back to article New nuclear fuel source would power human race until 5000AD

Since the Fukushima meltdown - as a result of which, not a single person is set to be measurably harmed by radiation - we know that nuclear power is safe. New discoveries by US scientists have now shown it's sustainable as well. That's because US government scientists have just announced research in which they've massively …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Cool

That is all.

27
3
Boffin

Re: Cool

Until the huge ball of FIRE and cloud of DEADLY RADIATION. Then it gets hotter.

Clearly wind power is the way, then we can BLOW the clouds of deadly radiation out to sea, solar panels to REFLECT the deadly heat from the fire and ethanol to BURN THE HERETICS who doubt these methods, clearly bringing death to us all.

17
14
Happy

@Cam2A

You forgot the sarc. ;-)

5
0

Re: Cool

unfortunately this fiction can not happen in our reality... get help with your drug/mental issues dude

6
17
FAIL

Re: Cool

Goes to show that no matter how much you think "Nobody could take my post seriously" someone will come along and prove you wrong.

Thanks, Internet.

56
0

Re: Cool

A variation on Poe's Law in practise.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Poe's_Law

3
0
Meh

Re: Cool

Yeah, Poe's law (Also known as "Any sufficiently advanced parody is indistinguishable from a genuine kook.") is alive and well.

6
0
Bronze badge
Joke

Re: Cool

Is there a corrolary having the humorous effect of a "Loh's Paw"? (Other then spoken by Maxwell Smart.....)

0
0
HMB

The Usual Silliness

Nuclear power is bad because it sounds like nuclear bombs, or something like that.

Radiation is dangerous and super hazardous, except in hospitals, smoke alarms and small amounts in bananas.

We shouldn't research nuclear power because it's old and 1950s-ish. Wind turbines are so much sexier and now. It's like wind turbines ate a Zeitgeist or something.

We don't need cheap, abundant energy anyway, who cares about getting the developing world out of Poverty?

67
6
g e
Silver badge
Coat

Re: The Usual Silliness

MMmmmm bananas

9
1
JDX
Gold badge

Re: The Usual Silliness

Radiation even in hospitals IS dangerous. It's also dangerous in power generation - but in both cases it's handled very carefully so the benefits massively outweigh the risks.

Claiming 'nuclear is safe' is wrong. Nuclear is only safe when you are absolutely committed to remembering how dangerous it is at all times.

35
17
Anonymous Coward

Re: The Usual Silliness

from the reg itself. An apparently safe nuclear alternative:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/11/04/nuclear_renaissance_interview/page3.html

2
1

Re: The Usual Silliness

ever heard about hormesis? and don't talk about safety UNLESS you are willing to talk about the death/health toll of all methods of power generation....in which case nuclear power generation comes out as best and safest by an astronomical margin....

30
5
Silver badge
Mushroom

Nuclear Power

Don't kill people. Accountants kill people.

*Works for other industries too.Your mortality rate may vary.

22
1
Silver badge

Re: The Usual Silliness

"We shouldn't research nuclear power because it's old and 1950s-ish. Wind turbines are so much sexier and now. It's like wind turbines ate a Zeitgeist or something."

Wind turbines are only a technology we threw into the dustbin of history 150 years ago as soon as a 1% efficient steam engine could be got working.

26
1

Re: The Usual Silliness

Its actually much safer than let on by governments and the like. Look at deaths per TWh.

1
2
Silver badge
WTF?

Re: The Usual Silliness

"Claiming 'nuclear is safe' is wrong. Nuclear is only safe when you are absolutely committed to remembering how dangerous it is at all times."

So is driving a car, and it's amazing how many idiots they let loose on roads around the world....

And opposed to idiots driving cars, nuclear energy and it's inherent risks *can* be contained, the waste products *can* mostly be recycled and re-used, and adherence to safety and proper practice regulations *can* be enforced.

If well implemented nuclear energy is a hell of a lot safer than crossing the road in your average suburb, but that doesn't comply with the Green Agenda.

Bring on the downvotes..

39
3
Joke

Re: The Usual Silliness

The same thing is said about sharks. Come to think of it, this uranium-net might take out some sharks as a positive side-effect, thus reducing the millions of people measurably harmed by sharks annually to a more reasonable number - say, five or so.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: The Usual Silliness

The tree-huggers would like us to go back to travelling on horse-back and on rowing boats. If two horses bump into each other, not much happens; so a lot safer than cars.

