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Advanced Reactor Nuclear Power Resurgence in the U.S.

Privately funded, carbon-free, walk-away-safe, burns nuclear waste - what's not to like?

NuclearRenaissanceIndiatimes"I was not always pro-nuclear power," former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Carol Browner declared Wednesday at the Advanced Nuclear Summit and Showcase in Washington, D.C. She changed her mind 12 years ago, because she "couldn't be responsible about my views on climate change and carbon pollution without taking this clean energy source seriously." Now Browner has joined the Nuclear Matters' Leadership Council, which seeks to make sure America's 99 operating nuclear power plants—which currently supply nearly 20 percent of the country's electricity and two thirds of its no-carbon electric power—are not unnecessarily and prematurely shut down.

The Summit, organized by the self-described centrist think tank Third Way, featured panel discussions on advanced power plant designs, how the private sector was financing new plants, and what the federal government could do help jumpstart a nuclear era. Like Browner, many participants argued that ramping up nuclear power is necessary to help avoid the climate change produced by burning fossil fuels. Ross Koningstein, who headed up an energy supply study for Google, asserted that in the best-case scenario renewables like solar and wind could cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by around 50 percent. If climate change is a problem, they argued, then nuclear power must be part of the solution.

So what's standing in the way of building innovative new nuclear plants? Regulation. The summiteers danced around this a bit; after all, disrespecting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) bureaucrats in attendance is not a good way to get your project to the head of the administrative queue. More on that below.

terrapowerReactorTerrapowerBut first, the most exciting part of the conference: the showcase of new nuclear technologies being developed by various companies. One of the more intriguing designs is Terrapower's traveling wave reactor, a fast reactor that will use depleted uranium as a fuel source. Depleted uranium is now essentially a waste product leftover from producing fuel for conventional reactors. The company signed a memorandum of understanding last year with the China National Nuclear Corporation with the goal of building a 600-megawatt demonstration plant by 2020.

TransatomicReactorTransatomicTransatomic is developing a molten salt reactor. The low-enriched uranium is dissolved in lithium fluoride salt that enables the reactor to burn nuclear spent fuel to produce heat to drive the turbines that generate electricity. The company claims that its reactors could convert the current stock of 270,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel into enough energy to power the entire world for 72 years. They also claim that their reactors would be "walk away safe." Unlike conventional light water reactors, Transatomic reactors operate at atmospheric pressure; if the reactor should lose electrical power, the molten contents would dissolve a salt plug and safely drain out into an auxiliary container, where it would cool and freeze in just a few hours.

TerrestrialReactorTerrestrialThe Canadian/U.S. Terrestrial Energy is also developing a molten salt reactor. Terrestrial's Integral Molten Salt Reactor design is fashioned around core units that function for seven years and then are swapped out for new units. The company is seeking regulatory approval for its first plant in Canada, which would begin generating power in the early 2020s. The company makes the remarkable claim that the levelized cost of its electricity—that is, the cost taking capital, fuel, operation, and maintenance into account—would be 4 to 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that the levelized cost of electricity from natural gas power plants is around 7 to 8 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Oklo, formerly named UPower, aims to create small 2-megawatt reactors that fit inside a shipping container. The reactors would compete with small diesel generators that are often used to generate electricity in remote off-grid locations. (The fact that the company changed its name to the site of an ancient natural nuclear reactor is intriguing.)

ARC100ReactorARCAdvanced Reactor Concepts is developing a 100-megawatt modular sodium-cooled reactor. The company's chief technology officer, John Sackett, told the audience that "much advanced nuclear technology is ready to go"—given the "right regulatory structure."

But essentially all the panelists agreed that the current regulatory structure is far from "right."

ThorConReactorThorConFor example, Joseph Lassiter of Harvard Business School observed that due to sluggish U.S. regulatory oversight, several innovative American nuclear companies are looking abroad to build their first plants. As noted, Terrapower is working with Chinese partners; Terrestrial Energy will build in Canada; and ThorCon Power has signed a memorandum of understanding with state-owned Indonesian energy companies to develop thorium molten salt reactors.

Naturally, the NRC's representatives pleaded that it was all that the agency could do to oversee the safety of the country's current fleet of reactors, many of which will be coming up for their second relicense renewals soon. If the NRC does not authorize them to operate for an additional 20 years, they may have to be replaced with new power plants that burn carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

One big roadblock to innovation is that under the NRC's enabling legislation, the agency is only able to consider approving a new power plant when its application is complete, noted Jennifer Uhle, head of the Office of New Reactors. Filing a complete application requires doing all of the engineering and legal work in advance. That generally takes a decade for conventional designs financed by giant utility companies. Entrepreneurs pursuing innovative designs don't have the capital to endure this.

