Should we use nuclear power ?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by debjit625, Mar 12, 2011.

Should we use nuclear energy?

  1. Yes

    85.7%
  2. No

    14.3%
  1. debjit625

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Apr 17, 2010
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    We all know what happened in Japan this Friday 11th of March 2011,the devastation created by the earthquake and tsunami was very sad :(,its mother nature even technology fails.I hope everything returns back to normal very soon (Japan will do it,they are very well known for this).

    But what made me thinking is that,Japan has been always known for their technology and they are also very enthusiastic on the use of nuclear energy.On this Friday Japan's Fukushima Daiichi atomic power plant had a break down,one of its reactors was damaged ,their was an explosion which released radiation (radioactive caesium) as per source radiation was detected 8 times the normal radiation levels outside the facility and 1,000 times normal levels inside the affected unit's control room.In short the backup cooling system failed to cool the reactors which cause this nuclear meltdown,it was fission nuclear reaction now we people are towards fusion nuclear reaction which is said to be safer than fission nuclear reaction but I have absolutely no idea after all this happened in Japan.

    Its has been always said that these things cant happen with modern reactors on the count of backup system but it happened what ever the cause may be.

    So what you guys think about using nuclear power?I know its cheap but what about safety?
     
  2. Kermit2

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 5, 2010
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    Just like industry that deals with dangerous chemicals should not be located in populated areas. Nuke reactors should not be located on known geographical fault lines.

    NO they should not be built on fault lines
    YES they should be built.
     
  3. nsaspook

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 27, 2009
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    There are thousands dead from the quake and tsunami with millions without power or transportation for food and water. So far nobody has been killed at the problem plant with only minor leaks. To prevent even more people dying from the effects from the quake they need those safe shutdown plants back online as soon as possible. Just imagine if those plants ran on oil or natural gas with no way to get supplies because of destroyed ports and pipelines.
     
  4. blueroomelectronics

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jul 22, 2007
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    When are we going to have Fusion reactors...
     
  5. magnet18

    Senior Member

    Dec 22, 2010
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    Things happen.
    I doubt no-one has ever died in a coal or oil plant accident, especially in the early days. The reason nuclear gets such a bad rap is that when things go wrong, they go really wrong. Like planes, there safer than cars but whenever one crashes it's a big deal.

    I also thing the public should be more educated bout these things, I saw someone on the news saying that 3-mile island was worse than Chernobyl, which couldn't be more bass-ackwards.
     
  6. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    The french have the right idea (though it pains me to admit it). Find the safest design you can and stick with it. They bought a GE design and make them in their country. The way they are build in the USA they are not standardized, which is not good. French operators are extremely trained in simulators, the responses are extremely well rehearsed, and the reactors flaws are well understood (and corrected if a problem is extreme enough).

    Until we have fusion or better, I don't think any industrialized nation has much choice.
     
  7. someonesdad

    Senior Member

    Jul 7, 2009
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    With due diligence, nuclear power can be reasonably safe. The problems occur because people make mistakes. We've had a few notorious accidents (Chernobyl probably the most notorious), but overall the record has been pretty good (especially consider the US Navy, which hasn't had one accident yet AFAIK). There will always be risks because perfect designs are impossible. One has to look at the risks associated with the technologies and make the tradeoffs.

    I was big on the idea of fusion power in the 60's, but I've become rather jaded by the researchers continuing for decades to ask for money and saying it's just around the corner. The physics are pretty well understood, but the engineering problems are horrendous and controlled fusion is probably the most challenging technical task mankind has undertaken (far more difficult than the development of the atomic bomb or going to the moon). And it's not going to be a nice clean process as some have predicted -- there will be inefficiencies, material problems, and lots of neutrons generated, which always cause headaches until they are brought to rest.

    One of the best sources of energy is sunlight (which, of course, is also from a thermonuclear source). The insolation at Earth's radius is on the order of a kilowatt per square meter -- that's a lot of power. But sunlight has been hard to use because the costs have been high and efficiencies low. Let the cost of fossil fuel go up one or two orders of magnitude and people will feel differently about things, including the willingness to invest more research monies.