5
3
Silver badge

Re: The Usual Silliness

Yep, the same applies to electricity, steam, fire, and swinging big rocks around. Any form of energy generation/transmission is dangerous and must be used carefully, right?

3
1
Thumb Up

Re: The Usual Silliness

Upvoted JDX, plus the simple point... WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE FRIKKIN WASTE? Seriously scientists, tell me, what do you do with the frikkin waste?

5
8
Silver badge
Coat

Re: The Usual Silliness

Actually, if two horses bump into each other you usually get more horses.

7
0

Re: The Usual Silliness

What to do with the waste?

Generate more electrical energy!

Convert the radiation into more electricity.

8
5

Re: The Usual Silliness

So you take all the gloves, clothing, tools, shielding, end-of-life components, decomissioned reactors, pipework, instruments and the containers you stored them in and you pile them in a room along with the gloves, clothing, tools etc. you used to move them and this creates electricity? Without creating more waste?

Serious explanation please, what do you do with the waste?

7
6
Silver badge

Re: The Usual Silliness

> it's inherent risks *can* be contained

Not true.

Nuclear is *inherently* dangerous - its a chain reaction which requires a great deal of tech to keep in check. Unless you built it way underground, away from any water sources, to the extent that if all your man-made stuff failed, it would still not affect people, animals or vegetation, *then* you have contained the inherent risk. I don't think anyone is proposing anything like that.

Fukushima was certainly a triumph of engineering over the natural elements which caused problems. That's nice for us, but what if the tsumami was a little larger? The engineering isn't inherently safe, its probably safe.

Risk is a calculation, something like damage x likelihood=risk. There is an assumption that everyone is happy with that definition of risk. I'm not convinced that they are. The issue is that while the likelihood is small, the damage is massive, to the point of being global.

Crossing the road is far more "dangerous" but that too follows the technical definition of risk. The frequency is higher but the damage is far lower *and* the individual can control the risk by looking both ways, using a proper crossing etc. The stats are skewed by those who are drunk, careless or wrapped in the iFog of death. Perhaps those with who have a "green agenda" are simply more careful on the roads to the point where the standard risk assessments don't apply.

Perhaps those opposed to nuclear power think its better to probably kill a few people than improbably kill millions and contaminate bits of the earth for generations. A non-nuclear power station is inherently safe (for a given definition of safe) because a total failure has a known and localised effect.

As far as the article goes, if the fuel costs are a tiny % of production, a new source isn't going to have much impact. It might be bad news for Australia but not much more. There are a couple of issues I can see: quality tends to drop as quantity increases, so lots more nuke stations may not be quite as safe as we might hope. Most of our industry is outsourced to China - I'm not sure we want the Chinese to embark on a massive nuke plant building scheme - it isn't politically correct, but I suspect we would far rather the Chinese kill their own people with pollution than risk killing us. The cost of building and running a nuke plant is huge - the fuel might be cheap and plentiful, but the overall cost is huge.

Unless you are looking for political independence from the middle east, or you want to kick-start your industrial sector by subsidising energy costs with taxpayer money, there probably won't be much scope for using this plentiful fuel. I doubt its going to happen. Governments typically get a lot of tax from oil sales so subsidising energy which might replace oil would be a major cost to them.

Personally, if you're going to spend billions, why not do more research and development of geothermal?

9
10
Bronze badge

Re: Nuclear Power

Lol... Reminds me that i once worked with an accountant who said, "I'm an ACCOUNTANT: I can make one plus one equal THREE if i WANT".....

3
0
Bronze badge

Re: The Usual Silliness

Idiots driving cars CAN be contained if we have the WILL power to have the WHEEL power to atomically space-fold their asses when they drive recklessly. Then, recover their sarccoughagas capsulized vehicle and turn their spent asses into fuel pellets...

Just an idea.... Hehehehe

0
0

Re: The Usual Silliness

Read- Recycle uranium. It costs money but is much safer in the long run. If 99% of the most toxic longest lasting waste can be recycled then you have a much smaller waste storage problem. The remaining waste decays in 10,000 years. This is something no one has any problem designing storage for. It is the 100,000 plus years storage profile that is impossible to contain.

