Analysis highlights failings in US's advanced nuclear program

August 9, 2017
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Despite repeated promises over the past 18 years, the US Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) is unlikely to deliver on its mission to develop and demonstrate an advanced nuclear reactor by the mid-21st century.

That is the conclusion of a new study from the University of California, San Diego and Carnegie Mellon University, published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters, which used data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act to reconstruct the program's budget history.

Lead researcher Dr Ahmed Abdulla, from UC San Diego, said: "In theory, advanced, non-light water reactors are a promising carbon-free technology, which could complement or replace light water reactors. Some of these reactors would operate at higher temperatures, providing energy services that existing reactors cannot. Others, meanwhile, could reduce future nuclear waste burdens by operating for decades without refuelling, burning up more of their and generating smaller volumes of waste.

"However, despite repeated commitments to non-light water reactors, and substantial investments by NE (more than $2 billion of public money), no such design is remotely ready for deployment today."

The researchers investigated how effectively those resources were allocated, and how NE has performed as a steward of nuclear technology innovation. What they found was an office beset by problems and violating much of the wisdom about how to effectively run an applied energy research program.

Dr Abdulla said: "There were often inconsistencies in the annual budget documents. The budget itself varies significantly over the period of study, which is fine if these variations are part of a coherent vision that is being pursued, but that is not the case. At all levels, NE favours existing technologies and fuels over innovation, and, where it does support truly innovative research, it is prone to changing priorities before any concrete progress has been made.

"One example of this lack of vision is the gap that exists between the advanced reactor and advanced fuel programs. Investing in advanced fuels research is critical to developing a new . However, NE has mostly invested in one fuel type while exploring multiple reactor designs, most of which do not use that fuel. This disjunction between the two programs is naturally problematic."

In addition, the team found that large proportions of the NE budget were spent maintaining research infrastructure that only marginally supports advanced reactors. Much of this infrastructure supports other programs, mainly related to defence, where research expenditures are even more removed from commercial opportunities.

Dr Abdulla said: "Despite substantial expenditure and commitments to this future, NE lacks the funding and programmatic focus required to execute its mission. Even if the program had been well designed, it still would have been insufficient to demonstrate even one non-light water technology.

"It has dedicated only $2 billion over the past 18 years to all advanced reactor and fuel initiatives. While that may appear to be a substantial sum, by NE's own estimates it is not enough to ready even one such design for commercial deployment."

The authors recommend NE takes a new approach, exercising stricter programmatic discipline by channelling its resources into fewer efforts that are likely to generate a greater impact.

They also argue NE should establish a transparent process for evaluating the various advanced concepts it supports across key performance requirements, in order to enable robust debate on the economic, safety, security and waste implications of various designs. An independent panel of experts should then identify, in consultation with key stakeholders, the one or two that best meet these key performance requirements.

Dr Abdulla said: "If adopted, this would allow NE to better focus its limited funding, and would be in harmony with the industry's desire for risk-informed, performance-based guidance from government."

Overall, the technology's prospects appear grim, with implications that go beyond energy. Dr Abdulla warned: "Without a sense of urgency among NE and its political leaders, the likelihood of advanced reactors playing a substantial role in the transition to a low-carbon US energy portfolio is exceedingly low. From a broader perspective, this failure means that the US will cede its leadership on nuclear matters to other nations, limiting its ability to exert influence in key areas such as safety and non-proliferation as well."

Explore further: Thermal hydraulic researchers build largest transparent fuel test assembly in the world

More information: "A retrospective analysis of funding and focus in U.S. advanced fission innovation" Abdulla A et al 2017 Environ. Res. Lett. 12 084016 , DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa7f10

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EmceeSquared
3.5 / 5 (8) Aug 09, 2017
Billions down the drain as new nuclear plants scrapped in South Carolina.
"The utility had already spent about $5 billion for its 45 percent share of the project, and completing it would have cost an additional $8 billion, plus $3.4 billion in interest."

That's $16.4B it would have cost if completed, not the original promise of $9.8B. . A big *if*, since its owners committed in 2012 to starting it up in 2017, but that got pushed to 2024... who knows if it would have been pushed to 2031, and to $32.8B. Westinghouse sold itself to Toshiba on the promise of profit from this project and the two failed ones in Georgia - and went bankrupt to protect itself from the fallout of its failure.

$16.4B would pay for over 16GW solar capacity that would be up and running probably by 2020 at latest. Instead of 2.2GW nukes that will never be delivered, but still cost $BILLIONS.
Caliban
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 09, 2017
Dr Abdulla said: "There were often inconsistencies in the annual budget documents. The budget itself varies significantly over the period of study, which is fine if these variations are part of a coherent vision that is being pursued, but that is not the case. At all levels, NE favours existing technologies and fuels over innovation, and, where it does support truly innovative research, it is prone to changing priorities before any concrete progress has been made.

"One example of this lack of vision is the gap that exists between the advanced reactor and advanced fuel programs. Investing in advanced fuels research is critical to developing a new nuclear reactor technology. However, NE has mostly invested in one fuel type while exploring multiple reactor designs, most of which do not use that fuel. This disjunction between the two programs is naturally problematic."


And this is why the advanced nuke proponents are doomed to disappointment.
Caliban
4.5 / 5 (8) Aug 09, 2017
In addition, the team found that large proportions of the NE budget were spent maintaining research infrastructure that only marginally supports advanced reactors. Much of this infrastructure supports other programs, mainly related to defence, where research expenditures are even more removed from commercial opportunities.


That's right --in case you weren't aware of it, this research hasn't been geared toward finding any renewable source of clean, cheap energy.

contd
Caliban
4.6 / 5 (10) Aug 09, 2017
contd

It has only been directed toward producing weapons materiel. This is why the Military-Industrial Complex is so often invoked. Countless billions of taxpayer money spent to produce and maintain weapons systems which will never be used, which is to say: countless billions of profit$$$ for defense contractors.

At the same time, no political pressure to account for -much less produce- the aforementioned cheap, clean, abundant power. Natch, since the power gen industry is doing just fine raking it in on their own, and are unwilling to share their piece of the pie or make room at the trough for another greedy snout.

Many people see no problem at all with this state of affairs, since everyone is entitled to take all they can make.

Just try, then, to horn in on these behemoths' entitlements and see how far that goes.

Good news is: these monstrosities will be only too happy to share the clean up with all of us!

Hell -they'll even let us pay for it.

Insist, even!
EmceeSquared
3.9 / 5 (8) Aug 09, 2017
Oh, and even if this reactor R&D programme had produced a viable new nuke technology, it would already have spent the $18B as taxpaid subsidy to the nukes industry. With debt interest that's probably over $25B. For practically nothing but mismanagement, evidently driven by Pentagon priorities. So another $25B in military budget for nothing, that's not counted as military spending.
EmceeSquared
3.9 / 5 (7) Aug 09, 2017
Caliban:
Countless billions of taxpayer money spent to produce and maintain weapons systems which will never be used, which is to say: countless billions of profit$$$ for defense contractors.

At the same time, no political pressure to account for -much less produce- the aforementioned cheap, clean, abundant power.


Don't worry, Rick "The Third One, I Can't - Sorry. Oops" Perry is running the Energy Department now ("the third one" - that he was listing for elimination) so it'll get turned around now.
EmceeSquared
4.3 / 5 (6) Aug 09, 2017
And speaking of Energy Secretary Perry:
"No greater example of it than this administration sending millions of dollars into the solar industry, and we lost that money. I want to say it was over $500 million that went to the country Solyndra." —Rick Perry

$500 million that actually did deliver advanced solar tech, and generally invested in the US solar R&D industry that has continued to grow though pursuing other technologies. Which is only a quarter what this one nukes program just threw away without delivering or growing anything, except maybe weapons we'll never use except in destroying the world.

$2B could install a 2GW utility PV farm and replace an entire existing nuke plant, instead of doing nothing but line military contractor (and their bribed congressmembers) pockets.
dhill136
1 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2017
Terrestrial Energy plans to have a demonstration reactor built in the early 2020's most likely at Chalk River in Canada. It is a Molten Salt Burner design based on the DMSR program at Oak Ridge National labs. Commercialization is planned for late 2020's. The design is simple and the plan is to get to market as quickly as possible. Price projections looks highly competitive. Licensing for US is based on LWR unfortunately.

