Another Solution

Posted by: jgw

Another Solution - 12/11/18 07:19 PM

In Washington state we have the worst, and most dangerous, pit of nuclear waste in the entire world. Its called Hanford and its where we made our nukes for years. Gov has spent more than 3 billion fixing the problems. The problem is, right now, worse than it was when the cleanup started over 30 years ago. The waste is getting close to the water table and the columbia river. If either gets contaminated it will cause a world class mess.

Jackass, our beloved leader, has weighed in on this one. He has a solution to the problem and its really quite simple - re-categorize the waste as safe, call it fixed, and move on. I know, hard to believe, here is a site that explains it all. Thank goodness we have a leader that understand how to get things done!

https://katu.com/news/local/trump-plan-t...vironmentalists
Posted by: pondering_it_all

Re: Another Solution - 12/11/18 09:07 PM

That's because every "Hanford solution" over the decades has underestimated the problem, and assumed you can fix it on the cheap. A real fix would excavate the soil down until there was no more radioactivity and train/truck it to the high desert out of the damned river watershed. But we have the same problem with all of our stored nuclear waste from power plants as well. We've been waiting 75 years for the technology to advance, so we can store it safely. The problem is it doesn't get any better over 75 years. That will take 100,000 years.

At least the power plant waste is mostly in stainless steel barrels. The solution in the early days of Hanford was big open air ponds! Probably the worst thing you can do with radioactive waste.
Posted by: NW Ponderer

Re: Another Solution - 12/11/18 10:20 PM

Can radioactive waste be immobilized in glass for millions of years? We're about to find out.
Posted by: jgw

Re: Another Solution - 12/14/18 06:27 PM

I would suggest googling "hanford tank leaks" The tanks are, for the most part, leaking into the water table right now. Hanford is that place that has glow in the dark mice and rats and ants and a pile of really sick, radioactive, ex employees that our department of energy is refusing to give any kind of medical help to.

Washington state, incidentally, has sued the feds, and won, at least 2 times then, for some obscure reason, Washington state just goes quietly away.

Its also of possible interest that there are small nuclear reactor designs that can actually use the physically hot waste to drive said small nuclear reactors. I think we have a couple small nuclear reactors either already tested and approved or being tested. These things can be built in factories, trucked to location, buried int he ground and ready to supply electricity with absolute safety. I think China has already built their factory.
Posted by: pondering_it_all

Re: Another Solution - 12/15/18 12:07 AM

Quote:
with absolute safety

Oh, I'm sure some idiot would dig one up and kill a bunch of people just to proves that nuclear wastes is dangerous. Or whatever. In a world of sane, rational people this would be a fine idea. In the world we have, it would enable every extremist group who could operate a backhoe the ability to make their own dirty bomb.
Posted by: Greger

Re: Another Solution - 12/15/18 12:56 AM


Clean nuclear energy is a lot like clean coal...no such thing.
Posted by: pondering_it_all

Re: Another Solution - 12/15/18 01:10 AM

But it actually has a much better chance of getting a lot cleaner and safer. We could start cranking out Thorium reactors and that would go a long way toward better. Did you know that burning coal releases more radiation into the atmosphere than all the nuclear accidents ever.

Denver is supposed to be more dangerous in terms of background radiation than lower parts of the country. But the main problem there is Radon gas! It is like getting 10 X-rays per year. The nice thing is that it is completely avoidable. Don't have a basement and stay out of low places where it could accumulate. The Radon is there because there is so much Uranium in the ground.
Posted by: Jeffery J. Haas

Re: Another Solution - 12/15/18 07:35 PM

Nope, in typical modern American fashion, we're going to wait till the Indians and Chinese start cranking out thorium reactors instead.

THEN we'll suddenly get the bright idea to try it, and all of our thorium reactors will be designed and built by, you guessed it, the Chinese.
Posted by: Jeffery J. Haas

Re: Another Solution - 12/15/18 07:46 PM

Posted by: jgw

Re: Another Solution - 12/15/18 09:35 PM

https://www.energy.gov/ne/nuclear-reactor-technologies/small-modular-nuclear-reactors
https://www.powermag.com/big-gains-for-tiny-nuclear-reactors/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_modular_reactor
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_small_modular_reactor_designs
https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/...ning#gs.osQCoGw
Posted by: pondering_it_all

Re: Another Solution - 12/15/18 11:11 PM

We really need somebody rich to decide to build a thorium reactor. That seems to be the only way we get things done now in the US. The companies that build reactors in the US are unlikely to enter a new design era because of their patents, etc. But I would be perfectly happy with an Indian or Chinese design. India in particular has a great incentive to mass produce them because it needs so much energy to modernize and it has lots of thorium and not much uranium. There is really no reason for a thorium-reactor-race. A decent design that was inexpensive to build and walk-away reliable would benefit everybody on Earth.