Former NRC commissioner Jeffrey Merrifield observed that the agency's licensing framework was developed in 1981, the year that IBM introduced its first PC. He pointedly suggested that it's time that regulatory framework be updated for more nimble iPhone era. Ray Rothrock, partner emeritus of the venture fund Venrock, said the number one issue holding back investment in advanced nuclear projects is financial risk. He added that in the nuclear energy field, financial risk is "just a reflection of regulatory risk." Rothrock called for a risk-based review process where the NRC can give companies step-by-step approval. If the regulatory process were more certain, entrepreneurs could point to their successful approval milestones when soliciting additional funding from investors.

At the summit's conclusion, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) touted his new bill, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act. This would, among other things, establish a joint NRC-Department of Energy National Nuclear Innovation Center to "enable the testing and demonstration of reactor concepts to be proposed and funded, in whole, or in part, by the private sector." The law would also instruct the NRC to devise a regulatory framework under which the agency would be capable of licensing advanced nuclear designs within a period of four years. The Senate passed the bill the day after the summit, on an 87 to 4 vote.

If advanced nuclear power is to play a significant role in cutting carbon dioxide emissions, the summiteers concurred that pilot plants must be up and running by the early 2020s in order to be ready to deploy massively by 2030. At the meeting's conclusion, Crapo declared that we are on the verge of "mind-blowing achievements in nuclear science." To judge from the profusion of innovative designs on display at the showcase, the senator may just be right.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...because she "couldn't be responsible about my views on climate change and carbon pollution without taking this clean energy source seriously.",/i

    CAST HER OUT.

  • Krabappel||

    The future of energy is wind and solar and unicorn farts and I will not listen to any reasoning that says otherwise!

  • Cliché Bandit||

    What I never understood was why these folks don't get the law of conservation of energy. In two respects:
    1. LETS ASSUME for the moment (I know this will be hard) that ACGW is real, ok. So if we use wind and PV instead of coal then we are still sucking energy out of the planet but instead now it comes from the atmosphere. Well, these are the precautionary principle folks right? What consequences, other than avian chop suey, are possible by reducing the energy in the atmosphere?

    2. Coal and Oil are actually nothing more than solar batteries. They stored the energy from the sun from millions of years ago. We went through an ice age recently and now we are due for another one. Perhaps releasing some of that energy is a good thing.

    NOW for a bonus, If you reduce the energy, primarily convection, by using windmills and PVs(which take heat out) in the atmosphere you now have less wind which reduces the efficiency of the global climate regulation system. So those techs taken to logical conclusions could INCREASE global temperatures. And if you tell me that we couldn't possible have a large enough impact on the atmospheric energy then WELCOME TO MY FUCKING SIDE OF THE DEBATE!.

    p.s. CO2 has not been proven to be a green house gas in a large convective system. Your desktop terrarium does not count.

  • LynchPin1477||

    CO2 has not been proven to be a green house gas in a large convective system

    ??

    A greenhouse gas is simply one that absorbs and emits in the IR, roughly speaking. Whether it is in a convective system or not doesn't change that.

    Look at Venus. It's atmosphere is almost entirely CO2 (like the Earth's would probably be if not for photosynthetic plants). It is also highly convective. As a result, the surface of Venus is hotter than the surface of Mercury, despite receiving less incident solar radiation.

    Mars' atmosphere is almost mostly CO2. But because it is much thinner than Earth's or Venus, it can't retain enough heat to be above the freezing point of water.

    If Earth's atmosphere had substantially less CO2 we'd look more like Mars. Much much more and we'd look more like Venus.

    Broadly speaking, the concept of a greenhouse gas and the greenhouse effect are well established in both basic physical theory and observation of Earth and other planets.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    In relation to the earth's specific atmosphere, we have no where near the concentrations of either Mars or Venus. A greenhouse gas is defined as one that absorbs IR, yes. In the ecospeak though they mean one that contributes to the increase in overal system temperature of the planet earth. In that case CO2 on earth is as much a contributor as as pig farts. Water vapor is the distinguishing "greenhouse gas" for earth. Always has been. You want to model global climate then H2O should be your primary concern.

  • LynchPin1477||

    You can't just isolate them like that. Suck all the CO2 out of the atmosphere and the temperature will drop so much that the water vapor freezes out and is no longer a contributing greenhouse gas. CO2 is an incredibly important greenhouse gas for the Earth.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    As evidenced by recent climate study, sucking half the CO2 out of the atmosphere would cause no appreciable change in global temperature nor water vapor concentrations in the atmosphere. But I agree, you CAN'T take isolate them like the GW crowd has done.