Also, 2GW solar PV running at 15% average capacity factor isn't the same as an entire existing nuclear plant which is 1GW running at a capacity factor over 90%. Solar= 300MW Nuclear=900MW. So really you would need 6GW and even then you can't even compare them because one is intermittent and has no backup and the other is basically running 24/7. Add the price of backup (usually natural gas, not batteries) into solar and there is a big difference. VC Summers 2 & 3 aren't going to be replaced by solar. They will be replaced by fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas.
EmceeSquared
3.7 / 5 (6) Aug 09, 2017
dhill136:
Terrestrial Energy plans to have a demonstration reactor built in the early 2020's most likely at Chalk River in Canada. [...] Commercialization is planned for late 2020's.


I'll believe it when I see it. Commercialization by a decade or more from now, right, on a plant that isn't even promising a demo reactor for another 5+ years. Sure.
EmceeSquared
3.9 / 5 (7) Aug 09, 2017
dhill136:
2GW solar PV running at 15% average capacity factor [vs] nuclear plant which is 1GW running at a capacity factor over 90%.


Utility concentrating solar had a capacity factor of up to 45% www.nrel.gov/anal...tor.html]as long ago as 2015[/url], typically over 27%. The $2B I cited wouldn't pay for any 1GW nuke plant - the two just cancelled in SC were costing at least $16.4B for 2.2GW (more like under 2GW even at 90% capacity factor). So OK, 16-17GW of solar farms, at 27% cap factor is 4.59GW, over 2.3x the nuke electricity it buys. Or rather, doesn't even buy, as proven in SC. So probably 3-5x the nukes output.
EmceeSquared
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 09, 2017
dhill136:
Add the price of backup (usually natural gas, not batteries) into solar and there is a big difference.


Utility PV doesn't have additional backup price because it's on the grid, where alternate plants (including wind, other solar, hydro and other sustainables) are the backup, but output their own MWs for their own revenue.

Utility PV also doesn't have costs for refueling (20 tonnes annually), dangerous maintenance, taxpaid insurance, evacuation preparation, the occasional Chernobyl and Fukushima, Hanford, security rising at every plant to national security. BTW fission plants waste 2/3 of their energy output (and fuel) before their heat is transformed to electricity.

VC Summers 2 & 3 aren't going to be replaced by solar.


Probably not, South Carolina is well known as committed to "rise again" from even the most devastating losses, no matter how archaic.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) Aug 10, 2017
In addition, the team found that large proportions of the NE budget were spent maintaining research infrastructure that only marginally supports advanced reactors. Much of this infrastructure supports other programs, mainly related to defence

Can you say 'slush fund'?
PTTG
5 / 5 (3) Aug 10, 2017
Where's Willieward? I want to hear how he's sure this is all because of terrible sky-blenders.
WillieWard
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 10, 2017
If Climate Change is a serious problem, carbon-free nuclear power is worth the price as the only scalable way to curb CO2 emissions; intermittent renewables, even with trillions of dollars spent, have just served as Trojan horses for coal and gas/fracking industries.
greenonions1
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 10, 2017
Where's Willieward?
Did you have to PTTG? We were thinking that liar liar pants of fire had gone away! Oh well - back to bobbing for apples.

nuclear power is worth the price as the only scalable way to curb CO2 emissions


No it is not the 'only scalable way. Do you ever give up?

https://www.forbe...60be2f51
EmceeSquared
3.4 / 5 (5) Aug 10, 2017
WillieWard:
carbon-free nuclear power is worth the price


You owe South Carolinans over $5 BILLION - for NOTHING, and Georgians over $25 BILLION for a plant that maybe will start being dangerous in a decade. Plus the $2 BILLION you owe all US taxpayers for this total NE waste. And those are just a few projects.

Sure, it's worth the cost - to everyone else, because you're not paying it. You're just a nuke fetishist troll, who pays nothing for the damage you push.
Da Schneib
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 10, 2017
Sounds like advanced bureaucratic necrosis to me. This is a normal outcome of letting politicians install bureaucrats in a scientific endeavor. Pretty much like ITER.
EmceeSquared
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 10, 2017
Da Schneib:
Sounds like advanced bureaucratic necrosis to me.


Well, the fact that the $2B did actually produce things, but only for the military, means it's not just bureaucratic necrosis. It's actually just part of the huge, hidden taxpaid subsidy to the military that makes its nominal (but still ginormous) $600B budget really over $1T - even before the debt interest.
EmceeSquared
3.7 / 5 (6) Aug 10, 2017
Da Schneib:
This is a normal outcome of letting politicians install bureaucrats in a scientific endeavor. Pretty much like ITER.


ITER is indeed kinda like that. But what if we had cheap, small scale fusion developed by any billionaire or industrial country that wanted it. The benefits are obvious, perhaps even world-saving given the Greenhouse and the militarism of petro powers, especially the otherwise undeveloped ones.

But if those same petro powers had fusion powered militaries, and - even worse - insurgencies, that could make our most immediate threats into extinction level ones. ITER at least brain drains fusion research into something that is hard for small players with little to lose to use against the rest of the world.
greenonions1
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 10, 2017
One solar plant - at 4.5 GW. That sounds pretty scaleable.... http://www.renewa...ope.html

And
In a subsidy-free world, we will always be a low-cost producer, even when transmission costs are factored in


The tide keeps coming in Willie.
Da Schneib
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 11, 2017
@Emcee, fission is unpopular. TMI killed it once, Chernobyl did it again, and now Fukushima has killed it yet again. How accurate these perceptions are is not the issue; it has a bad name because it's actually quite dangerous unless one is very meticulous in managing it, and therefore quite expensive. There are quite a few good ideas out there, but it's going to take a lot of convincing, and $2 billion is spit in the ocean. The first question to ask is why this research has only been funded for that pitiful amount over all that time.

As for fusion, I'm an advocate of several "small fusion" projects, and of the stellarator. Dense Plasma Focus is looking less promising lately. Polywell is having trouble getting funding since Bussard's death. General Fusion seems to be making some progress, but a breakthrough is a long way off. Pons and Fleishman seem to have killed cold fusion pretty effectively, and several attempts to pick up the ball don't seem to have done well.

[contd]
Da Schneib
4 / 5 (4) Aug 11, 2017
[contd]
What's obvious is that fusion is really hard unless you happen to have a stellar mass handy.

The thing is, we *do* happen to have a giant fusion reactor in the sky. Until we manage to solve this obviously quite difficult problem, and even after we have, making use of the power from the Sun (not to mention the wind and tides and everything else renewable we can get our hands on) seems to be gaining popularity. I'm an "all of the above" kinda guy. ABC: anything but coal.

Speaking of which, where are my power satellites?
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 11, 2017
No it is not the 'only scalable way. Do you ever give up?

https://www.forbe...60be2f51
(reliable vs unreliable)
Comparing nuclear with wind it is the same of comparing "apples and oranges". An installed-gigawatt of intermittent unicorn energy is not equivalent to a gigawatt of reliable carbon-free energy.
"the wind plants and the solar plants, are gas plants" And the result is clear: no meaningful CO2 reduction. Carbon-free nuclear power is the only scalable way to stop climate change.
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 11, 2017
...fission is unpopular...
"nuclear power is what everyone thinks everyone else opposes"
"USA: two-thirds are pro-nuclear, while supporters think they are a small minority."
http://www.nei.or...-Opinion
https://uploads.d...eedf.jpg
https://pbs.twimg...vZpt.jpg
In general, there is consensus in the use of nuclear power, 85% consensus!
Greentards, Eco-nuts and Faux-greens do not represent the public; they just fool the public to favor the fossil fuel industry.
EmceeSquared
4 / 5 (4) Aug 11, 2017
Da Schneib:
What's obvious is that fusion is really hard unless you happen to have a stellar mass handy.


The science is clearly very hard. But once that's understood, will the engineering to replicate it be as hard? Even if you don't mind "dirty fusion", because you're making a weapon where dirty is better?

If fusion engineering becomes routine industry, apart from its benefits, what happens when rogues with the resources (as we're already seeing among nations and billionaires, especially theocrats with afterlife delusions) have compact fusion power densities?

If compact fusion is bottlenecked by hundreds of $billions in unspent science budgets, but ITER-scale fusion leaves that power density to only those players deeply invested in our civilization, isn't that worth the lost compact fusion opportunity? At least until we've diversified our species to other planets.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2017
@Emcee, well, we've understood most of the basics of fusion since the 1950s or so. But I'm not sure it really makes a lot of sense to talk about "dirty" fusion in the sense of a fusion reactor. At worst you get a couple hundred tons of steel that's been radioactively contaminated by neutrons over a period of years, and we can't even really get it going well enough to do that now. The science is mostly done; it's the engineering that's been stumping us for thirty or forty years. The "dirtiest" fusion is many orders of magnitude cleaner than any fission except something like a TWR that burns absolutely everything radioactive in its fuel, and even then is still pretty dirty while it's running.

