Skepticism

Afternoon Inquisition 3.28

Good morning all. (Shut up. I know it’s well past noon, but I’m working nights, so it’s morning for me :p) Here I am on the couch again, catching the few minutes of relaxation I get these days before going back in to work. We do have a nuclear plant to get back online, after all (we are currently in a refueling outage, hence the overtime and the nights). It’s a pretty cool place to work, actually; a very palpable reminder of what science can do.

There’s been a lot of talk over the past few years about expanding our use of nuclear power as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Do you think this is a good idea?

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63 Comments

  1. Wind, solar. Nuclear is immensely more efficient, but not worth the waste. If something could be done about the waste and the hazard potential, then, heck, why not?

    Brb, I have something in my third eye.

  2. Yes, yes, and yes.
    As a former Navy nuke, I know its possible to go decades without incident. The only logistical problem is waste, and that can be figured out, if the money is there.
    Shoot, aren’t the French damn near 100% nuke powered? I seem to recall hearing that around a water cooler somewhere…
    I have heard Florida Power and Progress Energy here in good ‘ole F-L-A have proposed 2 new plants, the concern being the new laws in place that allow the companies to recoup the costs of construction ahead of time, i.e.- NOW. Rates are going to go up and up and up, looking at the costs of construction (24 billion for FPL, 14 billion for Progress Energy).
    linkage:
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89169837
    Got me thinking about these ads I’ve seen recently:

  3. I feel a tad unqualified, but I know Penn & Teller make a convincing case in favor of building new nuclear plants.

    I haven’t come across much that convinces me that nuclear is as bad as its rap. I’m also sure we’ve come a long way since 1979–when, as I understand it, the U.S. built its last reactor.

  4. I’ll echo what the others have said and say that the only serious issue is the nuclear waste, but Yucca Mountain is a promising location for storage. And if we store enough to make it worth the cost, and we can do it safely, we could launch that shit into the sun. I doubt Sol would care.

  5. If my movie viewing is any indication, nuclear accidents are likely to result in super powers. Anything that could potentially increase the supply of naked neon blue men is fine with me.

  6. My husband worked at 2 nuke plants and in fact is thinking about going back into the field….when he left it was declared a dead end field, and he’s enjoyed his current job…but good safe nuke power is possible. Problem is public opinion. I work at a school and we get iodine tablets, makes the parents crazy when we have to get them to sign a form saying in case of accident we can give the pill to their child (should be noted in case of an accident, we aren’t looking at forms, every kid is getting a pill).

  7. @Brian’s A Wild Downer: Last I heard, there were large deposits of the stuff found in Colorado and Australia, but that was also about 2 years ago or so. Nuclear is at best a temporary solution, as to the waste, much of it is Plutonium, if I recall correctly, which could be refined and reused (I’ve heard that some of the designs for the newer generation of nuclear power plants will be capable of using plutonium as a fuel) and there is work to get as much of the energy out of the radioactive water that comes out of the plants as well. These advances should hopefully reduce the amount of waste that comes out of the plants. Besides, the uranium in the ground naturally isn’t any healthier than the waste that comes out of the plants, but mining for uranium is magnitudes better than mining coal from a health perspective.

  8. Yes to nukes. The waste issue could probably be solved with more funding and research to target a solution. Given how few nuke plants have been built in the past 20 years funding research hasn’t been a priority.

  9. Got no problem with the waste, that is a solvable problem. But the world’s supply of uranium is finite. I’ve heard conflicting assessments but it sounds like we may have enough for 100 years. Given this plus the huge amount of CO2 released in the construction of new power stations, I can’t see nuclear fission as the answer.
    Massive kite farms, that’s the way to go!
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19826562.000-to-make-the-most-of-wind-power-go-fly-a-kite.html

  10. Yes, as a temporary solution anyway. There’s only so much uranium to be mined from the ground. Of course, oil has the same problem. Given the choice between the two, I choose nuclear since it’s cleaner.

