half life of less than 8 seconds. Depending upon the power level, there is some level at which it decays as fast as the neutrons are producing it. Ten billion atoms of N-16 is a quantity of less than thirty millionths of a microgram. The beta radiation from that tiny quantity would be billions of becquerels, gigabecquerels, GBq. But it would not last. That isotope is therefore both easily detected, and completely decayed away just 4 minutes after the water has been out of the reactor.

But Senator Boxer, and the various ABC news reports spawned by the news, ignored the information from engineers who knew what they were talking about, and babbled on about the terrible dangers to Californians, aye, and to everybody in the USA living within three hours walk of some reactor, from nuclear radiation.
She is on record as talking about the dangers to people within 50 miles of the reactor.
Any person that knew what made the water radioactive, and especially understands the basic fact that the emission rate is an indicator of how fast it is disappearing, would know that after the time it would take the water to go fifty yards from the reactor the most sensitive instrument from Los Alamos wouldn't be able to detect the radiation.
Unfortunately for the people of California, the air pollution that went up in the first year that the reactors were shut down, will stay high, because the entire output of all the wind "turbines" and solar panels in California is a lot less than the over 2,200 MW output of SONGS, day or night, sun, wind, or rain.

Fast Neutrons

A slow neutron is more likely to cause fission of susceptible isotopes than a fast one. This seems counter-intuitive, but the attraction of the nuclear "strong force" gets a longer time to work on capturing neutrons at local thermal speeds. The energy that disrupts the new nucleus so formed is derived, like that of a falling meteorite, from the force of attraction that captured the neutron. But our intuition, that the harder the neutron hits the target nucleus, the more likely it will split, is not entirely unjustified. The disadvantage of thermal neutrons is that with U-235, sometimes the neutron and the nucleus simply settle down as only moderately unstable U-236, and the energy potential is wasted. Fast neutron reactors (FNRs) are designed so that the probability that even fast neutrons will hit enough targets is high enough for a chain reaction. The disruptive energy of fast neutrons is enough to split nearly every nucleus that captures one. So the only significant waste from a FNR is fission products, (which are short lived) because all the trans-uranic neutron capture products are fissile by fast neutrons.

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