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> The French solution to global warming - nuclear power, How is it working?
Dingo
post Mar 25 2009, 10:29 PM
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Apparently not very well. Here are a couple of assessments.

http://counterpunch.com/wasserman03192009.html
QUOTE
The myth of a successful nuclear power industry in France has melted into financial chaos.

With it dies the corporate-hyped poster child for a "nuclear renaissance" of new reactor construction that is drowning in red ink and radioactive waste.

Areva, France's nationally-owned corporate atomic façade, has plunged into a deep financial crisis led by a devastating shortage of cash.
-------------------------------------------------
And the definitive failure of America's Yucca Mountain nuke waste dump mirrors France's parallel inability to deal with its own radioactive trash.


http://www.alternet.org/story/132852/the_f...it_to_the_u.s./
QUOTE
France's monopolistic dependency on splitting the atom to turn on the lights has come with a huge price -- not only financially but in environmental and health costs. In reality, France is a radioactive mess, additionally burdened with an overwhelming amount of radioactive waste, much of which is simply dispersed into the surrounding environment.

The situation is complicated by the fact that Areva, the French nuclear corporation and biggest atomic operator in the world, is almost wholly owned by the French government. Consequently, France's President Nicolas Sarkozy has gone into high marketing gear -- the Washington Post anointed him "the world's most aggressive nuclear salesman" -- pushing nuclear power to any country willing to pay, most notably in the Middle East.

This proliferation-friendly profiteering, however, ignores an ugly situation at home and in other countries where Areva has left its radioactive footprint.

France has 210 abandoned uranium mines. The leftover radioactive dirt -- known as tailings -- along with radioactively contaminated rocks, have been used in school playgrounds and ski-resort parking lots. Efforts to force Areva to clean up its mess have been met with resistance from the company.


Questions for discussion:

Do you think the French nuclear approach has been on balance a success or failure in supplying energy. Explain.

In the search for energy alternatives to fossil fuel do you think in the future building more nuclear power plants is an important part of the equation? Why or why not?

Have you got any thoughts on the dangers of nuclear power, particularly nuclear waste, terrorist attacks and a source of nuclear proliferation? See any solutions down the road? If so spell them out.

Compare the positives and negatives of nuclear power in relation to more green alternatives.
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AuthorMusician
post Jun 2 2015, 07:14 PM
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QUOTE(Dingo @ Jun 1 2015, 09:32 PM) *
A lot of nuclear folks are getting mad because they think solar is overrated and nuclear is not getting a fair shot. This fellow slams the latest solar airplane insisting it's no more than a high priced toy. Of course he misses the point that solar is more for local small stuff, or should be. Everyone I know who has solarized their home is pleased as punch. Still I think Geof Russell's jihad against solar is worth a look if only to realize how inherently scaled down solar is relative to nuclear.

http://bravenewclimate.com/2015/06/01/sola...dies/#more-6663

QUOTE
Many nuclear supporters tend to shy away from overt criticism of renewable technologies because they are confident that in any objective analysis, unencumbered by radio-phobia, nuclear will dominate any effective response to climate change; should the world choose to give a damn. After all there is no shortage of very careful objective treatments that support such a view. But every so often the solar industry, in particular, shoots itself in the foot with a spectacular demonstration of just how bad this technology is and it behooves us all to call a spade a spade and a lemon a lemon.

I’m talking about the Solar Impulse circumnavigation project.

The Solar Impulse is a solar powered aircraft consisting of more than 17,000 solar cells and 633 kilograms of lithium batteries packed into a plane with a wingspan longer than a Boeing 747. Not to mention a cast including 80 engineers, 100 advisers, a 12 year construction time, sponsorship from 80 companies including Google, a real-time website, T-shirts and of course, the obligatory baseball caps. But my personal favourite, because the project hails from Switzerland, has to be the Victorinox commemorative pen knives which will get confiscated should you try to take them on-board a real plane.

This author needs a managing editor to keep him from making a fool of himself. A real airplane flies in the air, and its definition is not limited to a jetliner. That humans have built an exclusively solar-powered airplane that can circumnavigate the globe is as big a step forward as when it was first done with gasoline-powered aircraft.

He should also realize that solar energy is nuclear energy, or doesn't he understand how our Sun works? It's fusion rather than fission, but it's still from nuclear reaction. The very nice thing about the Sun is that it's 63 million miles away, as opposed to nukes we build that are up close and extremely dangerous when the crap hits the fan.

Just ask Japan.

Another thing he seems to miss is that the media did not invent that disaster; they reported that it happened. No hyperbole was necessary because it was one of our greatest SNAFUs as the human species. He, however, had to resort to stupidity by denying that a flying machine with a long wingspan and a lot of batteries on board isn't a real plane. Did he expect his readers to miss that trick? It's one of the oldest in the world, using denial as a form of argumentation.

