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4 Comments

  1. Guys, great show again. I just wanted to provide a little information.

    On bio-diesel: There was an interesting proposal to use bracken waste water and algae which contain ~50% oil content to produce bio-diesel. Here is a link: http://www.unh.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html I have a lot more information on bio-diesel and ethanol. This is not some “feel good” environmentalism, but an important component of smart energy policy. Unless we have an enormous improvement in battery technology, we won’t be powering cars with nuclear power anytime soon. Likewise, bio-diesel and ethanol won’t compete with nuclear for providing electricity, but could go quite a way to reducing dependency on oil. Natural gas is great for home heating, and electricity isn’t so good for that purpose, but I would really like to see nuclear knock it out of the electrical generation business. Nuclear could compete here with steam cogeneration, as is being discussed in some areas.

    I also recently listened to a podcast about Coal Bed Methane recovery, which I think you guys talked about on here, but it provided some more info. It was the _SciQ_Science_Revealed_ podcast, the 7/26 edition (you can find it in iTunes or other podcast providers). As you mentioned in the show, there are some problems with recovering methane that sometimes cause problems with drinking water.

    Also, I would highly recommend you guys keep an eye on Slashdot.org as nuclear stories come up from time to time there and both sides get into rather lively debates, like here: http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/02/23/0011252

    Also another debate on another site here: http://www.omninerd.com/news/news.php?nid=432

    The reason I point out these discussions is that you need to engage people, and possibly draw them to your sites. Slashdot for one allows you to link to your site with your sig or if you get a story submitted. You have the chance to engage an audience, many of whom are pro-nuclear or at least fair minded about it. By the way, be careful not to alienate environmentalists, because a great many of them are waking up to what you are saying, but would retreat and entrench themselves if they think you don’t respect their point of view. Nuclear energy is gaining a lot of traction with environmentalists right now, and you really have the opportunity to drive it home with the nuclear recycling proposals on the table now.

    Also, you may want be cautious in blaming “big oil” for nuclear’s problems. Some of these guys may be your next investors. They know the oil isn’t going to last forever and want to stay on top. Oil killed the whale oil industry and seriously competed with coal. Nuclear and oil don’t really compete in the US because there are few oil fired power plants here. The nuclear industry also has a lot of people with a lot of money with a vested interest in propogating and protecting the nuclear power industry. These plants aren’t cheap and someone with money is connected to the ones in existence now, not to mention the manufacturers. In short, be positive and engage people to make allies, and be careful not to make new enemies (at least not overtly so they know it).

  2. I disagree about the biofuels. It can be done without huge subsidies–if we start using celluoistic ethanol and using something other than soybeans (like sunflower or canola) for bio-diesel. I agree that using fission to replace oil in power generation in other countries would go a long way to reducing worldwide oil consumption though. In the meantime, oil imports drive a huge portion of our trade deficit and put our security at risk.

  3. PowerPointSamurai:

    Thank you for listening! Hope you are telling your friends and colleagues about the show.

    I have to respectfully disagree with your comments about biofuels research. You see, I do not think that we need to worry so much about the source of our oil – import or domestic really does not matter too much to me. My analysis of the technology and the market tells me that what we need to do is to replace oil combustion with nuclear fission where it makes sense and to help other countries do the same. (Not for free, mind you.)

    Burning far more expensive fuels or investing a lot of public money in ways to produce them slightly more efficiently seems like a tremendous waste of both human and financial resources.

    There is plenty of oil in the world to last a very long time if nuclear fission gains the kind of market share that I think is possible. Though we do not use “much” oil in the continental US in electrical power generation, for example, the actual amount might surprise you – 209 Million Barrels in 2004. (Energy Information Agency table titled Consumption of Fossil Fuels for Electricity Generation by Type of Power Producer – http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/epat4p1.html).

    That comes to 570,000 barrels of oil per day, which is not much compared to our total of more than 20 million, but it is rather substantial.

    I have written a number of articles on this topic in the past – a search of Atomic Insights with the following search terms provided a pretty interesting list of references – oil nuclear market .

    I do not think I ever say anything bad about environmentalists who care about clean air and water – though I definitely have a real problem with Environmentalists who religiously adhere to a dogma that tells them that they cannot even listen when I tell them about the fact that nuclear power is clean enough to run inside a submarine.

  4. You might be right. If bio-fuels can be successful on that basis, more power to them (so to speak). I would be willing to burn them in my Jetta TDI if they can be even close to cost competitive.

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