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Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
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True

Posted on: 2010/7/21 15:59


Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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Well, the underground mine pumped 50,000 gallons a minute. If the pumps went out, the mine would be flooded in an hour. The open pit sucked 10 times that much. A hundred or so de-watering wells surrounding the mine. Pump enough water, and you can depress the local water table.

For pcray's benefit more then anything, run of mine was 0.12% uranium oxide by weight. Anything above 0.03 was ore. With higher costs, the underground had to run at 0.24%. At the time (78), $30 was the break-even point for the whole operation, including the mill that turned tons of ore into pounds of yellow cake.

And uranium ore is most certainly radioactive due to the radium associated with it. We used geiger counters and x-ray detectors to grade it. Everybody wore radiation badges and they were checked monthly. If somebody came up with too many rads, they'd get pulled from the mine. Once a supervisor got caught for taking a short cut through a closed drift when his exposure spiked.

The open pit was the size of a medium to large coal mine. We used the same equipment and economic models as coal mining. Thus, as long as a ton of ore was worth as much as a ton of coal, we made a profit. The environmental impact are worse, you get everything you'd have with a coal mine plus elevated radiation levels.

The notion that coal ash has 5 times the energy of the coal itself is a bit out there though. Dabbled in coal research for about three years as well. Our main concerns were coal quality and mitigating the mining impacts. Uranium is a trace element in coal, typically in the 1-10 ppm range. The numbers just don't add up. And I'm loath to suggest anything that would encourage more coal mining anyway.

Nuclear could displace coal with a fraction of the environmental impacts, but not anytime soon. It going to take 10 years to ramp up the infrastructure enough to make a dent. But uranium prices are up about five fold, so exploration has resumed, new mines are opening and old ones are being reentered. Pretty much how I ended up working in a uranium mine in the first place.

Posted on: 2010/7/21 21:01
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Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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I wasn't suggesting that coal would be profitable as uranium ore, merely that technically, it holds far more energy that way (assuming that if you'd use it as fuel, you'd reprocess, which we don't here in the USA). Extraction and yield concerns come into play. Obviously, there are much better uranium ores than coal. But yes, when you add it up, we put out far more uranium (and radium, and radon) from coal plants than we mine. I mean, a uranium mine would certainly be more concentrated, but even at the lower concentrations, the shear volume of coal we use more than makes up for it.

Yeah, I'd expect you wore badges. We wear badges in certain areas where I work too. I work in a lab at a steel mill, and we occasionally put radioactive elements in steels, so in the melting areas we wear badges.

Take that geiger counter to a lot of standard household items and you'll find out they're radioactive, including yourself. Uranium isn't all that bad from a radioactivity standpoint. But yeah, radium is somewhat worse (has some beta and gamma radiation). Radium and radon are your real dangers, not uranium. But since they are decay products, they're pretty much always going to be associated with uranium, which means we're already exposed to it everywhere. But obviously, in a uranium mine the concentration is much higher because your looking for higher concentrations of uranium.

From an environmental standpoint, your operation sounds very similar to a coal mine, really. From a safety standpoint, you have an extra concern with the high radiation concentrations. But in the grand scheme, those high uranium concentrations are a small area, and if they were to leach out they'd be diluted closer to the average levels found naturally throughout a watershed. The primary environmental danger to a uranium mine would still be acid mine drainage and heavy metals, the same as a coal mine. I don't mean to minimize those dangers, it's just that we'd need far fewer uranium mines than coal mines.

We have only 3 active uranium mines in the U.S. right now. It's true that we import a greater % of our uranium than coal (by choice, we have enough ore here). Still, the total output from 15-20 average sized mines would supply our current nuclear needs, which supplies about 20% of the power grid. If that fuel was reprocessed, those same 15-20 mines would supply the entire U.S. energy demand! Compare that to the # of coal mines we have, which supply 30 some % of our energy demand. We're talking 1 uranium mine for about 5% of the energy demand if we reprocessed, 1 mine for about 1% of the demand without reprocessing, and 1 mine for a tiny fraction of a % in coal.

Quote:
Nuclear could displace coal with a fraction of the environmental impacts, but not anytime soon. It going to take 10 years to ramp up the infrastructure enough to make a dent.


And thats really my point, and we agree. 10 years is nothing. Wind and solar won't make a "dent" in 10 years, not even close. If we go all out, we're talking 10% of the grid in maybe 40 years. But the grid will have grown more than 10% in that time anyway, so you really didn't replace ANY fossil fuels. Those renewables max out somewhere around 10% as land use issues come into play, plus the variable nature of those resources means they are best as supplemental and not base power sources (unless our battery technology grows significantly in that short time frame). And remember that solar and wind have these same issues to an even greater extent. Solar takes a lot of metals, and those need to be mined as well (in a very similar fashion). Wind too, but wind also needs huge quantities of lithium, which not only needs to be mined, but is rare and in short supply.

