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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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  • nucular??? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:04PM (#6061516)
    when did dubya start posting here?
    • 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 BerntB ( 584621 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @01:04AM (#6065064)
        the real question is, when will mark baard stop posting his own stories to slashdot?
        Well, that don't really disturb me. I just wish Baard didn't write simple propaganda, though.

        E.g., he makes a snide insinuation that energy producing companies don't do research on new ways of producing energy.

        Basic research (that won't pay off in decades, if ever) tend to be financed by governments. Fusion is an example. (And companies researching new kinds of power plants tend to be the companies that build energy plants (ABB, etc) -- not the companies running power plants!)

        For another point, Baard wrote: Scientists have not yet designed a nuclear facility whose safety and efficiency trumps that of gas or coal.

        Well, the fallout of coal based power plants kill people. Quite a few people. If you compare the number of people killed by coal in USA/KWh and the number killed by nuclear power/KWh, I am quite certain that nuclear power has been safer than coal for the last decades.

        I don't really have an opinion on the subject of the article. I need to get facts from more dependable sources -- that don't have so many axes to grind that it could arm a viking army... (My basic position on long-term energy is that funding for fusion research should probably be larger.)

    • by Geckoman ( 44653 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @07:17PM (#6062189)
      Everyone is scared of nuclear power. Thus the need to rename it nucular.

      "Omigosh! They're building a nuclear power plant in our town!"
      "No, it's a nucular plant."
      "Oh, that's alright then. Whew!"

      Rebranding works. Right, Philip Morris []?

      • by Anonymous Coward
        ...At least, not in the United States. There hasn't been a now nuclear (or "nucular") power plant ordered in the US since the 70s. I believe the last one was in 1973, though I could be slightly off there.

        I work at a nuke plant. This is my third summer as an intern in their IT department. My dad has worked in various nuke plants all of my life and then some. I don't understand why people are so damned afraid of these things. I know how safe they are, and I'm not the slightest bit afraid of anything happenin
  • Nucular? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:06PM (#6061528)

    Spell Czech?

    • Re:Nucular? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ErikBaard ( 452757 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:48PM (#6061916)
      Defending my brother and the good folks at the Voice: the spelling was a joke, a reference to the fact that this potential nuclear revival would result from a Bush administration initiative. I'm astonished so many smart people in this group didn't get an obvious joke, mocking the administration.

      Erik Baard
      • "I'm astonished so many smart people in this group didn't get an obvious joke, mocking the administration."

        Well, maybe it's not that we're stupid... maybe it's that your brother isn't that funny.

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

        by Necron69 ( 35644 )
        Personally, I'm astonished that anyone who calls themself an 'environmentalist' could possibly think that pouring millions of tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere each year could be better than radioactive waste, buried deep underground.

        Bring on the nuclear power and dump the fossil fuels! Thank God someone in government has some sense.

        - Necron69
  • by greendoggg ( 667256 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:07PM (#6061545)
    Here is the text of the article...

    On a sunny Saturday morning 30 years from now, you may decide to take your family for a ride to the country. You'll still be driving a car, and you may still get stuck in traffic. But that's OK, because the only thing you'll be breathing in is water vapor from the car in front of you.

    Welcome to the seemingly benign "hydrogen economy" President Bush has touted over the past year. Pollution-free cars. Abundant fuel. A cleaner environment.

    But there's one factor the president isn't talking much about: the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of new nuclear power plants his administration imagines making all of that hydrogen.

    The Bush administration and Senate Republicans want to give billions of taxpayer dollars to the nuclear industry to make high-temperature, gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs), which--theoretically--can co-generate electricity and hydrogen, side by side, inside cheap modular reactors. Advocates of the plants say they wouldn't need the expensive protections required for traditional models.

    This summer, the Senate is expected to vote on the Energy Policy Act of 2003, which includes funding for new HTGR plants and the construction of a pilot co-generation facility to be run by the U.S. Department of Energy in Idaho. The bill was sent to the full chamber by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last month.

    Spokespeople for the committee and the DOE say the aim is to cut greenhouse emissions, since energy companies continue to use coal and natural gas in making hydrogen. But small, modular HTGR plants may do it more efficiently and cleanly, they said.

    That all depends, of course, on how you define "cleanly." To extract hydrogen from water--to get the H out of the H2O--you first have to make steam. The modular nuclear plants would do that without polluting the air, but would also leave behind radioactive waste.

    Scientists have not yet designed a nuclear facility whose safety and efficiency trumps that of gas or coal. One proposal, from MIT, has a nuclear reactor sitting under the same roof as a chemical plant bubbling with sulfuric acid and hydrogen iodide.

    Each modular plant would produce as little as one-tenth of the energy of a single light-water reactor. And since by some estimates the United States would need the equivalent of 500 light-water reactors to produce enough hydrogen, it may take thousands of modular plants to get the same job done.

    The nuke industry, not surprisingly, says it's interested in joining the hydrogen economy. Entergy, the second-largest nuclear energy producer in the U.S., hopes to break ground on its co-generation Freedom Reactor within five years.

    But only the feds seem willing to pay for the research and development that would make the futuristic plants a reality. "We generate electricity," said a spokesperson for Exelon, the country's largest producer. "We're not heavily involved in funding research and development."

    Taxpayers may soon be. The Senate's energy bill affords the DOE $1.1 billion to build an HTGR co-generation nuclear plant at its Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory within 10 years.

    The bill also proposes to kick-start a nuke renaissance by subsidizing half the cost of six to 10 new HTGR power plants in the United States.

    "We need to move toward clean-air energy sources that are more reliable than wind and solar," said Marnie Funk, a spokesperson for New Mexico Republican senator Pete Domenici, chair of the energy and resources committee.

    Renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, are emissions-free. But the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow. Many people also see wind turbines as an eyesore: Cape Codders are fighting plans for an offshore wind farm that would obstruct their views. "And then you've got the bird issue," said Funk. Wind turbines earned some notoriety by killing as many as 50 golden eagles along California's Altamont Pass during the 1990s.

    Today, w
  • 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 greg_barton ( 5551 ) * <> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:42PM (#6061869) Homepage Journal
      This is really a revival of a program that Clinton zeroed out the funding for in 1992

      Wow! That must have been a neat trick, considering he became president in 1993. :)
  • by adoll ( 184191 ) * <alex@doll.agdconsulting@ca> 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.

    • 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 el-spectre ( 668104 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:18PM (#6061661) Journal
      And the methane is cheap and easy to get as well... 99 cent menu at lunch means that you can drive home in the evening...
      • "And the methane is cheap and easy to get as well... 99 cent menu at lunch means that you can drive home in the evening..."

        Every time my friend says "I'm going to get gas", I say "Bring me back a Chalupa?"

        It was funny 300 times, but not 301 times.
    • by jmv ( 93421 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:20PM (#6061683) Homepage
      Wouldn't want to contradict you but methane is CH4 and the reaction is:
      CH4 + H2O => CO + 3H2
      H2O + CO => CO2 + H2
      which means at the end:
      CH4 + 2H2O => CO2 + 4H2
    • by gnuadam ( 612852 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:22PM (#6061709) Journal
      CH3 is methane? Count your bonds on carbon and try again. And a quick googling gives nothing on your cracking method. What I think you've done is to confuse cracking with combustion.

      As far as I'm aware, heating methane to 1600K produces acetylene and hydrogen.

    • by cheezus_es_lard ( 557559 ) <> 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.
    • 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.
  • by binaryDigit ( 557647 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:08PM (#6061562)
    Entergy, the second-largest nuclear energy producer in the U.S., hopes to break ground on its co-generation Freedom Reactor within five years.

    OK, we can cut it out with this "Freedom" stuff everywhere now. Tell Entergy that they can go back to calling it their "French" Reactor again, the war is over.
  • by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:08PM (#6061565) Homepage Journal
    It should be noted that many of these technologies are theoretical and are the result of basic research combined with applied research. While I am not a fan of the current administration, I do tend to agree with their view of nuclear power as long as newer safe designs are implemented. To those who are critical of this, it should be noted that we have a large coal burning electricity plant in central Utah that produces as much radioactivity and throws it into the atmosphere as Three Mile Island did. This is because of the high uranium content of the coal. At any rate, the basic research is important here and should be funded along with the applied research into such things as computational modeling of high temperature physics.

    • 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.

      • by shadowbearer ( 554144 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @07:27PM (#6062304) Homepage Journal
        This is so damned true.

        Back in the 80s when I was in college, this was a point I argued over and over at enviro meetings. I was usually shouted down.

        The media did a wonderful job of "educating" (read spreading FUD) about the real dangers of nuclear plants as compared to the dangers of coal and oil fired plants. All the crap (and Jane Fonda and that *bleep bleep* movie) produced a totally misinformed public. Chernobyl didn't help any either, despite the fact that is was very badly designed and run.

        As a couple other posters have noted, the French produce a majority of their electricity with NP, and have NEVER had a serious accident (mostly because they use advanced designs and they vet their employees very, very carefully)...

        One of the things I remember about being in S. Utah in '91 was the amount of smog in the deserts produced by those coal plants. But hey, they provided jobs....

        Make no mistake, people - the main reason that nuclear power is so expensive in the US is because of media and political FUD.

  • 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 jest3r ( 458429 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:15PM (#6061635)
    "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."

    I think the keyword is "could" and that might be stretching it .. how much of the nuclear waste produced by all of the reactors in the world is actually re-processed? What about the Nuclear reactors themselves?

  • Sounds good to me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:18PM (#6061660)
    The amount of anti-nuclear sentiment in the U.S. today is just silly. If you think nuclear power is unsafe or damaging to the environment, well, it's possible to make that case, but it's a battle that from both the public safety and environmentalism standpoints is FAR, FAR less important than a bajillion other battles that are just being neglected because they don't have a dramatic scare word like "NUCLEAR!" attatched to them. Moreover, the end result of anti-nuclear protest is NOT going to be in any way to encourage inefficient "alternative energy sources"; the only result will be that corporate interests will stay with "safe" (becuase it doesn't cause protestors) fossil fuel based energy sources, thus increasing our nation's depednence on oil just that little bit further, spewing god knows what horrible things into the air day and night, and harming the environment more than nuclear power ever could. Way to go.

    If nuclear power can have the added side effect of producing Hydrogen to use in hydrogen power, then great, that's just one more advantage. Now if only we could convince the U.S. to use breeder reactors so that there wouldn't be quite so much of that pesky nuclear waste that the protestors keep going so much on about.

    Note to the anti-nuclear protesters and PETA: You are not doing anything productive, you are reflecting badly on "the left", and you are pre-empting actual important work being done by others because when faced with a PETA or anti-nuclear story the news will run it, because those are issues that catch the public's eye, but when faced with a story in which people are protesting real, harmful corporate abuses they don't run it, because hey, they did the "protester" thing with the PETA story yesterday. Please go away.

    (Although i will recognize the people complaining about the nuclear waste dump site near Las Vegas have a point-- building a nuclear waste containment policy in a *mountain* on a *fault line*, even a small fault line, is just a fucking dumb idea.)
  • by 73939133 ( 676561 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:27PM (#6061756)
    Renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, are emissions-free. But the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow

    One of the main benefits of a hydrogen economy is that you can generate hydrogen cleanly and efficiently in places where there is a lot of sunshine (and access to water) and ship the hydrogen safely to places that need it. Just like oil, only safer, more environmentally friendly, and renewable. And the US has lots of regions that are good for that kind of solar generation of hydrogen.

    The Bush administration and Senate Republicans want to give billions of taxpayer dollars to the nuclear industry to make high-temperature, gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs),

    I'd prefer greenhouse gases to nuclear waste. Greenhouse gases may end up causing lots of devastation, but they probably go away within a matter of centuries. Nuclear waste poses a lethal risk for tens of thousands of years and can be used for creating dirty bombs and other mischief.

    I get the feeling that Bush administration policies can largely explained as using popular issues ("the environment", "national security", etc.) as an excuse to transfer large amounts of government subsidies to big donors.
    • One of the main benefits of a hydrogen economy is that you can generate hydrogen cleanly and efficiently in places where there is a lot of sunshine (and access to water) and ship the hydrogen safely to places that need it.

      No. For a few reasons:

      a) making hydrogen from water is really inefficient (commercial production is done from methane, because it's wayyyy easier/cheaper/less energy)

      b) shipping hydrogen around is at best a total nuisance. Hydrogen is incredibly voluminous, even in liquid form [14x l

  • by turbod ( 114654 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:32PM (#6061795)
    This article is pure unadulterated fear mongering, and is an insult too be posted as news. Each man can form his own opinion, thank you.

  • 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.
  • I'm jazzed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sielwolf ( 246764 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:36PM (#6061832) Homepage Journal
    As the article says, the US always gets shoe-horned into a "well if we want clean solutions, lets go wind/solar!" agenda... but since either solution is a pipe-dream, we continue living the same coal and oil lifestyle. Countries like Germany, that didn't have the benefit of West Virginia coal, went nuclear a while ago (and haven't been Chernobyl-ing left and right as some anti-nuke FUD would tell us).

    Heck, maybe the US can finally sneak into Kyoto if this goes through! Could it be possible that *gasp* GWB might make the US a cleaner place while anti-nuke environmental nut Al Gore screwed the pooch on this one? What is the world coming to?
  • 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.
  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:39PM (#6061851) Journal
    Wired's April edition had an article about "How Hydrogen Can Save America" [] by Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall of GBN. It did briefly mention nuclear power, but glossed over the fact that that was the real core of their proposal. Sure, hydrogen can store energy in ways that may be more or less useful compared to batteries, and that may let you move decentralize pollution or centralize it outside of core city areas, but that's not a fundamental change in energy sources. The article says "3. Convert the nation's fueling infrastructure to hydrogen." and "5. Mount a public campaign to sell the hydrogen economy."

    The article's relentless insistence on how THE GOVERNMENT MUST MUST MUST IMMEDIATELY LAUNCH A Manhattan-project-like effort to develop a hydrogen economy and SAVE AMERICA reminded me of those Anime Otakudom [] lines about "The World Will Be Saved By Steam!", or like various other rants that people go on, usually political or anti-drug. Sure, there's good technical discussion in there about fuel cells and storage issues, but that's not really what it's about.

    So Remember, Kids, Hydrogen isn't the answer! Professor Steamhead [] says ""Steam. Water plus heat equals steam. Always remember this. The world can be saved by steam." and he's got a giant steam-powered mecha robot to do the job with!

  • Why do people... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Einer2 ( 665985 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:42PM (#6061870)
    ...always get their panties in a twist over anything prefixed with "Nuclear"? It's not like any other major source of energy is particularly healthy.

    If anyone can find a copy of it online, there's an excellent article from the Dec 8, 1978 issue of Science that provides some perspective. Someone cranked the numbers for the concentration of uranium in coal and America's yearly consumption, and (if I remember it correctly) they found that the trace levels of uranium were actually high enough that we'd have gotten more energy from using it in a fission reactor than from burning the coal. That means that it'd be far more than the amount of uranium consumed in reactors each year, and it's all just going straight into the atmosphere.

    We keep the article posted in our undergraduate physics lab, just in case people start complaining about the weak little sources we use for radioactivity-based experiments.

  • by selan ( 234261 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:45PM (#6061890) Journal
    Before you complain about the spelling, note that the original article is headlined "It's Nucular" and the /. headline is echoing that on purpose.

    Okay, now you can post :).
  • Haha... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Benedryl Patanol ( 649091 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @06:47PM (#6061913)
    Officials at the Idaho lab hinted at a dramatic exhibit of its pilot reactor's safety. "We could even do a demonstration in which we dump the helium coolant," said James Lake, associate laboratory director. "That would be a way to show the public in a visible way how safe the technology is."

    1. "Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball."
  • by Greg@RageNet ( 39860 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @07:02PM (#6062010) Homepage
    Perhaps we can harness the potential kinetic energy of people hugging trees.

    Lets face up to the fact that no energy source is 'suitable' for the environmental movement.

    Solar panels create toxic waste as a byproduct of their manufacture; endangered birds fly into the blades of wind turbines (yes, this has been raised as an issue!).


    -- Greg

  • 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!

  • Isolated reactor? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @07:44PM (#6062460) Homepage
    Couldn't we simply put the nuclear plant in the middle of nowhere for those people who feel they are dangerous. Why not put it in the middle of the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. Tankers could then be used to transport the hydrogen to the mainland.
  • by craenor ( 623901 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @08:17PM (#6062766) Homepage
    But I think the Federal Government needs to completely take over the power generation industry. Electricity is, in every sense of the word, a basic need for us now. Without electricity for extended periods of time, people die in this country.

    You can disagree and call me a socialist bastard, but I just don't think something so basic as power generation should be in the hands of people who are trying to make a profit out of it. I'm sure that those of you in California who suffer through summer brown outs might agree with me if you think about it.

    Furthermore, the Federal Government has a huge advantage going for it. They don't have to turn a profit. The military sure never came close to it, and we love spending money on them (with good reason). But imagine the safety regulations and procedures and the environmental guidelines that could be implemented with government control of power plants.

    The U.S. Navy has never had a nuclear incident or accident, despite running a significant portion of the worlds nuclear plants with guys under 30 that don't have college educations. Why? Because no one asks the Navy to make a profit. They can afford to spend the extra money on safety measures, education for those operators and strict guidelines.
  • by heli0 ( 659560 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @08:31PM (#6062887)
    Here is a good summary [] of France's nuclear program written by the Uranium Information Centre

    France derives 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy. This is due to a long-standing policy based on energy security.

    France is the world's largest net exporter of electricity, and gains some EUR 2.6 billion per year from this.

    Wastes: The national policy is to reprocess spent fuel so as to recover uranium and plutonium for re-use and to reduce the volume of high-level wastes for disposal. Waste disposal is being pursued under France's 1991 Waste Management Act which sets the direction of research which is mainly undertaken at the Bure underground rock laboratory in eastern France, situated in clays. Another laboratory is researching granites.

  • 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.
  • by mrmeval ( 662166 ) <<mrmeval> <at> <>> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:14PM (#6063200) Journal
    "That all depends, of course, on how you define "cleanly." To extract hydrogen from water--to get the H out of the H2O--you first have to make steam. The modular nuclear plants would do that without polluting the air, but would also leave behind radioactive waste."

    I'd like to see them print up the amount of waste and the life expectancy of each. How much nuclear waste will there be? How much will there be if recycling of this waste is allowed? Yes, even nuclear waste can be recycled.

    Compare this to coal and oil, how much waste is generated by these. How long does it remain? Since it's dumping is not as strictly controlled how long will it's effects last in the environment? Even if it's dumping is as strictly controlled how long can this waste have the potential to effect the environment?

    This looks to be a good site for information on HTGR technology.

    If you go to google and search for "coal waste" you won't find any numbers, but you will find page after page of information, most of it high signal to noise.

    This is not a simple subject, to allow many countries to enjoy the lifestyle of 1st worlders a
    reasonably clean, reasonably non-polluting ENERGY SOURCE is needed. Hydrogen is not an energy source but a storage method that has some appeal. Current nuclear politics are geared to keeping the third world, third and subservient.

    A form of nuclear power that is easy to control, cannot easily be converted for weapons use and is within the capabilities of third world countries to install and maintain (and eventually manufacture) would be one method of improving their relative wealth and all that comes with this.
  • by apsmith ( 17989 ) * on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:45PM (#6064019) Homepage
    The Space Studies Institute [] has plenty of studies [] and reports on the benefits we could receive from power from space - solar satellites, Lunar Solar Power [], etc.. There is no basic technology mystery there (unlike, say, fusion), the hardest pieces are some development bits relating to large-scale construction in space and use of resources on the Moon. But there's no public political interest in this for some reason, and the NASA budget category for this has been basically zeroed out for years (I believe the total spent has been about $50 million, with only $2 million spent looking at lunar options).

    Why aren't we at least spending more money on research in this area? So many billions are spent on nuclear power, but space-based solar power is the ONLY way we'll ever move beyond Kardashev leve 0.7 []!
  • by f97tosc ( 578893 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @11:04PM (#6064217)
    This is actually a key point. A key failure of the current nuclear industry is that the plants are not standardized - they follow a large number of different designs.

    Standardized modules will cut costs and also make them safer; discovered bugs can be fixed in all installations.

  • 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?

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.