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Nucular Hydrogen Economy 668

Mark Baard writes "The hydrogen economy will at least in part be based on nukes. The DOE will build a pilot high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor (HTGR), which theoretically can co-generate electricity and hydrogen, side by side, inside a cheap modular unit."
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Nucular Hydrogen Economy

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  • Revival of a Program (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JJ ( 29711 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:07PM (#6061546) Homepage Journal
    This is really a revival of a program that Clinton zeroed out the funding for in 1992. Supposedly, (I had friends working on it) Al detested the thought of anything nuclear.
  • by adoll ( 184191 ) * <> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:07PM (#6061553) Homepage Journal
    I'm aware of two economic methods of generating H2. The least economic is from cracking water using electricity (the topic of this article). The most economic is by cracking natural gas - this is the method used by everybody I know of in the chemical industry.

    Natural gas, mostly methane (CH3) is reacted with steam (H2O) such that CH3 + 2H2O = CO2 + 3.5H2

    So, when somebody says he wants a hydrogen powered vehicle, what he really means is he wants a natural gas powered vehicle.

  • Temporary ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cyberchondriac ( 456626 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:11PM (#6061587) Journal
    Maybe the nuclear reactors are a temporary measure until we get enough hydrogen to keep the process running primarily with fuel cells. Seems to me that hydrogen should be easy enough to extract from seawater though without resorting to other drastic measures.
    Still, what's worse, depending on foreign oil from the volatile middle east, or dealing with radioactive waste here in the states ? I'll bet Nevada isn't too happy about all this.
  • Nuclear waste (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vlad_petric ( 94134 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:12PM (#6061602) Homepage
    No mention in the article about the half-life of nuclear waste. It's about a million years!!! While the whole waste does indeed fit into a two-story building, you need a building (container) that can survive about a million years. No structure - geological or man-built can do that.

    The only safe way of getting rid of them would be to send them into the sun, but that would take (with today's technology) make more waste than what it would get rid of.

  • by greendoggg ( 667256 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:18PM (#6061657)
    The downside to this method for mass production is the CO2 output. If you produce large quantities of hydrogen in this fashion, producing all that CO2, it really defeats the purpose of not just burning natural gas or gasoline.

    Also, AFAIK, there is a much smaller supply of natural gas than of H2O to make H2 from.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:25PM (#6061734)
    the real question is, when will mark baard stop posting his own stories to slashdot? a search [] indicates this is not the first time he's done this.


    submitter: Mark Baard


    the story:
    It's Nucular
    by Mark Baard
    May 28 - June 3, 2003
  • by Chris Y Taylor ( 455585 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:28PM (#6061762) Homepage
    "No structure - geological or man-built can do that."

    So you shoot it out of the solar system (delta v for that is actually smaller than dropping it into the sun). When you reprocess the waste to reduce its mass, you make it hot enough for use in RTG power sources that can run sensors and a transmitter. You wind up with a large number of space probes to explore near interstellar space and you get rid of the waste.
  • by cheezus_es_lard ( 557559 ) <cheez17@gmail . c om> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:30PM (#6061783) Homepage
    The problem with that is that it leaves us dependant on natural gas as our hydrogen source. Once again, perishable fuel that is in limited supply on our planet. The co-generating reactor eliminates dependancy on the fossil fuels, however it brings in a different ball of wax: nuclear fuels and the people that hate them.

    Personally, I would be perfectly happy with nuclear power of the types that are being discussed today: small scale, small risk. Running 10 small reactors instead of 1 large light-water reactor means less centralized risk and so on. I could stand behind something like that alot easier than three mile island.