Also keep in mind that with nuclear, aside from the mining, we could build new plants and shut down the older ones. The new plants would create more energy without increasing the current supply. I mean really, we're running first generation plants right now, dinosaurs. They produce less energy, use more fuel, produce more waste, and are less safe than newer plants that have already been designed. There is no reasonable argument to preventing new nuclear plants, the issue is whether they should be replacements for old plants or additive. Further, we could reprocess, and in that case there's an awful lot of "spent" fuel already sitting in pools at the power plants. That represents more energy than nuclear has EVER used in the past, and just using it considerably reduces the volume of waste we currently have, and makes it less dangerous to boot, and LOWERS the demand for newly mined uranium. Basically, all that uranium you mined, we've used only a fraction of the energy found within it. And even then, it was far undervalued, for your mine created far more energy than the average coal plant, but didn't get paid for it.

The real problem with nuclear is really economics. You get an extraordinary amount of energy from a tiny volume of readily available abundant material. When you take into account supply and demand, mining costs, shipping costs, etc., it's dirt cheap comparitively. And doesn't support many jobs. We make it expensive with red tape and ensuring that older, less efficient plants are the norm, that way the more job-rich sources can compete. We choose jobs over cleaner, safer power.

Posted on: 2010/7/22 8:57


Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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2007/10/17 10:49
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Quote:

bikerfish wrote:
we'll be able to dump the radioactive waste in the gulf of Mexico, it's not going to be worth a damn for another 100 years!


You maybe correct BF ,but only parts of the Gulf are affected now.Local waters are clean and 100 miles offshore everything looks normal as well.Fortunately the loop current has not moved oil south and into the Atlantic.Lots of strange things going on however,like grouper in real shallow water at this time,loads of sharks on the Beaches,and pelagic within 20 miles of the beaches.friend had a sailfish hooked 10 miles off shore.Got several jumps before it was gone.we still have king fish in the local waters,up to 30 lbs.Odd for summer,but the fish can't read the book on migration,I guess.
Tom's correct about disposal.Who wants hot stuff in their back yard.Local nuke plant helped get 1 gas,coal plant removed.Waste heat is a big problem with the nukes,I said distill seawater as we need a better supply than wells can provide,droughts, and might stop some of the sink holes from forming.GG

Posted on: 2010/7/25 18:17
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Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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2008/12/21 19:48
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Our galaxy has over 10 billion stars, and there are billions of galaxies in the universe..send the nuclear waste into space...or drop it off on an asteroid in the belt...if that asteroid hits our planet we have more to worry about than the waste on the asteroid. There is your solution to nuclear waste...Or send it to the sun. The sun emits more radiation per minute than our civilization could emit in millions of years...crash the nuclear waste into the sun. We can put a man on the moon (so they say) but we can't send fuel rods into outerspace??

Posted on: 2010/7/26 12:56
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Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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2009/2/10 16:30
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About 1% of rockets that go up come down unexpectedly. Not a good percentage when loaded with nuclear waste. At least if you live in states with launch sites.

Posted on: 2010/7/26 13:41


Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
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Shooting it into space is actually a fine solution. Just too expensive.

Posted on: 2010/7/26 15:00


Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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There is an article on the Huffington Post by Steven Chu, and the comment section is a great place to learn about the real and perceived threats of nuclear power. There are several people who work in nuclear power providing educated rebuttals and offering real scientific fact.

There are many extremely dedicated anti-nuclear posters who want solar, wind, tidal, and bio-char today, and aren't going to accept anything to the contrary. I thought at first they might be just paid comment shills, but I think they are authentic at this point. I believe that there is probably at least one nuclear physicist commenting.

Pull all the comments out by clicking the small: There are More Comments on this Thread. Click Here To See them All link. The best fact is at the very end of all the ranting.

Nuclear energy

Posted on: 2010/9/18 17:43


Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

Joined:
2009/2/10 16:30
From SE PA
Posts: 5097
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Quote:

Brownout wrote:
There is an article on the Huffington Post by Steven Chu, and the comment section is a great place to learn about the real and perceived threats of nuclear power. There are several people who work in nuclear power providing educated rebuttals and offering real scientific fact.

There are many extremely dedicated anti-nuclear posters who want solar, wind, tidal, and bio-char today, and aren't going to accept anything to the contrary. I thought at first they might be just paid comment shills, but I think they are authentic at this point. I believe that there is probably at least one nuclear physicist commenting.

Pull all the comments out by clicking the small: There are More Comments on this Thread. Click Here To See them All link. The best fact is at the very end of all the ranting.

Nuclear energy



Brownout, I am fortunate to have a great resource on the topic, my uncle. Now retired he has a PhD in Nuclear Engineering, was the general manager for construction of a nuclear plant, and was at the same time Chief Engineer for the power company that owns the plant. Early in his career he spent time at the national lab in Oak Ridge. Having many discussions on the topic with him convinces my we could duplicate the French model or more. There are several viable options in dealing with waste which we simply take off the table due to emotionally driven self imposed restrictions.

Edit: BTW he has a MSEE. Since I am an EE myself we have had many detailed discussions on alternative ways to generate electricity. This provides a bit of peer review on my own analysis of the practical application of wind and solar power generation.

Posted on: 2010/9/18 18:01



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