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  1. Santa put a lump of coal in my stocking this last Christmas, seriously. My son about had a heart attack, “Dad have you been naughty?” Fortunately Santa left a note stating that coal in my case was a good thing because it told me to “chase my dreams.”

    One of my current projects is refining a design that allows nuclear reactors operating <650C to be used for coal gasification.

    A friend gave me a heads up about another book. "Plentiful Energy: The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor" You can pick it up on amazon for $18. This technology is central in near term coal gasification.

    Hopefully Santa will give us all a lump of coal so we can start making gasoline and diesel fuel using nuclear reactors.

  2. American-made gasoline and diesel fuel from American coal supplies

    (Sorry to any foreign readers for being U.S.-centric, but I could see pushing that aspect of Cal’s proposal as being a key to obtaining sufficient political and financial support for the proposed technology.)

  3. Nuclear OCD!

    One of my passions is to let children be children. Mom’s brags about not letting her son play with guns. When mom is not watching, the boys are playing cops and robbers with imaginary guns guns.


    I find it really sad that children worry about saving the planet whatever irrational fear their parents have. So if you have bought or are considering buying any kind of book about nuclear power for young children please get help.

    Joel, when I say I am not worried about producing energy for the world’s population it is because CTL is on the list.

    Just for the record, LWR would make a dandy source of process steam for corn and waste biomass ethanol.

    I take issue with engineers with fanciful dreams of envelop while rejecting practical solutions available today.

    1. Kit, the “worry” that I see as being valid is that “the market”, under its present state of “freedom” (considering NRC regulations, other regulations, current availabilities of financing, etc.) might not choose to implement some of the available future technologies on an optimal time-frame making the supplying of our future energy needs considerably more difficult than it otherwise could be.

      The following link discusses an aspect of this, in terms of Energy Return on Energy Invested. You have to invest some amount of energy to obtain access to useful energy.

      1. Joel EROI is a tool that college professors who learned everything they know about energy from wiki to explain energy to liberal arts majors.

        There is one overarching criteria for energy. Provide it to our customers when and were they need it. With proper planning, I see no problem building new nukes to meet demand aside from Southern California college professors that we should heat our homes in Minnesota by putting PV cells on our surf boards.

        The accepted method for comparing environmental impact of different ways of making electricity is LCA using ISO 14000 methods. LCA shows nuclear power has the lowest environmental impact. Furthermore, LCA is a good tool to identify ways to reduce the environmental of producing power. I have listed the ways that we have reduced the impacts of power from nuke.

        Where Tom Murphy gets the energy debate wrong is that there is no crisis but just a lot of work on a daily basis by a few people. When people chopped wood or shoveled coal to keep a house warm after feeding the horse and milking, energy was familiar. Now how we produce energy is not familiar except for a weary brave few. Fear of the unknown allows this crisis mentality.

        Bottom line is to be skeptical of anyone who uses ‘ EROI’ or is from California.

    2. @Kit P

      Who said anything about “saving the planet?” The book simply helps children understand an important topic at a level that is fun and interesting for them.

      I am a huge fan of letting children play, but in my world, learning is play.

      1. Joffan interesting site. When we moved out of California, our third grader had never walked to school. We selected a house the would allow him to walk to school. After enjoying the freedom of walking to school the first time, he thought it was great. I asked him if he would like to ride his bike to school, he lit up like a Christmas tree. Our youngest baby has been getting himself dressed, fed and off to school for 13 years. Our child raised with the least amount of parental discipline and the most freedom, is the most self disciplined. I can still beat him at Shoots and Ladders and he did not even know he was learning to count.

    1. I’m shocked, shocked to hear that the fossil fuel focused folks at Master Resource have once again failed to mention nuclear energy.

      You can find several debate threads on Atomic Insights between me an bloggers from that site.

      1. Rod,

        Not quite. There are quite a few comments on geothermal on the thread being discussed. Alas, they are probably totally unaware that it is a form of nuclear energy as the steam generated is from fission of Uranium and Thorium deep inside the planet.

        Let’s not tell them that we live on a nuclear reactor.

        1. Daniel, I was actually about to make a 3rd comment there to point that out, but I decided to leave it alone. Wikipedia cited a figure of 80% of geothermal energy as coming from nuclear decay.

        2. @ Joel,

          I got involved in an interesting thread just below where DV82XL and David do not accept the nuclear reactor theory at the earth’s core.

          Where does Applebaum stand on this ? And Rod ?

        3. It seems to be well-accepted that a major portion of geothermal energy is produced by radioactive decay. I don’t think there’s actually a nuclear reactor at the earth’s core, but I have very little knowledge of geology.

        4. I interviewed J. Marvin Herndon, the primary proponent of the “georeactor” theory for the Atomic Show back in Feb 2007 on show number #48.


          He made some interesting arguments and had some evidentiary support, but his theories are not widely accepted. (Yet?)

          Here is another link that might be worth perusing.


  4. Rod,

    “If the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) has accurately estimated the planet’s economically accessible uranium resources, reactors could run more than 200 years at current rates of consumption.”

    A measly 200 years at the LOW consumption rates of today? Create all that radioactive pollution for this?

    What say you?


    1. @ Ken,

      Let’s put things into perspective.

      – We have U and Thorium supplies and fuel for at least a few million years.

      – After three hundred years, the waste reach a similar state as when they are found in nature.

      – A pint of Uranium provides a lifetime energy supply for a family of 4 with waste being equivalent to the size of an aspirin.

    2. Not Rod, Ken, but what kind of assumption is it to assume zero innovation in reactor designs for the next 200 years? I would term it a rather pathetic assumption/presumption.