I leave aside fission-fusion thermonuclear weapons of course; but even there, it's the fission that makes most of the radioactive material; the fusion just spreads it around a lot farther than it would spread on its own (because the fusion multiplies the power of the weapon).

[contd]
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) Aug 11, 2017
[contd]
You're never going to see something like a fission reactor meltdown with any type of fusion reactor. Fusion is enormously delicate and sensitive, and the reaction is snuffed instantly by exposure to the temperatures and pressures on Earth's surface; it needs temperatures and pressures like those at the core of the Sun (though we know some tricks to use a bit less than that).

If fusion engineering becomes routine industry, then rogues who have it will have a cheap source of electricity, period. That's about all it's good for. You can make a neutron source, but the engineering for that is and must be totally different from a net-power-output fusion reactor; you're robbing energy to make the neutrons. And we've known how to make those since the 1950s too. You'll note you don't see any rogue states making Farnsworth-Hirsch fusors. It's a waste of time from a rogue state point of view.

[contd]
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2017
[contd]
Compact fusion reactors will be useful for a neighborhood, or a ship, or perhaps we can make them small enough for a single home (doubtful). Certainly not a car. (Sorry Mr. Fusion fans.) Possibly an aircraft, though it would need to be a big one.

The big danger is already there: constructing a fission-fusion weapon. Has been since the 1950s when Teller figured it out and we blew one off out in the South Pacific. There's no additional danger posed by any kind of fusion.

Good question, though. Everyone should know about this.
EmceeSquared
4 / 5 (4) Aug 11, 2017
Da Schneib:
There's no additional danger posed by any kind of fusion.


I just mentioned "dirty fusion" to put it aside.

Compact fusion reactors will be useful for a neighborhood, or a ship


The power density of a compact fusion device will make directed energy weapons more accessible. In aircraft, especially drones, they can destabilize the balance of terror that most international relations are based on. Imagine one of the many fundamentalist (religion or other ideology) billionaires wielding one against troops or populations, either directly or as false flag. Imagine a sophisticated and threatened state like Iran needing to develop only the laser/etc but not the high power (not just energy) source.

And even as a source of cheap, small enough for stealth power makes it easier to purify fissionables, for dirty bombs. And yes, fusion bombs are also possible. Compact high power density can be a game changer, and the war game is already far too accessible.
wkingmilw
5 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2017
We have no idea what the military may have developed along the lines. Its been proven that once its clear that a thing can be done, everybody figures out how to do it. I'll bet we're keeping our cards closer to our chests.
greenonions1
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 11, 2017
Willie
An installed-gigawatt of intermittent unicorn energy is not equivalent to a gigawatt of reliable carbon-free energy.
Yes Willie - we keep telling you that we understand the issue of installed capacity vs generated power. You keep repeating the same piece of information - thinking you have have proved something. We really do get the math of capacity factor. This does not negate the reality that wind and solar are scaleable. Nuclear is not the only scaleable option - the article I linked to proved that - you are just a repeat liar/troll.
greenonions1
4 / 5 (4) Aug 11, 2017
Willie
Greentards, Eco-nuts and Faux-greens do not represent the public; they just fool the public to favor the fossil fuel industry.
Most Americans are highly supportive of renewable energy. Just because you are extremely ignorant - don't project your hard earned bigotry on the rest of the world.

https://grist.org...gree-on/
gkam
1 / 5 (5) Aug 11, 2017
" They will be replaced by fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas."

Where will they get the money? The nuke folk squandered all of it.
WillieWard
2 / 5 (4) Aug 11, 2017
...the reality that wind and solar are scaleable...
Intermittent renewables are not reliable without fossil fuels as backup, scaling them up also scale up coal and gas/fracking.
Hydro and geothermal are not easily scaleable due to geographical limitations, biomass is worse than coal; then cite a small country, or even a small city, 100% powered by wind and solar, and tell us about the real costs and ecological impacts.
Most of people are fooled by the mass media funded by the fossil fuel industry.
Most of people do not understand math and economics and hate physics and science.
People are highly supportive of renewable energy because they have not yet disconnected from the grid to try to run their homes and cars 100% on sunshine and breeze.

Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) Aug 11, 2017
@Emcee, I'm not a fan of suppression of technology, and particularly not such a game changer as compact fusion would be in the civilian sector. The fact of the matter is that it never works, as we see with North Korea. The box is open, Pandora is out, and there's no point trying to fight city hall and put all the worms back in the can. What's necessary is monitoring.

If you really want something to worry about along these lines, consider nanotech. I'd say that's a lot more dangerous than compact power.
greenonions1
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 11, 2017
Intermittent renewables are not reliable without fossil fuels as backup, scaling them up also scale up coal and gas/fracking.
The argument of an idiot. If we need x amount of energy - and we supply 25% of that energy with renewables - then we need less fossil fuels - not more. So let's just take an example - say Scotland. https://www.thegu...scotland Scotland has closed it's last coal plant. Scotland is an example of how the rest of the world will go - as the transition to low carbon continues. Any one can see that your premise is just a lie Willie - the question is what is your sad need to spread these lies?
Captain Stumpy
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 11, 2017
interjection
And yes, fusion bombs are also possible
@MC^2
unless you're talking about something more destructive or compact, we already have them

The modern design of all thermonuclear weapons in the United States (at least) are using the Teller–Ulam configuration (for its two chief contributors, Edward Teller and Stanislaw Ulam, who developed it in 1951) http://www.nuclea...1225.pdf

Imagine one of the many fundamentalist (religion or other ideology) billionaires wielding one against troops or populations, either directly or as false flag
already a potential nightmare scenario raising concerns and active protective service since 1957 (in certain circles)

considering the threats, it's far more likely that our terroristic threats will come from biological or chemical weapons because of it's lack of protection, regulation and the ease of training up etc

lets not forget other tech as well, though
EmceeSquared
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 11, 2017
Da Schneib:
suppression of technology, and particularly not such a game changer as compact fusion would be in the civilian sector.


Dedicating fusion research budgets and institutions to big projects like ITER isn't suppressing tech. It's not the responsibility of the USA or its other competent allies to research anything, except to keep those countries secure. Both economically and militarily. Choosing to develop fusion in a way that provides cheap, sustainable power but limits its power density to players who can be held to arms control is a reasonable choice. That doesn't suppress fusion, just develops it in a way that manages its existential risks.
EmceeSquared
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 11, 2017
Da Schneib:
The fact of the matter is that it never works, as we see with North Korea. The box is open, Pandora is out, and there's no point trying to fight city hall and put all the worms back in the can. What's necessary is monitoring.


The cat isn't out of the bag on fission bombs. It takes a dedicated industrial country prioritizing it for decades, and then (like Iran) it gets controlled by geopolitical economics. Even N Korea dedicating its totalitarian command economy to it for decades of a war it has been fighting for over a half century hasn't even necessarily gotten it nukes - they're not actually proven. And N Korea is probably unique in being able to get so far even with much of the science given to it, because it's so unintegrated into any foreign economy that sanctions have limited effect. Which also makes it probably unique in being possibly willing to start a nuke war because it has relatively so little to lose.

And that's on 3/4 century old science.
EmceeSquared
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 11, 2017
Da Schneib:
If you really want something to worry about along these lines, consider nanotech. I'd say that's a lot more dangerous than compact power.


Just because nanotech is developing into a variety of serious risks doesn't change whether or not compact fusion is a risk. There are lots of serious risks, indeed increasing seemingly exponentially. Some are greater risk exposures than others, but even the lowest is still too serious to ignore.
EmceeSquared
3 / 5 (4) Aug 11, 2017
Captain Stumpy:
unless you're talking about something more destructive or compact, we already have them [...] the Teller–Ulam configuration


That T-U bomb was a primary fission bomb necessary for detonating a secondary fusion bomb. I'm talking about fusion-only bombs. Which aren't limited by the required fission fuel that's hard to manufacture or obtain, or by engineering and manufacturing the extremely complex fission/fusion(/fission/etc) stages. Those requirements make them extremely difficult to obtain.

