1. Giving humans lots of energy is not going to be an unalloyed joy. When fossil fuels really got going we needed to invent National Parks to protect the environment. The move to Nuclear Power needs to be accompanied by a vision of much greater environmental protection which will become possible when we have cheap energy (e.g. intensive agriculture with artificial light to reduce the amount of land needed, much more aquaculture to save the oceans). Of course current nuclear is not cheap enough to be a concern and it is a bit strange to worry about a world with too much energy when we are heading into a period with too little. Still it is worth keeping in mind that not everyone will be thrilled by the thought of putting much more energy in human hands.

    1. @Robert – I know that there will be people who do not like giving humans abundant energy. For the most part, those kinds of people do not actually like humans very much.
      I happen to rejoice in human creativity. I know we can do evil, but we also have the capacity for great good. I prefer to enable as much good as possible, hoping that it will outweigh the evil if spread around.

    2. Show me a country lacks the energy to have a first world living standard and I will show you an environment that is deteriorating at a terrible rate.
      The following excerpts are from writings of six authors who support the concept that our current standard of living is unsustainable. This group of authors has clout; they show a lack of respect for science, and each has a following of disciples. Unfortunately several environmental organizations and higher education institutions buy into their anti-technology message, actively promoting their gospel which includes negawatts and renewables.
      Dennis Meadows received a BA from Carleton College, a Ph.D. in Management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and holds four honorary doctorates. In their 1972 publication, commissioned by The Club of Rome, Limits to Growth, their recommendations were focused on

      1. The Club of Rome is nothing more than a group of swollen heads that think they are aristocrats, panicking because the rise of an energy and information rich global civilization will consign all of them to the dustbin of history where they belong.
        They have a high listing on my fecal roster of those first up against the wall if I ever find myself dictator of the planet.

      2. John Tjostem, I could not agree more. In fact I was going to note Amory’s quote when I read your incisive comment. Alas, there are yet more neo-Luddites you failed to mention, but your point is well made.
        There are two critical points that these people get wrong. For one, they assume that energy supplies will necessarily come from limited sources. Much as they pretend that their beloved solar and wind can provide all we need, all but the most deluded among them know that there’s simply no way that can happen. So their only option is to look toward a future of energy poverty. Seeing this as the only responsible way to plan for the future, they ascribe great virtuousness to such a position, much like an immature monk proud of his asceticism.
        In a similar way people look down upon their consumerist brethren for their often foolish over-the-top consumerism. We’ve all heard the refrain, “If everyone on the planet wanted to live a lifestyle like Americans, we’d need 3 or 4 earths to provide the materials.” This is patently bogus. It’s only because of the way we use our resources (and in the case of energy, because of the resources we depend upon), generally once before discarding them, that there is such a limitation. The entirely inadequate and almost ludicrous recycling infrastructure we have today is an expression of the desire to solve that problem, but is doomed to failure and wasted effort, not least because it relies on human conscientiousness to work (how many times have you gone to pitch your plastic and bottles into the recycling bin only to look at the dumpster and see the bottles and cans that less-dutiful people just toss in with the rest of their garbage?). And why, pray tell, do we make a big deal about recycling glass? Silica (from which glass is made) is the most abundant mineral in the Earth’s crust. It should be one of the last things we focus on recycling, not the first.
        Anyone who proposes solving a global resource problem by changing human behavior is offering no real solution at all. What we have to do is rely upon technologies and policies that allow people to be as silly and irresponsible as they are often determined to be. We have to create a situation where our loopy neighbor can jump in his Hummer (leaving all his lights on and his A/C running at full blast at home) and barrel off to WalMart, fill it to the gills with plastic junk, and ultimately throw it all away, all without any negative impact on the environment. Only then will we have truly solved our energy and resource challenges. Is it possible? Definitely, and on a global level, not just a neighborhood one. Coupled with the energy limitlessness of nuclear power, the other key technology is that of plasma converters, whereby we can recycle virtually everything without depending on human behavior, tossing everything in the same dumpster. In the interest of completing the picture, allow me to quote from my book, Prescription for the Planet:
        “If you

  2. Two immediate thoughts. First, from the video: what an amazing display of power, control and coordination for a ship of that size and weight, considering he’s trying to manouver (sp) in 5 feet of ice! And what, 70,000 HP on a pound of uranium per day?
    Second, the Club of Rome pals aren’t fit to tie the shoelaces of Norman Borlaug – the quiet, unassuming Father of the Green Revolution, RIP. I come from a farming family and remember the old methods of seeding, drilling, cultivating, harvesting and plowing the fields – from open-air seats to air conditioned cabs in self-propelled machines. These guys make me sick as they have no idea what back-breaking labor is involved in subsistence farming. Worse yet, they don’t give a rats’ pa-toot!
    History will not be kind to their neo-Malthusian writings, prognostications or recommendations.

  3. Sorry, Third thought: Can anyone comment about the “Arctic Ocean nuclear waste dump” supposedly caused by the Russians that this fellow asserts? Thanks.

