The Atomic Show #087 – Ben Kenney of theWatt Podcast discusses power in Canada
Ben Kenney is the host of theWatt Podcast a well established and popular discussion show about all things energy. We talked about power decisions in Canada, CANDU technology, and New Brunswick’s electricity export plans.
Ben Kenney is studying for his PhD in chemical engineering, with a focus on solid oxide fuel cells. He expects to be finished by early summer 2008. As part of his education on energy matters, he started up theWatt Podcast several years ago and has built it into one of the most respected and frequently referenced energy discussions on the web.
Ben and I had a great time chatting about CANDU reactor technology, the future of Ontario’s electrical power supply, New Brunswick’s interest in increasing its share of the electrical power market in the Northeast US, and the future of suburbia in the face of ever increasing gasoline prices.
I promised Ben that I would invite him back, but I highly recommend that you subscribe directly to theWatt Podcast. You will enjoy his style and his guests.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:03:49 — 22.0MB)
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Thanks Rod, had a great time. Leave it up to 2 podcasting veterans to mess up the audio! Next time we’ll get it right.
I also forgot to mention that it was Rudolph Diesel’s birthday on March 18, I know you’re a diesel fan.
And also, we didn’t get to this but Alberta’s looking into nuclear power to make steam for tar sands instead of using natural gas. This idea has been floating around for a while but I think it may have gained some momentum recently because the US is sensitive to the fact that tar sands produces much more emissions than conventional oil and the 2007 US energy bill has a clause in there that could prevent the US from purchasing tar sands oil unless their CO2 emissions fall. The problem though is that a typical site being used now for tar sands has a shorter lifespan than a typical nuclear reactor and so the investment is difficult to justify. This might back the idea of building smaller (or perhaps even portable?) nuclear reactors.
I am glad that you enjoyed your visit to the Atomic Show. I am definitely looking forward to an opportunity to get the sound right the next time!
We still have a lot of ground to cover. The energy industry has many new opportunities and technologies still to implement. Those developments are important to us all and provide plenty of topics for future discussions.
“Commute plus a walk to the office” Yes, that’s about right. Maybe a little “settling in” coffee, too. Thanks Mr. Adams, and Ben and your other guests (and ‘Shane’). You’ve at least a couple converts among people with whom I share this podcast series.
Hard for you to catch these things on the fly of an interview: I don’t have my chart of the nuclides handy, but Sr-90 decays into Y-90. In fact Y-90 is used in practice as the much more radioactive ‘signature’ used to discern Sr-90 (one of those many cases where the daughter is ‘hotter’ than the parent). Y-90 relatively quickly decays to Zr-90 which I think is stable.
Those fission products near Strontium on the periodic table are also near the maximum of the lighter half of the “Dolly Parton” yield graph, so there may be some other isotope(s) that decay(s) to a stable form of strontium. I have no clue as to whether that makes the really spent part of ‘nuclear waste’ a good source of this element for Ben’s chemical purposes. But your point stands that the fission products are not waste, but valuable.
Beta cells are on the horizon, beyond RTGs, with the invention of self-repairing semiconducting icosohedral bromides (or is that icosohedral borides?)– maybe not for laptops and cellphones, though I wish for a, say, 30 year pager battery.
This episode reminded me, has there ever been a full on episode about heavy water and CANDU reactors. I’ve listened back to about episode 25 or so and are going back further(I have a very dull job and can listen while I work), but haven’t been able to find one. Did I miss an episode at some point.
PS. Love your show Rod, your show makes me wish Australia had a nuclear industry I could work in.
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