  • Tionico||

    are yu forgetting that it is the planet's oceans regulate CO2 in the air? And the level dissolved in ocean water is dependent upon temperature. The system has been working since the earth was made.

  • ||

    A greenhouse gas is simply one that absorbs and emits in the IR, roughly speaking. Whether it is in a convective system or not doesn't change that.

    All matter interacts with IR. The question is whether the interaction with IR is strong enough to redistribute the energy above whatever other background energy redistribution is occurring.

    This is why looking at Mars and Venus through the strict greenhouse lens is rather absurd. It places the emphasis on a phenomenon that is in no way the dominant one responsible for the planet's state. It's like saying burning gasoline propels a car forward, you can tell because jet engines burn more fuel and propel planes faster and steamboats burn less fuel and are, therefor, propelled slower.

  • LynchPin1477||

    There are lots of gases that are transparent at IR wavelengths. My point stands - the term "greenhouse gas" has a well defined meaning, and CO2 is indisputably a greenhouse gas, and one that has a huge impact on the Earth's equilibrium temperature at current concentrations.

    That's all I'm saying.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Venus has a massive atmosphere. Literally. The adiabatic lapse rate is the reason that it is so hot. Mars has more CO2 than Earth. Yes, you read that right: more. But its total atmospheric mass is much smaller than Earth which affects the spectral absorbtion and surface temps.

    Take away all of the CO2 in oir atmosphere and all thw water would not freeze out.

  • LynchPin1477||

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Really? So take away CO2 and all water vapor freezes out? Assume Earth is a perfect bb. Assume no greenhouse. What is the temp of the earth? Now go look at the absorption spectrum of water vapor. Realize that it overlaps broadly with co2. Then realize that the predominant ghg is water vapor.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Further realize that the majority of the hypothesized CAGW is due to positive feedbacks due to... Increased water vapor and to a much lesser extent alnedo changes. CO2 alone has an ecs of about 1.5C per doubling. Everything else requires amplification by water vapor.

    Could write and reference more but on my phone and about to walk out the door.

  • LynchPin1477||

    The equilibrium temperature of the Earth without any atmosphere would be about -20 C. Yes, there is overlap, but the contribution of CO2 makes an important difference.

  • IceTrey||

    Venus is hot because it rotates too slowly to have a strong magnetic field. A Venusian day is 116 Earth days long. Interesting fact, it also rotates backwards.

  • Bob Armstrong||

    "A greenhouse gas is simply one that absorbs and emits in the IR, roughly speaking."
    Correct !
    Now show us the equation that allows such a symmetric phenomenon to , in the case of Venus , supposedly "trap" 400 Kelvin ( 25 times the energy density ) over the gray body temperature in its orbit over the height of its atmosphere . SHOW US THE EQUATIONS . NO spectrum can do that .

    As the blogger HockeySchtick computes , GRAVITY explains it quite accurately .

  • Tionico||

    those are qualitative assumptions, ilkely true. But at WHAT PERCENTAGE CO2 in the atmosphere will be BEGIN to be more like Mars/Venus? Don't forget, CO2 is on the order of zero point three five percent of the atmosphere. One third of one percent. It seems to have fluctuated between about two percent and five or maybe six percent. The gas mix here on earth is NOTHING like the near pure "mix" on the other planets. Incident solar radiation levels, gravity field strengths, lack of magnetic force fields, and lack of water vapour all contribue to makeing your model rather irrelevent. Nor do any of the other plantes have vast areas and volumes of liquid water to regularte carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.

  • some guy||

    1) You're taking that energy out of the atmosphere and then putting it right back in. When you use it to power your microwave or whatever you are converting it right back to heat, which goes into the atmosphere. When they say "renewable", they really mean it. Fossil fuels on the other hand are releasing energy into the atmosphere that was formerly stored in the ground (as you mention in 2).

    2) No one knows if its good for the environment, but poor people sure as hell know its good for their health and well-being.

    Bonus: the atmosphere is really chaotic. I doubt it takes very long for the energy you put into your microwave burrito to make it back out into the wind from which it came (assuming a wind powered microwave.)