    Nuclear power has a sort of primal quality to it. This is energy that did not come from the sun, unlike every other form of power we use (except for geothermal, which itself is driven in part by radioactive decay). It’s older than that. It’s left over from some supernova blast that happened before our solar system existed.

  11. There is technology to deal with waste. France reprocesses its waste. They generate 80% of their power from nuclear fission and produce surprisingly little waste. And if you reprocess your waste, you use less uranium because reprocessing uses the waste as fuel. This doesn’t happen in the US because there is a federal ban on waste reprocessing. I have no idea why this would be the case, but it is.

    Sure the uranium (and other fissionables like thorium) won’t last forever, but then it doesn’t have to. 100 years ago I believe that fission was still considered physically impossible, it certainly was 50 years before that. And we have options that are within the bounds of known physics, we just don’t have the technology to use them yet, like:
    1) Fusion. Not any time soon perhaps, but I’d be surprised if we don’t have some form of fusion power 100 years from now.

    2) Extra-terrestrial solar. If we can get a space elevator up and running (which seems reasonable in the next 100 years) we can put solar collectors in space, a much better place for them than Earth.

    Fission isn’t The Answer, but it should be a sufficient stopgap measure.

  12. Increasing our nuclear capacity is the worst idea on the table except for all the others.

    The waste presents the problem of disposal, but I’m in favour of vitrification (forming waste into insoluble glass) and burial in the seafloor in subduction trenches, where it will be steadily buried deeper and deeper in seafloor sediment until it too is subducted into the asthenosphere (which by itself will take eight to ten Pu half-lives).

  13. Properly dealt with, waste is a *very* long range problem. During a visit to Argonne National Laboratory, I was shown a design for a reactor which would process the uranium fuel into plutonium, reprocess the spent rods (into a small amount of depleted uranium and plutonium) and then reinsert the plutonium into the core to use as fuel again. All of this would be done 50m underground inside the generation facility.

    The *only* thing holding it back from being built is that people see that it creates plutonium from uranium and immediately brand it as a breeder reactor and worry about unsavory people getting ahold of weapons grade material. The problem with that is that the French do basically the same thing, except that they remove their spent fuel and reprocess it elsewhere. That puts it outside any secure facility for extended periods. And yet they have *never* had an issue.

  14. Yes please.

    As others have mentioned, waste is a much smaller problem if you put a reasonable amount of investment in reprocessing tech. There’s no need to bury huge piles of the stuff under mountains.

    The only downside is that you have to site reactors with a sensitive eye, to avoid waste heat output causing damage to local ecosystems. This is particularly true of older designs which have sometimes been historically placed near watercourses. So long as that issue is taken into account though, nuclear power can be both clean and safe. I would be absolutely fine with a well-designed modern plant being built near my home.

    Also, people might be interested to do some reading around Gen 3+ tech like gas-cooled fast reactors. They essentially “eat” our existing nuclear waste and produce clean electricity and new fuel as byproducts. Win-win-win!

    (We should be investing billions of dollars in this stuff, etc etc…)

  15. Yes Damnit! Our grandchildren are going to name this ‘the stupid ages’ as it is, the least we can do is update our pathetically antiquated power system with a safe, CO2 neutral nuclear network. Build more than we need, so when the transportation system goes electric (mark my words) we have power to spare. Anything less will reflect poorly on all of us.

  16. @MoltenHotMagma: Sorry, I wasn’t clear in what I meant by ‘solved’ for the fuel problem. James K is exactly right in that it is just a stopgap solution until we have robust enough Solar and Fusion, (probably get Solar first).

    In the context of a stopgap measure then, we don’t have any fuel availability problems.

  17. @evilspock: hehe.. very true, but I’m not counting on us ever getting base load capable Fusion. I am convinced we will get Solar capable of it and start shifting to Solar within 50 years.