Once fusion researchers prove the science (eg. plasma physics, high performance enclosure and reaction shaping materials, etc) and engineering (eg. manufacturing optimizations, precision, supply chains, interop with other machines) of fusion machines that consume only electricity and tritium (easily obtained once fusion powers seawater separation), they will be impossible restrict. Especially when military industries sell them for reverse engineering.
EmceeSquared
3 / 5 (4) Aug 11, 2017
Captain Stumpy:
@MC^2
fundamentalist (religion or other ideology) billionaires
already a potential nightmare scenario raising concerns and active protective service since 1957 (in certain circles)


Assuming you're referring to the Soviets' Sputnik, they were far from fundamentalists. Though they did start a nuke war, during the Cuban Missile Crisis (but credit Russian sub officers for halting it), that was a rare aberration. They weren't actual ideologues, but megalomaniacal propagandists with a lot to lose, and no supernatural excuse for destroying the world they coveted.

Actual fundamentalists - and idiots, and pathological narcissists - are more dangerous than that. More of them will get fusion weapons than could get fission.

more likely that our terroristic threats will come from biological or chemical weapons


As I posted in another comment, our many threats don't negate each other.
WillieWard
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 11, 2017
...So let's just take an example - say Scotland. https://www.thegu...scotland Scotland has closed it's last coal plant. Scotland is an example of how the rest of the world will go...
"A sausage factory paid more if it sells no sausages? The shocking economics of Scottish wind farms."
https://capx.co/t...-racket/
Scotland is part of the UK grid where natural gas is dominant in the mix.
http://www.euanme...npie.png
Undeniably: "the wind plants and the solar plants, are gas plants"

EmceeSquared
3.4 / 5 (5) Aug 11, 2017
WillieWard:
The shocking economics of Scottish wind farms


Nuke fetishist troll doesn't care that their documentation is provided by... anti-wind farm lobbyists pretending to be a charity. Because there can be only nukes - for them to get their jollies.
greenonions1
4 / 5 (4) Aug 11, 2017
Scotland is part of the UK grid where natural gas is dominant in the mix
Well that argument may have a bit of merit - if it was not for the fact that Scotland exports power to the England - http://euanmearns...t-storm/

Any way - as usual you can't follow an argument. You said that increasing renewable energy - causes an increase in fossil fuels. That is a lie - and Scotland proves it. Scotland has closed it's last coal plant. England is in the process of closing their coal plants. The amount of fossil fuels on the grid is decreasing - as renewables increases. http://www.telegr...r-surge/
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (3) Aug 11, 2017
Dedicating fusion research budgets and institutions to big projects like ITER isn't suppressing tech.
Meh, you were the one who touted it that way. Whatever man.

The cat isn't out of the bag on fission bombs.
Again, meh. If you ask me it's been out of the bag since Abdul Qadeer Khan oversaw the test detonation of the first Pakistani nuclear weapon in 1984. (Now there's some irony, eh?) The technical data was passed to North Korea, Gaddafi-era Libya, and Iran in exchange for missile technology needed to make nuclear-armed ICBMs.

Just because nanotech is developing into a variety of serious risks doesn't change whether or not compact fusion is a risk.
And yet again, meh. Compact fusion isn't going to be a game changer for rogue actors; it simply isn't enough. Even at its best, it doesn't rival fossil fuel in any way but operating cost. You also didn't follow my argument very well. I expect better of you.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2017
@Emcee,
I'm talking about fusion-only bombs.
What on Earth are you talking about? Nobody knows how to make anything remotely like a "fusion-only bomb." The only thing we know that can make high enough temperatures and pressures to ignite massive prompt fusion is a prompt critical fission weapon. If you know of something else please tell us what it might be.
Captain Stumpy
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2017
@MC^2
I'm talking about fusion-only bombs
good luck with that one
the closest you'll ever come to that anytime soon is the fission/fusion bomb unless you know a way to launch something the size of, say, the Orange Bowl (though maybe a mite heavier?)LOL
Assuming you're referring to the Soviets' Sputnik
no, i wasn't
More of them will get fusion weapons than could get fission.
not likely any time soon
compact fusion is a pipe dream right now unless we learn a whole lot more in the very, very near future
that isn't even considering the materials requirements IMHO
they will be impossible restrict. Especially when military industries sell them for reverse engineering
i'm still thinking about size
there just isn't an easy way to generate the heat & pressure required for fusion, so you need either a building and lots of power or fission
Captain Stumpy
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2017
@mc^2 cont'd
Actual fundamentalists - and idiots, and pathological narcissists - are more dangerous than that
this is one major problem, to be sure, but it's not necessarily the worst problem

we have plenty of fundies, narcissists and sociopaths in the world today that are benign. in fact, removing the fundamentalism for a moment, they're actually traits that can propel to you extreme success in business gaining you considerable financial reward

that isn't going to change anytime soon either, from what i can tell
now, fundies will always be a problem as the ideology drives them to irrational acts
but that can be countered with education and other tactics
As I posted in another comment, our many threats don't negate each other
negate? no. that is true

but the statistical likelihood of attack is far greater for bio- and chem- weapons than nuclear of any type, with the exception of dirty bombs, which are more about terror than anything else
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2017
As we watch this posturing and whining from various actors over North Korea, keep in mind that they have claimed to have produced a thermonuclear device. The actual detonation was well under 10 kt and that's deep in the range where boosted fission is more efficient. Boosted fission weapons are more efficient than thermonuclear weapons below 50 kt. Above that, you need a fission-fusion device. Only five countries are known to have even made a fission-fusion device: US, UK, France, Russia (made by the former Soviet Union), and India (though the reports may be overblown and there is controversy). China may or may not have them; the Big Four are known to have deployed them. Israel is conjectured to have produced and possibly deployed thermonuclear devices, but they are exceedingly complex and tricky, and they have not tested one.

North Korea is the late adolescent advertising their chrome-studded rabidity. Based on real data they're posing.
EmceeSquared
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2017
Da Schneib:
Dedicating fusion research budgets and institutions to big projects like ITER isn't suppressing tech.
Meh, you were the one who touted it that way.


No I didn't. There is a difference between funding one long, expensive, difficult technology path instead of another one, and suppressing the other one. Otherwise you're saying our civilization suppresses everything it doesn't actively pursue. We don't have an "anything not mandatory is forbidden" civilization.

You also didn't follow my argument very well.


I did, I just disagree with it. Yours is the fallacy of relative privation. We have to deal with worse threats, as well as other lesser but real risks.
EmceeSquared
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2017
Da Schneib:
Compact fusion isn't going to be a game changer for rogue actors; it simply isn't enough. Even at its best, it doesn't rival fossil fuel in any way but operating cost.


Fusion delivers not just far greater fuel efficiency and far more available fuel (oceanic tritium) - and minimal Greenhouse pollution. Its power density is revolutionary. 12 countries have satellite launch capability now, as well as at least 2 corps (with dozens more in the business). Directed energy weapons, or just mass accelerators for reentry, would soon be developed and launched. Many more countries and corps would get into the business for the many paying customers - or themselves, a la Blackwater/Academi.

A fusion bomb would be developed, leveraging fusion's "quantum leap" in power density and portability. A compact fusion plant releasing its energy in an explosion. With only conventional engineering and no exotic elements required to make and deploy it.

Gamechanger.
EmceeSquared
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2017
Da Schneib:
Nobody knows how to make anything remotely like a "fusion-only bomb." The only thing we know that can make high enough temperatures and pressures to ignite massive prompt fusion is a prompt critical fission weapon.


We're talking about developing compact fusion devices that don't require fission to ignite them. Their portability and power density will make standalone fusion bombs possible.
Captain Stumpy
1 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2017
@MC^2
We're talking about developing compact fusion devices that don't require fission to ignite them. Their portability and power density will make standalone fusion bombs possible
not sure i agree here

technology will likely use fusion, and we will likely create larger fusion bombs than we have, true

but i'm not sure they will use many other methods in bombs considering the requirements that are necessary for fusion to happen (and subsequent results)

it stands to reason that an unnecessarily high tech complex machine to induce the pressures and heat required would not be used when it's cheaper, easier and likely more effective to just use fission to kick start the fusion reaction

if you're talking for power generation, you need the machine for control, so i can see complex tech and even developing compact portable devices

but for a bomb?
which will destroy the trigger anyway?
when we have an easily deployed small working system that does a bang up job?
gkam
1 / 5 (5) Aug 12, 2017
Once again, the power from a fusion bomb comes from the more complete fission of the fissile components, not from the fusion itself, as was originally believed.

Look up how the W-87 works.
EmceeSquared
3 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2017
Captain Stumpy:
we have plenty of fundies, narcissists and sociopaths in the world today that are benign.


