environment,energy,greenhouse,gas,carbon,dioxide,global,nuclear energy,clean energy,emissions,global climate change,environmental impacts, Nuclear Energy Can Save US: September 2007

Nuclear Energy Can Save US--America�s 100 nukes equal four million barrels of oil per day.

Billions of lives and civilization itself may be at risk from the Global Warming & End of Cheap Oil, Crisis. Rising sea levels and rising oil prices could be the end of civilization as we know it. The problem is so huge that the most powerful answer, many nuclear plants, must be deployed. Currently, America‘s 100 nukes deliver the energy of four million barrels of oil per day. Wind and solar cannot do the job, and may delay the real answer too long. Still, all kinds of clean energy, plus conservation, plus reducing deforestation, will be needed to help the poor half of the world, and for civilization to survive through this century.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ralph Nader Does Not Know the Answer

In an internet rant, Mr. Nader wrote that nuclear is not the answer. He is wrong; especially with respect to the following ideas:

"The nuclear industry is coddled by government". Ridiculous. Nuclear is hardly helped at all in comparison with the coal burning industry; which is not fined for discharging lead, mercury, organic carcinogens; nor for nitric and sulfuric oxides which kill tens of thousands each year; nor does it pay a "Carbon Tax" for the two billion tons of CO2 emissions each year; nor is there even talk of a "Radioactive Tax" for the fact that coal burning plants (10,000 large and small) emit three times as much radioactive U-235 as is contained in the yearly fuel for America's 100 nukes. (See Post, Coal Beds as Uranium Mines.)

"Nuclear plants endanger people because they are terrorist targets". A nuclear plant, protected by 150 million pounds of concrete, and impacted by a 747, is far less dangerous than many chemical plants would be if hit by a Cessna. An angry worker in Bhopal, India, opened a valve at a chemical plant, poisoning and killing thousands; blinding and maiming thousands more.

"A nuclear plant accident would lay waste an area the size of Pennslyvania". I never believed this, and still don't. Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which received large, explosive radiation charges, from those terrible bombs 60 years ago, are thriving cities now.

"Electricity for nuclear fuel enrichment causes massive CO2 emissions from coal burning plants". TVA provides all of the enrichment electriciy in America. They have 3 nukes, plus hydroelectric resources; little coal. If this little is bad, why doesn't Ralph rant about coal.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Open Letter to National Geographic

This letter responds to an article in the Geographic, Oct. 2007, issue, which discusses fighting global warming with 14 good, diffused methods, plus the answer, Nuclear Energy.
Dear Editors: As an 80-year old, who will not be here when the horror occurs, which it surely will if nuclear does not sweep the world; I am frightened for your future. Especially when your wonderful magazine, our environmental leader, does not press nuclear energy. The other 14 strategies, in the Math of Global Warming article all depend on tens of millions, really 50-60 million US households, working feverishly to save the world. You know this will not happen until the effects are plain to see, and the biosphere is well beyond the tipping point.
I have started a blog, nuclerenergycansaveUS.blogspot.com, with my common sense view. I may make sweeping statements, and some may be simplistic, but none are as unrealistic as "In the same decade we would have to build 400,000 large wind turbines; clearly possible" (How can you say this?). I want to believe it could be true; if 400,000 started by 2040, 2.4 million could be built this century (equal to 1200--1800 nuclear plants; 12X4, or 48 million barrels oil/day, to 18 X 4, or 72MBPD//18 to 26 BBPY; near current oil use.)
If both 12--1800 nukes and 2.4 million turbines are built, civilization may squeak through, but nukes are so much easier to believe, than wind. Germany, a wind energy fan, and the sixth greatest economy on Earth, only plans 40,000, in the 2000 to 2030 period. Even cranking up from there, can you see them building 40,000 some decade, let alone 40,000 every decade. The rest of the world will be pressed to build even 100,000 per decade.
Why not feature nuclear energy, when the NRC expects 29 applications for plant licenses in the next three years, and GE, a no-nonsense company, says that they can construct a plant "from first pour of concrete to reactor critical in 36 months"? ElBaradei, IAEC, says India will increase nuclear 50-fold by mid-century; China will be building two plants per year soon. Between them, they are likely to hit 600 this century; America could easily do 100 or 200; and hundreds more will probably be build by Japan, France, Russia, Brazil, etc. I cannot compute how many of your other 14 sources, 4-600 nukes by mid-century, and 1800 or more by the end, would cover, but my guess is near half. Then all the other good ideas would work.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