    $0.02 deposited.
  • Iceland and H2 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dprice ( 74762 ) <daprice&pobox,com> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:32PM (#6061801) Homepage
    Wired magazine had an article a couple of months ago about Iceland using geothermal energy to generate hydrogen, I believe through electrolysis. They have started using hydrogen in vehicles and fishing vessels. Since geothermal is minimally polluting, and since they have utilized geothermal extensively, Iceland is able to sell some of their Kyoto Protocol 'pollution credits' to other countries.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:33PM (#6061809)
    Now the 21st century might be starting with another Republican President leading the way to a cleaner world

    What does this have to do with a cleaner world? Crack water with electricity? Why would you need nuclear power plants to do that? (unless some of the people who gave you money during your election need some PR!) This is a non existant industry. GIVE the nuclear power industry ONE BILLION DOLLARS to do research?

    The Bush administration and Senate Republicans want to give billions of taxpayer dollars to the nuclear industry

    This says it all right here. This is CORPORATE WELFARE.

  • by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:34PM (#6061817) Homepage Journal
    I should clarify an earlier point. The amount of radioactivity produced by this plant equal to the Three Mile Island release is happening every day.

  • Re:FINALLY! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PjSunray ( 193535 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:34PM (#6061820) Homepage
    Um....what about the immense "hidden" costs of nuclear? The assertion from nuclear industry insiders in the article seems to indicate that all the rad waste generated by all the worlds power plants could fit in a basketball court sized, 2 story building. If so, then why did us taxpayers get stuck with a $58 billion basketball court called Yucca Mountain? I know government can be innefficient, but...

    I'd really just like to hear proponets of nuclear energy production talk about all the costs involved in generation, vs competing technologies.
  • by Chris Y Taylor ( 455585 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:35PM (#6061823) Homepage
    "would take their heads out of their asses long enough to realize that wind turbines alone could provide enough energy to power the whole planet "

    I'd like to see your calculations on this. What are the kw/person rate you are using? What efficiency are you using for the technologies?
  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:37PM (#6061839) Journal
    Then I want a slice of the revenues.

    None of this "donated to the public" bullshit.

    If some chiseler is going to get a free ride on government patents, he's going to pay a cash license fee for it.
  • Re:Coal powered car? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rolo Tomasi ( 538414 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:45PM (#6061888) Homepage Journal
    And if you use solar power [] to electrolyse water, you have a solar powered car. The point is to create an infrastructure where you're not dependent on the type of energy - it makes no difference for your hydrogen powered car if the hydrogen was created by using coal, nuclear, solar or wind power, cow methane, or your mom pedaling on a stationary bike. You can always use the cleanest or cheapest or most readily available (depending on what your priorities are) way to create your hydrogen. With current cars, you're limited to crude oil, from which gasoline is created.
  • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:47PM (#6061912)
    I really really really don't want to support our dependence on NUCLEAR power. While it's a might bit cleaner then coal atleast as far as atmospheric polution... nuclear waste is a fuck of concentrated toxic deadly. And we really don't have an adquate means of disposing of it, unless you advocate the placement of it in the salt mines of utah. I'm fortunate enough to live in a region that has reasonable hydropower, while it does have an impact on fish and wildlife, it's destructive potentical if far less then nuclear.

    I must admit though, the fixed powerplant makes a fair amount of sence, as present technology is pretty prohibitive regarding pure electricly driven vehicels. Chemical power, wether it be hydrogen, or hydro-carbon chain provides far more power per weight.

    I personaly feel that we shouldn't persue our quest for hydrogen in this way. Not when we do have the ability to produce alcohol or methane. The jump to nuclear should be seen as a "last resort" unless we can actually create a viable nuclear waste management program.

    "People automatically picture vast quantities of drums, oozing green slime and ruining our lives," said John Ritch, director general of the World Nuclear Association. "But the truth is that all of the waste produced by all of the world's nuclear reactors could fit in a two-story building, on an area the size of a basketball court."

    If that was the only issue, then we would build a two story building to house the size of a basketball court. Problem solved? Yea right! If we were talking about something that it takes liters to be deadly, then yea. But something that it takes miligrams... no dice.

    Now IF these mini-powerplants could generate enough in the way of hydrogen an oxygen to rocket the worlds nuclear waste to mercury, then you might have something. Not sure if i'd agree, but it would at least be a game plan.