    In that context it doesn’t matter when we get Fusion as it will only be needed for environments were solar can’t provide, (certain spaceflight conditions, certain military conditions, etc..), and for those nuclear is more than suitable until then also.

  18. @MoltenHotMagma:

    My favourite solution to all our power woes is to 1. use an army of robots to make some of the larger lunar craters parabolic proper.
    2.Spray a couple of molecules of a reflective metal onto said parabolic surface.
    3. Reflect sunlight to waiting solar collectors (in orbit, of course)
    4. use array of microwave emitter/recievers to transmit the constant solar power to the earth (like Simcity 2000!)

  19. Nuclear power is still limited by the amount of fuel we can dig out of the ground. Also it depends on an enormous amount of water every day. That combined with the fact that there is no way of dealing with the waste. I see no reason to give up one bad fuel for another.

    There are around 100 million homes in the US. Thats alot of roof space. Combine that with the amount of industrial roof space and work towards decentralizing the power grid.

    FDR created the TVA, used it not only to build the infrastructure for industry but to get Americans back to work. Did some good back then can’t see were it would hurt now.

  20. I think dmikeyj has good points. Comparing nuclear to coal/oil, it makes a good deal of sense. We do need the political will to deal with the waste problem. It’s not insoluble, but it will take some time to deal with the NIMBY situation.

    I also think that we need a wide variety of power sources: hydrogen, biofuels, wind, solar, tidal/wave energy capture, geothermal, etc. all have their places. We also need a major initiative to replace our power grid with a more efficient one and to make energy efficiency improvements nationwide in residential and commercial properties.

  21. This is the best of both worlds- a large series of self-contained shed-sized low energy Nuclear reactors that power about 200,000 homes. Decentralize power grids (getting back some of that 20% of power lost in transmission), lower the security risks (as the sucker is encased in a couple of cubic meters of concrete). When the beasties burns out, just pop another one in!

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/nov/09/miniature-nuclear-reactors-los-alamos

  22. Yes to more nukes…but it’s a thorny yes, and I could be persuaded otherwise. Nuclear power presents such a unique set of logistical challenges that most big-systems analysis point to narrow margins in terms of greenhouse gas reductions and increased capacity.

    First off, nuclear fuel is definitely finite. The total energy production capacity of the world’s fissionables is within throwing distance of its coal capacity-which represents a century of electricity, but a permaculture solution it is not.

    That can be expanded by two orders of magnitude if the fuel cycle includes breeder reactors. But breeder reactors make and (in most fuel cycles) concentrate plutonium, making it attractive to churn out more nuclear ordnance, potentially in countries that may behave questionably with said goodies.

    The other big problem is that a nuclear reactor, complete with fuel fabrication, containment structures, waste disposal (storage or reprocessing) is so inherently slow to construct, and so costly per installed watt of capacity (lifetime power costs are different and lower) that any dollar sunk into nuclear to squeeze carbon out of the atmosphere may take longer to take effect than renewables.

    The one thing that isn’t terribly concerning is safety-pressured water reactors (the only kind that have ever been licensed in the US) are pretty hard to make misbehave, unlike the carbon-moderated reactors like Chernobyl, and newer reactors planforms are pretty much idiot-proof.

  23. Many years ago, in my long-haired phase, I did a research paper on nuclear power. I ignored the issues of waste and safety; focusing on the economics, instead. I came to the conclusion that nuclear power was not economically viable; at least not in the 1970’s. All of the investor-owned utility operations of nuclear power were subsidized by the Federal Government (please don’t ask me to cite my references – that was a long time ago and the paper is long gone, but I leave it to the interested student to dig deeper into the matter). I did note that the Navy had an exemplary record with safety, but that one of their engineers expressed significant discomfort with civilian operation of reactors. I suspect that safe operation of fission power will prove to be quite expensive – perhaps sufficiently so to make wind and solar look like bargains. The Navy has such a good record because they do not need to pay shareholders a dividend.

