Hey Google, Wouldn't That Work For Offshore Nukes Too?


Not actuel Jersey Shore Wind Turbines -- for illustrative purposes only

The world is atwitter over Google's ambitious plans to invest in the $5 billion Wind Connection Project. When completed, a 350 mile long network of underwater electricty cables capable of transmiting 6,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy would stretch from New Jersey to Virginia. And so far no government money has been mentioned.

The Google proposal reminded me of Energy Crisis era plans to moor as many as eight floating nuclear power plants off the Jersey shore. The idea was that the plants could be moored close to cities and use copious amounts of seawater to cool their reactors. In fact, Public Service Electric and Gas Company had ordered four reactors that were to be installed on a man-made island just north of Atlantic City. The project was canceled in 1978.

More  recently the Russians have launched a controversial floating nuclear power plant to supply electricity to oil and gas operations in the Arctic. Back in 2007, Indian researchers suggested floating nuclear power plants could not only supply energy, but also use their excess heat to produce freshwater through desalination.

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  1. Does any else remember just before MCI got raided and eaten by WorldCom? When they were laying fiber like mad all over the place for the demand that might one day happen. I think most of that fiber is still dark.

    Infrastructure is great, but until they have actual, you know, power stations permitted, this seems like a powerline to nowhere scheme.

    1. Good point. It’s unfortunate that people can only imagine the butt ugly and poorly designed bird killing machines that GE hopes to bilk tons of money from the public coffers with.

      We do need infrastructure 2.0, badly. What we have now, for all the work and investment that’s gone into it, more closely resembles bailing wire and duct tape than what is possible.

    2. I worked there at that time (wcom not MCI)…It sucked. And no, most of the early 2000s fiber glut is gone. There has been massive LEAF installation in the last few years so we are begining to see some of the old SMF-28 go dark again BUT WAIT-Cisco now has coherence coming online and that loves dirty old fiber more that clean new fiber (Counterintuitive i know…kind of a weird tech side effect) thus making legacy fiber even MORE attractive.

      Yes the “Field of Dreams” model busted a lot of asses back in the day (MCI, ICG, Level 3 rouds 1 and 2, Covad, Northpoint, i could go on) but nowadays the approach is “we are 200% over fucked should we build?”

      A weekend at Bernie’s

      1. Cool. You can learn anything at Reason. I’m sure I haven’t followed up on the story in 4 or 5 years, so I can buy the fact that the tubes are finally full.

        1. Full of course being relative. It is all consumer expectaion that is driving it. When a simple DS1 was sufficient 12 years ago now the burbs have 16/2Mbps as a STANDARD! It is killing us, kind of an awesome market thingy. We will continue to see demand rise with more video utilization too…most major carriers are shitting bit buckets because they can’t meet “percieved” demands. The bottleneck is really the equipment manufacturers making 100Gbps transport cost effective (not so much right now). Expect every suburb house to have 100Mbps full duplex 10 years from now, no joke.

          They are termites or dalmations or something…

          1. UUNet!

          2. I think this experiment has a lot of promise to fulfill home internet/phone/TV needs.

  2. The world is atwitter over Google’s ambitious plans to invest in the $5 billion Wind Connection Project.

    Not in my front sea view, you’re not!

    R.F. Kennedy.

  3. I want fusion. We know it can be done–look at that big fusion reactor in the sky.

    It pisses me off to no end that we don’t have fusion reactors in our homes yet.

    1. Yeah, screw Star Trek Tech. Let’s hear it for Back to the Future tech! I want my own Mr. Fusion that I can run with banana peels.

    2. PL: But isn’t there a dilithium crystal shortage? 😉

      1. Ron, that’s for matter-antimatter reactors, not fusion.

        1. Take his StarCon pass.

  4. I want nukes, now. Quick calculation, how much acreage of wind turbines do you need to actually use the 6,000 mW? Then how many Westinghouse AP1000 reactors do you need?

    Of course we really aren’t designing naval reactors at this point. Maybe the navy is, but c’mon people. Why is nuclear never talked about? Nuclear power has got to have the worst PR record of any power generation, including coal.

