1. Dr James Conca once said that using graphite in a reactor was an irrefutable sign of weapon making.

    1. Here is the quote from Dr James Conca:

      If you have a graphite-moderated reactor, you’re developing weapons.‏

      1. I completely disagree with Dr. Conca. For starters, an important design feature for weapons (actually plutonium) production is the ability to manipulate the fuel on-line. Slugs of U-238 must be moved into and out of the core on frequent basis in order to achieve the optimal Pu-239 concentration. If the slugs are left in too long, too many undesirable isotopes are produced. So, if the operators can’t move the fuel around on-line, it is very unlikely to be a weapons producer.

        Secondly, it matters immensely where the reactor is located. If it is in one of the five recognized weapons states as allowed by the non-proliferation treaty, then I say so what? Those countries already know how to build bombs, and are allowed by the treaty to possess them, so a particular reactor with graphite may or may not be used for the purpose. If the reactor is being built or operated in a nation that has been suspected of possessing a weapons program, or might have political reasons for doing so, then a particular reactor might deserve closer inspection. But if the country in question abides by the proper IAEA protocols, submits to open inspections, and otherwise behaves itself, then they can probably be trusted even with a graphite moderator in the core.

        1. Sorry, I’m being simplistic. Certainly, if you’re in a weapons State, it doesn’t matter, and all countries with research programs are transparent, and some new HTGR reactors use graphite. But if you find out that a country, out of the blue, is building a graphite reactor, it is almost certain that they want a weapon. There is no other reason at this point, with no history behind them, to do that. It’s what Israel bombed in Syria a few years ago. It’s how we made our weapons, it’s how Russia made theirs. It’s just a strong indication when there’s no other info.

          1. There’s a lot more to a nuclear weapons program than producing the fuel. If these other indicators aren’t present, then I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that the objective is to make bombs.

  2. The SC-HGTR sounds quite interesting, I am going to have read up on it as I have never really heard of it.

  3. “…I have a different interpretation of why some of the current and former members of the alliance have..”

    Note the same damning nuclear by faint praise so called nuclear lobby group called the NEI that seems to push a lot of boilerplate pushing gas is now blocking comments by making sure its “make sure you aren’t a robot” screen is not working.

  4. The next presidential debate is on international policies.

    The nuclear exit from Japan and Germany is having high ranking US diplomats worried sick. They fear price instability for oil and gas.

    Is this going to come up? Not bloody likely chap.

  5. Re: “In addition to that issue, one of the major challenges facing the NGNP reactor is convincing the regulators at the NRC that the limiting case accident is the possibility that a meteor might somehow impact the facility and physically distribute the core. Even using a lot of creative thinking, the designers cannot come up with any other case that would result in more than a few millirem to someone at a site boundary just a few hundred yards from the reactor.”

    Credible Greenpeace retort: “It was a billion to one chance that a lady in Alabama (or somewhere) got hit in thigh leg by a meteor, so a nuke getting hit so is an imminent — er, definite possibility! No chances! No nukes!”

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  6. International politics question number 2 for the last presidential debate that won’t be asked:

    If Saudi Arabia, with the largest oil supply in the world, is building nuclear, shouldn’t countries dependent on fossil fuels also be looking at alternatives? Both Romney and Obama have goals of being energy independent. Nuclear is a critical part of reaching that goal.

    What do you say Mr Obama or Romney ?

  7. We have the US Presidential election on November 6.

    The biggest event for the nuclear industry may come November 8th when the new Chinese Leadership will be announced as a conclusion to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party. Stay tuned for nuclear news and full resumption of reactor constructions following Fukushima.

  8. http://www.nrl.navy.mil/media/news-releases/2012/fueling-the-fleet-navy-looks-to-the-seas is one reason why some of the members of the NGNP alliance might be a little wary of major investments. After all, if you owned a refinery on the coast and the price of a barrel of crude shot up to over $100, you could be tempted to add a nuke, extract carbon and hydrogen from free seawater and only pay for the uranium. I imagine US refineries use grid power and get their hydrogen from steam-reformed natural gas, so the jump to full external energy supply wouldn’t be too great. The ‘unwanted methane’ could be sold to the natural gas distributor, instead of the refiner buying gas from him. Wouldn’t that distributor be happy!!!