The crucial problem is malign ones with enough power to cause widespread harm. We have a pathological narcissist sociopath USA president, with unitary nuke launch power. We have a smaller counterpart in N Korea with probably the minimum power in that category. The USA president was sponsored primarily by billionaire theocrats, primarily the Mercers but also the Prince/Devos family. They're joined by many more, such as the Saud family. If they didn't need national power for globally deployable WMD like compact fusion could provide, they'd cut out the middleman and develop/buy their own.

far greater for bio- and chem- weapons than nuclear of any type, with the exception of dirty bombs


Yes, that's why the USA has dedicated so much to mitigating those risks, but other risks matter too. Cf fallacy of relative privation.
EmceeSquared
1 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2017
the power from a fusion bomb comes from the more complete fission of the fissile components, not from the fusion itself


Until we have standalone compact fusion plants that don't require fission. Then we'll make bombs and other devastating weapons from their extraordinary power density and portability.
EmceeSquared
3 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2017
Captain Stumpy:
it stands to reason that an unnecessarily high tech complex machine to induce the pressures and heat required would not be used when it's cheaper, easier and likely more effective to just use fission to kick start the fusion reaction


Not when the fusion device is more accessible than the fission device. When most industrial nations can make a fusion device, or one of the world's many big engineering corps for a buyer, including some of the many billionaires, or just private militaries, or big terrorist groups.

A compact fusion device is revolutionary, not just in its power density but in its likely obtainability once publicly known science is developed sufficiently surrounding its breakthrough introduction.

It "democratizes" WMD much the way that the rifle did for infantry, or the stirrup did for horse mounted archers. Which rewrote global borders and hierarchies, exterminated civilizations, etc along with the good they also brought.
Captain Stumpy
1 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2017
@MC^2
that's why the USA has dedicated so much to mitigating those risks, but other risks matter too. Cf fallacy of relative privation
just for the record, i'm not trying to state that it could be worse; i'm telling you that the likelihood of action is statistically more probable to happen with chem- or bio- weapons than nuke, and especially fusion

as you noted, none of that negates the risks from nuclear sources or threats

nuclear is hard: that much is obvious by simply noting the lack of nuclear weapons in every nation

a bio or chem lab only requires space, intent and purchasing of equipment that is mostly available to anyone

so you can't buy certain stuff (chem; bio) without a permit, license and special setup etc
but you can isolate it without much equipment or permission

in no way am i saying not to guard against potential misuse of nuke tech
but why spend a billion $ when $10K will do more with less?
Captain Stumpy
1 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2017
@MC^2
It "democratizes" WMD
like i said: i disagree

a fusion device must have high pressures and heat to work, and even if you could shrink the package down you will have to protect from the radiation as well as heat (or other potential effects) so shielding is a must, just like current nuke tech

so there may well be a limit to how small this can be though i've not seen anything written up on it
(definitely weight will be a huge factor)

even if you can shrink it to car size, it still would be easier and cheaper to use a fissile kickstart, even with it being limited today

there is no doubt it will be revolutionary, and that it's potential will rewrite history in many ways we can't even imagine yet

i just don't see it being weaponised small, cheap or easily without fission, like our current stash of thermonuclear weapons
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2017
Scotland has closed it's last coal plant. England is in the process of closing their coal plants.
It is because it's being replaced by gas/fracking and biomass which is worse than coal in terms of CO2 emissions, and Scotland is connected to UK grid(52%Gas +18%Coal =70%FossilFuels) to hide intermittencies.
Intermittent renewables cannot be reliable without fossil fuels to backup them up.
http://www.euanme...npie.png
EmceeSquared
3 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2017
WillieWard:
It is because it's being replaced by gas/fracking and biomass


The nuke fetishist troll can't understand that the coal is being replaced by gas, fracking and biomass PLUS renewables. Without renewables the renewables amount would still be coal plants. But since they're a nuke fetishist, the cannot understand anything except that it's not nukes. They make the stupidest lies to protect their fetish.

I expect they're being paid to do it. As Upton Sinclair said: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
Da Schneib
not rated yet Aug 12, 2017
Da Schneib:
Nobody knows how to make anything remotely like a "fusion-only bomb." The only thing we know that can make high enough temperatures and pressures to ignite massive prompt fusion is a prompt critical fission weapon.
We're talking about developing compact fusion devices that don't require fission to ignite them. Their portability and power density will make standalone fusion bombs possible.
No, they won't. The reaction chamber of a fusion reactor is a high-grade vacuum. If it's not you can't get the hydrogen plasma up to the temperature required. Fusion reactors don't use pressure to concentrate the fuel; they use magnets and electric forces. They don't have a steam plant; they produce electricity directly. Fusion is not a chain reaction that can be made to explode, like chemical or nuclear explosives. If the reaction chamber is opened to the atmosphere, the plasma is dissipated and the reaction stops short.

[contd]
EmceeSquared
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2017
Captain Stumpy:
i just don't see it being weaponised small, cheap or easily without fission, like our current stash of thermonuclear weapons


Lockheed Martin and its investors certainly think compact fusion will be weaponized small and relatively cheap, for aircraft, subs and probably more. It won't be easy to invent, but their bottleneck (and MIT's, etc) is superconducting magnets, at which they're making real progress. It's possible that exotic magnets will remain out of reach to all but nations like the nuclear (fission) club, but unlikely.

Once invented, compact fusion will drive a new class of weapons perhaps not as power dense as thermonuclear, but far more flexible. And more importantly not taboo (because not necessarily as big, so as "surgical" as the public likes, and not as radioactively dirty), and so actually used in warfare.
Da Schneib
not rated yet Aug 12, 2017
[contd]
A fusion reactor can't "overload." If you try to stuff too much fuel into it, you can't heat it up any more and the reaction stops short. A fusion reactor would already have to be as powerful as a fission bomb to make a fusion explosion. That's why they make thermonuclear weapons that way.

Hey, be happy. It's one less thing you have to worry about. Sorry, @Emcee, but you're just plain flat wrong here.
Da Schneib
not rated yet Aug 12, 2017
Lockheed Martin and its investors certainly think compact fusion will be weaponized small and relatively cheap, for aircraft, subs and probably more.
No, you can't "weaponize" fusion, other than by making a thermonuclear weapon. You can use it to power tanks, ships, and possibly aircraft with electric motors. And unlike current jets, tanks, and ships, blowing up the power plant with a shell just makes it stop, not explode. The fact that Lockheed is making it doesn't make it a weapon.

This is becoming silly. You don't know how fusion works, @Emcee. You really do need to look into this much more deeply.
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Aug 12, 2017
And on a side note, just barely on topic -
https://www.lives...fication
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2017
Here's the nickel tour: fusion is not a chain reaction. It's chain reactions that make everything from gunpowder to HMX to plutonium explode. The fusion fuel in a thermonuclear weapon contributes to the power of the bomb, but it can't initiate it. It only burns in the presence of the enormous temperatures and pressures created by a fission bomb, and those persist only for a few shakes (a shake is ten nanoseconds) in the immediate proximity of the vaporizing fission core.

For your fusion reactor to explode, it would have to be as powerful as an exploding fission core *without* the fusion. There isn't anything else that can make a large amount of fusion occur in a short time.

Take it easy, @Emcee. You're usually a lot more rational than this.
EmceeSquared
3 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2017
Da Schneib:
For your fusion reactor to explode, it would have to be as powerful as an exploding fission core *without* the fusion.


Are you saying that since a fusion-only reactor wouldn't make temperatures and pressures as high/quickly as a thermonuclear bomb, that it cannot make a bomb at all? That a 300MW fusion-only reactor as big as a commercial van, weighing maybe 20 tons, can't make a bomb using a different means of explosion?

Maybe not. But you don't think that such a reactor powering for example mobile railguns, or directed energy weapons (especially from LEO), aren't major escalation weapons that would be within reach of far more actors, far less controllable than the small nuclear (fission) club has been?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2017
Maybe not. But you don't think that such a reactor powering for example mobile railguns, or directed energy weapons (especially from LEO), aren't major escalation weapons that would be within reach of far more actors

You could make those with any power source - even solar panels. Fusion reactors are complicated pieces of tech. Complicated means: high maintenance.
We shouldn't worry about fusion reactors being put in space just now (enough other stuff to worry about before then). Eventually we'll need those kinds of fusion reactors to power spaceships - at which point it is pretty much a given that everyone will have them.