    You're right on 2), but a little off on the rest.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    I poorly laid out my basic premise. This is true. Let me try again. The sun adds energy to earth. Earth's total energy is how ((much it absorbs + how much it creates on its own)- how much it radiates into space). The GW folks ONLY focus on the last parameter. That is not science, that is voodoo. And, when they focus on it they neglect water-vapor and cloud albedo. Where as they never talk about the Sun's output and ever so rarely the Earth's internal heat escaping (via volcanoes etc.). Our tiny CO2 concentrations have not been demonstrated to influence temperatures empirically by their own numbers for the last 20 years. The whole system must be considered including that when CO2 rises so does photosynthesis.

    Yes CO2 absorbs and re-emits IR. And penguins waddle when they walk. In the larger context neither has a significant effect on global temperature changes over a period of a human lifespan.

  • LynchPin1477||

    The GW folks ONLY focus on the last parameter.

    That's just not true. They take into account incident solar radiation. They have to. And they do talk about water vapor and cloud formation. I saw a talk that was entirely on cloud modeling. And the speaker flat out admitted that that is a major area of uncertainty in climate models.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    This would be an improvement then.

  • Floccina||

    You are of course right, but it is interesting to think about the fact that it you put a square mile of the most efficient solar cells that convert 40% of sunlight into electricity in the desert close together and then you might have a significant effect on the weather in the area. We are far from being able to produce the most efficient cells cheaply enough to be used in this way but it is an interesting concept. So you take all this energy out of the desert and dump into Phoenix AZ.

  • Roger Knights||

    Re 1: If electrical energy is converted to kinetic energy, as it often is, it does not end up as heat that goes back into the atmosphere.

  • Philip||

    Most electrical energy is not used to create locomotion and, even if it was, that does not trap the energy when locomotion stops.

    Flora absorbs sunlight and stores the energy in sugar.

  • ||

    PV's take heat out of the atmosphere? Care to elaborate on that?

  • LynchPin1477||

    In the short term he is right -- energy that would have otherwise been absorbed and reradiated at thermal wavelengths is instead converted to electricity. But eventually it makes it back out as thermal radiation (see some guy up above).

  • JWatts||

    It's also a miniscule amount.

    "The total solar energy absorbed by Earth's atmosphere, oceans and land masses is approximately 3,850,000 exajoules (EJ) per year."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_energy

    Total electricity production by PV is approximately 0.000002 EJ

  • Tionico||

    yeah, warming up Phoenix from all the energy used there. It does shift the locus of the energy, but I rather doubt that would be signficant.

  • Chüd Whipper||

    Ron, one that you missed that I think may be the most promising is NuScale Power: www.nuscalepower.com

    Disclaimer: I have spent time at their facility and they will probably be a future customer.

  • WoodchipperPatriarch||

    Wow. You have orphans trained as nuclear engineers?

  • Cliché Bandit||

    First world problems: I can't keep up with all the DoE certs on my nuclear engineering orphans.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    An energy supply study for Google asserted that in the best-case scenario renewables like solar and wind could cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by around 50 percent.

    I don't believe it.

    A few of these efforts proved very successful: Google deployed some of the most energy-efficient data centers in the world, purchased large amounts of renewable energy, and offset what remained of its carbon footprint.

    This always seems like a smoke-and-mirrors type of thing-- buying "renewable energy credits" always seems to me to be about as trustworthy as donating to Trump's "foundation" where 100% of the proceeds goes to help Kittens.

    Sure, some of the money might worm its way, very slowly, towards a highly subsidized wind farm somewhere. Highly subsidized because it's very likely to be sucking up more energy to build and maintain it than it actually produces. Just because you can stick a meter in your outlet and say "yep, I'm getting ~110 volts generated from a wind turbine" doesn't mean that if you turned off all secondary inputs to that wind farm that it would or even could continue to generate power.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Here's how offsets work.

    I'm planning to fly to Hawaii today. Nope, just changed my mind. That's 2 tons of credits.

  • some guy||

    But the regulatory agency has to have agreed that you planned to fly to Hawaii for that to work. No offset for you!

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Unfortunately, not every Google moon shot leaves Earth orbit. In 2011, the company decided that RE C was not on track to meet its target and shut down the initiative. The two of us, who worked as engineers on the internal RE C projects, were then forced to reexamine our assumptions.

    People have been sold a bill of goods, and have allowed words to creep into our psyche which have essentially changed the definition of "efficiency". Fossil fuels of almost all forms are INCREDIBLY efficient. Yet the word "inefficient" is uncritically used to describe them. The amount of energy density that exists in a lump of coal or gallon of gasoline is significant. And it's HIGHLY efficient. Nearly 100% of that resource's can be directly harnessed with very little loss.

    At the start of RE C, we had shared the attitude of many stalwart environmentalists: We felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope—but that doesn’t mean the planet is doomed.

