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Power Science

Improving Uranium Extraction From Seawater, Inspired by Shrimp 122

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the unlimited-uranium-biscuts-at-red-lobster dept.
New submitter Celarent Darii writes "Prospects for harvesting Uranium from seawater turned interesting by using shrimp shells as a sort of catalyst." Researchers at ORNL presented their findings from a test of a chitin net for harvesting Uranium at the ACS fall meeting. From the ORNL press release: "In a direct comparison to the current state-of-the-art adsorbent, HiCap provides significantly higher uranium adsorption capacity, faster uptake and higher selectivity, according to test results. Specifically, HiCap's adsorption capacity is seven times higher (146 vs. 22 grams of uranium per kilogram of adsorbent) in spiked solutions containing 6 parts per million of uranium at 20 degrees Celsius. In seawater, HiCap's adsorption capacity of 3.94 grams of uranium per kilogram of adsorbent was more than five times higher than the world's best at 0.74 grams of uranium per kilogram of adsorbent. The numbers for selectivity showed HiCap to be seven times higher."
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Improving Uranium Extraction From Seawater, Inspired by Shrimp

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  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @10:37AM (#41081795)

    Then Vegas is acquiring it's own nuclear arsenal.

    • Looks at pile of shrimp.

      Gets Geiger Counter.

      Really, who knew these little things were so dangerous?

      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        Hmm..that explains it, it IS a hidden agenda conspiracy!!!

        It appears the giant Tiger Shrimp, from the orient...is invading [cbsnews.com] the gulf coast of the US...the much larger variety could endanger the native, smaller (and very tasty) gulf shrimps.

        So, I get it...the govt is trying to introduce these larger shrimp, to use their larger and more plentiful shells to get more Uranium!?!?!?

        Energy at the expense of our seafood!!!

        :)

    • by tnk1 (899206)

      It's all part of Mr. House's master plan for the coming apocalypse.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...there's tonnes of Uranium around! You mine it easily - it's not so rare that you need to go looking in seawater.

    Now if the shells selectively captured the Uranium-235 isotope, that WOULD be useful....

    • Re:But...? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drwho (4190) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @10:55AM (#41082041) Homepage Journal

      Yes, there is lots of uranium around. But it's locked up in mines, in places such as Niger which are unstable. Japan investigated this seawater uranium source because it wanted a stable source of uranium - one that would not depend on vagaries of geology, mining, and international politics. Because seawater contains approximately the same amount of uranium throughout the world, there is no need to get the uranium - they would let the uranium come to them, via ocean currents. Its a viable idea, even before this newest chitin invention. From what I remember, the cost of ocean uranium recovery was only twice what the market price of uranium was when the Japanese documented this method, and they were confident they could make incremental progress on lowering the cost. I would assume that all of the Japanese research has been cancelled in light of the post-Fukushima madness.

      • Re:But...? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kaenneth (82978) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @11:24AM (#41082423) Homepage Journal

        I would guess research into filtering out radioactive elements would only increase...

        • by e70838 (976799)
          Uranium is very bad. It can be used for awful weapons. In order to clean the planet from it in a very efficient way, I suggest to disintegrate it in nuclear plants. Of course it will be only for ecologic purpose.
      • What's the realistic potential of the amount we could get?

        Could it replace the need to mine it for grid scale consumption?

        Is it naturally replenished in the sea water or is it just there like it is in the earth (and taking out eventually depletes the stock)?

        Genuinely curious :)
        • Re:But...? (Score:5, Informative)

          by rasmusbr (2186518) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @11:51AM (#41082825)

          Wikipedia says there's 3.3 mg uranium per m^3 of seawater and the volume of the world's oceans adds up to 1.3*10^18 m^3, which means that there's 4.4*10^12 kg of uranium in the oceans, or roughly 400 kg per human in a world with 10 billion humans. That's a lot of uranium...

          I don't suppose much is known about the rate at which it replenishes, but I bet scientists will be able to find out about that long before we begin to see measurable depletion of seawater uranium on a global scale.

          • Re:But...? (Score:5, Informative)

            by dasunt (249686) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @12:48PM (#41083661)

            I don't suppose much is known about the rate at which it replenishes, but I bet scientists will be able to find out about that long before we begin to see measurable depletion of seawater uranium on a global scale.