  • Re:It is a scum! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WetCat ( 558132 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:47PM (#6061914)
    Instead of hoax hydrogen cars,
    it's better to leave gas cars alone (may be
    modifying them like Toyota Prius), and
    to get oil from waste.
  • by cheesybagel ( 670288 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:51PM (#6061934)
    And I would like to know why leftists are so blindingly anti-nuclear. I am left oriented yet I think using nuclear energy is perfectly fine.

    Consider the amount of dioxins and radioactivity produced by a coal plant. Is that better?

    Some people put granite in their houses. It is radioactive but people do not seem to care. The Sun emits radioactivity. In fact if it was not for radioactivity we probably would not even be here because evolution would have been slower!

    The fact is humans tolerate a certain amount of radiation. Regarding Plutonium being poisonous do you know Caffeine is more poisonous than Plutonium? Think about it next time you have a cup of Coffee or drink Jolt.

    Nagasaki was nuked with Plutonium and people live there now. A nuclear plant meltdown makes way less radiation than any nuclear weapon.

    There are nuclear plant designs which are inherently safer. They shutdown automatically without outside control when there is a problem.

    If we actually recycled nuclear fuel there would be less or even zero waste. But due to some peaceniks with fear of proliferation we do not and the waste is piling up.

    I am politically left oriented and, yes, green. I think we should spend more money on renewables. I think we should introduce measures to reduce CO and CO2. I think we should ban single-hulled oil tankers and if possible reduce oil consumption.

    Being against nuclear power of any form whatsoever is blindingly dumb and I am glad people are starting to smart up.

    Nobody wants a nuclear power plant in their backyard but no one wants a water treatment plant in their backyard either. Maybe you would prefer we went back to the time honoured tradition of dumping untreated sewers directly on the river?

  • No kidding... AND... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheAwfulTruth ( 325623 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:52PM (#6061941) Homepage
    Not to mention that the actual spent fuel is maybe 1/1000th (10,000th?) of the total amount of "Nuclear Waste". Unfortunately anything that comes into any kind of proximity with the fuel or the reaction also becomes radioactive and must also be disposed of eventually. So it really is hundreds, maybe thousands of tons of radioactive waste that will need displosing over the next 30 years just from the plants that are on line right now.
  • by Dinosaur Neil ( 86204 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:53PM (#6061952)

    We talked about this in a class I took last semester, and we ran some numbers on the "steam reformation" process... It turns out that A) you still get the same amount of CO2 emissions as if you had used the methane directly, and B) you end up with enough H2 to genererate slightly less energy than burning the methane directly. The electolysis method is worse, using around twice as much energy to generate the H2 as the H2 itself can produce.

    The whole "hydrogen economy" thing that the Dubya is selling is just a scam to make him look more "green".

  • Re:Temporary ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spike hay ( 534165 ) <blu_ice@vio[ ] ['lat' in gap]> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:54PM (#6061960) Homepage
    Maybe the nuclear reactors are a temporary measure until we get enough hydrogen to keep the process running primarily with fuel cells. Seems to me that hydrogen should be easy enough to extract from seawater though without resorting to other drastic measures.
    Still, what's worse, depending on foreign oil from the volatile middle east, or dealing with radioactive waste here in the states ? I'll bet Nevada isn't too happy about all this.

    That would work just awesome, if it wasn't for thermodynamics. You see, to extract hydrogen from water, which has no chemical energy, you need to use electrolysis. Guess what you need for electrolysis?


    So you need an actual power source for a hydrogen economy. Remember: Hydrogen is not an energy source. It is more of a really good battery. Thus, we need a clean source of energy to get us our hydrogen such as nuclear power. Nuclear power has a wonderful safety recor, better than coal or oil power for sure. It is very cheap as well. And if we use breeder reactors instead of our current wasteful reactor designs, our high level nuclear waste would by reduced by a factor of 100. (By the way, our current waste problem isn't so bad. All of our waste could fit into 2 small high school gyms.)
  • by WinterSolstice ( 223271 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:59PM (#6061979)
    I would be much happier with a reactor of this sort being built within sight of my house, than the equiv. coal fired plant.

