Our Nuclear Future

What I would like to see for the world’s energy solution.

In response to:

http://thebulletin.org/myth-renewable-energy

I do NOT like this Energy Gruel rationing idea at all. It flies in the face of anything else I’ve learned about energy.
 
I agreed with this article up until the very end. We do have good solutions (though not perfect) and we need more energy, not less. Energy directly contributes to quality of life, health and is necessary to the developing world to curb population growth and improve quality of life. If it is not provided somehow, then people will do anything to get it, and that means usually burning dirty sources (biofuel, coal, stolen oil, tar, dung, etc).

We need a source of energy that outputs lots of reliable energy with minimal eco-footprint. I’ve news for you, we already have it and it is nuclear power. While “current/old” nuclear is good, we will be able to do so much better. Exploring first current nuclear, about an ounce of uranium fuel pellets would power the typical US home for a year. By contrast, it takes 4 tons of coal, or about 30 sq meters of solar (in AZ, and you need backup) for the same supply. The same 1 oz of fuel becomes one oz of “waste” which is nothing more than ceramic material housed in metal tubes. The fear surrounding waste and radiation is irrational, but lets just look at some facts – about 70,000 tons of “waste” has been generated from 50 years of US nuclear, supplying ~20% of the country’s demand. It would take up ONE football field, less than 10 ft high.

Now the fun part – that “spent” fuel really has only had a small portion (mostly the enriched U-235) used. With Gen IV designs, we could consume the plutonium that was created, and consume the unused uranium (which is 94% of the remaining “spent” rod). This would roughly multiply the output by ~30-100x and reduce the volume of the waste by as similar amount. Further, the duration of the remaining waste becomes similar to background in about 100-300 years, rather than 100,000+ years.

Not enough? Consume thorium instead – a byproduct from the mining of rare-earths (mentioned in the article), thorium is found everywhere on earth in large amounts. It can be consumed by other Gen IV reactor designs, such as the MSR and LFTR technologies. It too would generate 100-300 year rather than 100,000+ year waste. If we had lots of MSR/LFTR/WAMSR plants, we would have vast amounts of reliable electricity at low cost as well as a number of wonderful “process heat” sources – these can MAKE liquid fuels, which means you can now fuel your planes and cars with sensible, energy dense liquid fuels, rather than throwing away dead batteries.

The future becomes limitless when you focus on this kind of power – space exploration (Pu238), indoor food growth, targeted nuclear cancer therapy (MATT), water desalination, liquid fuel production, medical isotopes, consumption of “spent” fuel, oh… yeah, and electrical power at an actual low cost – making whatever country that implements this an economic powerhouse. Thanks for reading.

 
-LFTRnow