            However, rivers bring more uranium into the sea all the time, in fact 3.2x10^4 tonne per year.

            - Source [stanford.edu]

          • by Hillgiant (916436)

            Like oil, it isn't how much is there. Rather it is how much energy we have to exert to extract it.

            • by HiThere (15173)

              It's more complicated than that. A reliable supply that you don't need to fight for is worth a lot.

              OTOH, IIUC extraction of Uranium from sea water is only marginally economically feasible. This could be improved in several ways. One way is by designing better reactors. Fast neutron reactors are frequently mentioned here, as they have the potential to burn their fuel down to safe essentially non-radioactive. But they are a trifle dangerous, as along the way they produce fuel that is quite radioactive.

      • I'm not sure if I'm happy or sad at the prospect of obtaining lot's more uranium. The world has yet to demonstrate that commercial nuclear plants make any financial sense, and then there's the incredibly stupid waste storage system we have in the US (have each plant simply hang onto it). I'm more concerned over the prospect of a fire in those storage polls than a meltdown in a core.

        Molten salt reactors [earthlink.net] seem promising, and there's little debate that they would be cheaper. There are other challenges, but c

        • by manicb (1633645)

          The world has yet to demonstrate that commercial nuclear plants make any financial sense

          Is that compared to the energy taken to commission/decommission, or is that compared with the low cost of fossil fuels which don't have to pay for the destruction they will unleash? Current consensus seems to be that it's likely climate change will wreck us before the oil runs out, so relying on current economics is not a very helpful way of decision-making.

      • by Chirs (87576)

        Yes, there is lots of uranium around. But it's locked up in mines, in places such as Niger which are unstable.

        I suppose you consider Saskatchewan, Canada to be "unstable"?

        • Depends on how much they've been drinking. Same as the rest of Canada.

          • by mug funky (910186)

            i was about to mention the many mines in Australia (including the largest in the world), but what you say applies equally here.

      • by dbIII (701233)
        There hasn't been much research on the subject so there probably wasn't any ongoing in Japan to cancel.
      • by Sique (173459)

        Hm... The next Uranium mine from my birthplace was about 10 mls, the next one still in operation is about 30 mls. And I grew up in a region which hasn't seen any armed conflicts since World War II. The next Uranium deposit from where I live now is 20 mls, although it doesn't get mined.

        Uranium is plenty, and you can get it nearly everywhere. If there is an old silver mine nearby, you can be pretty sure that you found the next Uranium deposit. The problem is not so much the finding and mining of Uranium, the

        • by Sique (173459)

          If you are really interested in seeing the Uranium mine still in operation, get out any online map with satellite view and look for "Koenigstein/Saechsische Schweiz (Deutschland)", zoom into the map until you can see the Fortress Königstein. About one mile west of the fortress, you see the mine. It might be labelled "Wismut NL Königstein".

    • Yeah, but the potential of extraction from seawater is mind boggling. The Japanese have been working on this for a long time, and they estimate the uranium content of the main current off their coast carries by more uranium in a year than the total known reserves left in the ground. I just hope the Fukishima disaster doesn't put a damper on the basic research they are doing.

    • by Talderas (1212466)

      "Japanese Miracle"?

  • Uranium (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @10:42AM (#41081865)

    Unlike oil, uranium will be found in comets, asteroids, planets, and deep within the earth. This applies to thorium as well. Effectively, it is an inexhaustible resource. The deeper you mine, the greater density of rock and the greater likeliness you will find uranium. Once we are able to mine the mantle we will be able to travel to the stars.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Sparticus789 (2625955)

      And when pigs grow wings, they will be able to fly.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        And man will never fly in heavier than air machines. Yeah, yeah, we've heard it all before from your ilk.

        Read up on it. The amount of uranium in the oceans is staggering, and combined with a well thought out chain of nuclear reactor types, where the waste from one can feed the next in line, could solve humanity's energy problem effectively forever.

        • solve humanity's energy problem effectively forever.

          Fortunately it gives us LOTS of new problems to deal with. At least we won't be bored. Or need nightlights...