    Yep, the belief that if you simply spend dollars and time researching, these sources of energy will steadily increase their output and efficiency on a linear scale, indefinitely.

    They won't.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Nearly 100% of that resource's can be directly harnessed with very little loss.

    Not really. Fossil Fuels ARE some of the most energy dense substances we have the technology of utilizing but they are far from 100%. Fissile materials are more energy dense. Hell, for specific impulse H and O reactions are super. But there is only 1 reaction that is 100% and that is anti-matter / matter reactions. I don't disagree that almost all "renewable" sources are about as inefficient as one can get.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Fissile materials are more energy dense.

    Sorry, I wasn't comparing oil/coal to fissile materials. I know fissile material is incredibly energy dense. My comparison is between a lump of coal and a lump of solar panels or wind turbines.

  • some guy||

    I won't settle for any fuel with an energy density lower than anti-matter!

  • Cliché Bandit||

    I agree. Speaking of which, have you seen my dilithium crystals?

  • some guy||

    Yeah, they're next to the zero-point energy perpetual motion machine.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Yeah, they're next to the zero-point energy perpetual motion machine.

    Right past the battery-operated perpetual motion machine.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    More specifically, a lump of lead-acid, NimH or Lion batteries charged up with with solar panels or wind turbines, compared to a lump of coal.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Started off well and got antimatter wrong. Efficiency says nothing about coverting mass to energy. Efficiency is all about entropy. You get 100% of the stored chemical energy out of burnt fossil fuels. Now 100% of that isn't electrical or useful work. Much of it is low grade heat that is generally useless, but 100% is liberated (depending on your definitions I'm lying slightly but that's ledt as an exercise for the reader).

    Thermal plant efficiency is all about temperatures. Most thermal plant is about 35% efficient. Some is about 60%.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Huh, thanks for the comment. Interesting.

  • some guy||

    People have been sold a bill of goods, and have allowed words to creep into our psyche which have essentially changed the definition of "efficiency". Fossil fuels of almost all forms are INCREDIBLY efficient.

    Efficiency, when it comes to a power source has a very specific definition. It's the ratio of the "work done" to the "energy released". For large fossil fuel plants the efficiency is nowhere near 100%. It's in the 30-40% range, which is actually really, really good. Solar panels, wind farms and nuclear plants will all have similar efficiency, just because you can't beat the laws of thermodynamics.

    The really good part about fossil fuels is that they are cheap compared to solar and wind. Nuclear could probably be even cheaper than that and certainly safer.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Even if wind farms and solar power saw drastic increases in efficiency, you would still need cover a fair fraction of the country to provide enough power at current levels of consumption. The energy density of wind and solar simply are not high enough to get around that fact.

    http://www.withouthotair.com/c30/page_236.shtml

  • some guy||

    And don't forget that transmission lines are energy hungry and solar and wind power often need to travel a long ways to be useful.

    I love the idea of putting a small nuclear reactor in every neighborhood. You're not going to beat that for total efficiency.

  • JWatts||

    "And don't forget that transmission lines are energy hungry and solar and wind power often need to travel a long ways to be useful."

    Transmission losses aren't that big a deal.

    "For example, a 100-mile (160 km) 765 kV line carrying 1000 MW of power can have losses of 1.1% to 0.5%."

  • Tionico||

    FedGov will never allow that to happen...... no more central control. If a small town could buy and fit one of those things for the area, then they'd need NOTHNG from the outside.... and FedGov would have a hissy fit. Can't have a whole town be autonomous.

  • WoodchipperPatriarch||

    Seems like? That's because it is a smoke-and-mirrors thing.

  • Ken Shultz||

    If there's a better way to deal with depleted uranium and spent fuel than using it for energy, I'd like to hear about it.

    I suppose there are open questions about transporting the stuff, but might using it for energy be safer than just storing the stuff?

  • Chip Chipperson||

    Depleted uranium is safe to transport or even carry in your bare hands. It's less radioactive than your average shovelful of dirt. Hence the 'depleted' in the name. It's really no more dangerous than any other heavy metal like lead.

    DU has a lot of industrial uses, most notably in defense where it's used to make very effective anti-tank shells, armor plate, and warhead casings for deep-penetrating ordinance. It's also used as ballast on commercial airliners.

    The only real exposure risk to humans are through inhalation or ingestion, again similar to lead. It shouldn't be confused with spent nuclear fuel rods and other nuclear waste.

  • FreeToFear||

    due to heavy metals in the water supply...