    I've been near coal. I'd rather have the sneaky cancer of possible radiation leakage than the nasty lung cancer of coal. It's dirty, ugly, messy, and ... guess what... also a non-renewable resource. Nuclear, Coal, Gas... all non-renewable to some extent.

    Of course, solar cells cover hundreds of acres and don't do much; they generate tons of nasty by products for the silicon, and wind turbines aren't much better.

    Hmm, there's geothermal (if you're lucky), there's hydro-electric (but that kills the fish, etc).

    Looks like we're screwed. How about we try building A MASS TRANSIT INFRASTRUCTURE. Perhaps if we reduced the number of cars by a whole heck of a lot, we could use a combination of resources more easily. Easier to retrofit one bus that hauls 500 people a week than 500 cars when the latest eco-FUD technology comes out.

  • by jabber01 ( 225154 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @07:01PM (#6062000)
    Yes, the energy required to get equal portions of H2 is less when dealing with methane. But consider the cost of this energy, and of the source of hydrogen.

    Also, yes, the startup costs for the process are greater for the nuclear route, since building a reactor is more costly than building an equivalent methane processing chemical plant.

    However, on the grand scale needed to provide hydrogen as a significant fuel source to the nation, the cost of the source of the hydrogen will be significantly greater than the cost of production.

    With the nuclear route, the bulk of the costs is up-front, and semi-annual for nuclear fuel. With the chemical route, the costs are linear, and grow in proportion to production.

    Water is infinitely cheaper, and more abundant, than natural gas.

    Consider also the cost of the infrastructure needed to transport the source of the hydrogen. Gas pipelines are more expensive, and more dangerous, than water pipes. And you only need the pipelines when you can't drill for water. But you can, almost anywhere.
  • Re:nucular??? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by patchmaster ( 463431 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @07:06PM (#6062045) Journal
    I've always thought of it as a mispronunciation, not as anything related to his accent. Are you saying everyone in Texas mispronounces the word nuclear?

    I had great hopes after the speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln where I'm pretty sure he pronounced it correctly. Alas, during the recent press conference with the Japanese Prime Minister it was back to nucular.
  • How much power? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Crispy Critters ( 226798 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @07:16PM (#6062163)
    How much electrical power production do we need to switch to all electrical (using H2 as an energy storage mechanism)?

    What I found on the web says that a car moving at highway speeds uses about 15 kW of power. The standard estimate for domestic power use is 1 kW averaged throughout the day.

    Back of the envelope, let's say 10 million Californicators spend an hour a day in their cars. Averaged over 24 hours, this is over 6 GW. Entire daytime power usage in CA is about 35 GW (depending on season). And this doesn't account for SUVs using more power or commercial trucking.

    I would be interested in seeing a real estimate, but it looks like this would require a substantial increase in power production facilities.

    And this leads to a sticky question. If we can provide electricity via renewables to generate hydrogen, as the administration suggests we can, why aren't we using using renewables for half our energy now!

  • by js7a ( 579872 ) * <james.bovik@org> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @07:36PM (#6062376) Homepage Journal
    The most heavily subsidized and poorly-insured nuclear power runs about US$0.12 per kilowatt hour, whereas wind power [] is already under $0.03/kwh.

    Plus, the new wind turbine models can power the entire U.S. in only 14,000 acres []. If trends continue, by this time next year, wind will be approaching two cents/kwh, placing it firmly under European coal, and in two years it will be on parity with dirty U.S. coal, which is presently running around 1.5 cents.

    I need to check Howard Dean's web site [] to make sure he knows all this.

  • by Chris Y Taylor ( 455585 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @07:45PM (#6062472) Homepage
    "When was the last time a coal powerplant had a catastrophic failure that endangered all who lived near it? "

    Aug. 15, 1999. Myrna, Georgia (near Atlanta). At least that is the lastest one I know of.

    I was almost killed in a coal boiler explosion in Tennessee in 1993, but that probably didn't "endanger" anyone outside the facility.

    Most coal disasters are actually at the mines (methane or coal dust) not at the plants (coal dust or steam pressure). Of course, many people have their life expectancy reduced by polution from air and groundwater pollution that comes from using coal for power, but those deaths are spread out over distance and time so they seem less important.

    For destructive potential to nearby residents it is hard to beat hydroelectric dams, though. X. pdf .p df
  • by lommer ( 566164 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @07:46PM (#6062482)
    "The fact is humans tolerate a certain amount of radiation. Regarding Plutonium being poisonous do you know Caffeine is more poisonous than Plutonium? Think about it next time you have a cup of Coffee or drink Jolt."

    Whoa, I just went to do some googling to prove you stupid but all I could come up with are this [], this [], and this []. These give the LD50 data for both of these substances. LD50 means the lethal dose that kills 50% of a given population within 30 days (given in milligrams of substance per kilogram of body mass).

    Caffeine has an LD50 of 57-260 mg/kg, while plutonium has an LD50 similar to that of pantothenic acid which is up to 10 g/kg (if taken orally) or 820 mg/kg (if injected). Caffeine is clearly more toxic than plutonium according to this! I still don't quite believe this, so can someone come up with better numbers or a good reason why this isn't the case?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @08:27PM (#6062842)
    It claims that nuclear power plants are dirtier and polute more than coal ones which is obviously
    not true. Coal burning produces sulfur and
    carbon oxides - millions of tons of it - much
    more than nuclear waste. Also they should take into account waste related to coal mining ...

    Also they should compare loss of lives in
    the nuclear and coal industry - there are hundreds
    of coal-miners dead every year in China,
    South Africa and other countries ...

    In one year more coal-miners loose their lives than all the people that died due to nuclear
    power plants.
  • by candiman ( 629910 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @08:58PM (#6063070)
    There is one clean and safe way of generating as much power as we will need for the forseeable future. Orbiting solar power stations.

    Whilst the original designs for these were costed in the billions - intelligent design and utilisation of space bourne resources would reduce the costs by orders of magnitude.

    No more pollution. No more need to build new power stations (coal, gas, nuclear, wind, solar, wave, etc). Just a few fields of photovoltaic arrays a few square kilometres across and the use of existing distribution networks.
  • Re:FINALLY! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Exoman ( 595415 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:07PM (#6063136)
    I would prefer fusion, but that hasn't been done yet. Next on my list would be space based solar power, but sadly that might take longer to be ready than fusion...

    Ironic isn't it? Indeed, we already have *BOTH* of those things! We have a nice, safe (assuming we get real about greenhouse gasses or start wearing a lot of sunscreen) space-based solar power from, get this, nuclear FUSION. As a bonus, it's 93,000,000 miles away in case something goes wrong. Plus, we all have great view seats so we can keep an eye on things. ;-)

    Other benefits: CLOSED LOOP Energy (use this solar income to convert to H2 via Hydrolysis) 2H20 + Fusion --> 2H2 + 02. No changing to the balance of sequestered carbon, distributed conversion plants (could be rooftop-based micro plants), and worldwide, to benefit all.

    To paraphrase Bucky Fuller, here goes mankind, drawing down our energy endowment savings account (oil) while our paychecks (solar energy) go un-cashed. Sad, really.

    It's high time we work on getting a real energy policy--something that works for all humankind, sustainably, forever.
    I keep hearing about a "Manhattan Project for Energy" [], and now an Apollo Project for Energy. []

    Why not? Spread the idea! It's catching.
  • by cheesybagel ( 670288 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:51PM (#6063468)
    I find this [] amusing.
  • by Phronesis ( 175966 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:00PM (#6063527)
    When was the last time a coal powerplant had a catastrophic failure that endangered all who lived near it?

    Most fatalities from coal are not from power-plant accidents but from mining. Mining accidents mostly kill miners (who cares about them?), but also can kill many people who live near the mine. The 1972 flood at the Buffalo Creek Coal Mine [] in West Virginia killed 125 people living nearby, injured over 1000, and completely destroyed 500 homes.

    Worldwide, tens of thousands of deaths per year occur from coal-mining accidents, and that doesn't count slow deaths from black-lung and other chronic conditions that afflict miners. In India, the death rate is equivalent to one Bhopal per month []. In China, around 5000 people per year [] are killed in coal mining accidents.

    Compare all this to the estimated 2500 deaths [] due to Chernobyl.

  • by Arker ( 91948 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:37PM (#6063930) Homepage

    I've got quite a functional sense of humour, thanks. Can't say the same for the writers, if this was his intention. First off, it's just not funny. Second, if it was intentional, the convention would be to write it in quotes.

    As it is, they just made themselves look illiterate, or humour-impaired, take your pick.

  • by ibbey ( 27873 ) * on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:43PM (#6063998) Homepage
    I thought Bush was supposed to be in bed with the oil companies.

    It would be more accurate to say that Bush is in bed with the energy comapnies. Enron was the most famous example of a company non-oil energy company (though they certainly had oil related holdings) that basically bought GWB the election. Most large companies in the energy industry are diversified, so if they have oil holdings, thay likely have nuclear holdings as well.

    If you had read the article, you would know that it isn't critical of Hydrogen power, it's critical of the Bush plan to create the hydrogen. If you can't do that cleanly & safely (something the nuclear industry's record suggests they can't do), then what's the point of switching to hydrogen in the first place? The only group that will benefit from this plan is the energy industry who will get billions of dollars of free money for so called "R&D".

    Finally, as for the spelling of "nucular" in the title... Get the joke, people! It's a rather obvious parody of GWB & his well known inability to pronounce nuclear. Just because there's an apparent error in slashdot, doesn't mean that you should immediately post pointing it out. Perhaps if you spent thirty seconds thinking about it, you'd see that it was intentional.
  • Power problems (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Iainuki ( 537456 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @11:02PM (#6064204)
    Policymakers, US or otherwise, have not yet faced head-on the central problem of energy policy: there are two viable choices, either fossil fuels or nuclear fission. Renewable energy sources are either too expensive, impratical because they don't generate a constant source of power, or both. Fossil fuels produce greenhouse gases and other forms of air pollution. Nuclear power produces waste that is dangerous and very long-lasting, has minuscule risks of catastrophic accident, and more relevant risks of intentional sabotage. Fusion won't magically solve this dilemma, either. A fusion reactor produces huge quantities of fast neutrons, and that will generate radioactive nuclear waste when it hits the walls and other components of the reactor. In other words, we get to pick our poison: air pollution and global warming, or nuclear waste and problems with terrorism.
  • by Winterblink ( 575267 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @11:29PM (#6064409) Homepage
    Wasn't there an article a while back about research into peizoelectric layers in cement? The idea being that if you had this on the roads, sidewalks, floors, whatever, the act of walking and driving would cause miniscule amounts of electricity to be created. Multiply the effect of a single person's step or a single car driving across a whole city, country, continent or whatever and you have something.

    IIRC, this doesn't offset the energy cost to actually move the cars on the road or whatever, but it's simply a supplemental return. I have no idea how viable the whole thing would be, it just felt pertinent to mention again. Comments, corrections, etc?

  • Re:Coal powered car? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cpt_Kirks ( 37296 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @12:24AM (#6064829)
    No, you would have a hydrogen powered car. Hydrogen can be created in fixed plants that could make clean use of coal or oil. All existing pollution gear could be removed from cars, making them lighter and more efficient.

    There are also deposits of frozen methane under the ocean floor. If an easy way could be found to mine this it would provide a pretty much limitless supply of hydrogen.
  • Re:Nucular? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Discordantus ( 654486 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @02:15AM (#6065410)
    radioactive waste, buried deep in underground... Contaminating the drinking water, cannisters splitting open during earthquakes, causing birth defects. No, there is no "safe" place to put this stuff. It's dangerously radioactive for the next couple hundred thousand years, remember?