    1. This bears a strong resemblance to the “Green Freedom” uranium-to-gasoline scheme proposed some years ago.  Unlike GF, this might actually make sense in the battlefield; it’s hard to justify gasoline that costs upwards of $5/gallon before taxes and profit (electric cars will make a lot more sense as battery prices fall), but JP-8 on the battlefield at $10/gallon looks like a bargain.  If a carrier battle group doesn’t need fuel tankers to supply either its ships or its aircraft, its logistical vulnerabilities suddenly get a lot smaller.

      I don’t know what a 60% carbon-conversion efficiency translates to in energy, but if we assume 67% energy efficiency we get 40% out as long-chain hydrocarbons and 17% as methane.  At this rate, 1 GWH of electricity would yield 19,000 gallons of gasoline-range hydrocarbons (115,000 BTU/gal) and 580 million BTU of methane. An all-nuclear USA with 600 GWe of average output would send about 150 GWe to other loads, producing approximately 24 billion gallons of gasoline per year.  This is getting close to the requirements of a system based on plug-in hybrids (though the plug-ins would increase electric demand considerably).

      If a nuclear plant sells its off-peak power at 3¢/kWh and the methane sells for $8/mmBTU, the energy (variable) cost of the gasoline would be about $2.10-$2.20/gal.  To this must be added the amortization cost of the chemical plant; I’m assuming that the cost of the nuclear-electric side is paid for by electricity sales, the bulk of which are at greater than overnight rates.  $4/gallon seems reasonable for the cost of the produced fuel at first blush.

      1. The direct conversion of methane (SMR or ATR) is preferable from a thermodynamic sense because the losses of conversion to electricity are eliminated. Direct gasification of coal is another excellent solution. Essentially as the nuclear plants replace the coal and gas plants they produce synthetic liquid fuels. By using nuclear heat the cold gas efficiency (ratio of HHV of product/HHV feedstock) is >1 due to storing nuclear heat in the chemical bonds. With this math coal provides a direct replacement of crude oil. Using a 14% IRR and EIA numbers for gasification and GTL technologies this is competitive with diesel at $2/gal. The economics of GTL, CTL are such that the majority of the capital cost is not in the reactor but is in the gasification, gas cleaning, gas separations, and FT-synthesis (can be others like Mobil M). For this reason the capacity factor of the gasification and liquefaction trains needs to be > 90% to ensure economic viability.

        You are spot on with your assessment of the benefit to the Navy. Being able to produce fuel without having to use oilers even if it costs $30/gal is a win win for them. The increase in operational flexibility and removing the restrictions on the speed of the battle group and the operations that they can engage in is significant. The LM-2500’s on those CG and DDG’s suck fuel like it was nothing, I shudder at the size (volume and mass needed) to produce adequate liquids aboard the carrier to be able to fuel the fleet. This would place an even greater demand on the propulsion plant to achieve >30 kts needed for flight operations and force projection. It would integrate well with the plasma arc garbage gasification that is already onboard some test ships.

        1. On another note I would see a special purpose built ship that focuses on producing and storing liquid fules. This ship would be nuclear powered. A nuke AO. Talk about being even less glamorous than being a nuke on a carrier… It would also be very hard to keep those sailors in the Navy because of the skills they have that are applicable in the chemical and nuclear industries.

        2. The LM-2500′s on those CG and DDG’s suck fuel like it was nothing, I shudder at the size (volume and mass needed) to produce adequate liquids aboard the carrier to be able to fuel the fleet.

          Most of the rest of the fleet would be nuclear-powered too.  I believe that it’s already economic at current world oil prices (bookmark lost on crash hard disk).