  24. @jabell2r: I personally think any notion that the government can/will/should solve any future energy shortages/dilemma/problems is wishful thinking/fantasy/misplaced nostalgia.

    All the government appears able to do at this point is impose decentives which suppress the profit incentives necessary for industry to invest in new technology and encourage ingenuity.

  25. Nuclear involves a lot of trade offs that are well worth making. We don’t need to mine any more uranium, for about 400 years if consumption continues to go up at the same rate. Nuclear weapons can be reprocessed into power. Using reprocessing, recycling, melting down our WMD, etc, and mining we can get a good millennium. Then we can switch over to thorium and get another several thousand years. Yes, rouge states can use certain types of reactors to make wmds. You can use infant formula plants to make mustard gas too. Technology always cuts both ways. Technological solutions (no nukes) to social problems (angry, stupid people leading angry hungry people) are dumb. Get rid of bad leaders and feed the starving, then go nuclear.

  26. Oh and Chernobyl was designed badly on purpose for political reasons. Even reactors designed purposely to make weapons materials don’t have to be as intrinsically dangerous as Chernobyl. And 3 mile island was the Tet Offensive of nuclear. Stupidity prevented 2 of 6 fail safes from working. The other 4 were fine.

  27. @Aristothenes: actually, the one i’m working at now is a boiling water reactor. but your point stands, nonetheless: chernobyl had no containment to speak of, and knowing what i do about the way the two plants i work in (one bwr and one 2 unit pwr) it seems pretty unlikely that anything approaching that level of crisis could ever happen here.
    much is made of three mile island, and yes, it was a big snafu, but people forget that nothing was released from the plant in that incident. the safety structures did their job.

  28. In a word …Yes.

    Of course we need fission nukes as an interim power source, probably until we crack the controlled fusion nut or are generating most of our power as masers from solar satellites.
    (Yes, I believe the long term solutions are that far off).

    As to a few of the previous comments;

    Shed sized nukes? Mebbe you get the core down to that size, but the associated BFW plants, piping and balance of facilities take up a smidge more room than that….like oh…about 80 sq blocks at a minimum (for a 200Mw station)And they make atrocious amounts of noise.

    Nukes using too much water? Any thermal electric plant will use a LOT of water and due to the inherent forced recycle sequence in a nuke I’d be willing to bet they use less water per Mw than coal or gas…but I could be wrong on that one.

    Wind / solar? Hmm…while I agree they certainly have their place I only have anecdotal data available so I will ask the skepchick commenters to fill me in instead of guessing.

    How much of the available land mass of the continental US would have to be converted to wind or solar farms to replace the current output (no pun intended) of fossil fuels and nukes?

    @carr2d2 Nice to hear another rational voice from the power industry.
    Yes it is sweet to go to work every day and see the pointy end of science’s stick in action.

    BTW if you’re in a planned outage you should schedule your holidays more shrewdly…even during forced outages I am usually scarce enough that you need a back-hoe to find me.

  29. @Electro:

    Shed sized reactors are slated to hit the market very soon, and they come without the requisite ‘huge amounts of land’ that you say they need:

    http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com/

    They are supposedly capable of 25MWe of power, or enough for 20,000 homes. We aren’t talking about a shed sized plant to replace our big generators, the HPG’s are for a big, decentralized power network. This generator comes without any moving parts, and it is buried under a couple meters of concrete and lead, so I also don’t know where this huge amount of noise will be coming from.

    http://www.dailynewscaster.com/2008/11/09/nuclear-power-plant-the-size-of-your-garden-shed-can-power-20000-homes/

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27845359/

  30. I no longer think we have the choice but to add nuclear power, at least for awhile. If we had followed Jimmy Carter’s advice in the mid-70’s, it would have bought us enough time to work on alternatives. Instead, we pi$$ed it away and have to pay the price.