2006 Was A Very Good Year

Viewing the chart above, from eia.doe.gov, you might think that global warming is no longer a problem. For the year of 2006, fossil fuel use declined four-percent, from 85Q in 2005 to 81.6Q in 2006, with the attendant drop of 4% Carbon Dioxide emissions as shown. Just what is going on?
You have to read the fine print. It is clearly shown in the text, that the winter of 2006 was unusually mild, and the summer, unusually cool; less heating oil in winter, less air conditioning electricity in the summer. You can be certain though, that there will be bad years when these effects are exactly reversed. The only reasonable way to consider fossil fuel use, is the long term average increase of one-percent per year as shown on the chart. This increase has been occurring for a decade or more, and will continue in coming decades. It will go on until America and the entire world wake up to the dangers of Greeenhouse Gas emissions, and take a sensible turn to clean, non-CO2 energy. This may be in the form of wind, biofuels, etc., which can help. However, the problem is massive and can be fought most effectively by the massive energy that nuclear plants deliver.

If the link does not open, use www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/flash/flash.html.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Coal Beds as Uranium Mines

A statistic from a decade ago (I can't find the source) said that the coal burned in America contains 35 thousand tons of uranium. Adjusted for today's coal supplies, this would be equal to 40,000 tons of uranium in the one billion tons of coal that we burn each year. Since natural uranium contains seven-tenths of one percent, radioactive U-235 (the source of the energy, the bombs, and all of the controversy), 40,000 tons of uranium holds 280 tons of U-235.
For comparison, America's 2000 tons of nuclear fuel (20 tons per plant by 100 plants) contains only 5%
U-235, or 100 tons. Coal's 280 tons of U-235 is not changed in any way by burning (reactors or huge atom smashers are the only devices that can effect the nucleas). Therefore, coal's 280 tons of U-235 is discharged right into the environment, into landfills, and into the air we breath. The 100 tons in the reactors is transformed into a zoo of radioactive daughter products, but it is also carefully contained and stored.
Uranium U-235 has a half-life of 700 million years. This does not change as coal is taken from the ground and through furnaces, so the 280 tons U-235, discharged from the coal will be in our environment for billions of years. Imagine the anger if this radioactivity was discharged from reactors.
If 280 tons of U-235 in coal sounds hard to believe, note that this much in 1,000,000,000 tons is only 40 parts per million. Per Magnum Uranium, all coal contains some uranium; some coal beds even have 1000 ppm. In fact, a coal source with only 750 ppm is considered to be a low-grade, but still economically, minable uranium
(If Magnum Uranium link does not work, use www.magnumuranium.com/s/Uranium.asp )

Monday, September 10, 2007

Answer to a comment

A respondent to my Post (Beyond Kyoto--America Needs an Emissions Goal), says that we must be concerned about curbing the emissions from China and India first. We should also set a real US goal as an example. I tried to answer him, but could not get through. He is right that America needs a responsible emissions goal, for credibility. However, to hope for China and India to curb emissions soon, is just as unrealistic as it is for America. In the case of China and India, they are in process of developing huge economies to support over two billion people. They are aware though, of the dangerous pollution from fossil fuels, and seem ready for large-scale deployment of nuclear electric plants. Humanity has to hope that nature will give us this century to get our act together. If China/India between them build 600, or more, one-gig nukes this century, it could be part of the answer to global warming. If America builds 400, which is doable with public demand, this 1000 total will equal 40MBPD of oil; which is nearly half the world's current oil consumption. However, oil will be gone, and there will be more people on Earth
. (A Yahoo News article says that the NRC's newly created Office of New Reactors expects to receive 29 license applications in the next three years. It also cites a GE claim that it can construct a plant from first concrete pour, to reactor critical in 36 months).
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Thursday, September 6, 2007

How High Can the Oceans Rise?