        • by dbIII (701233)
          The amount of uranium in rock is even more staggering. The important issue in both cases is how much effort is required to turn it into fuel or whatever other use you have for the uranium. It doesn't come out of the ground or the sea as a pure metal of a useful isotope.
          Many uranium mines also produce copper, silver and gold from the same ore, which makes the mining more commercially viable than if it was nothing other than a low concentration of uranium oxide. Of course there are proven methods to extrac
    • Well,
      not in comets, not likely in asteroids either, and with uranium alone you can't travel to the stars anyway ...
      The densitiy point is utter nonsense as well.
      Why should the densitiy have anything to do with the minerals bound in it?

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Once we are able to mine the mantle we will be able to travel to the stars.

      Sorry, but there's that pesky relativity getting in the way. It takes light four to ten years to get here from the ten nearest stars, none of which have shown evidence of earthlike planets. I'm afraid it's going to be centuries, or more likely never, that we travel the stars. Sorry, but there's a reason they call it science fiction.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        It's going to take centuries before we mine the mantle, so that's about right. And relativity is no barrier to generational ships.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          And relativity is no barrier to generational ships.

          Radiation is. There is an excellent science fiction novel about a generational ship that covers it well. I wish I could remember the name and author, but it's been a long time since I read it. Part of the plot concerned mutations in people that lived too close to the outer hull.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Apparently peak uranium [sonnenseite.com] is expected to hit in 2035. We're already producing less than we can use. The only inexhaustible energy source is going to be hydrogen fusion.

      • by dbIII (701233)
        Not the way it's being used and the size of some of the recently discovered shallow deposits, some after 2006 but several before that article was written that I'd say were ignored. While there has to be a peak some day that date sounds very unlikely and I get the impression it's recyling the worry of the 1960s when there were very few known high quality deposits and a projection of almost exponential growth of nuclear power and weapons production, which led to the dead end of plutonium fast breeders to mee
    • No, the density of uranium declines as you dig in to the mantle. Uranium tends to collect in the crust. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compatibility_(geochemistry) [wikipedia.org]
  • Chitin (Score:4, Informative)

    by drwho (4190) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @10:45AM (#41081903) Homepage Journal

    Chitin is also what makes up the body shells of insects. While these molten salts mentioned may be the best way to extract chitin, it also is soluble in d-limonene, an extract of citrus fruit peels.

    This would be very good news, if people valued it properly. As much as a think the LFTR (which doesn't depend on uranium as a fuel) is a better type of reactor, there are limitations on its fuel source, which is thorium. Thorium is more plentiful, but it is not water soluble, so it doesn't benefit from this type of mining technique.

    • by spongman (182339)

      Thorium is more plentiful, but it is not water soluble, so it doesn't benefit from this type of mining technique

      huh?
      you don't need to enslave the population of a 3rd-world country in order to mine Thorium, either. but i don't see that as a negative. the stuff is (almost) everywhere, you don't need to resort to crazy mining/extraction techniques. you can just, you know, dig it up out of the ground.

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      I think the problems with thorium lie more in the reactor technologies than in the ability to obtain it...

      Similarly, while this is cool, I would vastly prefer to see work on improved reactor technologies that greatly reduce our need for fresh uranium input into the process.

      Look at the IFR as an example - Most of our existing reactor waste could be used as fuel for these reactors, or at least in "breeder blankets" used to generate more fuel.

    • Thorium is currently a waste product of mining other elements that are in demand.

      Though you could probably line the walls of your house with it and live just fine, Thorium is a bit radioactive and the Laws kick-in to prevent you from even stock piling the stuff.

      TL;DR: Thorium is not a desirable element in mining. You can't get rid of the stuff. (in the UPS, at least)

  • How much energy does it take to create these mats, put them in place, harvest, etc. Wouldn't this rather rapidly reduce the local concentration of uranium in seawater, requiring the mats to constantly be moved (or placed in areas with strong currents flushing new supplies through)? Seems like an interesting idea, but at only roughly $50 per pound (for uranium oxide) it really doesn't seem like this would pan out without massively increased demand for uranium. Maybe go after something valuable, like gold or

    • Re:Does it pan out? (Score:5, Informative)

      by SQL Error (16383) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @11:00AM (#41082117)

      It's not economically feasible now, but the energy balance works out. Even with the previous method that was only 1/5th as efficient, you got much more energy out of the uranium than was required to collect it.