  • Chip Chipperson||

    As I said, the exposure danger to humans comes from inhalation or ingestion, just like any other heavy metal. Which is how it caused problems in Iraq -- problems that would have existed had our weapons been made of lead or tungsten or any other heavy metal. Because things like anti-tank shells and bullets need to be made of heavy metals.

    It's not radioactive, and it's perfectly safe to handle and transport.

  • In League with the Dark Ones||

    I read an article in the IEEE Spectrum a few years ago that stated that if we started a nuclear waste recycling program like France has, we could go from Yucca Mountain overflowing to it being 90% empty. And get energy out of it to boot.

    Seems to me to be a win-win.

  • JWatts||

    It would be a win-win if we just used Yucca Mountain. Harry Reid blocked it from being used after Nevada got billions from the Federal government building the repository.

    "but Federal funding for the site ended in 2011 under the Obama Administration via amendment to the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, passed on April 14, 2011.[2] The project was highly contested by the general public and many politicians.[3] The Government Accountability Office stated that the closure was for political, not technical or safety reasons.[2]"

    https://goo.gl/m7QfWG

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    That Scientific American article is VERY interesting. I'm headed over there.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    In your electric car?

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    In my coal powered internet.

  • colorblindkid||

    Even if America switched all electricity generation to CO2 free right now, it would still only cut our CO2 emissions less than 50%, and would result in a temperature reduction of like .01 degrees over the next hundred years. We've passed the point of no return like ten times by now. Instead of wasting money on green nonsense, how about building levies, sea walls, and other things to prepare for the inevitable?

  • WoodchipperPatriarch||

    You seem to be mixing up your talking points.

  • ||

    Instead of wasting money on green nonsense, how about building levies, sea walls, and other things to prepare for the inevitable?

    I'm doing my part to adapt to the unimaginable abundance of food we'll have as the world population levels off, energy gets more abundant, and the planet gets warmer at the poles and wetter all over.

    When life gives you greenhouse gases... build a fucking greenhouse!

  • macsnafu||

    "When life gives you greenhouse gases... build a fucking greenhouse!"

    No, no, no. When life give you greenhouse gases, you don't need to build a greenhouse...just grow more food and oxygen-producing plants! Who could possibly argue about cheaper fruit and veggies and more oxygen?

  • Tionico||

    no, we passed the point of no return back about 1100 AD, during the Mideaval Warming Period when Greenland was GREEN (not covered by a thousand feet of ice), Labrador was called Vinland from all the wine grape vines flourisihg there, and the Swiss Alos had hardly any ice on them. But, it hit that point and turned round to where we are now,,,.... poddering along at the same temperature these past 130 years or so. Which way will it go next? Flip a coin and decide.... you've about the same odds heard or tails.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    To radically cut the emission of greenhouse gases, the obvious first target is the energy sector, the largest single source of global emissions.

    The energy "sector" isn't a source of global emissions. People are. That "energy sector" is only providing humanity with the needs it demands: Heating in winter, cooling in summer, manufacturing of building materials, clothes, food production, your iDevices, your internet, your LOLpics on instagram, your navel-gazing about the terrible toll to humanity in the next century... THAT IS the "energy sector". Your house or apartment is an energy sector.

  • Zeb||

    The enviros sort of get that. That's sort of why offsets are a thing and "carbon footprint". Of course their favored solutions are mostly fantasy.

  • LynchPin1477||

    I get so optimistic reading about the new reactor tech. Seriously, it elicits such a sense of awe of human ingenuity and hope for the future.

    Then I read about the suffocating regulatory environment and I despair.

    Thanks Bailey.

  • Lee G||

    My FIL was an engineer in a nuke plant for a long time. If upon hitting the light switch in a meeting room, the lights failed to come on, it was a reportable incident.

  • some guy||

    It's a reflection of the public's general ignorance when it comes to nuclear power. Everyone's terrified of it, even though it is generally considered to be by far the safest power source. It's sad, really. This is why we can't have nice things.

  • LynchPin1477||

    But it emits RADIATION! I may not know much, but I know RADIATION is BAD!

  • macsnafu||

    Light bulbs emit radiation. Quick! Smash all the lightbulbs! No, wait. Don't smash the CFL's; you'll release their mercury!

  • ||

    "An energy supply study for Google asserted that in the best-case scenario renewables like solar and wind could cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by around 50 percent."

    I needed a good belly laugh.

  • psCargile||

    So...climate change is a ruse by Big Nuke.

  • gah87||

    Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State traded uranium mines for cash.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04.....mpany.html
    Al Gore chaired the Gore–Chernomyrdin Commission that Bill Clinton tasked with buying Russian weapons-grade uranium with tax dollars, converting it to fuel, then privatizing it through the United States Enrichment Company Privatization Act.
    http://guardianlv.com/2013/09/.....-followed/

    Starting to get the picture? Drive the price of uranium down through regulation, allow your cronies to buy it on the cheap, then pump its value up through more regulation (this time on carbon).

