Monday, July 14, 2008

Nuclear power is the only green solution

"Nuclear power is the only green solution" is a direct quote from famed British environmentalist and atmospheric scientist, James Lovelock, father of the Gia theory of a living planet earth.

British scientist James Lovelock, father of the living earth Gaia theory, has stated that nuclear power is the only way to have a large human population on planet earth without causing global warming and destroying the environment. Please read James Lovelock's public statement on nuclear energy, Nuclear power is the only green solution. Lovelock states that "We have no time to experiment with visionary energy sources; civilization is in imminent danger." Nuclear power is the only technology that can produce an extremely high volume of energy using just a tiny amount of land and at reasonable cost, all without emitting significant amounts of greenhouse gases.

Every year the human race burns the equivalent of 400 years worth of total planetary vegetation in the condensed form of fossil fuels, so it is obviously impossible to replace all of that concentrated biomass energy by growing a relatively small volume of biofuel crops. The one and only energy source large enough to replace that massive fossilized energy reservoir is nuclear power. The mass of an atom is in its nucleus, not in its electrons, and as E=MC2 the nucleus is where the really BIG energy is stored. The tiny energy potential created by bonding and unbonding electrons through chemical reactions in the growth of vegetation must be amplified over centuries by the gradual process of fossilization in order to make it strong enough to power a heavily populated, industrialized planet.

We can slow global warming by creating an infrastructure based on nuclear energy, improved electric car battery technology, and the use of new technology to make superior quality, sulfur free gasoline and jet fuel from atmospheric carbon dioxide. [see Green Freedom 1.8mb pdf] This new energy scheme is cheaper and more practical than using hydrogen as fuel, because it is completely compatible with current vehicles and our existing energy distribution infrastructure. Intense heat from lower cost, higher temperature helium cooled prismatic block and/or pebble bed reactors is used to break down carbon dioxide into its component parts, carbon monoxide and oxygen. The carbon monoxide can then be combined with water in a catalytic process to make either pure hydrogen gas or more easily transportable liquid synthetic fuels that can be burned in ordinary automobile engines. Initially, the viability of this scheme could be demonstrated by using electrolysis of water to produce the needed hydrogen gas, using electricity generated from lower temperature water cooled nuclear reactors.

Nuclear power currently produces only 19.4% of our nation's electricity, so we need to build more nuclear power plants now using mass production techniques if we want to slow global warming. Nuclear fuel can be reprocessed over and over again, because only a tiny portion of the nuclear material is actually used up during each fuel cycle. When you reprocess fuel there is very little high level waste that needs to be stored at the Yucca Mountain Repository because the "waste" is reused as fuel. If you consider current stockpiles of nuclear fuel leftover from weapons programs, the amount of uranium easily available in the earth's crust for mining, the use of abundant thorium as fuel, and the benefits of using breeder reactors for recycling, then the world has enough nuclear fuel to last for at least 10,000 years.

Current nuclear power plants efficiently output 93 times more energy than they consume over their lifespan, including the energy used in their construction and decommissioning, but even that impressive figure can be improved upon. The art of nuclear power plant design has the potential to advance by leaps and bounds, becoming more efficient, cheaper, and safer. [see Generation IV nuclear power plant concepts] Even beyond the latest fourth generation nuclear power plant designs, there are credible proposals to use nanotechnology to achieve the direct conversion of nuclear energy to electricity without the use of turbines, making nuclear power plants stable, essentially solid state devices that run cold and have few moving parts. These advanced design concepts include electronically controlled nuclear reflectors for ultra-light radiation shielding, which would reduce the size and cost of nuclear reactors to a tiny fraction of today's designs. These developments could eventually lead to a portable 1 gigawatt or larger reactor that could be constructed in a factory and shipped to site on a single truck. [See Nanomaterial turns radiation directly into electricity (more details)]

The fears Americans have about civilian nuclear power plants are largely unfounded. One lone disaster that occurred at an obsolete Ukrainian reactor is insufficient reason to be eternally afraid of all nuclear power plants across the board. The old Chernobyl reactor used a dangerous design that has never been used in the West, and which did not even have a containment vessel. The 1986 Chernobyl accident was caused by Soviet engineers conducting irresponsible experiments that were unrelated to normal civilian power production, and which would never be allowed in the West. The Chernobyl accident killed a total of 56 people, a great tragedy, but not a nation killing disaster.

Nuclear power plants in America have an excellent record for safety and pollution free operation. By contrast, the over 600 coal burning power plants which produce 49% of our nation's electricity unleash tremendous pollution. They emit acid rain creating sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, tons of toxic mercury, and an enormous skyward bound river of carbon dioxide gas which represents 10% of all CO2 emissions worldwide. Coal power plants also spew out thorium and uranium (see article), both radioactive metals which naturally accumulate in coal. Incredibly, the potential nuclear energy value of these trace metals far exceeds the energy value of the combustible carbon content of the coal itself. Coal power plants release microscopic particulate matter, which clogs the lungs and is attributed to causing approximately 24,000 premature deaths in the United States every year; 428 times the Chernobyl death toll!

Prismatic block and pebble bed reactors are inherently meltdown proof due to the basic laws of physics. If the reactor's cooling system should fail, the core temperature automatically lowers itself to safe levels without mechanical intervention. Building new, more efficient standardized nuclear power plants using mass production techniques for major structural and control components can make nuclear power a bargain. Just like manufacturing television sets, the more you build using the same proven design the cheaper they become. If we build enough standardized reactors, it is conceivable that we could cut the cost of nuclear power in half, which could mean an essentially endless supply of sulfur free synthetic gasoline that sells for $2.00 a gallon at the pump.

Christopher Calder -

Nuclear power is the only carbon free energy source that can replace fossil fuels, ...period!

From my web page at:

We go nuclear, or we go extinct!