They can be drop-in modules that power companies can buy and put right to work. Get out of this one-up 10 year nuclear power plant design and custom build cycle. Just think: One standard design approved by the NRC in advance. Power companies with existing hot water reactors could just buy modules to truck to the site and start to replace the energy output of the hot water reactors as they age out.
Posted by: Jeffery J. Haas

Re: Another Solution - 12/16/18 02:00 AM

Originally Posted By: pondering_it_all

They can be drop-in modules that power companies can buy and put right to work. Get out of this one-up 10 year nuclear power plant design and custom build cycle. Just think: One standard design approved by the NRC in advance. Power companies with existing hot water reactors could just buy modules to truck to the site and start to replace the energy output of the hot water reactors as they age out.


Been a fan of that kind of thinking forever.
Maybe someday enough Americans will finally catch on.
Posted by: Greger

Re: Another Solution - 12/16/18 02:48 AM

Solar and wind are the future. Both China and India are leading the world in their investment in renewables. They aren't likely to go back to coal or nuclear. Uncounted fortunes have been spent on nuclear research and all we have to show for it is a bunch of waste material we still don't know what to do with.
Posted by: pondering_it_all

Re: Another Solution - 12/16/18 10:16 PM

That's because of the influence of the military, back when they actually had a Thorium reactor up and running. Thorium did not make Plutonium for bomb making, so we had to go with Uranium. Got to make all those thousands of nukes, you know. The nuclear power industry all came right out of Plutonium-producing Uranium reactor technology, which all the nuclear physicists knew well.

The worst thing about that was just the bad engineering principle: Hot water reactors are ready to explode at all times. You have to keep juggling fuel rods and control rods in and out to keep it under control, and as the load changes you need more or less fission all the time.

Thorium reactors are inactive unless you send in some gamma rays. Stop generating the gamma and they just sit there. That's why they say they are "walk-away safe". Need more power output? Just send in more gamma. Need less? Send less gamma. It can't run away, because the fission taking place does not make more gamma. You turn off the gamma rays and it starts to cool down immediately. Much much better design.

Instead of a thousand indicators and several operators sitting on the edge of their chairs. I think you could just use a totally automated controller that would respond to grid load conditions by modulating the gamma flux. And it could not run away ever, because the gamma generator can't suddenly start making more gamma. Maybe have one big red button for emergency shutdown, and one guy to babysit and read a book or surf the web, just so people feel safe about it.
Posted by: Greger

Re: Another Solution - 12/17/18 01:02 AM

You make it all sound so simple PIA!

But it isn't or they'd be building them right now. It's like cars that run on water...just around the corner.
Posted by: Jeffery J. Haas

Re: Another Solution - 12/17/18 04:24 AM

Originally Posted By: Greger
You make it all sound so simple PIA!

But it isn't or they'd be building them right now. It's like cars that run on water...just around the corner.


Greger, he accurately described the reactor process in a nutshell.
The obstacle isn't feasibility, it's industry resistance to "not invented here" and the overall poor public perception of anything with the word "nuclear" in it. Investors don't like nuclear.
Now someone is claiming that there is a brand new (actually fairly old) way to make nuclear power, and investors don't trust that the public will believe it. They don't want to get mired in the politics of it.

But the history he described, the Cold War command decision to choose one fuel cycle over another (instead of just pursuing BOTH) is also 100% true.

Thorium reactors aren't nuke fusion and they aren't cars that run on water. It's like the difference between natural gas refrigeration and electrically powered refrigeration, or gas dryers versus electric dryers, or more accurately, the difference between Otto cycle gasoline engines and Atkinson cycle gasoline engines.

Or hybrid EV's and pure EV's.
Posted by: pondering_it_all

Re: Another Solution - 12/17/18 08:50 AM

They already built one and ran it for something like 15000 hours, and that was 53 years ago! The public perception and investment climate is very poor here. That's why I suggested a rich man (like Elon Musk) would have to do it on their own, and demonstrate to everyone that it is viable and safe. Absent that Randian-hero, I suppose we just have to wait for the Chinese or Indians to start mass production.