    Let's look at some back-of-the-envelope numbers. My house is on a one acre lot. Suppose I was able to cover a quarter of that with a cheap photovoltaic material; suppose it's 20% efficient and suppose at my latitude I get 600 W per square meter. Then, using the GNU units program, I get 0.25 acre 0.2 600 W/m2 = 121.406 kW. At 240 VAC, that's a current of 500 amps. Of course, I'd have to have a method of storing energy, but you can see that it's feasible to think of some homes being able to provide a substantial part of their own energy, if not all. Read "Engines of Creation" and Drexler's follow-on books for an upbeat view of this. If I could get my wife, kids, and grandkids to shut off the lights and the appliances they leave on, we could easily live on a tenth of that power. :p

    If it was up to me, I'd be investing a significant fraction of the world's resources into figuring out how to harness solar energy. Note it gets better if you start thinking of investing in the Dyson sphere concept -- you'd start off putting reflectors in space to get more radiation to either the Earth's surface or low earth orbit.

    If I did my arithmetic right, the Earth subtends a solid angle that is 4.6e-13 of a sphere. In other words, less than a millionth of a millionth of the sun's output is being intercepted by Earth. That should give you an idea of the energy that is within reach.

    Another big energy source is geothermal, but I don't care for that idea given mankind's predilection to selfishness -- irresponsible use of that source has a bad outcome for the Earth as a whole. Fortunately, we don't have the technology (yet) to use it on a wide scale.

    Ultimately, the biggest problem of all is population and population growth. Mankind doesn't have the balls to deal with this yet -- and may never have, leaving it up to war, pestilence, and rather vicious arguments over scarce resources.
     
  8. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    Population growth is an issue, but a trend for countries with a high standard of living is actually negative growth. Japan has a major problem with it, and the USA would if it weren't for a steady influx of immigrants, illegal and otherwise.
     
  9. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    I respect that. But how standardized is the US system?

    Several flaws came out of the 3 Mile Island problems (contrary to media hype, it wasn't a disaster, like Chernobyl). Some of the indicators weren't really indicators, a valve stuck, and the indicator that was supposed to show the status was actually just a flip flop. When it got out of sync, it was one of several issues that almost caused a disaster. There were other issues, but that is the one that stuck in my mind.

    Without standardization every design is an experiment, with it's own strengths and flaws. At least, that is my perception.
     
  10. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
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    We have been using nuclear power ever since the Stagg field squash court reactor was the world's most expensive 1 watt space heater.

    The 60 year old GE pressurized water design is a tad better than the Russian RBMK, but is horribly inefficient, as you can't get any reasonable superheat on the working steam.

    I think the Canadians have a design for a helium cooled reactor that is much closer to being fail safe.

    The fissile materials left over from the thousands of warheads represent a huge sunk cost, so making some use of it makes sense. Every megawatt we can do with nukes means fewer oil tankers from overseas.
     
  11. bribri

    Member

    Feb 20, 2011
    133
    5
    AFAIK, Chernobyl is still pretty messed up.
    (several people knowingly committed suicide in stopping that disaster from being worse than it was.) an ugly story.
    the weird notion that nuclear power is supposed to be cheap is problematic in and of itself. given the risks, it should not be cheap. it seems that political pressure to get up and running early on in the game caused a lot of corners to be cut... both in the east-bloc, and in the west.
    even without accidents, you're producing pollution which stays bad for THOUSANDS of years. it's a matter of faith to suppose that problems with that will not surface over time and an apocalyptic mentality to not care if they do.
    even obtaining fuel can be a nasty business and running out of it is actually an issue.
    a strong fact also remains, in that it's not actually possible to produce nuclear power without achieving basically all the components needed for a weapons program. proponents of the so-called 'developing-world' model might want to think that one through a couple of times.
    Iran might be a good example: they're not allowed to have nuclear power because we don't like them. even if they didn't have any militaristic ambitions (kind of doubtful), it would be besides the point. to be producing power (minus a couple of details) is to be essentially weapons ready.
     
