How long will nuclear power last?

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How long will nuclear power last?

Postby Bishop56 » 29 Mar 2009, 08:02

In the description of your website, you say "We are convinced that nuclear power is vital to securing energy production in a sustainable way until science can provide us with a truly limitless source of power." Why do you say this? Are you worried we will run out of uranium?

I know of only three sustainable energy sources: nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, and solar.

Solar has a huge theoretical capacity-- if only we can lower the cost dramatically, store it since it is intermittent, and manufacture structures to capture it without fossil fuels. Solar has a long way to go.

Nuclear fusion is the source of the sun, but science has yet to devise a way to harness the energy in a reactor that can handle temperatures of hundreds of millions of degrees, although progress is slowly happening, namely with the Tokamak ITER design. The joke is that it will always be fifty years off.

All that leaves is nuclear. There are two fundamentally different types of power plants, pressurized water reactors and liquid sodium cooled fast reactors. To power the world using standard reactors would deplete global uranium reserves in a few tens of years. However, using fast reactors the fuel supply is virtually limitless.
http://www.ans.org/pi/ps/docs/ps74.pdf

To me, nuclear is the real deal. If Solar or fusion don't work out, or remain prohibitively expensive, then nuclear fission will end up powering the world forever.
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Re: How long will nuclear power last?

Postby Michael » 29 Mar 2009, 12:09

I think we are pretty much in agreement here Bishop. Not only do we believe uranium will hold us for quite some time since it's log-normal distributed in the Earth's crust , that is to say for every 10 times lower concentration of uranium, the abundance increase about 300 times. And after uranium, or alongside with it, there is thorium at 3 times the abundance of uranium. These fuels will hold for a long time (long = more than 500-1000 years).

Fusion is the great promise for a "never" ending energy with either the Tokamak design, Bussard's ideas, or that laser-shooting-droplets thingy (though I personally still think that seems pretty far fetched). Either that or a breakthrough in energy storage and transportation that solves the reliance problems with solar and thus allows remote solar farms and daming up rivers in unpopulated areas (since hydro is a terrific source of power). But until that happens, fission seems the way to go.

/Michael
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Re: How long will nuclear power last?

Postby WizardOfLinn » 08 May 2009, 12:56

There are also billions of tons of uranium dissolved in the oceans, that could be extracted for about 400$/kg if necessary.
The extraction process has been demonstrated by the JAERI (Japan).
The other thing is that as rivers carry each year almost 50000 tons of uranium to the oceans, from erosion, this ressource can even be considered as renewable...
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Re: How long will nuclear power last?

Postby Michael » 08 May 2009, 13:10

WizardOfLinn wrote:There are also billions of tons of uranium dissolved in the oceans, that could be extracted for about 400$/kg if necessary.
The extraction process has been demonstrated by the JAERI (Japan).
The other thing is that as rivers carry each year almost 50000 tons of uranium to the oceans, from erosion, this ressource can even be considered as renewable...

Renewability isn't the key issue... it's whether it's sustainable or not that matters. Is it sustainable until we have viable alternatives?

My opinion: yes, it is.

/Michael
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Re: How long will nuclear power last?

Postby WizardOfLinn » 08 May 2009, 14:58

I agree with you. And anyway, the stock of seawater uranium is equivalent to thousands of years of today needs, so renewability is definitely not a key argument. The other thing is that there is so much uranium from conventional mines that it may never be necessary to tap seawater uranium, if we develop fission breeder reactors, or if fusion works (and is cost effective...)
I just like to recall that seawater uranium may be as renewable as wind and sun because it is a bit provocative idea.
(try to say this to a nuclear opponent !)
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Re: How long will nuclear power last?

Postby Michael » 08 May 2009, 15:03

WizardOfLinn wrote:I agree with you. And anyway, the stock of seawater uranium is equivalent to thousands of years of today needs, so renewability is definitely not a key argument. The other thing is that there is so much uranium from conventional mines that it may never be necessary to tap seawater uranium, if we develop fission breeder reactors, or if fusion works (and is cost effective...)
I just like to recall that seawater uranium may be as renewable as wind and sun because it is a bit provocative idea.
(try to say this to a nuclear opponent !)

Heh... while you're at it, try to say that nuclear power is actualyl safer than wind power. ;)

Well, it is... looking at the number of related injuries and deaths per kWh produced.

But then they start with "What about nuclear accidents?!". Well what about them? TMI-2 didn't hurt a single soul and the 2006 death toll from Chernobyl was 64. Then we turn our eyes towards hydro... and the Banqiao Dam failure in 1975... 170 000 dead... 1 000 000+ homeless.

Conclusion: Nuclear power is sustainable and safe.

/Michael
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Re: How long will nuclear power last?

Postby EllsBells » 11 Jan 2011, 00:16

It is the best way to generate electricity for a whole country. We have to inform the public on how it works and debunk a lot of the rumours which people listen to because they are not sure on the process.

We should focus scientists on providing solutions to the flaws of nuclear power (which like any great idea has some). Why try to start a new system like solar power which is not as effect when we should be working on best option...those who work on alternative power sources do it because they want to protect the environment which I respect but if they focus on nuclear power they can have the best of both worlds, a eco-friendly system and one that can produce enough power for the people of the modern age.

Some things seem like they are not possible but if we work together we can keep nuclear power going on for years to come.
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Re: How long will nuclear power last?

Postby Klas2k » 11 Jan 2011, 10:01

I think that Nuclear power, both fission and fusion, is a very new technology to us humans, but that it is, as they thought in the 50-60's "the future".
Having said that, I also do think that wind, hydro,biofuel and wavepower has a place in the mix. However these are, apart from hydropower maybe, smaller plants for a more distributed power supply.

Maybe in a near future we will see small nuclear reactors even, but i do think that people in general are not quite ready for having a nuclear reactor in the village yet :)

But I do agree with you that in a sense nuclear power is the "real" power - solar power is a derivative of this, and wind/hydro is a derivative of solar etc

/K
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Re: How long will nuclear power last?

Postby DarrylLippard » 04 Mar 2011, 21:28

Michael wrote:I think we are pretty much in agreement here Bishop. Not only do we believe uranium will hold us for quite some time since it's log-normal distributed in the Earth's crust , that is to say for every 10 times lower concentration of uranium, the abundance increase about 300 times. And after uranium, or alongside with it, there is thorium at 3 times the abundance of uranium. These fuels will hold for a long time (long = more than 500-1000 years).

Fusion is the great promise for a "never" ending energy with either the Tokamak design, Bussard's ideas, or that laser-shooting-droplets thingy (though I personally still think that seems pretty far fetched). Either that or a breakthrough in energy storage and transportation that solves the reliance problems with solar and thus allows remote solar farms and daming up rivers in unpopulated areas (since hydro is a terrific source of power). But until that happens, fission seems the way to go.

/Michael


you know .. people never thought we'd run out of fuel and now we are.

you never know .. we might run out of uranium too ... have you seen the population surge of the last century?
Last edited by DarrylLippard on 02 Mar 2016, 16:17, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How long will nuclear power last?

Postby doppelsonnenuhr » 12 May 2012, 08:48

I notice that no-one mentioned thorium as a potential nuclear fuel. I'm quite pro-nuclear, but I have an extremely strong bias towards systems that are safe by design. I should also point out that I'm a programmer and that I came here to learn. Does anyone have any knowledge of reaction systems which don't employ the physics of critical mass?
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