There is an amazing article by Edward Wheeler, PhD on EcoWorld.com titled Nuclear Power: The Cleanest and Coolest Choice?. It is certainly worth reading. Here is the letter that I sent to the editor:
Let me first thank you for an informative and thought provoking article about nuclear power from an environmental point of view. As one of many “environmentalists for nuclear power” I appreciate the way that you have provided a new way of looking at old issues. I laughed out loud at the following comment with regard to using hydroelectric damns for power production:
“In addition, we create huge new lakes that not only ruin the local environment, but also give jet boaters a place to zoom around in and make lots of noise.”
As one of the kayakers that loves wild rivers, I appreciated your point of view.
I also enjoyed reading about pebble bed reactors, a technology that I have studied intensively for the past dozen years.
One minor correction – though pebble bed reactors use helium for coolant, and though it is possible for them to be used in a system that produces hydrogen, they do not produce hydrogen as a “by-product”.
In other words, there is no chemical or physical process that is an inherent part of the closed cycle helium cooled pebble bed reactor that results in hydrogen production. The helium remains helium throughout the cycle, and all fission products remain locked inside the pebbles. As in other nuclear power systems, the only real byproduct that is normally emitted is heat.
Hydrogen production is often mentioned in association with pebble bed or other high temperature gas cooled reactors simply because it is a process that can be aided with a heat source in excess of 800 degrees C. Conventional water cooled reactors do not reach that temperature.
Any kind of electrical power reactor can be used to produce hydrogen from water by using electrolysis, but many observers think that process is not efficient enough for wide scale use.
Keep up the good work, I am going to point to your article from my Atomic Insights Blog.
Editor, Atomic Insights