      Seawater moves around, and the process still isn't that efficient, so you wouldn't have any problems with decreased concentration.

      The reason this is valuable is not so much that it's economical today, as that there's enough uranium in the ocean to provide all our electricity needs for millions of years.

      • by gman003 (1693318)

        The reason this is valuable is not so much that it's economical today, as that there's enough uranium in the ocean to provide all our electricity needs for millions of years.

        But it might prove useful for decontamination. Perhaps the uranium-free water is more important than the water-free uranium.

        It might also prove useful for countries trying to develop nuclear systems (both peaceful and military) in secret. Sure, you'd still have to use a centrifuge process to get weapons-grade stuff, but this would allow any non-landlocked country to obtain natural-state uranium.

    • by drwho (4190)

      no, you would not need to move the collecting apparatus. You would have placed it in an area with sufficient current so that the water would be quickly circulated. It wouldn't be very hard, seawater moves around a real lot.

      In regards to the price, see the other posts I made here regarding price stability being important. Take a look at this historical price chart: http://www.uxc.com/review/uxc_PriceChart.aspx?chart=spot-u3o8-full and you can see that there have been price spikes in the past decade.

      I do not

    • Mining uranium from the earth is not energy free, so it is a matter of using the most efficient technique. Or using both techniques and balancing one against the other.

      Also, the seas move due to ocean currents. The same water does not stay in the same place for long.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      It doesn't sound cost-effective to me, either. But I don't think refreshing the water will be a problem - ocean currents are very swift and move a lot of volume. Stick a mat in the Gulf Stream, and the water is moving around 4MPH past it. The volume of water in the Gulf Stream is also enormous - between 30 and 150 cubic meters per second.

      Since there are about 3.3g of U in a cubic meter of seawater, that gives a minimum of 99g/second just passing by in the Gulf Stream. The world currently consumes around 70,

      • Re:Does it pan out? (Score:5, Informative)

        by SQL Error (16383) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @11:29AM (#41082481)

        30 to 150 million cubic metres per second. So 12 minutes of Gulf Stream flow would contain enough uranium to supply our present needs for a year.

        Though if you could tap the entire Gulf Stream you'd have another source of energy at hand...

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          Don't laugh - I had a friend at the army corp who was working on feasibility calculations to build a wall that would divert the Gulf Stream to hug the East Coast of the US.

          • Why? To increase the coastal erosion we already have?

            • by MightyYar (622222)

              To bring the same benefits to the Eastern US that Europe currently enjoys: milder winters and a longer growing season.

      • Re:Does it pan out? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @11:34AM (#41082569)

        You left out a few prefixes of "million" and "milli", making your analysis way off, at first. There are 30 million cubic meters per sec of gulf stream flow. there are 3 milligrams of Uranium per cubic meter of seawater. So that's 90 Kilos of Uranium per second.

        But you're unlikely to be able to intercept more than a thousandth of the gulf stream, so we're back to 90 g per second. the goofs cancel out!

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          Unfortunately I took my numbers from Wikipedia, and they are all off by a million here and a thousand there :(

      • by Rei (128717)

        That's 30 to 150 Sverdrups [wikipedia.org]. A Sverdrup is 1.000.000 m^3/s, aka 1.000.000.000 kg/s, and thus at 0.003ppm U by mass, contains 3 kilograms per second, meaning to recover 70.000 tonnes a year (70.000.000kg) takes ~23.000.000 seconds, aka 270 days, aka a 3/4ths recovery rate is sufficient.

        Of course, the Gulf Stream is just one of the Earth's many oceanic currents [wikimedia.org].

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          Ahhh, that explains why the volume numbers on Wikipedia didn't pass the sniff test.

          It seems they also have a bad number for the 3.3g of U per cubic meter of seawater... it should be 1000 times less than that. That did seem a tad high.

      • A quibic meter of sea water does not hold 3.3 grams Uranium but 3.3 mili grams.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @10:50AM (#41081969) Homepage

    Is that like a "sort of" virgin, or a "sort of" complete ignoramus?

    It's a word with a very specific scientific meaning. Use it for that purpose, or find a different one.

  • I can't see why anyone eats shrimp.