0
1
JGT
Mushroom

Re: The Usual Silliness

You have a few choices with the waste:

- recycle it into more fuel. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breeder_reactor) The original nuclear fuel cycle int he US was going to include breeder reactors that would take the "spent" fuel and enrish it.

- Intern it in a deep place where it will be safe for several 10k years, or a subduction zone where it gets plunged into the mantle where it will resurface in a million years or more.

- Launch into space and store it on the moon (Space 1999 anyone?), or drop it into the sun where it will remain for another 4 billion years or so. Yes, launching radioactive waste is risky. However, containment design and materials have come a long way in the last few decades, making it feasible and fairly safe to lob the stuff into space.

3
2

Re: The Usual Silliness

@Osgard Leach,

There are other methods such as RTG's and <Insert emission type> - voltaics, as well as fission for generating electricity.

0
0
JGT
Mushroom

Re: The Usual Silliness

Are you willing to go back to ALL the tech that horse-back riding means? No internet, no tv, no radio, no telephones of any sort, no drugs of any sort (including antibiotics), no synthetic materials (nylon, polyester, safety glass, super glue, plastics of any and all sorts, paper finishes, cosmetics), the grand majority of soaps, detergents and conditioners, no heating or air conditioning, no refrigerated food storage, no insulation materials, no concrete, no pesticides or fungicides, no dental filling materials, etc.

What of the above are you willing to give up?

With a horse riding level of technology how are you going to make the things you don't want to give up?

4
2
Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: The Usual Silliness

Am I the only one thinking "WTF was that article about?"

So.... basically stuff that we've got loads of and aren't using much of.... we have even more of. And cue several pages of commentarding about nuclear power.

Way to make a story out of nothing.

3
1

Re: The Usual Silliness

In an nutshell, you've just expressed the typical pro-nuke argument, and you think you are ever so superior to those ever-so-foolish anti-nuke people.

You say that we don't want "cheap, abundant, energy". This is absurd, because nuclear power isn't really isn't all that cheap. There are all sorts of costs that they want to wish away, such as decommissioning, the environmental damage from mining and processing radioactive ores, and the huge, government subsidized costs when a nuclear plant goes bad.

We were told we were foolish to believe that nuclear accidents couldn't happen with all the safeguards and backup systems... but now that it has several times now, the utterly amazing argument is being made that an occasional massive blowup like Fukashima / Chernobyl / Three-Mile Island ... is not really all that bad.

Mr Lewis is hardly is any expert about the hazards of the massive amounts of radiation released at Fukashima to justify his opinion of just how minimal the effects are going to be over the next few years, and for the thousands of years the long-lived radionucleotides spread so far and wide will be polluting the environment. Most scientists expect that there will be a many hundreds of extra deaths from the resulting pollution, but spread over such a large area that it will be difficult to trace them. So it's extremely disengenuous to claim that there are no deaths associated with Fukashima.

Nuclear power isn't even all that green even if you wish away all of the radioactive danger ... the whole process of building massive structures to process fuel, house reactors, and so on emits vast amounts of greenhouse gases.

Wind power, even without subsidies are becoming cheap enough to compete with fossil fuels. The cost of solar and other green power is continuing to decline as new technologies, and economies of mass production result in lower costs and increased efficiencies.

People like myself are think we are better off using the vast, free energy provided by the sun. We could even make the argument that pro-nuke activists don't want abundant, inexpensive energy, and want to keep insisting that we pour even more money down this expensive and inherently dangerous technological dead end.

8
9
Anonymous Coward

Re: The Usual Silliness

"...we threw into the dustbin of history 150 years ago as soon as a 1% efficient steam engine could be got working..." But the reason we discarded water and wind was that it tied factories near the sources. The owners and managers did not want to travel from the factories to the cities and their wives wanted the social scene in town. Since the advent of the electrical grid that is no longer relevant.