  4. Just curious, how many km or miles per day does the ship travel per day while using only one pound of (natural or enriched ?) uranium ?
    And an other question : is there any figure available to understand how ship/submarine reactor effficiency decrease/increase at partial loads during breaking or accelrations ?

    1. @Alex – from the context of the video I would guess that the ship can travel at a speed of 16 nautical miles per hour through pack ice for 24 hours = 384 nautical miles.
      As a rule of thumb, half a kilogram per day of uranium provides 500 MW-days of thermal energy. Two KLT-40s would provide about 270 MW-days of thermal energy if running at full power, so my guess is that the one pound per day of U is actually a bit of an overestimate of reality. (It is fairly typical for nukes to “under promise and over deliver.”)
      There are no publicly available information sources that I know of that show the partial load efficiency of ship reactor plants. That issue should not cause much concern.

      1. If an half kg of U can produce ~ 500 MW-days of heat, I guess that U is very enriched or am I wrong ?

        1. I was curious about the enrichment level too. I did a short bit of reading on Wikipedia about marine nuclear propulsion, and apparently there are a number of designs for marine reactors, but some of them do use pretty highly enriched uranium. Because of the enormous power needs for the icebreaker, I wouldn’t be surprised if was highly enriched.
          I guess if we’re talking about very enriched uranium, my comment below about recycling the fuel again and again and again might not be accurate – if for example, the fuel is 90% enriched, I suppose once you’ve used that up, there’s really not much potentially usable fuel left.

          1. I would interpret the one pound/day as the amount of uranium converted to fission products/day without consideration of the fraction of fuel that ultimately remains unspent. Only closed cycle come close to completely fissioning all of the fuel
            The Russians are perhaps the most experienced country in the world with the breeder reactor. They have 30 years experience with the BN 600. I have seen the claim that it is the most reliable reactor in their fleet. They are soon going to put the upgraded BN 800 on their grid and they have plans to reconfigure the BN 600 to fission the military grade fuel left from the missles of the cold war. It is unclear to me if that fuel is uranium or plutonium. China is also planning to purchase and build 2 BN 800 reactors. I wonder what fraction of the fuel remains unspent in their breedes? I have not seen any claim that they are closed cycle as our IFR will be when we get around building one.

      2. Just curious, how that nucleat heat is converted in mech power, producing electricity to power electric motors or directly producing steam or what ?

        1. @Alex P.: About a third of the thermal power of a PWR can be converted to kinetic or electrical energy.

          1. Tweenk,
            I knew it but it’s not exatly what I asked to, I rather wondered if the nuclear ship has an electric motor or a combustion (pistons ?) engine – you know that today big ships have electric motors powered by liquid petrol fuels

  5. Cool video. The thought that ran through my mind is simply the fact that, not only are they getting that much power of that little amount of fuel, but then you can reprocess the fuel and *do it all again*. And again. And again. And again. And again. . . The figures I’ve heard is that with most reactor types, currently, we only ‘harvest’ about 1-3% of the available energy. I wonder – for ships like the one depicted in that video, do they use a higher enriched fuel mix than ‘conventional’ reactors? Maybe 4 or 5 percent enriched instead of 3% enriched?
    To see such a breathtaking display of raw power from the ships engines, then to realize that is *only* less than 5% of the available energy. . . it just really blows my mind.
    It’s a shame that the Russians dumped spent fuel in the arctic ocean (if that’s even true).
    I wonder if it’s too late/too hard to recover whatever the Russians dumped? I know that the age of recycling nuclear fuel hasn’t yet begun, and if we’re *lucky* might start 20 or 30 years from now. I suppose as long as it isn’t hurting the ecosystems where it’s dumped, it can stay there until the Russians are ready to recycle it.
    As for America’s current stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel, and whatever ‘depleted uranium’ we have, I propose that nuclear proponents start ‘rebranding’ that in public discourse, as something like “The National Strategic Fuel Reserves”. After all, the “Reserves” we’ve currently stockpiled should be able to provide us energy independence for somewhere around 500 or more years, right? That means that, even if we stopped mining uranium today, or other countries tried to hold us hostage to their Uranium supplies in the style of OPEC, we could ‘hold-out’ for five *hundred* years. . . that’s a long negotiating cycle. . .of course, if Uranium starts to get to be hard to obtain, and we run low on our Strategic Fuel Reserves, there’s always Thorium.

    1. The Russian experince with nuclear waste only proves that even if you screw up on a cosmic scale, the impact is moderate. For example, they dumped high level reprocessing waste from weapons production directly into a river (after some token aging and dilution). The effect was 21 extra leukemia deaths and 30 extra cancer deaths.
      As far as I know, dumping in the Arctic was limited to low level waste. There is a dearth of reliable sources on this issue in English (most of the material is in Russian in printed form only), so propaganda groups such as Greenpeace can spread misinformation with impunity.

Comments are closed.

Recent Comments from our Readers

  1. Avatar
  2. Avatar
  3. Avatar
  4. Avatar
  5. Avatar

Similar Posts