Just ask the Roman Empire as the barbaric hoards invaded. Or maybe some four-year-old kid.

Battery tech is moving quickly away from lithium, due to the limited supply of the material and its dangerous habit of catching fire. The last advancement I came across uses aluminum:

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/march/a...ery-033115.html

I suppose someone who has based a career on nukes wouldn't be able to understand this tech, but fortunately for us, superior tech generally wins out in the marketplace. The very cool thing about using aluminum is that it's 100% recyclable, thereby vastly reducing its energy footprint over time. It takes a lot of electricity to extract aluminum from its ore, but only a relatively small amount of heat to melt and re-purpose it. We might see all-solar commuter planes soon, maybe with rapid chargers at airports when the solar can't keep up. Another way to do this is to swap out battery packs and use solar arrays at airports to recharge the spent/weak batteries. If demand gets too high for solar, then tap into the grid temporarily. As more people feed the grid with solar, thereby reducing their electric bills, more of that grid electricity will be from solar.

Might solar-powered aircraft replace jetliners? Maybe not, due to the speed and passenger capacity requirements. Propeller aircraft can't reach the speed of a jetliner, around 800 mph, and passenger capacity will always be more limited. That's why I don't see all flights going solar, maybe just enough of them displacing gasoline-powered aircraft to knock a big chunk out of CO2 emissions.

There's a parallel situation that's reducing emissions too, an idea brought forth most famously by Amazon. The distribution centers are scattered across the nation, thereby reducing air freight and ground transport overhead. I'm not sure, but Fed Ex might have gone this way too, having more sorting hubs than the one in Memphis, TN. From a logistical viewpoint, this makes a lot of sense. From an ecological viewpoint, it's a big step forward.

The Amazon delivery drone idea is based on small, unmanned electrical aircraft. I doubt this will become common due to various non-technical problems, such as people having fun shooting them down and the crowding of commercial air space. People tend to like human delivery too, something that adds a little socialization to their lives. But the idea could take hold in industrial parks, moving stuff from one end to the other in very low altitude flights. Farmers are already using the drone tech to catch minor problems in the fields before they turn into unmanageable big problems. I suppose the old crop dusting aircraft will become obsolete down the road. Just load up your drones with the material, hit a GO button on the computer, and the rest is automated. Shoot, picking fruits and vegetables might go automated with drone tech.

Farmers might decide to install wind and solar fixtures on their poorest producing land as well, which would reduce the need for grid electricity and cut overhead.

Lots of movement forward for solar and other alternatives. I imagine that's making folks in the nuclear sector very nervous. Dang, curses on that big ball of fusion reaction up there 63 million miles away!

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Curmudgeon
post Jun 2 2015, 10:46 PM
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QUOTE(AuthorMusician @ Jun 2 2015, 02:14 PM) *
Battery tech is moving quickly away from lithium, due to the limited supply of the material and its dangerous habit of catching fire. The last advancement I came across uses aluminum:

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/march/a...ery-033115.html

I found that article to be fascinating. but I was surprised to learn that the voltage output presented a "limitation" to further development. Someone should tell the researchers to look at the technology that allows conventional battery technology to have a 9 volt output. They simply connect six small 1.5 volt batteries in series to produce the higher voltage. That's also the battery technology that can produce the necessary 12 volts needed to operate a modern car.

As an apprentice electrician, I was taught that a 1.5 volt battery was called a cell, and that only when a group of cells were linked to produce a higher voltage did you truly have a battery. I believe the etymology of the word battery was military in origin. (Memo to self. After I mow the lawn, I'll go back to the article and forward this post to the authors.)
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Dingo
post Oct 1 2016, 06:08 PM
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An interesting meditation on Chernobyl decades later. It is offered in poetry and prose. The appropriate title would seem to be something like - Humans have their perspective - Nature has hers.

https://orionmagazine.org/article/in-the-exclusion-zone/

QUOTE
Thirty years, and in the utter
absence of human life, in the stunned
silence of human voices,
red deer and fierce boar
flourish—in the Exclusion Zone,
in Chernobyl’s Zone of Alienation,
the wolf, the lynx, the bear find refuge.

Foxes, polecats, wild horses.
The beaver returns, restores
the marshes. Bison roam the woods.
Bees make glowing honey.

Over the scorched throat
of the reactor, above
but not so far beyond
the sarcophagus
hiding the hot heart
of Chernobyl, home
into the primeval oaks
of the Forbidden Zone,

black storks glide, white bellies
exposed, red beaks flashing.
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