As DaSchenib points out: you can get a LOT more 'bang' for the buck with fission. And a lot more damage with fission reactors (though accidents or intended destroction thereof) and their products. Fusion reactors are pretty safe in that regard. They don't create weapons grade material, much waste, and can't go 'boom'.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2017
Are you saying that since a fusion-only reactor wouldn't make temperatures and pressures as high/quickly as a thermonuclear bomb
Yes. Specifically pressures. We're using a trick with magnets.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2017
For your fusion reactor to explode, it would have to be as powerful as an exploding fission core *without* the fusion. There isn't anything else that can make a large amount of fusion occur in a short time.

Well, at least not as far as anything outside of a stellar interior...:-)
EmceeSquared
3 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2017
antialias_physorg:[qsuch a reactor powering for example mobile railguns, or directed energy weapons (especially from LEO), aren't major escalation weapons that would be within reach of far more actors
You could make those with any power source - even solar panels. Fusion reactors are complicated pieces of tech. Complicated means: high maintenance

Jet fighters with 320MW (or 1GW after a few generations of the tech) directed energy or railgun weapons is a pretty major capability escalation for even a BRIC country. Or Saudi Arabia, or Iran, or Pakistan. Or for Academi or other mercenaries, or for a Walmart private army, etc.

I'm not trying to blow this out of proportion, but I don't think it's OK if the problem comes along in 30 years instead of in 10, or if it's only problem #8 in the top 10. It's still a problem.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2017
@Emcee, compact fusion reactors aren't going to make railguns more possible. A railgun runs off capacitors, not a fusion reactor- and BTW it vaporizes the launcher too. Recoil.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2017
but I don't think it's OK if the problem comes along in 30 years instead of in 10

Since we don't have a single, continuously operating fusion reactor of even humongous size I'm not fretting that issue. In 30 years we'll probably have more to worry about in terms of miniature drones than mega aircraft weapons.

The US has already operated a fission reactor in an airplane. So the capability for this is already there. (Directed enery or railguns are also vastly overrated as weapon systems go, IMO. The former requires huge capacitors and the latter isn't any good if you don't have line of sight or the weather is bad.)
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2017
Hmmm, @anti, *operated* a fission powered aircraft? Got a link? I thought that program got the axe before they built it.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2017
The Convair NB-36 flew with a nuclear reactor aboard, but not powering anything in the aircraft; I don't think that counts.

Amusingly the project had a direct line to the President in case of a crash; this no doubt enhanced the popularity of the program with the administration <-sarcasm. Oh, yay, teh nucular bomber is flying and we have to be on the hotline in case it crashes.

I find this project almost as amusing as Project Pluto which was canceled as being too provocative to the Soviets. Project Pluto had a number of risible features, including spewing radioactive waste everywhere it was supposed to fly, making sonic shock waves, and eventually crashing and creating a meltdown scenario when it ran out of fuel, not to mention dropping nuclear weapons left and right. The weapons seem rather redundant since one could depopulate a city by flying over it a few times. Nutjob stuff.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2017
Now, all of that said, nobody would really care about operating a nuclear reactor powered space ship. One wouldn't want to cross behind it closely, but other than that it wouldn't be much more dangerous in Solar System space than, say, solar storms. Orion might be successfully used from low Earth orbit. But it's unlikely that it would be useful for manned missions; the shielding would be prohibitive, and it's even a major concern for instruments. And launching an Orion from Earth's surface would qualify as a major nuclear incident with fallout spreading hundreds of miles downwind.

None of this, of course, applies to fusion.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2017
One has to have a certain type of sense of humor about these wild '50s experiments; I suppose it comes from watching Dr. Strangelove Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned To Love the Bomb too many times. "Yes mein Fuhrer... excuse me Mr. President."
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) Aug 12, 2017
The Convair NB-36 flew with a nuclear reactor aboard, but not powering anything in the aircraft; I don't think that counts.

You're right, the craft was russian.
But think it demonstrates that it can be done. Certainly today as this was like 50 years back.

I find this project almost as amusing as Project Pluto

Yeah, that one was cold war psychosis at its finest. So crazy that not even scifi authors could think something like this up.

Now, all of that said, nobody would really care about operating a nuclear reactor powered space ship
...
the shielding would be prohibitive,

In the 1980's I saw some concept designs which put the reactor a long way behind the ship attached only with a thin beam, thus obviating any shielding. While this makes such a ship not very maneouverable - high maneouvability is not really an issue in space flight.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2017
I'm not trying to blow this out of proportion, but I don't think it's OK if the problem comes along in 30 years instead of in 10, or if it's only problem #8 in the top 10. It's still a problem
@MC^2
IMHO, i really don't see it for a while longer unless something spectacular happens really, really soon, and then it's still debatable
just being a cynic maybe, but considering the current anti-science administration and societies lack of science literacy, it just doesn't seem likely sooner than 30 yrs to me
mobile railguns
directed energy seems great, but i doubt the mobile railguns at this time
it's cheaper and easier to just use a cannon to the same effect, with far less equipment to tote and far less complicated stuff to go wrong

as AAP noted, "Complicated means: high maintenance"

getting 10-100 extra miles from a rail gun seems like cool tech, but it is still cheaper (easier, tested accuracy) to fire it old school, with either powder or rocket, etc
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2017
@anti, not even sure that Russian one ever flew. See the Wikipedia on the TU-119. I don't think anyone's actually been crazy enough to build a nuclear powered aircraft.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2017
Worth noting that MTBF on railguns is currently one shot. One gets to completely rebuild the gun after firing it once. The US Navy is not entirely enamored with this concept considering they can fire the equivalent of Volkswagens filled with explosives repeatedly with conventional guns they already have at a range of scores of miles.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Aug 13, 2017
not even sure that Russian one ever flew. See the Wikipedia on the TU-119. I don't think anyone's actually been crazy enough to build a nuclear powered aircraft.

Well, the article says :
" From 1961 to 1969, the Tu-95LAL completed over 40 research flights. Most of these were made with the reactor shut down."

...which suggests that some were made with the reactor operating. The difficulties are certainly higher than on a submarine where water for cooling is readily available.

Navy is not entirely enamored with this concept considering they can fire the equivalent of Volkswagens filled with explosives

I think the idea was that the ship wouldn't need to carry explosives anymore (opting for purely kinetic wepaons) and thus be immune to ammunition detonation. Given that a warship today is multi-role and carries a lot of other explosive weapons (missiles/torpedoes) that became a moot point.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2017
I would have to say again, as I did above, that while aircraft with a nuclear reactor on board have flown, no nuclear powered aircraft has ever flown.
WillieWard
2 / 5 (4) Aug 13, 2017
...can't understand that the coal is being replaced by gas, fracking and biomass PLUS renewables...
Wind&Solar = Trojan horses for fossil fuels.
It is not necessary to be a genius to understand that renewables have strong dependence on fossil fuels to keep lights on when there's no sun no wind and also to mine, manufacture, transport, install, recycle, their components and that hardly can payback the used energy from fossil fuels.

greenonions1
4 / 5 (4) Aug 13, 2017
It is not necessary to be a genius to understand that renewables have strong dependence on fossil fuels to keep lights on when there's no sun no wind
But it does take a little bit of keeping up with what is happening in the world - to know that what you say is a complete lie. I already gave you Scotland as an example - there are plenty of others. So then you try to say that Scotland is connected to the English grid - and therefor still strongly dependent on fossil fuels. Except that Scotland exports power to England - not imports it from England. I provided a link to that effect. Keep howling Willie - it is good for everyone to see how a troll operates.
WillieWard
2 / 5 (4) Aug 13, 2017
Scottish people are forced to see Scotland natural landscapes being destroyed by renewables.
https://pbs.twimg...-1BJ.jpg
"Wind turbines, solar panels and solar thermal installations cannot produce consistently high enough heat to smelt ores and forge metals. They cannot generate power on a reliable enough basis to operate facilities that make modern technologies possible. They cannot provide the power required to manufacture turbines, panels, batteries or transmission lines – much less power civilization."
https://wattsupwi...-utopia/
Environmental Imbalance: "Too many jellyfish in the sea? Blame wind farms and gas platforms"
http://www.telegr...atforms/
"A reliable energy source will not compete with agriculture in terms of land space"
https://pbs.twimg...dxW0.jpg
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Aug 13, 2017
I would have to say again, as I did above, that while aircraft with a nuclear reactor on board have flown, no nuclear powered aircraft has ever flown.