Currently, and for some decades past, the oceans have been rising at an average rate of two millimeters per year (Scientific American, 12/02 and 10/03). Two mm equals 0.080in. For a century, at this rate, the worldwide ocean level will rise only 8 inches (100 x 0.080=8.0). For my post (Will Earth get Hotter or Colder), various statement from SA articles were used, to estimate that the maximum rise from now, could be only 20 feet. This is not correct because the amount of ice remaining in the world was more than I thought. The post was based on several statements starting with "10 million cubic miles of ice (9.3 M cubic-miles water) melted after the last ice age raised sea levels by 360-feet". This sounded right. 9.3 million cubic miles water, over 140 million square-miles of ocean, would raise the sea 1/15 of a mile, or 352 feet. Close enough, but I misinterpreted other data.
Statements to reconcile now, include: "Antarctica contains 90% of the remaining ice in the world, and Greenland has most of the rest" (SA). "The West Antarctic ice field contains 3 million cubic kilometers of ice" (SA). A Binghamton University prof, says melting of Greenland's ice cap would cause the sea level to rise 6.6 meters (21.6 feet). Melting all the ice on Antarctica would raise sea level 73.4 meters (241 feet), a total rise of 262 feet.
From these statements, my estimates would be as follows:
262 feet rise over 140 million square miles = 7.0 Million cubic miles water = 7.5 MCM ice.
Antarctica = 90% of 7.5 MCM ice = 6.8 MCM ice
Greenland = 7.5 - 6.8 = 0.7 MCM ice = 0.65 MCM water = 0.65/7.5 X 262 = 22.7-foot rise
West Antarctic Ice Sheet =3 MCKm of ice= 0.72 MCM ice =0.67 MCM water = 23.4-foot rise.
East Antarctic Ice Sheet: 6.8 MCM ice - 0.72 MCM ice (West. Ant.) = 6.1 MCM ice, or 5.7 MCM water. This much water would cause a huge sea level rise. No one is concerned about this, in any human time scale. This ice sheet has been stable for 15 million years, whereas the West Antarctic sheet, has vanished from time to time; the last being 600,000 years ago.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Once Again: The Massive Potential of Nuclear Energy

It is hard to understand why no one seems impressed, that 100 small nuclear electric plants provide energy equivalent to 4MBPD of oil. No one has made any comment. Is this common knowledge? Maybe some comparisons will help.
One barrel of oil contains 42 gallons, and weighs about 275 pounds. It is simple enough math, but Google did it for me; one barrelPD of oil equals 50 tons of oil per year. Therefore, 4MBPD equals 75 billion tons of oil in a year. Each 4MBPD that America imports, equals nearly 1.5 BBPY. Each such quantity costs $90 billion cash that we have to export to other countries, for $60 oil. Many foreign countries will be happy to raise world prices still futher when oil becomes just the least bit scarce. At $100 oil, which I will see in my lifetime, despite being a senior citizen, 1.5BBPY will cost $150 billion. $200 oil will cost $300 billion. I might even be around long enough to see this.
I have seen two estimates of biofuel equivalence to oil. A Chevron ad claims that one acre of soy beans can produce 60 gallons of fuel. Therefore, 4MBPD of fuel would require 25 million acres of soy beans. A Cornell College professor (See Post "Ethanol From Corn Will Not Do"), says that it would take 11 acres of corn to power the average American car for a year. This means that 4MBPD of fuel would take 200 million acres of corn. Either use of acreage would be insanity for America, unless my math is wrong; anyone? 4MBPD is 20% of what America consumes nowadays, and we have only 400 to 460 million acres of arable land. (We even pave some of it every year.)