    I very much like the idea of decentralized power generation. For one thing, it makes the terrorist threat to our national power grid obsolete. For another, it makes nationwide (or continent wide) power outages a thing of the past.

    @JamesFox: I’m not as pessimistic as you are about the government – after all, they are the ones that funded and ran the Manhattan Project. It can be done – the question is whether it will be done.

  31. I haven’t kept up: has the Obama bunch showed any hint of moving towards a nuclear policy other than “thanks, but no thanks”?

    Killing the Yucca Mountain project is viewed by some (I think I read it on Slate) as a sign that Obama will continue to let nuclear power decline into a slow, grudging death. I’m assuming this is all from pressure from short-sighted environmentalist groups, but I don’t know for sure.

  32. @phlebas: After some 9 billion the project is still on hold. The people of Nevada seem to have been against it before it even got started. The idea was that it would be a dry place to store containers but it didn’t work out that way. Now it is not in the current budget, if no more money is thrown at the project it will likely go away.

    Electro you are correct that nuclear does not use much more water than coal or NG. Solar, Wind, and Tide however don’t use anywhere near as much. Two years ago here in Charlotte we came within 30 days of not having enough water to run either.

    James I know your right, I’m a wishful thinker. My fears about the Obama administration seem to be coming through. Most people seem to think voting for him was enough. Doesn’t look to good so far.

    Electro: awhile back National Geographic pointed out that it would take about 10% of the roof space in the US to provide the energy needed.

    carr2d2 since your in the industry maybe you could clear something up. I was under the impression that in order to use material from waste and weapons you needed a Fast Reactor. Of which there are none in the US.

  33. Wind/solar/etc are not up to the task of powering this country. The only energy source that is at the moment is Nuclear. Sure we could continue to pray for a breakthrough in some new technology, but the clock is ticking on our oil reserves, and we’d better get to work. Nuclear all the way.

  34. @evilspock My apologies as I misread your numbers by an order of magnitude ( thought you said 200K homes)…however i have just returned home from a 16 hr call-out and dont have time tonight to dig further into your links…neither mentions even the basics of principal of operation in the opening page and do not offer obvious links to this info (mebbe I’m too tired to see it). I need to look further into how viable this technology actually is cuz the web page reads like a sales pitch and makes some pretty far out assumptions about regulatory changes, to say the very least.

    As I am currently unclear as to the method that these units would liberate even that many electrons, I will simply elaborate on my space and noise component, which was limited to the understanding that these were thermal units.
    Thermal generation stations require boiler feed water, the ancillary equipment needed to produce and recover it, even if you start with clean tap-water, is not small.
    During the high steam, low steam, condensate cycle, large amounts of venting is required, this is VERY loud. Also even a little guy at 25 megs makes a pretty hefty whine, throw in about 100k hp worth of electric and steam turbine drives to move the water and vital fluids around and and your dB’s go up in a hurry.

    Now, if those units you mentioned are truly solid state and actually viable, the above comments are retracted with my shameful apologies.

    @jabell2r Again, I apologize for not having time to fact check, and the anecdotal evidence I cited is based on 70’s era technologies but…..Could anyone plz verify that number (10%)from a less biased source.
    Believe me, without wanting to start an o/t fight, I have reasons for not believing a word Nat Geo prints without reliable third-party verification.

    Offered in the spirit of discussion, without reservation. If I am shown to be wrong here feel free to excoriate me for being too lazy to google tonight.
    Mebbe send over some of Rebecca’s face murdering bears.

  35. @electro:

    I believe the units that EvilSpock refers to are indeed “solid state”, or at least they definitely don’t use a steam-cycle turbine generation system. They use an array of thermocouples to generate current directly from the thermal gradient produced by radioisotope decay, instead of the more conventional moving magnet generation system used in steam-cycle plants.

    My understanding is that they have no moving parts, and work on the same principles as the thermoelectric units currently used in a lot of space and satellite applications – just on a much larger scale.