No one made that claim.
(All I said was that such a ractor had been operated in an aircraft...in response to the suggestion that such power levels would be needed for operating railguns or the like...which you correctly pointed out does not need such power levels as it only requires enough capacitors which could be filled using absicaly any power source like a plain old diesel generator.)
antialias_physorg
4.3 / 5 (6) Aug 13, 2017
It is not necessary to be a genius to understand that renewables have strong dependence on fossil fuels to keep lights on

*Sigh*. The world is changing, Willie. Storage solutions are being developed (and in some cases already deployed).
It made no sense to develop storage while renewables weren't part of the mix. Now that that is the case storage is the next step. it isn't like the people developing this stuff didn't know this. There's no shortage of studies to that effect from waaay back.

To put it in baby-talk so that you can understand it:
First renewables replace some of the fossil fuel use. During this time existing fossil fuel powerplants serve as backup (which still means less fossil fuels are being used overall). Then storage comes on line and step by step the fossil fuel backup can be turned off.

Is that so hard to understand?
Captain Stumpy
4 / 5 (4) Aug 13, 2017
It is not necessary to be a genius to understand that renewables have strong dependence on fossil fuels to keep lights on when there's no sun no wind
@willieward
this claim isn't correct:
there is absolutely zero "dependence on fossil fuels". to keep the lights on only requires power.

it doesn't matter if said power is from alternative sources (ex: wind at night, or PV's on non-windy days)

or from batteries (or similar storage facilities, like hydraulic, geothermal generators, etc)

so long as it's able to supply the grid at the time when any said renewable cannot provide

.

it's not rocket surgery, so the advocacy of nuke using false claims like the above are wrong: worse still, it's detrimental to any cause and the problems with AGW

so skip the political rhetoric and stick to facts
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2017
@anti, well, you haven't denied it up until now. Sure did take a long time too.
greenonions1
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 13, 2017
Willie
Scottish people are forced to see Scotland natural landscapes being destroyed by renewables
Then why do the majority of them support renewable energy, and want to see more installed? http://helensburg...vestment
Probably your photo shopped picture came from Breitbart. Why do you need to keep lying Willie?
"Wind turbines, solar panels and solar thermal installations cannot produce consistently high enough heat to smelt ores
Yes we can - https://www.scien...tricity/
RealityCheck
1 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2017
@Da Schneib, @antialias_physorg.

The following is latest example of what I've been observing/getting from DS, who confuses/misconstrues things such that many posts/insults are generated that need never have been; as the following quotes well demonstrates:

First @antialias says:
...operated a fission reactor in an airplane.


Then Da Schneib comes back at him with:
*operated* a fission powered aircraft?


Clearly then, DS does not easily see important effective/logical difference between his 'inference' and antialias's clear statement, which did NOT imply any 'fission powered airplane' at all, merely operation OF a reactor ON a plane.

PS: Welcome, @antialias_physorg, to my world when trying to 'discuss with DS' while he misconstrues and insults etc away!

PPS: @DS, can we now assume you are fully cognizant of what you've been doing that makes discussing with you a 'chore', full of hazards like gratuitous insults from your own misconstruings? Good luck, DS. :)
RealityCheck
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 13, 2017
Hi Willie. :)

Mate, your posts are perfect examples of dishonest cherrypicking and lying-by-omission!

Your comparison of land usage/destruction etc omits the huge swathes of land which mining for fossil fuels and nuclear fuels involves! Not to mention the storage, refining and transportation of new fuels (and then of the ash/spent fuels).

As for opposition to windfarms, it's more politically/selfishly driven by vested interests/politicians than by sane people who care about their children's future WITHOUT black lung disease or radiation poisoning etc., not to mention environmental devastation which fossil/nuclear is so obviously capable of and which you OMIT so dishonestly during your lame and biased 'arguments and comparisons'.

Why do you do this, Willie? Are you a nuclear/fossil lobbyist/shill? Or just a dupe falling for manipulation by those nasty mercenary/politico sociopaths who don't care a damn about you, your family or future generations?

Rethinkit! :)
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Aug 13, 2017
@anti, well, you haven't denied it up until now.

I didn't realize you thought i had made that claim (since I didn't)...so it was kinda hard for me to realize I had to deny anything.
rrrander
1 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2017
Outside of 3 accidents in 40 years (bad design-operator error, freak accident, operator error) nuclear power has been a clean, reliable source of electricity for many countries. It won't be replaced by solar (especially in norther climates) or wind any time soon.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2017
rrrander - your knowledge of history is not so great. - http://www.ucsusa...7O-mQyM8

It won't be replaced by solar (especially in norther climates) or wind any time soon.
Well - that kind of depends on your definition of soon. The pace of build out of renewables is picking up. We are almost certainly at an inflection point - as wind and solar are at or below cost parity in many parts of the world (in other words - new territory). There is quite a bit of build out of new nukes - China, Russia, Middle East etc. Those new plants probably have a life expectancy of 50 years or more. Who knows what happens in the next 50 years. Can you see the future?
WillieWard
3 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2017
If being confronted with reality, upsets you, sorry.
"Wind turbines and solar panels are manufactured by factories powered by gas, oil and other fossil fuels."
I'd like to see wind/solar placebos being produced without fossil fuels, i.e. 100% fossil-free LOL

Alternative energy is sustained by alternative facts.
Captain Stumpy
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2017
If being confronted with reality, upsets you, sorry
@willie
but you're not confronting anyone with reality
you're confronting everyone with your "version" of reality

if you were confronting with reality you would be using validated peer reviewed studies exclusively, and you're not

you're using blogs, opinion articles, and subjective material
that is, by definition, "alternative facts" because it's subjective
are manufactured by factories powered by gas, oil and other fossil fuels
it doesn't matter how they're produced right now
what matters is the overall addition of CO2 to the atmosphere and ecosystem

also note: power is power
period
full stop

no manufacturing plant cares about it's source so long as they get what they need, so it can be manufactured by gerbils spinning turbines for all it knows

EmceeSquared
4 / 5 (4) Aug 14, 2017
How about all the nuke industry toxic dumps, putting radioactive pollution into drinking water and elsewhere in people's lives?

The latest is from a Grumman/Navy plant in Long Island, one of the most densely populated suburbs in the country.
Da Schneib
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2017
@Emcee, yes, nuclear pollution is a huge problem. So, I got a question: how come if we know there's a potential solution to it, we aren't spending money to see if it works? I speak of TWR technology, which can burn all that nuclear waste up and turn it into radiationally inert (though potentially chemically active) waste and electricity? There's a good idea.

I will admit however that fusion has nothing to do with this solution.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2017
@anti, well, you haven't denied it up until now.

I didn't realize you thought i had made that claim (since I didn't)...so it was kinda hard for me to realize I had to deny anything.
I felt like your first comment was open to misinterpretation and tried to get you to admit that and clarify, and at every turn you fought me. My strong impression was you thought nuclear powered aircraft had actually flown based on your responses. In the end we found that that was not correct. But we did research to prove it.

That's fine but don't try to make it into my problem. It's not my place to make statements that are clear and not open to misinterpretation for you. I can only criticize (and by that I don't mean attack, though many people interpret it that way); you have to agree the criticism is valid if you actually think it is. Then there will be no lack of clarity.

[contd]
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2017
[contd]
It's even OK if you disagreed that there were no nuclear powered aircraft ever; we did the research jointly, and eventually agreed on the outcome. I freely admit I wasn't sure there weren't any before we did that research. It would be good if you would admit that too.

