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21 Comments

  1. Big universities also keep close tabs on wealthy alumni, and can be very persuasive at getting them to write large checks. Perks include getting a building or a program named after the alum.

  2. Early in the article, I was thinking about Jevon’s Paradox as a motivation. I’m glad you mentioned it.

    1. Jevons also deduced his paradox could be eliminated via judicious tax on the extracted fuels, thus obtaining more optimal use of a finite resource.

      1. Because we all know that only the wisest people of the highest integrity are chosen by well-informed voters for public service.

          1. I guess my comment went right over your head. Perhaps you can give us an example of a “judicious tax” and show us that it had the intended effect and had no adverse side effects.

            1. @FermiAged

              Your criteria are absolute and thus impossible to meet. No decision of any kind by individuals, corporations or the federal goverment results in meeting all goals and not producing ANY unintended consequences.

              Fpr an example of a well targeted tax that met most of its objectives to the point where it was voted to remain in effect by a referendum — twice, I think — please see Penny for Pinellas.

  3. When do we reach the point which allows us to talk of Universities being corrupted by financial donations by parties who might benifit from the doations use.

    1. Well… one needn’t be too hasty. One might, for example, ask from where nuclear engineering departments from Berkeley to Corvalis to MIT to all parts between get their funding. You’ll probably find a variety of answers, each quite spinnable to one’s personal taste.

      Or lack thereof 😉

  4. Its weird people think they even need to promote natural gas. Its a low investment default position. I have no doubts the natural gas industry would be fine without promotion so the whole thing seems more than a bit over the top advocacy, Stepford Wives even.

    1. John,

      It’s about Market share. You promote Natural Gas to regain market share.

      When I first began to study electrical power generation seriously in 2008 and the way that the share of that generation had changed over decades, I realized that the whole fight is over which fuel gets to generate electricity. Coal? Natural Gas, or Nuclear. These are the only three viable options for an industrial economy.

      In the 1970’s to 80’s Nuclear power replaced Oil / diesel generators portion of electrical generation. For a while it was Coal and Nuclear in the Electricity Generation market. How to regain market share and dominate for the people who pump oil and or NG out of the ground? – Renewable! Solar and Wind are perfect lost leaders for NG sales.

      Nuclear looses through a series of complex rules that do not allow for innovation leading to an expanding market share for Nuclear. Regulations that happen to only affect one industry are designed to eliminate or repress that industry.

      At the same time – there is really no true “Nuclear Industry” in the way there is a Coal or Oil industry. Only one or two companies are truly Nuclear and the rest of the power plants are owned by Utilities that also own Coal, Oil, NG, Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Biomass (trees), and Hydro generation. So, who is the millionaire who will donate to Stanford to establish a Nuclear Power research facility?

      On the other hand, the new degree from Stanford guarantees that there will be an expanding market for NG and Oil. Since Turbines and Diesel engines are the best quick backups for when the wind stops and the Sun does not shine.

      Finally, don’t forget the influence that marketing dollars bring. People who pay for advertising get a voice. Those who don’t pay, don’t play.

      1. David, actually David LeBlanc’s IMSR as well as P:er Peterson’s PBMSR offers low cost, reliable as well as dispatchable back up for wind generated electricity. In addition to their cost advantages, these two Molten Salt technologies offer high safety and reliability. The use of Molten Salt reactors in backup roles, prolongues the lifespan of low cost cores, which can be replaced at the end of their useful life. Th Molten Salt nuclear technology approach, makes wind power a true carbon free source of energy, while Natural Gas and Coul will continue to produce unacceptable levels of cO2, thus continuing to warm the planet.

        1. So why don’t they build working prototypes using their own capital? I ask the question to illustrate why nuclear power development is essentially moribund not because I doubt these concepts have merit.

          1. They are doing that in China and Canada. In the United States, Democrats and Republicans compete to see who can put the greatest obsticles in the path of any new nuclear technology.

        2. The use of Molten Salt reactors in backup roles, prolongues the lifespan of low cost cores

          You need an entire low-cost plant (including regulatory costs) or else your capital expenses require a high capacity factor.

          1. Poet, both David LeBlanc and Per Peterson have ideas about that. I have discussed on nuclear Green in the past, and on my Ffacebook page more recently. Molten Salts can superheat water, which can be used to drive generator turbines. Professor LeBlanc has the advantage of Canada’s far more friendly regulatory environment. Professor Peterson uses open cycle air turbines, with air heated by heat transfer from secondary salt. He has a bigger regulatory barrier posed by the NRC, but bullite proof safety technology. In addition his power production units can be ordered from a GE catalogue.

          2. @EP,

            Thorcon has that low cost plant design. What do you think about their design? Does it meet your idea of a low cost plant?

            http://thorconpower.com

            This type of idea as well as David LaBlanc’s in Canada make me hopeful for an end run around the whole “renewable + natural gas is the only option” meme.

          3. As I recall, Rod has given some feedback regarding Thorcon’s design and the likelihood that the underground features will be considerably more expensive and difficult than they appear to assume.  Since civil engineering is not my field, I’ll sit this one out.

      2. Well put David. Doesn’t really make it seem less weird, just more sad. Universities were theoretically supposed to make any valid counterarguments to known and accepted theory and practice on level ground. I thought so at least.

        1. John,

          I am convinced that there is a true market opportunity for Nuclear. It will take a regulatory environment that is at least neutral and the willingness of a investor to put up several billion and the guts to get into the market share fight with advertising.

          1. Yes, we are talking about technologies with tremendous marketing potentials.

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