    Much as I’m loathe to cite Wikipedia, they seem to have a pretty good entry on the subject:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator

  36. @jabell2r: sorry, can’t help you there. i’m not in what you’d call the brains area of the field (i do construction work) so my knowledge about the processes is indirect. as a curious and scientifically minded person, i do tend to ask a lot of questions and do research, however this is not an area i’ve explored.

  37. @Electro: Rowlock is correct, if my memory serves. I can’t find any sources right now but over the last year I have heard two lectures and read at least one major article about these small sized nuclear stations. I know this is effectively hearsay, (I will look for the links, but it’s been a long day for me too). That said, I seem to remeber that your point about regulatory issues is spot on. I think it actually got a full five to 10 minutes in one of the lectures as they were addressing the policy, regulatory, monitoring, and other such issues.

    A lot of those are mitigated by their intent to install them into pits, however. The idea behind them is to dig a big hole, bury the reactors after attaching them to the grid, use them till they run dead, then replace with another.

    Regarding your question about land usage and the viability questions for wind and solar…

    Solar –
    Each sq. meter (sq.m) of the earth receives 1370 watts of energy from the sun.

    Once this gets through the atmosphere, gets through to the ground, and is averaged out over the course of a full day (24 hours), the number goes down to 164 watts per sq. m

    1 sq. km = 1000000 sq.m -> 164 Mega-watts per. sq. km.

    Now.. the highest efficiency solar cells out there are at around 40%. So our power per sq. km drops to just over 65 MegaWatts per sq.km.

    Last time I looked, a good, baseload, powerstation, (big one), will provide about 900 GigaWatts. So we need 13846 sq.km to hit that mark.

    To generate a bit more for safety, and adding some space for non productive land and access, supporting equipment and so on we go to about 15000 sq.km.

    this represents a square of about 122 km. on a side.

    To put that in context, DeathValley is about 13650 sq. km.

    So, on that note, you are right.. current and near future foreseeable Solar panels are not going to provide centralized baseload, (I’m not going to address the actual, appropriate, decentralized model for this.. They are fully capable of that because then every rooftop becomes a mini-power station).

    However, solar cells are not the best way to capture solar energy.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25285030/
    http://www.whatsnextnetwork.com/technology/index.php/2005/05/16/the_world_s_most_efficient_solar_electri

    Using focusing dishes and thermal cycle driven generators currently does a much better job. And for that you actually get the same power provision with much less space, (I’m skeptical of the claims made in the articles, but still impressed).

    So, a mixture of decentralized solar upon as many rooftops as possible, (as in why does the land have to be only for power collection. We are wasting that roof space currently), centralized thermal capture farms, and some wind, (I won’t make this post longer with the numbers). Would easily power everything with just the sun.

    The catch? currently, solar cells have about a 6 to 9 year payoff period for the time needed to recoup the energy cost required to make them in the first place. That’s to long and they are to expensive to roll out of such a massive scale because of it. (payback for the thermal capture systems should be way less than 5 currently depending on how you set it up, but situation can change that).

    So, to sum up, you are correct in your suspicion that solar is not currently viable on its own. That is fast changing, and it is technically viable already, but the economic realities have us still about 15 years out from any major uptake on it, (less with a lucky breakthrough in any key technology).

    Of course, none of this addresses the storage problems, but those are being solved surprisingly quickly right now.

    Oh, and sorry about not citing sources in most cases. However, the numbers I used are all commonly available. A quick google should confirm them for anyone interested.

  38. @MoltenHotMagma: I was wondering when you would weigh in on this topic.
    i have now had a brief sleep, but some clever bugger with a back-hoe has found me again…i have to go back to work.

    No problem with your not citing sources / numbers here I consider your input bias free

    The whole pocket nuke concept obviously requires more research on my part.

    I do however remain leery, as I was once told by one of our systems engineers that fluid bed boilers would be viable and producing
    1M lbs/hr of clean steam in just over a year. That was seven years ago.