      Can you tell me what the collective knowledge of the human race was in regards to atomic energy 200 years ago?

      My grandfather, who still gets around fine and is in quite good health, was born before neutrons were even discovered (80 years ago).

    3. @Ken – others have answered, but my question is “What radioactive pollution are you talking about?”

      By most normal definitions, pollution only happens when something is released in an uncontrolled way into the environment. Typically the concentration has to be somewhat irritating or hazardous before it really counts as pollution.

      By that standard, I am unaware of ANY radioactive pollution being released from any commercial nuclear power plants other than Chernobyl and Fukushima. At Fukushima, the amount was so low that no one was even injured and there will never be a radiation caused disease from that accident.

      1. I am getting a bit sick of seeing this meme that uranium supplies are finite and will be depleted within a couple of centuries at most. This is pure unadulterated rubbish that has never had any traction outside of antinuclear wishful thinking, and should be treated as such.

        The IAEA estimates that using only known reserves at the current rate of demand and assuming a once-through nuclear cycle that there is enough uranium for at least 100 years.

        However, if all primary known reserves, secondary reserves, undiscovered and unconventional sources of uranium are used, uranium will be depleted in 47,000 years if the above conditions hold.

        Current active reserves are not growing because the market is stagnant, with supply meeting demand at present. As well, it is generally found to be cheaper to mine new uranium out of the ground than to use reprocessed uranium and because for misguided political nuclear proliferation fears, the plutonium economy has not yet materialized.

        As for radioactive pollution, the only energy source that generates any of consequence, is coal combustion, not nuclear fission.

      2. I know DV82XL does not like me hyperboling but the earth is currently 4.5 billion years old (known from several convergent lines of evidence).

        If the Earth does not get smashed by a planetoid, it could last another 5 billion years. (In about 5 billion years time the sun will have fused most of its lighter elements, like hydrogen and helium.)

        Since we know that Uranium and Thorium musts be in a perpetual state of fission for life to be sustained on earth, we must have a truck load of Uranium in the basket. Those supplies, need I remind you, come from rocks that decays into water, that feeds into the ocean and that falls into the earth’s core.

        This reactor provides us our magnetic shield and is central to rejuvenate the crust.

        1. How do we know there is a big fission reactor in the core? We don’t know that at all. It would suggest a much larger, far more concentrated form of U235…up to at least 4% with some sort of moderator, the only one around is water, and it’s highly unlikely there is any at the center of the earth. It would suggest far more uranium exists than could exist and all of it in the exact right architecture (like the West African natural reactors) with that moderator available.

          I say nonsense. Despite decades of study, no fission products seem to appear from lava flows in any volcano I’ve ever heard about. I think at best the idea of the earth as a nuclear reactor is speculation at best and not based on science, certainly not geology.

          Heat from the Earths core is fossil heat. Eventually it will cool, well before the sun goes helium/hydrogen mating.

        2. No fission products would come out of a breeder reactor either, yet fission would have taken place.

          There has to be a reason for this lack of evidence that you bring up. It is an interesting point, but I maintain that there is a reactor at the core of the planet.

        3. @ David,

          Here is some lava proof:

          Further evidence of the georeactor comes from Hawaii and Iceland, Hollenbach said, where young lava basalts have been recovered that contain the helium isotopes He3 and He4. While He4 is a byproduct of the decay of natural uranium, He3 can only be produced deep within the Earth in a nuclear reaction.

          Herndon’s latest paper went even further, suggesting that the ratios of He3 to He4 indicated that the georeactor is reaching the end of its life — albeit in perhaps a billion years. Hollenbach said he disagrees with that conclusion.

        4. The hypothesis that there exists nuclear reactor at the Earth’s core belongs to one Marvin Herndon details of which can be found at http://nuclearplanet.com/ his website.

          However there are already compelling computer models of the geomagnetic dynamo by Gary Glatzmaier among others, that don’t need fission in the core to make them work.

          As well there is enough uncertainty the current models of Earth’s internal heat that Herndon’s solution doesn’t appear superior. In fact notions of how the Earth and solar system formed do not favor his scheme at all.

          So while it’s nice to think there might be a massive nuclear reactor down there, the evidence is rather sketchy, or at best circumstantial, at the moment.

        5. @ David,
          Your comment:
          ‘up to at least 4% with some sort of moderator, the only one around is water, and it’s highly unlikely there is any at the center of the earth’

          Water is not the only moderator known. Gases can also do the job.

  5. Ken,
    That technology alludes to exists today in the Integral Fast Reactor. There are two main designs. The first is General Electric’s Super-Power Reactor Innovative Small Module (S-PRISM). The other is Advanced Reactor Concepts ARC-100. GE testified before Congress that S-PRISM is ready for full scale prototype. As for ARC-100, I only know one of the engineers on that project, and don’t have very much other information.

    Using the IFR or another fast breeder reactor we have access to 2,100 TW-yr of energy in all of the nuclear waste and enrichment tails in the US alone. To put this in perspective the US consumes 3TW-yr of all primary energy (oil, coal, nuclear, and gas) every year. This is 700 years of energy with a waste that only lasts 300 years, without digging in the ground.

    Here is a technical paper on the subject.

  6. Three countries are seriously pursuing this: Russia, China and India. The the latter appears to have the most advanced program, a 3 phase ‘combo pact’ that involves heavy water reactors feeding waste and raw thorium to fast reactors with a thorium blanket which turns into U233 which is then fed into advanced heavy water reactors. Will be fascinated to watch this develop.

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