I am pro nuclear but facts are facts. And there are likely to continue to be places on Earth where wind and water are ideal to power stuff. High aloft wind power looks very promising. Enormous energy up there, especially in the jet-stream. Solar? Well, it is as good a solution as any where there is no grid. Small plutonium "batteries" are perfectly viable power off the grid for decades but in this day and age people can't be trusted with the stuff. If they could, we could have totally safe nuclear cars in a snap. Pellets can be coated in thick strong noncorrosive metal no radiation would ever leave it, just heat conducted powering a Stirling engine. Propeller aircraft could fly indefinitely.

I don't think we should continue with the old tech nuclear when Thorium and depleted uranium look so promising. There are doubtless other possibilities as well. Crazed leaders of numerous small countries can't be trusted with current uranium reactors and most larger countries can't be either.

If we can't trust individuals to have nuclear cars when the pubic is policed how can we trust governments who have considerably more resources and are not policed, to use nuclear power in an ethical way?

And let's say the US and perhaps some other first world countries go nuclear and it works just fine giving us an economical advantage over other countries...those other countries are not going to back down from pursuing the same technology to compete, to be seen as respectable, and other reasons. It would be impossible to stop them and look repressive and hypocritical.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: The Usual Silliness

Are you aware of the various fuel lifecycles? It is possible to fuel certain types of reactor with output from others, but it does carry proliferation risks and a certain amount of reprocessing. I've yet to hear a convincing case for a more efficient means of energy production. But if you know of one, please let me know...

1
0
Silver badge
FAIL

@Geoffrey Swenson

"he environmental damage from mining "

What , you mean coal mining and drilling for oil is squeaky clean is it?

"long-lived radionucleotides spread so far and wide will be polluting the environment."

You ever sat on some granite in cornwall? Take a geiger counter next time and frighten that hippy mind of yours.

"he whole process of building massive structures to process fuel, house reactors, and so on emits vast amounts of greenhouse gases."

Compared to a coal fired power station pumping out hundreds of millions tons of C02 in its lifetime? Don't be an utter cock. And last time I looked wind turbines weren't made out of hemp and beeswax - they're built of concrete and steel. Where do you think that comes from?

"People like myself are think we are better off using the vast, free energy provided by the sun."

Yeah , good luck with that anywhere outside the sahara where there is plenty of sunshine and unlimited land to build solar collectors on. Ever been north of the artic circle in winter? Hint - there is no sun.

7
4
Boffin

Re: Hormesis

Until now, there's no solid case that radiation hormesis (little bit of ionizing radiation is good for you, sorta like radioactive homeopathy) actually exists.

More likely, and more consistent with what we actually know, is that there may be a threshold below which ionizing radiation does little or no harm because living organisms may be able to "repair" the damage caused.

0
1

Re: The Usual Silliness

And so is stepping outside in the sunshine and that "nuclear industry" kills more people per annum.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: The Usual Silliness

@jonathanb "If two horses bump into each other, not much happens; so a lot safer than cars."

In fact, of course, the risk of accidental death and injury in the pre-industrial age was much greater than it is today, especially when applied to the much lower populations of the time. Horses may not cause a lot of damage when they bump into each other, but lorries don't suddenly get scared and bolt when carrying a load of logs.

4
0
Boffin

Re: The Usual Silliness

The waste is:

1) Transuranic actinides (Plutonium etc) created from neutron activation of fuel e.g. U238 + n -> Pu239. This is either fissile and so fuel directly, or if you leave it in the reactor long enough it will absorb enough neutrons to become fissile. So, some combination of reprocessing, or a system like liquid cores which allow materials to remain in the core for a long time.

2) Fission waste (Cesium 137, Strontium 90, Technetium 99) -- when it's fresh, this is the famous High Level Waste. You get something under one ton per year from a large power reactor. Reprocess out of the fuel matrix, put it somewhere dry and cool (without losing it) and wait. This stuff is so very active, that it's pretty much faded away in about 300 years (10 Cs137 half-lives -- 1000-fold reduction). Tc99 is VERY long lived, so it's not particularly active, but it could be destroyed by neutron activation if it's a concern. 500 years seems a long time, but it's not the absurd tens of thousands of years that you get if you don't re-process and leave the waste mixed in with actinides.

3) Operations (hats and gloves) and decommisioning waste created by contamination with fission waste or neutron activation of the structure also tends to be short lived and dilute. Wait. Let the decommisioning sinking fund grow, the activity decay, and your robots get better. But mainly design reactor buildings and housings to be re-used and replaced in regular maintenance.