  • But Enough About Me||

    What's not to like?

    Oh, give it time. I'm sure there are some anti-nuke weenies out there getting right on this one.

  • MoonPIE||

    No nukes, No nukes...(40 yrs)... Pro nukes, Pro nukes. What is needed is a concert or something with some hip talent like Jackson Brown or maybe Tupac to sell it.

  • Lee G||

    Rock The Nuke

  • Suell||

    You can bet that Tom Steyer, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the NRDC are already thinking up reasons why this should be opposed. I'll go with the standard "safety of these is not fully known" as their main objection. Their actual problem is that it will provide us with cheaper energy.

  • MoonPIE||

    Small reactors would be Too Disruptive...it would be like Uber.

  • ||

    What the hell are they going to do for groceries if the specter of fossil fuels goes away? They have kids to feed Suell.

  • Sevo||

    Steyer can afford booku orphans to caravan his food to his door, and regarding everyone else, why, they should have gotten rich too, so they could be so 'moral'.

  • MoonPIE||

    In 2006, I tried to corner the thorium market. People thought I was crazy...anyway long story... national security, blah, blah. Donnie, you are out of your element! Don't think about it much anymore with the all the Lithium I'm taking. I guess they found my element for me!

  • Sevo||

    "...what's not to like?.."

    Oh, don't worry....

  • Tionico||

    THEY will find something. Or make it up. Like Global Warming. That's worked for a while, but is running out of energy. They need a new mascot. Can't take the dolphins, California Condor, nor the Spattered Owl.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    TWR is not new. Sodium cooled breeders are not new. MSR is not new. Some of the specific designs may be. The technology and base designs not so much.

    Oh and I group Terrapower right up there with Rossi and his e-cat based purely on Myrhvold (sp?). He's a born conman.

  • Sevo||

    Got some links?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    I fully support patents and recognize IP as property unlike some of the freetards, but asshats like this give them lots of ammunition.

    And as for TWR, it's just another fucking sodium fast breeder.

    Repeat after me:

    (reactive) Sodium bad
    Fast breeder bad
    (non-reactive) salt good
    Thermal (or maybe slightly mesoscopic) good

    And yet we keep coming back to the same stupid ideas just like we keep coming back to windmills. *sigh*

  • Tionico||

    yeah, who WAS that chap, some time ago, went rather barmy out riding his horse and tilting at windmills?

  • IceTrey||

    Yes, MSR is 50 years old and it's the greatest crime against humanity ever that the planet is not running on it.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Pretty much. No energy in my lifetime will ever be too cheap to meter, but MSR is the next best thing.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Where was Lockheed Martin with it's compact fusion reactor design?

    If they can make this work, all the other "new" nuclear plant designs would become instantly obsolete.

    http://www.eweek.com/news/lock.....asp-2.html

  • IceTrey||

    Fusion has only been 10 years away for the last 50 years.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Yeah I know.

    That's why I said "if" they can make it work.

    The article I linked to said they could be installed as new replacement power sources in existing power plants. So all the existing power transmission infrastructure could be used. That would be an additional cost savings right there.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    That's true of any thermal plant. A steam turbine doesn't care where the steam comes from.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    The point is that the Lockheed Martin's fusion reactor is small and portable.

    Their objective is to be able to slot it in to existing fossil fuel plants as replacement heat source with minimal retrofitting.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    No.

  • Arthur45||

    Trasnsatomic Power's molten salt reactor gets my vote as THE future of energy. The nuclear wastes in this country could provide all thepower we need for 1000 years and obtaining fuel is as simple as filtering sea water. Fuel costs are insignificant, build costs are a fraction of current nuclear reactors - they will produce the cheapest power of any system and will be the safest. Nuclear proliferation fears are minimal for this technology. Plants can be located anywhere - even within cities.

  • TheZeitgeist||

    ^This.

    Ditto on your sentiment. Transatomic's scheme solves two birds one stone, is passively safe, and has viable background history of working sodium reactors from ORNL experiments in the 60's.

    Also, if the PC-powers-that-be are looking for woman to hold up as example of 'girl power' one really can't do better than Leslie Dewan. Young, attractive, MIT genius, changing the world of energy, blah-blah and so on - she is Elizabeth Holmes for real.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    More nuclear power could also solve the increasing problem of water shortage in the west and mid-west (where the underground aquifers are being sucked dry) by making it a lot cheaper to desalinate huge quantities of seawater.