My description is simple because the design is simple. I did make one mistake though in my description: You have to bombard the reactor core with neutrons, not gamma rays. (Sorry, but I'm no nuclear physicist. I have worked with some radioactive stuff, but only in medical research and one very advanced high school biology class.) That makes more sense because you have to transmute Thorium-232 into Uranium-233, which then fissions very quickly and emits lots of energy.

That's also why this is so safe: The Thorium is "fertile but not fissile" in that it does not decay, but it's easily transmuted into U-233 which is fissile.
Posted by: jgw

Re: Another Solution - 12/17/18 08:52 PM

A little bit of nuclear history. When gov decided to put nuclear someplace, for purposes of regulation, control, etc. they put it in the existing Department of Energy (DOE). Jackass put the ex governor of Texas in charge. That Governor proudly announced, when running for president, that was one of the departments he wanted to shut down. Apparently most Jackass department appointments are out of the pool of folks that want said department gone.

Anyway, the DOE. When nuclear was assigned to the DOE the DOE was completely under the thumb of the oil industry. Its generally understood that, at that time, the oil industry wanted nothing to do with nuclear and would prefer it went away as it was a direct competitor. So, they did what they could to demonize and wreck nuclear. That is the foundation of how we deal with nuclear today - no matter how safe, etc. its just plain bad - as everybody knows.

Just saying.............
Posted by: Jeffery J. Haas

Re: Another Solution - 12/17/18 09:25 PM

Originally Posted By: pondering_it_all
I did make one mistake though in my description: You have to bombard the reactor core with neutrons, not gamma rays. (Sorry, but I'm no nuclear physicist. I have worked with some radioactive stuff, but only in medical research and one very advanced high school biology class.) That makes more sense because you have to transmute Thorium-232 into Uranium-233, which then fissions very quickly and emits lots of energy.

That's also why this is so safe: The Thorium is "fertile but not fissile" in that it does not decay, but it's easily transmuted into U-233 which is fissile.


It's a mistake that my father never would have made, but that's because my father was, in fact, a nuclear physicist.
I however, am not.

Posted by: Jeffery J. Haas

Re: Another Solution - 12/17/18 09:27 PM

Originally Posted By: pondering_it_all
They already built one and ran it for something like 15000 hours, and that was 53 years ago! The public perception and investment climate is very poor here. That's why I suggested a rich man (like Elon Musk) would have to do it on their own, and demonstrate to everyone that it is viable and safe. Absent that Randian-hero, I suppose we just have to wait for the Chinese or Indians to start mass production.


I nominate Jeff Bezos. He is worth 138 billion, so a thorium reactor is cheap enough that he could build a couple of them and still be the richest man on Earth next to Putin.
Posted by: pondering_it_all

Re: Another Solution - 12/17/18 10:29 PM

>Bezos

Excellent candidate! I'll give him a call and get him right on it.

Seriously, though, whatever team does it will probably need some PhD physicists who have already received NRC grants just to get the necessary licenses.
Posted by: Greger

Re: Another Solution - 12/18/18 03:20 AM

Look...if a rich guy could single-handedly reform the energy industry and make billions in the process, don't you think it would have been done?

Or a bunch of rich guys...or any government in the world? Or group of governments...If it could be done it would be done.

Apparently there are some technical difficulties that have not yet, and may never, be overcome. Glancing around teh internet I see that hundreds and hundreds of millions are being spent on this and there are promises that we'll see them up and running by 2020.......

**sighs**

...or not.

Soon they'll have it reduced to the size of suitcase and it will power your flying car forever.

Soon...very soon.
Posted by: jgw

Re: Another Solution - 12/18/18 10:34 PM

if you google "thorium reactor" you will find a lot of stuff. amongst that stuff is one just starting up:
https://www.newscientist.com/article/214...clear-reactors/
Posted by: Jeffery J. Haas

Re: Another Solution - 12/19/18 01:26 AM

Originally Posted By: Greger
Look...if a rich guy could single-handedly reform the energy industry and make billions in the process, don't you think it would have been done?

Or a bunch of rich guys...or any government in the world? Or group of governments...If it could be done it would be done.




Ummm, perhaps you didn't hear of it but Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and a few other rich fellas are already looking into new reactor designs.
Posted by: Greger

Re: Another Solution - 12/19/18 03:11 AM

Good for them. They'll sink a few hundred million more into the nuclear money pit.

We'll all be dead and in the ground before anything ever comes of it.

If...anything ever comes of it.