          1. The last informationI had was circumstantial when I was going through Nuke School. The cutoff was somewhere around $80/bbl in 2000 dollars. Once the Enterprise is decommissioned and the job of the ELT’s becomes more automated, I suspect that a major portion of the manpower constraint would go away. The limiting component for the Navy has been and will continue to be the people. Newer submarines have 7 engineroom watch standers. The older ones, that I served on, had between 11 and 13 watch standers.

            The reason I talk about the people is that when I asked Naval Reactors personnel about why they weren’t exploring more surface nukes, the answer I kept on getting was the number of trained people. The other part is retention. Train a nuke it is hard to hold onto them. This is why newer designs are even simpler to operate and leverage PLC’s. Economics is driving the Navy to automation. This drive to automation will make nuclear competitive with the LM-2500’s. Cutting the AO umbilical would provide a quantum shift in operational flexibility and reduction in vulnerability. I don’t think the skimmers quite appreciate what 4 months on station feels like, but the fleet commanders would love that sort of tasking capability!

            This link should help repopulate your bookmarks:

            Report has some patently poor assumptions, but otherwise has some good information.

  9. Sunday night – 8 pm – CNN – A Fareed Zakaria Special

    Global Lessons: A GPS Roadmap for Powering America: What can America learn from the countries leading the Green Revolution?

    I”ll be watching.

    1. Technically as we had the greatest reduction in GG’s in the last couple of years we probably ARE leading the green revolution. It already makes me cringe before thinking about where all that wonderful greenery is manufactured and how its being installed. But I guess I should be more open minded.

    2. So Fareed did a better job than PBS a while ago. Nuclear got its whole 15 minutes bit and was fairly balanced.

      There was a ‘skeptical environmentalist’ on the show who commented on all technologies except nuclear. I wonder why ?

      Finally the disappointment came at the conclusion. No word on nuclear on providing energy for the future. Instead, Armory Lovins got some air time. What a sad ending.

      Fareed, you just don’t get it.

    3. A few more points on Fareed’s better than PBS job:

      . It was shown that wind and solar are costly & subsidized plus that France has the lowest electricity cost in Europe and that it is the biggest net exporter of electricity in the world.

      . France has industrialized standardisation of plant designs (7 at most). allowing it to have nuclear at a fraction of the cost of Germany and Japan.

      . And a big loose end from Fareed’s show. In his opening statement, he points to Bill Gates on TED.COM without pointing out that Gates is in big time with SMR and nuclear. This is totally left out and never addressed later on. The conclusion, which leaves SMRs and nuclear completely out, is anti climactic in this context. Was Fareed ‘edited’ or censored?

      . The skeptical environmentalist is Bjørn Lomborg. He did a good job on wind and solar. He did not address nuclear on the show. He seems moderate.

      1. “It was shown that wind and solar are costly & subsidized plus that France has the lowest electricity cost in Europe and that it is the biggest net exporter of electricity in the world.”

        France’s new president seems intent on changing that. He wants to shut down several nuclear plants, eventually reducing the nuclear share to 50%, from the current 75+%.

        Perhaps Monsieur Hollande could learn from an old American expression:
        If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

        1. @ Pete51

          There is a big nuclear establishment and culture in France and the laws of physics will apply. No one will be able to change the course of the nuclear momentum in France. No one. It is too big.

    4. One last thing Fareed, next time you do a bit on nuclear energy please do not start the opening statement with pictures of the atomic bombs.

      Nuclear energy and nuclear weapons are two different beasts.

      1. Re: “One last thing Fareed, next time you do a bit on nuclear energy please do not start the opening statement with pictures of the atomic bombs. Nuclear energy and nuclear weapons are two different beasts.”

        It’s kind of like a feature on Oil leading with flame throwers burning out Japanese troops from their caves or Gas giving us a tour of death camp “showers”, yet such labels don’t stick and slander those energy sources as bombs do to nuclear, so strong the biases.