    1. This list bothers me whenever windmills are proposed as something we should be expanding instead of Nuclear energy.

      Nuclear power by country

      We couldn’t do better than 19%? Seriously?

      Germany gets 20,339MW, or 28.3%.

      People make ridiculous justifications about “green jobs” created by government funded initiatives, but think about how many real jobs would be created if we doubled our Nuclear capacity?

      1. I posted in a generally positive sense about this project on the previous thread (I still like it, especially the fact that it’s private money.) I do agree that more nukes would be a good thing. Don’t breeder reactors use plutonium? Instead of shipping that crap into some mountain in Nevada, we could be using it for more power. It sounds win-win to me.

        (If I’m wrong, pls let me know).

  5. More recently the Russians have launched a controversial floating nuclear power plant to supply electricity to oil and gas operations in the Arctic.

    Is it controversial because it’s N-U-C-L-E-A-R or because it’s floating or because it supplies electricity to oil and gas operations or because it is in the Artic? I mean, it can’t be ALL…

  6. The Navy has a dozen reasonable designs for reactors, including the newest carrier designs. Easy to build, infrastructure available, trained staff, and made for seawater cooling.

    1. Its a telling mark on GE’s (and its stock price) long decline that GE doesn’t even try to compete on reactors – even for the navy – but they’ve got windmills to sell.

    2. France and Japan have reasonable designs, too.

      Plus France has a functioning fuel recycling program that would make Yucca Flats go from overfull to 90% empty.

      As long as you don’t run experiments on your production reactors, you’re safe.

  7. Hey Google, Wouldn’t That Work For Offshore Nukes Too?

    Oh sure. Let’s just take three mile island and Chernobyl, mix them up real good, throw them in a big styrofoam cup and dump it into the ocean. What could go wrong? Genius.

    1. “What could go wrong?”

      A good question, would it be anything worse than Chernobyl? It seems to me it would have been better if when a meltdown occurs we could just sink the reactor into the ocean instead of having all the radiation going into the atmosphere. Admittedly I don’t know how the radiation would spread through the water if we did that.

      1. I don’t know how the radiation would spread through the water if we did that.

        So is OK then if Humpy the Whale stays in your bathtub while the ocean is uninhabitable? It’s only for 10,000 years or so.

        1. You should always remember to herp before you derp.

          I was just wondering what the full effects would be, hoping Ron or armchair scientist might know. If you don’t know either it’s okay to admit it.

          1. In addition to being an effective shield water is the moderator in the reactor core, unlike chernobyl. I would imagine a core drowning in seawater would be unable to sustain the reaction let alone go supercritical. Emergency shutdown of conventional reactors is typically various methods of flooding the containment and reactor pressure vessel with water from an external ultimate heat sink.

            As opposed to a river or suppression pond the ocean is truly the ultimate heat sink.

            1. The presurized water reactors used on ships are the inherently “safest” design available. This is because water is the moderator of the fission reaction. Operator errors can be catastrophic, but once the operators take the reactor to a steady state, drawing steam, they have a strict hands off the rods policy. Power demands are met via the density of the water in the core, based on steam demand. Steam demand goes up (turn the main engine at a faster rate) –> more heat pulled from the primary coolant–> primary coolant is more dense–> more fissions occur per unit volume–> reactor power output goes up. Control rods stay put. Works the opposite way in a down power scenario. Naval reactors use seawater as the ultimate emergency shutdown mechanism. A core drowning in seawater will go subcritical in a hurry.

              1. “Naval reactors use seawater as the ultimate emergency shutdown mechanism. A core drowning in seawater will go subcritical in a hurry.”

                GCE. The water provides the cooling. Rods on the bottom provide the shutdown.

        2. So is OK then if Humpy the Whale stays in your bathtub while the ocean is uninhabitable? It’s only for 10,000 years or so.

          This is so cute. You really, really care about the animals, I can tell. Perhaps you could apply to the TV series, “Whale Wars”. Then besides being a hero fighting for Animals, you could be a pirate and an outlaw, too!

          1. Hey Einstein, we have a symbiotic relationship with the ocean critters. I don’t care about Humpy, but something tells me that all those radioactive carcuses floating to shore just might affect the landlubbers. For one thing the beaches would stink.

            1. Hey Attenborough, care to elaborate on the symbiotic relationship we share with ocean critters?

      2. Water is very effective as a shield for ionizing radiation. Much more efficient than air.

        1. So efficient you would swim in it?

          1. Ocean? Hell yeah. Anything more than 100 ft, I’d swim directly over it.

          2. 3 main factors for minimizing the effects of ionizing radiation are time, distance and shielding. Alpha radiation (basically a 2He4 nucleus, a massive particle, relatively speaking) poses almost no threat, due to electromagnetic interaction. Beta (effectively an electron) poses a minimal threat, again due to electromagnetic interaction. Gamma (effectively massless)is the problem. Water will moderate the hell out of the energy level of the gamma, so, if sufficient time had passed since the event, I would swim in it. Admiral Nimitz drank primary coolant to show the effectiveness of water as a moderator.

            1. And look what happened to him. He’s dead.

              1. But he didn’t die before turning into Admiral Rickover, apparently.

                1. zing!

                  power school flashabck fail.

            2. “Time” refers to the idea that a person should minimize the amount of time in the radiation flux. Water provides the “shielding” part. (If I remember correctly, it reduces the incident gamma flux by 90% for every 24 feet of water between you and the source.)
              Water “moderates” a reactor (assuming the right design) by slowing down fast neutrons, making the fission chain reaction possible. Draining the water out of a reactor will stop the reaction quickly but will also remove the main heat sink – this is where the term “meltdown” comes into play. It turns out that melted fuel cells don’t hold the radioactives in very well.

    2. Right on! Instead, let’s build a gazillion of what amount to bird-blending box fans on stilts; that are so inefficient and dependent on the vagaries of weather, that we’ll have to tear down houses to make room for them all!

      Then we’ll get the federal government to subsidize them to get around that pesky “25 years to pay for themselves” problem, so that taxpayers are effectively paying twice on their electric bills! What could go wrong? Genius.

      (See what happens when you forget the tag?)

      1. /snark tag, that is.

    3. It could just be me, but it seems like you have no idea what you are talking about. Sadly, that puts you in the majority.

    4. There are already dozens of floating nuclear reactors all over the world. They are called aircraft carriers and submarines.

  8. I’m guessing that wind power would be a much easier process for google to go through than building nuclear. Since the wind turbines don’t emit any pollutants/emissions, all google has to worry about is killing endangered species (which I guess not too many live in the air over the ocean).

    Nuclear, on the other hand, you probably have to go through a much longer licensing requirement. Not only do you have the nuclear waste to worry about, but the government can even give you problems when releasing warmer water into an environment.

    1. Unless you count pulverized seagull fragments as pollutants or emissions. Frankly, I don’t see a problem with it. What with all the surviving Kennedys, the northeast has enough dirty scavengers to make up for a few shredded gulls.

    2. “all google has to worry about is killing endangered species”

      All google has to worry about is losing their shorts on the boondoggle that is wind.

      1. As long as they’re gambling with their own money, I don’t care if they spend $5 billion putting up the world’s most totally awesome zip line from Cape Cod to Roanoake.

        If they somehow DO manage to make wind economical, I hope they get filthy rich off it, if only to prove that real progress occurs in the private sector – and to tweak the greenies’ noses,

        1. Agree.

          But methinks they’ll be out 5 billion. Glad I don’t own any of their stock.

          And at THAT point, they’ll be up to sucking at the taxpayer subsidy teat while feeding from the green energy money trough at the same time.

          1. Electricity is more expensive in New Jersey than Virginia. At one cent per kilowatt-hour premium for 6000 Megawatt capacity could make half a billion bucks per year. No windmills required.

      2. Well obviously all companies are worried about losing their investments. I was just speaking to the decision to go for wind instead of nuclear. In terms of the regulatory hoops Google would have to jump through, I’m guessing wind would be much easier to implement than nuclear.