    Thanks all, for input. Now I have something to chew on after service call.

  39. I’m all for nuclear energy, but not for “green” reason. You get a whole lot of power out of that. The waste, hmmmm…what if we shipped to a celestial body. Do you think the sun would appreciate it? I mean, really, the sun is like the ultimate incinerator. I’m thinking, WCS, we take a couple million years off its 5 billion year life span.

  40. Fission’s messy. The cost of maintenance and disposal makes it just barely practical.

    Tokamak fusion seems to be constantly in that “nearly there” state, with the researchers playing a game of plasma confinement whack-a-mole.

    Bussard’s Polywell fusion design shows some promise. The science is sound but there are some engineering hurdles to overcome.

  41. @Electro: Am I that predictable? *laughing*

    Well, to be clear, I’m not sold on the decentralized nuke plan. On paper it sounds like a real winner, but I’d need to know more about the implementation plans to be confident. A lot of things could go wrong.

    I am convinced that nuclear, in some form, is the most appropriate stopgap until we get Solar fully off the ground though, (Bring efficiency up and manufacturing cost down so that payback is around 3 years and it becomes perfect).

  42. @MoltenHotMagma: Correction to my major post above. The AVERAGE size of a power station is much smaller than I represented above. I was orders of magnitude off (sorry all).

    It appears that a very larg station will only rate around 1.5 gigawatts. That radically changes my previous calculations. With that number, 25 km sq of Solar cells could provide the equivalant of 1 large power plant. That means that death vally alone is equivalant to 546 major power stations.

    Those numbers radically change the viability of Solar currently. Given that the rest of my information has checked out against my further investigation that actually means that solar is actually viable, (though pricy), with current technology if the storage problem can be addressed. So though currently technologically viable, (mostly), it is still economically difficult, (payback periods are still to far out).

    Sorry about my initial mistake. I was sleepy. :/

  43. Dang it.. sorry to chain post, (edit button anyone?). I ment to say, my information on power station size is still not at 100%. It turns out to be a difficult piece of information for me to dredge up.

    Though I have a higher confidence in my current information than my initial relating to station size, I’d appreciate if anyone in the industry could clear this up.

  44. Forewrning…Electro is little tipsy,,,,

    Magma, you are not predictable and i was hoping to include Skepchick Carrie in this convo….

    My point is this tech sounds very much like what every one wants…

    Interim beg for forgiveness(hic)

    PLZ PLZ show me link to where fission piles liberate electrons….(I undesrstand the heat portion)

    I am unfamialiar with any thermocouple technololgy tht would liberate 25Mw on any scale….I mean really……

    plz at this point i have to ask for numbers which is far more your milieu than mine…..

    pause to remind electrochicken is hammmered

    and once again plz be patient with
    skepi-commenters who have indulged

    Srsly I dont find many brains on-line and I would love your input

    Shaun

  45. open apology to all skepchick readers/commenters

    I have been feeling reely lousy lately and have commented on topics for the pure joy of conversation.

    I will back em’ all up …or eat the crow of your choice.

    I am guilty of failing to fact check.

    Too tired yesterday, and Too drunk tonight….

  46. @Electro: I don’t know the details of nuclear well enough to vet the technology myself, (refering to the way that nuclear is used on spacecraft or the possible way used in the links pointed to by evilspock), without looking into it. That’s why I stayed with what I do know well, (solar and wind), so far.

    However, I’ll see what I can find on the mechanisms for current nuclear once I get off work today. Honestly I should have started digging earlier. If we are lucky, dmikeyj will pop back in. I knew Nukes when I was in the army.. Every one of them was very sharp and know that topic better than some nuclear physicist I’ve encountered. Something about working on a reactor, under the ocean, for a job. Seems to promote real understanding of what they are doing.

    Oh! and have one for me. I could use a drink. :)

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