        James Greenidge
        Queens NY

  10. Daggone, what a shame you missed one of those sham meetings in Chatham. VUI even had a Heritage Foundation lawyer come speak from Florida. What more resounding endorsement than a lawyer from a right-wing Christian group, surely an expert in something. And too bad nukesters’ own Shirley Phelps styled harpy, Ms. Jeannetta couldn’t make it, only snatch some 5 second extracts from U-toob to clown around with on her inflammatory blog. She should be proud of fanning the flames of U-zealotry here in hillbilly land, now the good old boyz are clubbing anti’s pets to death in the street and vandalizing vehicles.

    Your veracity would actually give their sad entourage some credence. They had a van load of some youths wearing stickers, one of which admitted to me she was a paid astroturfer. I decline to speak publicly now, these fear tactics have worked on me. Between the outside paid agitators lampooning the concerned locals and the kitty and puppy killers here, I sit in my house and keep locked and loaded. I never anticipated a multi-millionare, multi-national corporation could sink so low, wasn’t buying our local and state government officials effective enough?

    I was so excited to get my beautiful home and garden to relax and retire to, now before it can even be poisoned by noise and dust and bad water, it is poisoned by knowing there are sociopaths that have no qualms about winning at any cost. The fear of having a deluge of hateful nukers filling my community is enough, wish someone would buy my home which has become my prison. The gangland tactics have worked, but they have no intention of buying me out. I’m afraid to drive my truck lest my brake lines are cut, I can’t turn my dog out to run around, I’m afraid I will see someone in my yard, I’d be the one going to jail. Yep, so many reasons to dig U-mining, once again, I offer, buy me out, I’m ready to go! You U-miners should be proud, real class act!

    1. @K Patrick

      I hope you realize that calling me a sociopath because I am convinced by facts that uranium mining is a safe, productive and valuable enterprise that provides an important industrial product as well as good jobs is NOT a good way of winning any arguments.

      If you are having difficulty selling your beautiful home so you can retire somewhere else, perhaps where the local business is a pig farm or cattle ranch, maybe the problem is of your own making. After all, the most important contributor to home value is location, and one of the most favorable attributes of a valuable location is a booming economy with good employment prospects, excellent schools, and a supportive business community. There is a reason that no one has any trouble selling their home in Mountain View CA or Austin Texas.

      1. Rod – Well, at least you weren’t called a “hillbilly” or “good old boyz,” terms of contempt that K. Patrick reserves for his/her new neighbors. With an attitude like that, I’m sure that this person is just loved by the community. 😉

        It certainly explains the paranoia that runs rampant through K. Patrick’s comments. What this person should understand, however, is that sometimes a person’s vehicle gets vandalized simply because he or she is an obnoxious ***** that everybody despises, and for no other reason.

        1. Mr. Mays, Have we met? I see you advocate vandalism and killing people’s pets just because they don’t agree with you. I personally don’t give a damn about being loved by the community, I have not done anything to anybody, and don’t really know many people in the community. Do you live in this community? Why do you care what I say? My point is if you don’t live here, this is none of your business. If you do live here,and you want this mine, you opinion is as valid as mine. You sure seem to be pretty contemptuous toward someone you have never met, like so many of these geologists and engineers. I am particularly disgusted at the number of non-locals and non-Virginians that have advocated for this project politically. Would you appreciate it if I lobbied for a toxic waste dump next to your home and called you a clown or obnoxious if you opposed my plan? Would you be disturbed if someone left your child’s bloody pet’s body as intimidation? Or is that just normal where you come from? Your arrogance is unwarranted, paranoia is fear of the unknown, I know you or someone that shares your beliefs is capable of illegal and immoral acts to get their point across. I wouldn’t brag.

          1. Who am I?

            Unlike you, I’m a life-long Virginian. One thing that we Virginians don’t like is to have annoying, carpet-bagging out-of-staters move in and start telling us what we can do, what we cannot do, what we can develop, and what we cannot, all so you can keep your property taxes low and so the “hillbilly” locals we won’t get in the way of your retirement.

            I live about 50 miles from your area, and I have family and friends who live closer. This is my state. This is my backyard. Some of these “hillbillies” that you detest but don’t bother to get to know are my people. I have every bit of a right to a say in this matter as you do.