    Remember where they are planning on making the next big nuclear waste storage facility? Yeah, inside an 'extinct' volcano. Yucca Mountain. and everyone in the area is fighting it for all they're worth.

    If we had some way of safely launching the waste into the sun, I would be all for nuclear power generation. But the way it is, we have literally thousands of tons of hot waste sitting around in pools of water, waiting for a place to put it. And noone wants to take care of it. It's the "hot" potato that noone wants to end up with.

  • by cdn-programmer ( 468978 ) < minus author> on Thursday May 29, 2003 @04:58AM (#6065946)
    It might be useful if you would educate yourself about the physics involved.

    Reactors are quite safe. Furthermore mankind will either enjoy a nuclear future or freeze in the dark. Fossil fuel energy resources are quite limited.

    The US DOE for instance forecasts that by 2020 the consumption of natural gas will be up about 489%. They actually forecast that much of this gas will come from Canada.

    Well completions have doubled in the last few years and the result of this was a rather modest supply increase in 2001. In 2002 the supply dropped slightly. There is just no way on earth that the Exploration and Production industries can increase gas supplies by any significant amount.

    American companies are welcome to come up here and look. Many are. Many are also buying reserves, companies like Burlington for instance who just bought Canadian Hunter Exploration Limited are an example.

    The issue is that there is a supply side crunch on its way and we are totally unprepared for it.

    So, nuclear will find its way back in rather soon I think. But - I do expect that it will be a ways past 2015 before this happens. Also - I do expect that before nuclear starts comming back there are going to be some rather sharp supply problems and some rather panicy people sitting in rather long line ups.

    I expect there will be backouts due to insufficient gas supplies to co-generators as well. This could even start to happen say about 2005 and it is always possible that it will happen sooner. But I think 2005-2010 is the most likely time frame that these ugly problems start to be visible over the horizon.
  • by misterpies ( 632880 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:01AM (#6066084)

    Just a thought, seeing as the article is about modular nuclear power. Quite a clever play on words if that's what it is.

    Coming next: Jewlery, certified kosher earings.
  • by fldvm ( 466714 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @07:45AM (#6066344) Homepage
    ...obvious parody of GWB & his well known inability to pronounce nuclear.

    GWB is nothing comparied to Jimmy Carter, who did graduate work in nuclear physics, he pronounces the word nook-ee-uh []

  • Re:Nucular? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @12:10PM (#6068217) Homepage Journal

    The hot waste hanging about now is as much a social and political problem as anything else. It needs to be fractioned into new fuel, high level waste, and low level waste.

    Obviously, the fuel can go back into production, and the hot waste stored until it cools. If we put our minds to it, it should be possible to extract energy from the hot waste. That's important since turning it into a resource rather than a liability will immediatly improve it's handling. It's the low level waste that will be around for thousands of years unless we can find a way to bombard it and make it into hot (and so short lived) waste.

    All things considered, I would rather fence off all of Nevada and have a cheap source of power whose pollution is kept in Nevada rather than a more expensive source, surrounded by political uncertainty that spews its pollution all over everywhere indiscriminantly.

    Of course, the people living in Nevada wouldn't (and don't) appreciate that very much!

  • Re:Nucular? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ErikBaard ( 452757 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @01:02PM (#6068627)
    Never said I was afraid of nuclear plants. On the contrary, my point was that I'm confident enough in the tech to even support nuclear rocketry in space. Launching with nukes might be more problematic, though sadly that's the critical point of space access at which we're failing. If nukes could be made more secure from terrorism, be run more efficiently, and their waste more securely handled, I would have more confidence in them. These things aren't impossible, and if we don't develop new energy resources to replace fossil fuels, I have no doubt that nukes will return, albeit in markedly superior form.


10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.