Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hmmm, nobody seems to be reading. Maybe I should post something!

Started writing a piece last week about how nuclear power needs to be an integral part of our future energy production, especially if we are serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ending our reliance on fossil fuels for energy production, but it felt like a bit more to shew than I care to take on. I may return to it, but for now let me give you the Cliff Notes: We need lots of it, sooner, rather than later, and Chernobyl is a bad excuse for not doing it. Feel free to tell me why I am nuts, and I will be happy to thoroughly invalidate your position. I promise to be nice about it, though.

Speaking of nuclear power, did you know that 2 billion years ago, there were natural nuclear fission reactors working in the Earth's crust?

Today is Eddie Van Halen's birthday! Yes, Holland's favorite son turns 56 today. I dunno what first turned you on to that special brand of insanity that is Van Halen, but for me it was listening to Dance The Night Away on Van Halen II. In keeping with the theme so far, I once heard their sound described as "Delta blues played through a nuclear reactor"!

Today, I also received news that Javier Bardem has been offered the role of Roland Deshcain in Ron Howard's adaptation of Stephen King's Dark Tower novels. I dunno how I feel about this. Bardem is a fine actor. I think he would make a great Khan Noonien Singh if that's the bad guy for the next Star Trek movie. But he doesn't have the right look to play Roland! If you look at Ned Dameron's illustrations in The Waste Lands, Roland is a cross between King and Clint Eastwood. For my money, Viggo Mortenson had the right look.


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  2. So, in light of the Japan Tragedy, how do you feel about Nuclear Energy today? I for one, do not trust it. I may feel differently in the future, if those who build the plants learn and take notes from everything that has happened, not only in Japan, but any Nuclear plant that has had accidents. If they apply that knowledge and build safety nets that surpass "adequate".

  3. Believe it or not, I still feel the same. That particular reactor was built 40 years ago. Most older reactors rely upon "active" safety measures in case of something going wrong. The measures at this plant depended upon a diesel generator supplying electricity to keep the coolant pumps running. There are more modern designs which are "passively safe", meaning that if something goes wrong, the reaction shuts down on its own. If you have the time, look up the Integral Fast Reactor. This was an experimantal reactor design start back in the 80s. The design was such that you could re-process spent fuel rods on-site, and it also burned much of the other long-lived wastes so that whatever waste was left over was a much smaller volume than reactors then in use, and what there was had radioactive half-lives of hundreds of years, as opposed to the 20,000 for plutonium. The design is also "passively safe". The project was canceled by the Clinton administration, ostensibly because of "proliferation" concerns. Had we continued with the project, I think we would have long since had a viable commercial version of this design.

    Moreover, if we as a planet are serious about reduction of co2 released into the atmosphere, and burning of fossil fuels for energy production, we are going to need nuclear to do it. I am a firm believer in solar and wind power, but even at large capacities, they suffer from intermittency and storage problems. You still need a steady source of production for your base load, and that's where nuclear comes in. Remember that nuclear power is carbon neutral; it releases no co2 or other greenhouse gas emissions during energy production.


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