Seriously, waste is a legitimate issue, but in the face of the prize -- zero carbon, reliable, sustainable energy -- it's one that we can deal with by management. The impact, in size and risk, on the surface of the earth and its inhabitants is tiny, invisible, compared with the gigatonnes of waste dropped into the atmosphere, uncontrolled, by gas and coal.

6
0
FAIL

Re: The Usual Silliness

Recycling is a nice idea if only it worked. Sellafield was a disaster in every possible way - reprocessing waste turned out to be much more expensive than expected (far more expensive than mining new uranium), incredably dirty and polluting (they lost hundreds of kilos of plutonium, some of it within the buildings, some of it was dumped into the sea - yes really) and never was commercially viable. So after being funded and built with taxpayer money, it is now being closed down, dismantled and cleaned up (as far as that is feasible), again at a huge cost to the taxpayer.

So recycling spent fuel has been tried and failed dismally. And there are still people who claim nuclear power is cheap AND safe?

5
3

Re: The Usual Silliness

True...and remembering that, at the moment, assuming we wish to continue consuming power at the same rate, we don't really have too much choice.

0
0

This post has been deleted by its author

This post has been deleted by its author

Re: The Usual Silliness

Thanks UMACF24 for a proper answer.

Points.

"Reprocessing", didn't we try that? Didn,t go well I think.

"Remain in the cores for a long time." I realise all these solutions are going to involve long time frames but it can't stay in there forever so are we then back to reprocessing?

"One ton per year per reactor" adds up to a heck of a lot of tons worldwide, of the really ugly stuff. I don't lie awake at night in fear of terrorists or rogue states but I don't see the wisdom in the human species to keep all that power contained.

Yes 300 - 500 years seems almost do-able set against time frames in excess of our history as a species but again the reprocessing, (and all the waste created by that)

"Operations." Understood it's low grade but there's an awful lot of it and again the solution seems to be "wait."

"In face of the prize" There's the rub. I love nuclear power, I'll eat the risk of accidents, releases to some extent but we can't pretend we know what we're doing until we have working, rational solutions to the question of the ever-expanding kilo tons of physically and politically toxic waste products.

1
1

Re: The Usual Silliness

Thanks JGT for actually answering rather than just downvoting blindly.

Points.

Recycling. As I understand it this is strictly for the high grade, spent fuel rods etc. Can it do anything about the countless tonnes of medium/low grade stuff? This stock seems to just expand every time you handle , measure or move it.

Burying it I can understand but the time frame, the geology, the politics.... Seems like a slightly polished version of dumping it in the oceans.

The subduction zone seems tricky as this is not a rapid process, is deep under water and involves very high pressues. How do you contain and monitor the stuff for so long?

Launching it into the back of the sun has long been my personal favourite and was my top choice for a Millenium Project worthy of an advanced species. (Sadly we built a big tent instead, but then we are only an advancing species.)

0
0
Vic
Silver badge

Re: The Usual Silliness

> they lost hundreds of kilos of plutonium

[Citation needed]

Vic.

1
0
Joke

Re: Nuclear Power

That's lawyers, surely?

"Ask a housewife how much two and two is, and without hesitation, she'll tell you it's four.

"Ask an accountant and he'll say 'I'm fairly certain, but let me run through those figures once more.'

"Ask a doctor and he'll think about malpractice, and say 'I'm fairly sure that at the very least it's three.'

"Ask a lawyer and he'll lock the doors and draw the curtains, and whisper 'How much do you want it to be?' "

0
0
Flame

we know that nuclear power is safe

That's quite a statement to make!

>> Old enough to remember Cherbonyl

15
34
HMB

Re: we know that nuclear power is safe

Here we go. Chernobyl again. I mean we could have said something sensible and measured like "I'm not sure I trust cost cutting soviets to design, build and man a nuclear power station properly", but sadly, we just sink to the level of debate that makes George Bush Junior look smart.

The CEGB reviewed the RBMK reactor when it came out, they concluded it was dangerous. It's in the national archives.

Incidentally the soviets weren't stupid, they just compromised safety for a reactor that could be refuelled on-line and run on unrefined uranium ore.

33
6

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums