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Toto deVeer

Is The Future Nuclear?

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One big thing that a lot of nuclear supporters miss is the uranium that is used as the heat source in nuclear reactors is a finite resource, just like oil, natural gas and coal. The known reserves of uranium would last about a century at current rates of usage, which puts the timeline for nuclear in the same order of magnitude as oil etc. It's true that seawater contains uranium at a very low concentration but that would take more energy to extract than you'd get back.

Perhaps the subject would be less emotive if we just called coal-fired power stations, large oil fired ones and nuclear ones 'steam power stations', since they use steam turbines to power the generators.

Ultimately we will need to rely on renewables. In the meantime, we should be expanding renewables in order to eke out the dwindling supplies of coal, oil, gas and uranium, putting off the day of reckoning when they're become scarce and much more expensive.

Edited by blankster

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Depends on the reactor design.

For a reactor like RMBK (cf Chernobyl), you have what is known as a 'positive void coefficient', which basically means that as soon as the coolant starts to boil as a result of having no control rods, the reactor starts reacting faster, leading to a runaway reaction and explosion.

Modern designs are based around a negative void coefficient, so in this situation the reactor slows down. The thing would still be damaged past repair, but it would not blow up.

Even the Chernobyl reactor design was almost safe. The idiots switched OFF about 6 safety systems (one with pliers ... ) as the reactor would automatically shut down ...

The first design change the Russians did after the Chernobyl was that the safety systems can NOT be switched off ... no sh.t Sherlock ...

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One big thing that a lot of nuclear supporters miss is the uranium that is used as the heat source in nuclear reactors is a finite resource, just like oil, natural gas and coal. The known reserves of uranium would last about a century at current rates of usage, which puts the timeline for nuclear in the same order of magnitude as oil etc. It's true that seawater contains uranium at a very low concentration but that would take more energy to extract than you'd get back.

Perhaps the subject would be less emotive if we just called coal-fired power stations, large oil fired ones and nuclear ones 'steam power stations', since they use steam turbines to power the generators.

Ultimately we will need to rely on renewables. In the meantime, we should be expanding renewables in order to eke out the dwindling supplies of coal, oil, gas and uranium, putting off the day of reckoning when they're become scarce and much more expensive.

we have thorium for more than 1000 years .... and then fussion ....

renewables ... the most expensive and most unreliable energy ever ...

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Blankster wrote: One big thing that a lot of nuclear supporters miss is the uranium that is used as the heat source in nuclear reactors is a finite resource, just like oil, natural gas and coal. The known reserves of uranium would last about a century at current rates of usage

You are right in that fission is only a large energy source if you have the full monty of fast breeder fuel cycle and reprocessing. If you have this, it exceeds fossil fuel reserves, if you don't then it doesn't.

It's true that seawater contains uranium at la very ow concentration but that would take more energy to extract than you'd get back.

Uranium is only about 1.5% the cost of nuclear power currently. It could withstand a big increase in fuel price without the cost to the consumer necessarily going up a lot. Extracting uranium from seawater, well all it takes is someone to come up with something ingenious enough, and one day it will be done. And think of this: the world will never run out of uranium. Erosion of the continents adds uranium to seawater at a rate that could supply 3 times the current world energy usage (all energy, not just electricity) at steady state. That would last until the planet becomes uninhabitable in about a billion years.

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RPG wouldn't scratch it.

Light aircraft - no damage

Large passenger plane - clearly massive damage to the surrounding turbines, cooling etc - so a bad accident, but you'd be unlikely to lose primary coolant. Control would be an issue, but these things shut down automatically. Unlikely to breach the containment - it is designed to withstand the core letting go, so is actually damn strong. Very hard to hit square on, given the roundness....

Plus even if they managed to actually hit the core and cause a meltdown it is not an atomic weapon. The concentration is too low so impossible to explode. It would just melt. Not nice but nothing like a nuke weapon.

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EDF Energym Hinkley Point C, Somerset EPR x 2 3340MW

EDF Energym Sizewell C, Suffolk EPR x 2 3340MW

Horizon (RWE + E.ON) Oldbury B, Gloucestershire EPR x 2 or AP1000 x 3 3340-3750MW

Horizon (RWE + E.ON) Wylfa B, Wales EPR x 3 or AP1000 x 4 Approx 5000MW

NuGeneration (Iberdrola, GDF Suez

+ Scottish & Southern Sellafield, Cumbria ? Up to 3600MW

Btw here are the proposed sites that are moving forward.. and have been moving forward for the last several years. The Germans(RWE + E.ON), the French(EDF).. and the Franco-Spanish-British conglomerate have serious plans.

If all these reactors do get built it would be 19,000 MW. To put that in perspective, currently 18% of Britain's electricity comes from the 11,000 MW of nuclear we currently have operating.

That is a bad comparison as our nukes are very old and many have had downgrades.

Better to assume the new nukes would perform Luke the tanks fleet which is better than ours but still old so they could actually perform better.

If 19 GW was built and we kept 1 GW that would be enough for 46% of UK electricity demand.

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Thing that scares the shite out of me is, how they gonna decommission them say 40 or 50 years from now, when there will be empty spigbots of oil.

Nukes built today will go on for 80 years perhaps longer. The tanks will go on for 60 years perhaps 80 and they were built 3 decades ago.

Decommissioning won't be a prob as they are designed now with that in mind.

Plus I never understood why the general public don't like the idea of dumping waste in the deep sea far away from everyone.. They had planned to sink one of our ill rigs like that however the hippies stopped it costing the gov billions in lost tax offset by dismantling and recycling the rig.

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The thing that bothers me most about these proposals to build more electricity generation is the efficiency of the transmission network. I have heard that around 50% losses occur in transmission; therefore upgrading the transmission system to a much higher efficiency would be the most valuable of investments.

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RPG wouldn't scratch it.

Light aircraft - no damage

Large passenger plane - clearly massive damage to the surrounding turbines, cooling etc - so a bad accident, but you'd be unlikely to lose primary coolant. Control would be an issue, but these things shut down automatically. Unlikely to breach the containment - it is designed to withstand the core letting go, so is actually damn strong. Very hard to hit square on, given the roundness....

Quite the containment vessel is designed to contain the reactor without leaks even if someone crashes a 747 into it. Obviously the rest of the station will be a right off as expected.

For laugh go and have a debate on this with those pr1cks who run the Navitron Forum. I had a major run in a few years ago and got banned basically for presenting a detailed argument for nuclear that they couldn't counter except by sending me pictures of Hiroshima bomb victims.

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The thing that bothers me most about these proposals to build more electricity generation is the efficiency of the transmission network. I have heard that around 50% losses occur in transmission; therefore upgrading the transmission system to a much higher efficiency would be the most valuable of investments.

Not true high voltage system about 97% efficient. Low voltage about 90%.

Not easy to improve unless you want to bump up the voltage from 230k to about 500 but then less safe.

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Nukes built today will go on for 80 years perhaps longer. The tanks will go on for 60 years perhaps 80 and they were built 3 decades ago.

Decommissioning won't be a prob as they are designed now with that in mind.

Plus I never understood why the general public don't like the idea of dumping waste in the deep sea far away from everyone.. They had planned to sink one of our ill rigs like that however the hippies stopped it costing the gov billions in lost tax offset by dismantling and recycling the rig.

You always manage to lose it in what are sometimes quite sensible posts <_<

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Of course the future is nuclear, actually they've left it too late, we'll have energy shortages (rolling blackouts etc) before it is all online, by which time everyone will be screaming out for it. That's not the result of some cunning forward planning by the way, that's just old fashioned incompetence.

Regarding the security issue, it would be easy to cause some havoc if you wanted to, the fact that no one has yet is indicative of the actual level of threat and unrelated to any security measure. Terrorism is exaggerated, actual problems like lack of energy are being down played.

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Maybe this puts them off their fish supper? ;)

Deformities in nature are natural. It's part if evolution. I read somewhere while back we all have some 100 plus genes which are incorrectly copied luckily for most of us it seems those don't have a huge impact.

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You always manage to lose it in what are sometimes quite sensible posts <_<

Why? Nature recycles everything naturally. Plus the uranium or whatever was not conjured by magic it came from the earth and it can return to it.

In the example if the rig it would slowly erode away plus the size of a rig vs an ocean is minute.

I'm not talking about dumping bulk goods on the ocean flier but expensive to recycle or store indefinitely.

Use your logical mind not emotions & it makes sense. Btw the top scientists at the time agreed with sinking the rig in an ocean.

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Uranium is only about 1.5% the cost of nuclear power currently.
That may well be the case, but that doesn't address the problem of a finite supply with known reserves for no more than a century at current usage rate.
Extracting uranium from seawater, well all it takes is someone to come up with something ingenious enough, and one day it will be done.
That puts the idea in the realms of cold fusion, over-unity magnetic generators, cars running on water and solar panels on the moon. :lol:

Perhaps they'll build a tidal barrage across the River Severn to power a uranium extraction plant! :lol:

Edited by blankster

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Of course the future is nuclear, actually they've left it too late, we'll have energy shortages (rolling blackouts etc) before it is all online, by which time everyone will be screaming out for it. That's not the result of some cunning forward planning by the way, that's just old fashioned incompetence.

Regarding the security issue, it would be easy to cause some havoc if you wanted to, the fact that no one has yet is indicative of the actual level of threat and unrelated to any security measure. Terrorism is exaggerated, actual problems like lack of energy are being down played.

The future is gas and coal and oil....for at least the next 5 decades.

Shale gas has extended fossil fuels by at least 2 decades.

Efficiency in both consumption and power generation will take care of any gap.

In fact the new energy reality will hit the world in 9 months time when Henry hub prices drop to sub $3 and stay there for a long time as production surpasses consumption and storage is full. We may see the second half of this decade with cheaper fossil fuel prices in real terms than today.

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That may well be the case, but that doesn't address the problem of a finite supply with known reserves for no more than a century at current usage rate.

Reserves are price dependant. If you look at the actual atoms of uranium or coal or gas or gold or whatever there are prob tens of thousands of years of supply on and in earth.

Of course what you can get out is dependant on price. There may be 100 years at today price but 1000 years at 3 times the price.

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That may well be the case, but that doesn't address the problem of a finite supply with known reserves for no more than a century at current usage rate.

That puts the idea in the realms of cold fusion, over-unity magnetic generators and solar panels on the moon.

Perhaps they'll build a tidal barrage across the River Severn to power a uranium extraction plant!

Not really you only need a small breakthrough to increase reserves massively. Look at sale gas how it has increased reserves massively.

Or look at the opposite of coal in the UK. One time we had huge reserves yet today it has been downgraded massively not because the coal vanished but because it is seen as uneconomical.

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Thing that scares the shite out of me is, how they gonna decommission them say 40 or 50 years from now, when there will be empty spigbots of oil.

Getting a wee bit off topic I know but..... can some of the more scientific types here explain to me, once and for all, why exactly nuclear power stations need to be 'decommissioned' (i.e taken completely out of service) after what seems such a relatively short working life of just a few decades?

OK. I realise that, like anything complex and mechanical, things wear out and need to be replaced (e.g turbines, electronics, piping, periodic new lick of paint on metal structures against rust, etc), but it seems odd that this is apparently not possible for nuclear power plants? Or have I missed something?

Edited by anonguest

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Getting a wee bit off topic I know but..... can some of the more scientific types here explain to me, once and for all, why exactly nuclear power stations need to be 'decommissioned' (i.e taken completely out of service) after what seems such a relatively short working life of just a few decades?

OK. I realise that, like anything complex and mechanical, things wear out and need to be replaced (e.g turbines, electronics, piping, periodic new lick of paint on metal structures against rust, etc), but it seems odd that this is apparently not possible for nuclear power plants? Or have I missed something?

They don't. Government mandarins place an artificial limit of 40 years. In the US most have been given a 20yr extension and many nuke engineers believe they will get another 20 years making 80 yrs life for reactors built decades ago and material tech has improved greatly since then.

It isn't inconceivable that reactors built today will out last our great great grandchildren.

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If the future is nuclear it won't be because the market demands it, but because national and EU politicians have decided that that is what we should have.

It's ironic that our politicians want to hamper fossil fuelled stations with the very disadvantage they claim is is associated with nuclear: the difficulty of waste storage. If this is a major concern then lets return to conventional power generation without the added expense of carbon capture and storage, let the emissions take care of themselves.

Edited by Chef

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Reserves are price dependant. If you look at the actual atoms of uranium or coal or gas or gold or whatever there are prob tens of thousands of years of supply on and in earth.

Of course what you can get out is dependant on price. There may be 100 years at today price but 1000 years at 3 times the price.

You also have to consider the energy cost of extraction and processing. Currently alot of costs bandied about for tar sands and other hard to get at resources are for the extraction, what they don't mention as often is the amount of energy need to do the processing.

Already many of the hard to get resources are becoming energy neutral, and as as result alot of our energy production is used to produce more stored energy.

The same applies to Uranium or any other mass to energy system, there is a huge amount of energy needed to refine any atomic fuel. Even the best hope for Fusion is Helium3 and that is most abundant on the moon and fairly dilute.

In all, much of our energy production is being used more like a battery in the short term (Ie I don't mean like the concept that oil is a sunlight battery). We need renewables to add energy to the system as we use more energy to process fossils.

Add in CO2 limits to the equation and easy fossils become close to energy neutral.

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If the future is nuclear it won't be because the market demands it, but because national and EU politicians have decided that that is what we should have.

It's ironic that our politicians want to hamper fossil fuelled stations with the very disadvantage they claim is is associated with nuclear: the difficulty of waste storage. If this is a major concern then lets return to conventional power generation without the added expense of carbon capture and storage, let the emissions take care of themselves.

the nuclear waste does not seem to be a big issue anyway ... you can bombard any nuclear waste with the neutrons to burn it out and loose all radioactivity ... but so far it is just cheaper to keep it in a storage some where .. as the nuclear power station only consumes a couple of tons of fuel every year ... it does not take too much space ...

plus the current fuel is burnt only like 3 or 4% so there is a potential to us it in the next generation of power stations to burnt the rest ... this is the reason the Russians will take your used nuclear fuel quite cheaply ...

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the nuclear waste does not seem to be a big issue anyway ... you can bombard any nuclear waste with the neutrons to burn it out and loose all radioactivity ... but so far it is just cheaper to keep it in a storage some where .. as the nuclear power station only consumes a couple of tons of fuel every year ... it does not take too much space ...

plus the current fuel is burnt only like 3 or 4% so there is a potential to us it in the next generation of power stations to burnt the rest ... this is the reason the Russians will take your used nuclear fuel quite cheaply ...

Good point, also the Russians have tonnes of land; far too much in fact. Surely they could spare a few square miles to contain the world's nuclear waste.

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  • 314 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
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