    Of course that would and (is) giving the eco-leftists fits. Anytime anyone mentions more desalination plants on the Pacific coast in California, they start screeching about it.

  • mtrueman||

    "So what's standing in the way of building innovative new nuclear plants? Regulation."

    I would have thought that the US nuclear industry would be a poster child for regulatory capture, where the regulations are written and enforced by sympathetic industry insiders. This probably explains why industry insiders were reluctant to point a finger at regulation.

    "He added that in the nuclear energy field, financial risk is "just a reflection of regulatory risk.""

    But for innovative technology, financial risk is financial risk. It may not work as expected. This is why China is involved. Only state enterprises from China, Indonesia etc are willing to risk billions on untested technologies.

  • Frankjasper1||

    Hmmm i wonder why you left out the bottom portion......

    "So what's standing in the way of building innovative new nuclear plants? Regulation. The summiteers danced around this a bit; after all, disrespecting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) bureaucrats in attendance is not a good way to get your project to the head of the administrative queue. More on that below."

    Also Why would they be for regulatory capture with respect to other nuclear plants? Perhaps regulatory capture of competing forms of energy sure vs nuclear. But there is a lot of areas that aren't being powered by nuclear and wouldnt affect those in existence.

  • mtrueman||

    "Why would they be for regulatory capture with respect to other nuclear plants?"

    Ron, not the physicists, is the one blaming regulations. Perhaps you could ask him. I'd be curious too.

  • Frankjasper1||

    What does Ron have to do with your claim of regulatory capture? You are the one the that made the claim so you back it up. All he talked about was regulations are an impediment to building nuclear. That doesn't have to do with regulatory capture which i am not sure you understand what that is or the difference.

    Not going to acknowledge the part about the NRC being in attendance huh?

    You are so dishonest. Burn that strawman

  • Frankjasper1||

    Regulations being an obstacle =/= regulatory capture necessarily. Back up your claim...put up or shut up dog

  • Frankjasper1||

    Did you even read the article or are you going to just make up whatever you think?

  • mtrueman||

    "Did you even read the article or are you going to just make up whatever you think?"

    Yes.

  • Jackand Ace||

    It is impossible, Ronald, to have any meaningful discussion about the future of nuclear without costs being up front and center. And all those costs, sadly, are not just regulatory, as you seem to suggest. Nuclear has very large capital and operational costs. I find it hard to believe the conference wasn't addressing those as well as regulations.

    As one who relies on market forces for the answer, I am sure you know that. Are you suggesting government assistance? Tax, breaks, etc? I bet the conference wants that. Nuclear has had that in the past, and costs have only escalated, as opposed to solar, which has seen costs reduced.

    Yes, nuclear needs to be part of the solution. But it's cost that is most prohibitive, not environmentalists. Good to see the Obama admin is working toward it. From your conference:

    "In November 2015, the Obama administration announced its 2017 budget plan includes $900 million in new funding to support the federal research, development and demonstration efforts in nuclear energy technologies."

    http://www.benzinga.com/pressr.....z3yk1wBBus

  • Jackand Ace||

    Of course, if that was $900m investment in solar, libertarians would be screaming.

  • Cytotoxic||

    True but that's old nuclear. The new designs are very different and need to be given a chance, which regulation deprives them of.

  • Jackand Ace||

    It should indeed get a chance. We need all the chances we can get.

  • GamerFromJump||

    You just don't GET it, Ron. It's not about clean energy, it's about LESS energy for the lumpenproles to waste on their worthless little lives.

  • mulp||

    Let's consider how great deregulation works!

    The Bush administration NRC gave the go ahead to fix the leaking heat exchanger to the SONGS plant operators without an NRC engineering and safety review, no public hearings, so contracts were cut with a Japanese fabricator based on their unquestionably engineering, and new heat exchangers installed in both SONGS nuclear power plants, and the plants returned so service based on the plant operators saying everything was great.

    Then the plant operators discovered everything was not great, and that the engineering was caulty, resulting in vibration in the heat exchangers leading to leaks within the first year of returning to operations after repairs.

    The SONGS operators and owners concluded that fixing the botched fix correctly was going to cost more than the bad fix, and that was going to be more expensive than scrapping the entire SONGS nuclear plant.

    Billions would have been saved by a costly engineering and safety review of the repairs to the SONGS plant. A hundred million in engineering review would have either resulted in the plant being closed before spending more than a billion on a botched fix, or resulted in a fix that was far more likely to work so the SONGS reactors could operate for two to four decades longer.

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