  • more Uranium? (Score:2, Informative)

    by spongman (182339)

    Uranium sucks:

    • it's only mined significantly in a few countries, several of which don't like us.
    • it's hard to mine.
    • it's dangerous to mine [wikipedia.org].
    • there's not much left.
    • it's difficult to use - you have to extract the fissile isotope [wikipedia.org] first.
    • this enrichment process [wikipedia.org] is useful for making bombs [wikipedia.org]
    • when you do get to use it, it produces large amounts of hazardous waste [wikipedia.org].
    • some of that waste [wikipedia.org] can also be used to make bombs [wikipedia.org]

    unless you're talking Uranium-233 [wikipedia.org] bred in a thorium-fueled reactor, of course...

    • Re:more Uranium? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @11:45AM (#41082743)

      You do realize that, with continued research into sea water extraction, your first four objections go away? It could be extracted from anywhere with access to the sea, as safely as fishing, and there is enough to power all of humanity for thousands of years. As to the rest, proliferation is largely a political problem, one that can't be ignored no doubt but certainly not insurmountable. Waste is a larger issue of course, breeder reactors would help there but you've still got to put it somewhere. I'd say launch it into the sun once we get the rocket tech to do that efficiently but that seems awfully wasteful (after all, if it's energetic enough to be dangerous we can probably find a user for it somewhere in the long term).

      • by spongman (182339)

        with continued research into sea water extraction, your first four objections go away

        actually 2&3 are still valid. regardless, it's only viable when you get from $300/lb pre-process to $50/lb market.
        there's NO excuse for enriching Uranium anywhere (i'm looking at Iran/N. Korea here), other than 1) making weapons, or 2) supporting a (environmentally|politically|economically) hazardous status-quo.

        • Re:more Uranium? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by rbrander (73222) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @01:11PM (#41084007) Homepage

          I'm not sure what 2 even means; "hard to mine?" Lots of things are hard - try raising kids. In economic terms, "hard" just means "expensive". It's either affordable or it isn't.

          In context of the total cost of nuclear power, it's been getting expensive and rare lately because of soaring *construction* costs, not fuel costs, since fuel costs are a single-digit percentage of the whole; it's almost all about paying off the multi-billion-dollar mortgage on the plant. Even before this discovery, the Japanese believed they could extract uranium from seawater for a few hundred dollars per kg - that's several times the current price, but should we "run out of uranium" (i.e. nothing but "hard" places left), then a ceiling will be put on the price, since it would take many centuries of "mining the sea" for the concentration to decline.

          Before that happens, of course, it'll become affordable to re-process spent nuclear fuel, which means 97% of what is currently regarded as "waste" will become fuel again, because reprocessing costs 3X as much as mining new stuff. That 30:1 ratio will stretch out the supply a ways.

          As for "dangerous", your own link to radon notes that new standards for mining procedure were enacted back in 1971. Most of the data on higher lung cancers and so forth come from those exposed some time ago, particularly Navaho uranium miners, where there were many allegations that racism prevented a more serious response to their concerns.

          More recently you can run across comments like this one:

          On June 18, 2004, the Saskatchewan Uranium Miners' Cohort Study Group released its report on a feasiblity study it had begun in 2002:
          "It concludes that it is not scientifically feasible to conduct a study of present and future miners who work in modern Saskatchewan uranium mines (1975 onward). Today’s Saskatchewan uranium miners have radon exposures that are between 100 and 1000 times lower than those of past uranium miners, such as miners from Beaverlodge, because of dose limits, improved mining techniques, and other radiation protection practices. Any higher-than-normal rates of lung cancer from such workplace exposures would be virtually impossible to measure. The feasibility study was completed in October 2003 and it was then reviewed by three internationally respected radiation researchers." [ http://www.wise-uranium.org/uhm.html [wise-uranium.org] ]

          Simply, this is an engineering and economic issue. Proper safety procedure lowers the risks of mining hazardous materials (where do you think things like arsenic and mercury come from? Somebody has to extract and purify them...), and make the risks tolerable - at least as tolerable as coal mining, your only practical alternative...and they also increase the cost of the extraction, which is then either affordable or it isn't. In the case of the nuclear industry, it would probably only a a tenth-cent per kWh to pay double or triple for uranium, so it's always going to be affordable to mine it - and dispose of it - safely.