            You say you want to pick up and leave. Fine. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. I doubt you’ll be missed, and I’m all too happy to tell you where to go.

    2. Sorry, Mr Adams, I didn’t call you a sociopath, whoever has been causing malicious mischief in the neighborhood is. I have no issue with you, save pushing an industry in my neighborhood that you wouldn’t welcome in your own. If you feel this is such a great thing, move on down, then you may have a say.

      I am just dismayed that so many outsiders make it their business to try to exploit this resource in a place where they do not live. Such colonialism is usually inflicted on third world countries. Not everyone wants to live in an industrialized area, but it’s getting harder to find a place of protected natural beauty.

      I don’t want to leave here, I just don’t want to live near a uranium mine. I lived in Texas, it is ugly and polluted, California, never been there. I don’t know about schools, don’t care, don’t have children, I came here to get away from booming, but, I guess it has appeal to some. I see the coarseness of even my limited dealings with the U-crowd has rubbed off on me, sorry. I will not apologize for defending my property or peace of mind. Whether U-mining is safe or not, it will be loud, smelly and increase traffic, folks like you and Ms. Jeannetta are truly outside agitators, and your advocacy does incite trouble in a community not your own. At least I credit you for being civil, Ms. Jeannetta has taken this thing to places it should never have gone.

      1. @K Patrick

        The uranium mining operation that you oppose will not be smelly, noisy or cause an unreasonable increase in traffic. Most of the heavy equipment associated with the process will be operating underground. There will be strict limits on dust and other waste products that are a natural result of any rock processing plant – like sand mines, concrete production, or quarries. The actual product being shipped will be quite concentrated and require only a few trucks every week. In contrast, a moderate sized dairy farm may require two or more semi-tractor trailer milk trucks per day.

        Your proposed test of me having to move to Chatham before being able to provide comment is a false one. I have repeatedly demonstrated my comfort with uranium, radiation and nuclear energy by going to sea on nuclear powered ships, taking my family to visit nuclear powered ships, encouraging both of my son-in-laws to study nuclear or radiation technology, and working in nuclear energy myself. I do not have to move somewhere that happens, by the grace of god, to be endowed with a large uranium deposit to prove that I am comfortable enough with the science and engineering to be innocent of just advocating its use somewhere else. If there was a deposit in my backyard, I would want to extract it and I would not be looking to move elsewhere.

        I am, however, saddened by learning from you that some of the people associated with the promotion of this valuable project appear to have engaged in illegal activity. There is never any excuse for vandalism to promote a cause. I worked hard for many years to defend the right of Americans to engage in free speech and healthy debate.

        1. There are 3 definitions or ways to articulate political free speech.

          1) The Republican one that says that one can contribute infinite amount to a cause without disclosing the donors. This is Sarah Palin’s view that one is also entitled to freedom from criticism from one’s endorsements.

          2) I like Supreme court’s Scalia attitude that the more free speech the better. As long as you can find out who’s behind the financing of this freedom of speech. This is the Democrat’s view. Here again, no limits on the amount of money poured into a political cause.

          3) In the province of Québec, which I think is a model to the world, no company can donate to a political cause. Only individuals and for a maximum amount of 500$ per year with your name disclosed on an official list. When a referendum or election comes, every party has a set and equal amount within which to express his freedom of speech. You are boxed in.

          Of course, Québec’s model is making its way in many countries where fairness and transparency is a must. Especially in new aspiring democracies. This is where I stand. This is where we should all stand.

          1. I like Supreme court’s Scalia attitude that the more free speech the better. As long as you can find out who’s behind the financing of this freedom of speech. This is the Democrat’s view.

            This is the Democrat’s view?! Well then somebody should clue in President Obama. I don’t think that he got the memo.

            It was less than three years ago that Obama had the following to say during his State of the Union Address, which acutely embarrassed the members of the Supreme Court who were present:

            Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign companies — to spend without limit in our elections. Well, I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, and worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.

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