  12. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
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    What If these plants were deep In a mountain with many containment
    layers and filters.Have plenty of space for blow outs. If all else fails you
    could bury the whole plant.Have all the backs ups on site. Remote control
    for safety most controls. If It blows the water would be In bladder containers.
    One stop shopping for containment and storage of spend rods.What wrong
    with this story besides,not In my back yard. Area some thing is secret why not
    mountains power plants.Your turn for a safe place, your Idea. We have that hot core
    in the center of the earth,why not get nearer,we already use some of that heat already.
    Go for the prize,there has to be one. U.S. Energy.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2011
  13. magnet18

    Senior Member

    Dec 22, 2010
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    I think its still completely abandoned, and probably will be forever.
    Or our lifetimes at least.
     
  14. Kermit2

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 5, 2010
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    They are using it as a testing ground for various tests of 'radiation clean up' methods at this time. The surprising thing is that HEMP plants seem to be the best and fastest method of removing the radioactive materials from the soil. Which goes a long way toward explaining why we never hear about these experiments in environmental clean up. Can't let anyone know the HEMP might be good for things(since its such an Evil evil product).

    Sorry, for that.

    Some of my residual, public service announcement, brainwashing, showed through for a second.

    :)
     
  15. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    There are other forms of nuclear reactors that deserve a try out. Some are actually being tested I believe. I remember hearing about a company that will lease a fairly portable reactor for 20 years, then haul it away (and replace it if the lease is renewed).

    One I've heard about I'd like to see tried out is a pebble bed reactor. You take nuclear fuel and encapsulate it with a moderator. You put the "pebbles" in a large tank of water and it is heated past boiling. The reactor can not melt down, it is not possible, and when it comes time to change the fuel you haul away the tank, remove the ceramic like shell and reprocess it, to do it all over again. It can release radioactivity if blown up or otherwise abused, and the fuel can be used to make bombs (it is fissile material).

    Still, better than our current designs.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_bed_reactor

    Reading the article, I was wrong about the water.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2011
  16. retched

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 5, 2009
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    BERTUS!!!!!!! Can you encapsulate this hunk of radioactive material for me? Thanks... love ya!
     
  17. Adjuster

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2010
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    Many countries, including my own, have to face difficult choices. As some of our existing nuclear power plants are approaching the end of their lives, we need to choose whether to replace them. Difficulties with other energy sources have been pushing us more and more towards more use of nuclear energy for the future, in spite of the risks. Here in the UK at least, we do not expect to face the sort of earthquake that has just affected Japan, but there are other ways for things to go wrong.

    What I find most frightening is the possibility of disasters occurring due to unforeseen causes. Nuclear power plants are complex systems, and having worked for many years in engineering I know that the more complicated things get, the more likely it is that something will be overlooked, either in the equipment itself or in its environment. This leaves me unconvinced by calculations of the probability of catastrophic failure. Unexpected problems have caused accidents in the past - have we really learned so much about nuclear power that we can be confident of getting no more nasty surprises in the future?

    The French probably are wise to put their nuclear stations in far-flung coastal locations, but in this little country it is not so easy. I suppose we will end up building the things as far as possible from major population centres, and then just have to keep our fingers crossed.

    Let's just hope all that Chinese control gear turns out to be OK, and that in our haste to get everything lead-free we don't all get blow to glory by the effects of tin whisker growth.
     
  18. debjit625

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Apr 17, 2010
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  19. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
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    Don't forget about my mountain,allowing for blast containmemt.
    Explore releases to the center of the earth,are there pathways
    for releases. Area secret. We have other secrets.
     
  20. debjit625

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Apr 17, 2010
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    For me the safest one is thermonuclear i.e.. solar energy but costly (on 2011 offcourse),I have a plan to built a solar grid (small) for my house anyway its a future project.
     
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