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Friday, March 20, 2009

Nuclear Power

Recently, I have heard a lot of conservatives talking about how "safe" nuclear power is. Is it possible that they don't remember the nuclear-meltdown that is still affecting the Town of Chernobyl? They don't remember the Three-Mile Island debacle? Can it be that the never head about what happened in Japan a number of years back? Nuclear power is not safe. It has never been, and never will be safe to use on Earth.

However, nuclear power could be safely generated in space. Space is already radioactive, so there would be no harm from the radioactive by-products that result from generating nuclear power in space. Nuclear waste could be fired out of the solar-system or into the Sun, and it wouldn't hurt anybody. The energy generated could then be be transmitted to a receiving station on Earth, via microwave.
November 4, 2008 | Registered CommenterScottdavene
The Three Mile Island accident affirmed how well the western world designs and builds their nuclear power plants. Even in a worst case accident, US reactors' containment and other design enhancements will protect the public. If Russia (or Ukraine) built an inferior naval ship, we would conclude that America can build better ships. However with nuclear power, people want to lump all nuclear power globally together, when there are different standards in the western world. All of the used nuclear fuel produced in the united states in the past 40 years (that has provided 20 percent of our nations electricity) could be placed in an area the size of a football field and would only be seven stories high. Critics of nuclear power often cite the weight of the used fuel instead of the volume, because weight sounds worse than volume. Used fuel is made of some of the heaviest metals known to man. Fossil fueled plants do not have to pay for what they emit. Nuclear power has no emissions from the generating unit. In fact it only has small amounts of emissions from fossil fueled generators on site that are run periodically for a few hours for testing, but their only operational purpose and use is for emergency support of the plants safety systems.
Scottdavene, not only is space radioactive, radioactivity is all around you. Everything has a certain level of natural radioactivity. Though we can communicate using a wireless medium, we can not efficiently transfer energy through wireless means. Transmitters and receivers employ an external power supply to allow signal processing to occur.
It is unfortunate that nuclear power has not been more widely used globally, because it's benefits to mankind are overwhelming. Nuclear proliferation is a large concern, but we need to own that risk and manage it, not treat nuclear power as unnatural. We have the capability to produce proliferation resistant fuel and sell it to developing nations, so that they can benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear power without acquiring the deadly capability to produce nuclear weapons. There is a wealth of technical knowledge and ideas behind nuclear power, just waiting for the people to become educated enough to allow and promote its growth. Nuclear power plants have a large upfront cost to build, but once they are online they drive older fossil fueled plants offline that are significantly more expensive to operate than a nuclear power plant. Our environment deserves the best source of energy that money can buy, and nuclear power is the only emission free source that can offer that on a large (baseload) scale. Nuclear power plants are almost always producing 100 percent power, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
November 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNot believing, knowing
Thank you for your comment, Bel Air, Maryland.

However, I noticed that you didn't address the reason I say that nuclear power is not safe, and never will be safe on Earth. Never mind the very real possibility of a nuclear meltdown which you brush a side so casually, you have not addressed the problem of how we dispose of the deadly nuclear waste that your power plants will produce. Further, you pretend that you can accommodate or nullify any nuclear disaster, and fail to realize that a similar disaster in any other country would be just as deadly to the entire planet, regardless of where it occurs.

Please elaborate, and tell me why you can't build your reactors in space instead?
November 6, 2008 | Registered CommenterScottdavene
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  2. The United States Navy has used nuclear power in their fleet for over 60 years. Every submarine used in the fleet is powered by a nuclear reactor, and all but one aircraft carrier use nuclear power for operation. Never once has the Navy had a nuclear incident. The design of these plants is such that they are inherently stable.
    The Navy has been using nuclear power for so long, and their secret is that it's never routine, Standards on nuclear power is higher than standards found in any other nuclear facility in the world, from design to operation.
    Details on stable plant construction is of course highly classified. The Navy's reactors are unique from any other country's reactors, and have been proven safer.
    Civilian power plants (Finally getting to your question.) hire very heavily from US Navy sailors who have a great deal of experience with nuclear reactors. These people are trained to deal with any emergency, and are trained and educated as well as humanly possible. These are the men and women who are in charge of safe operation of your nuclear power plant.
    Ever had a banana? Ever smoked a cigarette, or had second hand smoke? Ever sat out in the sun? You have just suffered from the radiation resulting from a nuclear reaction. Granted, this is a much less power than the reactions inside a reactor, but radioactive elements are all around you, much like combustible fuels are around you. In high enough concentrations, and in proper safe condition, power can be made from a chemical reaction or nuclear reaction. When done right, nuclear power is very safe.

    I feel like someone arguing for the first line of commercial airplanes.

    As far as making a power source in space and sending the power back to earth... I'm not a whiz on electricity, but I do know that for electrical power, you need current and voltage, and a complete circuit. I understand there are devices you can have in your house that can be wirelessly supplied with power, and I know it works, but I don't know how exactly. There is somehow a complete circuit made within the room for a light bulb to come on. With your theory of a power source in space, there is no medium for a complete circuit to earth.
    Radiation and electricity are not exactly the same. I like your forward thinking and hypothesizing, it's ideas like yours that give us better quality of life.

  3. Dave: FYI, energy can be transmitted through space in a focused electromagnetic beam, then converted to electricity at a ground station so your plan may be workable, technically.

    The concern I would have is that the nuclear fuel would need to be launched into space using conventional rockets. The safety record of these launch vehicles is nowhere near high enough to allow for launching large quantities of nuclear fuel into space.

    If a challenger style accident were to occur with a nuclear fuel, it would likely catch fire and burn on reentry, spreading deadly radiation through the atmosphere.

    Such an operation would likely be an attractive target for terrorists,as well.

    I don't think your idea is any better at the moment that land based reactors, safety wise.


  4. ‎@Phil: Good insight, but you forget, there is plenty of nuclear fuel in the asteroid belt (along with all the other materials we would need to manufacture pretty much whatever we want. @Phil: Terrorist-shmerrorist.


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