  9. My guess is either Larry Page or Sergey Brin saw some greenie tail that they wanted and this was the only way their fugly arse could hit it.

    It’s good to be the king.

    1. this was the only way their fugly arse could hit it

      Clearly you’re not aware how much Larry and Sergey are worth.

  10. Wow, I proposed a nuclear desalinization plant two days ago when the NY Times Environment reporter was warning of water shortages in the Southwest on cspan. I had no idea they were already working on one.

  11. “Back in 2007, Indian researchers suggested floating nuclear power plants could not only supply energy, but also use their excess heat to produce freshwater through desalination.”

    I hope they can do this. Just because I’d like to see the anti-nuclear greenies’ heads explode when they try to argue against it.

  12. An excellent and interesting look at the next generation of reactor design just beginning to come into play – one or more of these types may well become a major player in the next decades.


    As for fusion:


    1. I really hope my dad was wrong. But after taking millions from the DOE chasing fusion energy, he told me that it will never happen.

      1. Something tells me private money could find it pretty quickly. When it’s taxpayer money…never.

        1. UT and McDonnell Douglas were footing a hefty portion of the bill. Sometimes impossible is just impossible.

          1. I think “difficult given the state of the art” is more accurate than “impossible.” But how long before it becomes a reality? N + 20 years, where N is the instant you run the calculation.

            1. Some things just might not be doable on a human scale. The minimum self-sustaining fusion mass might be larger than any feasible container can be built on Earth. At that point we have to build Dyson rings, which considerably increases the investment:return calculations.

              1. Posh. I have a miniature sun in my basement.

                1. Enough about your hideously deformed progency!

                2. hey prolib, can I see it?

                  1. I lied. I don’t have a basement.

                3. Posh. I have a miniature sun in my basement.

                  Good luck trying to get your local waste disposal service to haul off the resulting microscopic black hole in a few billion years. You can set it on the curb and see what happens, I guess.

                  1. Black hole? Know you nothing of physics? Its mass is far below the Chandrasekhar limit. While there is a danger of it expanding into a red giant, I hope to have a bigger house by then.

                    1. Oops, you’re correct. You should be ok then. My garbage company will haul away white dwarfs on the first tuesday of the month, along with large appliances & furniture. As long as it’s in a marked box, they won’t give you too much grief.

                    2. That’s a pretty good deal! Our trash collectors will pick up stuff you wouldn’t believe–old dark matter, free quarks, you name it!

  13. It’s been hit several times already, but yeah…there are lots of floating nuke plants out there already. 2 per Nimitz class carrier, one per sub in the US fleet – high double digits at least.

    One draw back is that naval reactors use highly enriched (in U235) uranium. Pretty much bomb grade stuff. That said, there’s no reason why a civilian low enriched (in U235) reactor wouldn’t work using the ocean as it’s heat sink in lieu of rivers / lakes / cooling towers.

    Ditto that a reactor that “burned” PU239.

  14. I thought the Jersey shore was radioactive enough without the power plants.

    1. Not if we just off Snookie and the Sitch..

    2. Nah, just a biohazard. PPE, not just for work.


  15. 350 miles of windmills off the coast. I have a feeling that might interfere with navigation into, say, little ports like Baltimore harbor.

  16. Hey Ron, how come there is little or no discussion in these greeny circles on things like tidal impellers and river impellers?
    Like this

    is there some sort of political reason?

    1. ohh damn squirels
      Try number 2

      1. GHAA!

        I choose to blame my incompetence on SugarFree

      2. again?

      3. www DOT alternative-energy-news DOT info/technology/hydro/

  17. The boondoggles Google is getting in to are starting to remind me of Enron.

    1. But, but Google is indestructible. Too big to fail. Too — googly. You know?

  18. So what happens to all these windmills when a hurricane comes blowing through?

  19. Back in 2007, Indian researchers suggested floating nuclear power plants could not only supply energy, but also use their excess heat to produce freshwater through desalination.

    Great idea, India! Now go do it.

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