          The industry doesn't WANT to, any more than slaughterhouses want to pay a decent wage and up the cost of your hamburger by a nickel; but that's a "mere" matter of regulating the activities of very wealthy investors. Hard, (sorry) but possible.

          • by onyxruby (118189)

            I just ran out of mod points or you'd get a +1 informative.

          • by TubeSteak (669689)

            Proper safety procedure lowers the risks of mining hazardous materials (where do you think things like arsenic and mercury come from? Somebody has to extract and purify them...), and make the risks tolerable - at least as tolerable as coal mining, your only practical alternative

            Coal mining isn't as safe as you'd think
            Here are the headlines from an NPR series on black lung [npr.org]
            As Mine Protections Fail, Black Lung Cases Surge
            Black-Lung Rule Loopholes Leave Miners Vulnerable
            Black Lung: Why Respirators Are Not A Solution
            Surface Coal Miners At Risk For Black Lung
            Federal Mine Agency Considering Tougher Response On Black Lung
            Republican Lawmakers Seek To Block Funding On Black Lung Regulation

            And this has been going on since the late 90s.
            Apparently mining Uranium is safer than mining for coal.

            • by rbrander (73222)

              Thanks. I didn't mean coal was safe, just that if you can stand coal, you can definitely stand uranium.

              Coal is so bad, it's incredible anybody puts up any fuss about the poisonousness of nuclear waste - an estimated 24,000 lives lost in America per year from breathing issues alone...that's before you get into the tons of mercury dumped into the air every year by coal plants.

      • by icebrain (944107)

        I'd say launch it into the sun once we get the rocket tech to do that efficiently but that seems awfully wasteful

        That would actually take a good bit more energy than just ejecting it from the solar system entirely.

        • Well, they ARE loaded with extremely high density fuel. Just get it into orbit and then use that stuff to propel it wherever you want. Heck, shoot them out in random directions with messages to aliens written on the side. The isotopes will continue to decay for millenia, and should be easy to detect for any reasonably advanced species studying the heavens. Add in some nuclear powered broadcasters of some kind if you want to be really sure it gets attention. When suitably advanced extraterrestrials notice th

        • by spongman (182339)

          That would actually take a good bit more energy than just ejecting it from the solar system entirely.

          getting it into the Sun is not the problem, it's getting it safely off the Earth [bbc.co.uk] that's the issue.
          the thorium fuel cycle produces ~30x less long-lasting hazardous waste than uranium per W output (~15kg/GWyr).

    • by Hillgiant (916436)

      • it's only mined significantly in a few countries, several of which don't like us.

      If we have reached the point where we have pissed off Canada and Australia [wikipedia.org], we really are screwed.

      • by spongman (182339)

        availability for domestic use is not the issue. my concern is the ability of nutjobs to achieve their desired goal of prematurely bringing the end of the world.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      Stop that! The kids want their dream of "clean" nuclear power running on roses and puppy farts without the nasty reality getting in the way. You'll be telling them there's no Santa next.
      • by spongman (182339)

        Stop that! The kids want their dream of "clean" nuclear power running on roses and puppy farts without the nasty reality getting in the way. You'll be telling them there's no Santa next.

        Well, if the roses are made from Thorium and the puppies fart U-233, then that's a good dream in my book. Imagine all those countries in Africa able to feed their population for free by irrigating the deserts with water pumped & desalinated from the sea, cultivating their crops with machinery running on hydrogen electrolyzed from the same. Fuck if we can pump crude from Alaska to Texas, we should be able to move some water around.

        Or we could just keep mining uranium and make more bombs.

  • Never took chemistry. After studying the Wikipedia entry for Adsorption [wikipedia.org] I have determined that "The Adsorption Chillers" would be a good name for a group or a movie.
  • And likely to make me crabby. So, taken from seawater to light bulb. Is it energy positive or not? And what does it cost per watt? And why do I still start sentences with "And?"

  • The fact is, that uranium is increasingly not going to be an important issue. The reason is that over the next decade, the reactors will be of 2 designs:
    1) something to burn up current waste. It will still require loads of 'waste' which it will burn up.
    2) thorium reactors.
    As such, pulling uranium is not that big of a deal.

    Now, if they can pull a number of other elements out of there, they would have something [seafriends.org.nz]. If you look at this, you will see some rather useful elements:
    Lithium
    Metals such as Alum

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