Don't bob and weave. It's OK to be wrong; everybody is occasionally. I'm not @RealityCheck, and instead of attacking you for agreeing we were wrong, I will praise you for sticking to reality rather than attempting to double down on something that is shown incorrect. And I do. Just don't bob and weave at the beginning.
greenonions1
4 / 5 (4) Aug 14, 2017
Willie
If being confronted with reality, upsets you, sorry.
No it does not - so no need to be sorry.
Wind turbines and solar panels are manufactured by factories powered by gas, oil and other fossil fuels.
Most grids now contain some percentage of wind/solar/hydro/nuclear/geothermal. Why do you think you did not realize that? As the transition continues, the system will move to more and more low carbon fuels - and transition off of legacy fuels. Expecting the whole system to change overnight is ludicrous. One step at a time - the transition is happening.
WillieWard
3 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2017
what matters is the overall addition of CO2 to the atmosphere and ecosystem
In this requisite the combo("Intermittent Renewables + Fossil Fuels") are a success.
How about all the nuke industry toxic dumps
"Not a single death has resulted from current nuclear spent fuel"
How about wind/solar industry toxic dumps, arsenide and other chemical carcinogens left into the environment and ecosystems for generations?
http://www.enviro...e-crisis
http://www.enviro...useholds
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2017
@willie
In this requisite the combo("Intermittent Renewables + Fossil Fuels") are a success
not when compared to intermittent renewables + nuclear (fisson or potentially fusion) = far less CO2

or when compared with intermittent renewables + batteries (or other storage) = far less CO2

or...

get the point yet?

also note: you keep refusing to actually address the point GreenO is making about transitions...
just sayin'
greenonions1
4 / 5 (4) Aug 14, 2017
Willie -
How about wind/solar industry toxic dumps,
Would you please stop just posting statements and links - and actually answer some questions. Why do you insist on repeating the same arguments over and over - and not acknowledging the facts that are presented in response. Yes there is an environmental cost to wind turbines and solar panels. There is cost to every power source - as well as to computers, cell phones, cars etc. etc. Look at the cost to mining uranium.

https://www.thegu...politics

So why can't you understand that it is a calculation - weighing costs against benefits. I will take wind and solar over coal/oil/gas from an environmental perspective. Nukes are less clear - but as you should know - my opposition to nukes is on a cost basis. If we can do them as cheaply as renewables - I am fine - and I am one of the people you constantly insult as a greeno - enviro nut job.
EmceeSquared
4 / 5 (4) Aug 14, 2017
Da Schneib:
how come if we know there's a potential solution to it, we aren't spending money to see if it works? I speak of TWR technology, which can burn all that nuclear waste up and turn it into radiationally inert (though potentially chemically active) waste and electricity?


I don't know why we don't spend money on it. I don't know if the US nukes industry could be trusted to run even natgas plants - it's been so corrupt and protected from any accountability its entire existence.

Nobody's built a TWR reactor. Maybe it'll work the way the global nukes industry says it will, maybe not. I'd rather see it tested in foreign countries, far from where I live, so we can learn to do it right if that's possible - and how to tell it's done wrong when it is.

If it works, and we can get loads of low-carbon energy instead of unmanageable waste, that's great. We can use that to make the actually sustainable generators that don't have even the routine danger of radioactive fuel.
Captain Stumpy
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2017
@GreenO
Why do you insist on repeating the same arguments over and over
how else is one going to convince themselves their belief is true when the evidence shows otherwise?

this is the tactic of religion and pseudoscience both - ignore the facts and stick to the mantra
repeat
it must be true if that is all you ever hear
my opposition to nukes is on a cost basis
for the record, i am not happy about the waste or potential problems of nuke

however, i am also practical and considering the threat of fossil fuel use, it's a good temp choice until we can create better choices (which are also nuke, methinks - as in fusion)

one thing i do know is: you can live on renewables alone if you adjust your usage
i've been doing it for decades using solar and wind with batteries
greenonions1
4 / 5 (4) Aug 15, 2017
one thing i do know is: you can live on renewables alone if you adjust your usage
Sure - I have friends here who have been off grid for decades now. They have had to make some major life adjustments. Highly efficient home, composting toilet, small - super efficient fridge etc. It would take a commitment on the part of our society that I am not sure we are ready for yet. I agree about the waste issue with nukes - but think that it is something we can deal with. I would rather see nukes than coal/oil/gas. Cost seems to be the best argument against nukes. They are mega complex. I think we are hiding a great deal of the costs. Have we really calculated in the cost of storage of waste? Political control of the society seems to be a part of the issue. Renewables represent distributed generation - that of course threatens the current model. Time will tell. Thanks.
WillieWard
not rated yet Aug 15, 2017
Look at the cost to mining uranium.
https://www.thegu...politics
From your link:
"This will increase production capacity to 200,000 tonnes of copper, 4500 tonnes of uranium and 120,000 ounces of gold."
Uranium is a byproduct of copper mining which is essential for renewables.
https://uploads.d...1b12.jpg

"While conventional power requires approximately 1 tonne of copper per installed megawatt (MW), renewable technologies such as wind and solar require four times more copper per installed MW."
http://en.wikiped...e_energy
"A lot of metals go into making solar cells and wind turbines, raw materials such as copper, iron, rare earth metals such as indium and others and that involve a lot of greenhouse gases and other pollution..."
http://www.climat...ct-18146
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) Aug 15, 2017
@greenO
They have had to make some major life adjustments. Highly efficient home, composting toilet, small - super efficient fridge etc
erm... i have a well insulated home that i built, a regular toilet and a regular fridge (with a propane backup)

i also have a large TV (i don't use it much, but it's great for the occasional movie night)
computers
internet
air conditioning
and other regular person stuff

my point was really about adjusting use at night due to storage and limiting energy sucking devices like fans, heating elements, microwave etc
... my AC units are not on at night due to power consumption, and we keep the house at 70

so you can live fairly normal on Green energy alone - there really is no need to be too extreme, and my house is proof

especially since there were no power lines even in my area until about 2 years ago
none whatsoever

so you can live normal without the grid
- sorry for not being more clear
greenonions1
5 / 5 (4) Aug 15, 2017
Willie - I was talking about the environmental cost of mining uranium. You pointed out that renewable energy has an environmental cost. I concede that point - and point out that all fuel sources have an environmental cost. Mining uranium for nuclear power has a significant environmental cost. That was the point of my link. So your point is mute. It is of course hypocritical to condemn renewable energy - because there is an environmental cost to producing said energy - but to turn a blind eye to the environmental costs of fossil fuels, or nukes. The total environmental cost of a wind turbine is obviously going to be lower than that of fossil fuels. Once the turbine is in place - it is carbon free electricity for many decades.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (3) Aug 15, 2017
Captain
so you can live normal without the grid
Thanks Captain. I am still on traditional power system - although Oklahoma is becoming a real leader in terms of wind farms. My electricity bill is running around $60 a month - so it would not be financially beneficial to install solar - but I am keeping my eyes on the cost. I don't think it will be too long. I would only need about 4 Kw. Good luck to you.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (3) Aug 15, 2017
@greenO
so it would not be financially beneficial to install solar
if you have any ability to travel at all, and either a pickup or trailer you can pull, then start looking around at the local Marina's etc

RV's and Marine vehicles are starting to use solar and wind a lot, and more often than not, they will replace them to upgrade more frequently than needed (rich folk - LOL)

sail boats use it far more, so consider that

you can collect their panels for nothing if you bargain with the marina - as they cost to recycle in most places due to materials in them, you can just say you'll haul off their stuff for free (or a minimal cost, like fuel - making money: this is what i did to get my system, including inverters & batteries)

i actually only paid for the tracking devices used on my mounting system - everything else is recycled from marina's and boats (including places in OK, AR, MO, TX)

it took me a 2 years to build up to current ability
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Aug 16, 2017
I am still on traditional power system - although Oklahoma is becoming a real leader in terms of wind farms. My electricity bill is running around $60 a month - so it would not be financially beneficial to install solar - but I am keeping my eyes on the cost.

As an alternative you can ask your provider if they have a 'green plan'. Over here you can sign up for this which requires the operator to buy as many kWh as you use from renewable sources. While this does not mean that every kWh you use is green (and some who don't sign up for such a plan get some of 'your' green electricity) it does mean that the overall energy mix of your provider shifts towards renewables.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (3) Aug 16, 2017
Nuclear power is a strategic necessity. In the event of disaster it will continue to provide power to vital infrastructure when all else fails. This is especially true as more of our transportation becomes electric.

It also provides the economy of scale that makes military applications affordable.

Lastly, it continues to contribute to our stockpiles of fissiles which we are going to need in order to establish independent colonies on other planets and moons, an imperative for the survival of the species.

There is no replacement for it and so we will never be rid of it. You should be grateful that there are people who had the foresight to produce it for us.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (3) Aug 16, 2017
antialias
As an alternative you can ask your provider if they have a 'green plan'
Thanks antialias - yes they do. We have been on 100% wind for a number of years now. We pay a little extra monthly charge - but our bill is still running around $60 - mostly because of good house insulation, and conservative temperature setting. Anything non essential is done after 7:00 pm, or on weekends - at 6 cents Kwh. We are on smart system - so the utility drops our A/C temp down around 2:00 pm, and then shuts it off until 7:00. Seems to work well. Oklahoma has 6.5 GW of installed turbines, and is in process of building a 2 GW farm.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (1) Aug 16, 2017
@Emcee, we don't spend money on it because TMI Chernobyl and Fukushima. Simple as that.

We can have a conversation about whether that's fair, but the reasons are inarguable from a public relations standpoint.
hecuzox
not rated yet Aug 16, 2017
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Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) Aug 16, 2017
@greenO
yes they do
check with your local power provider and see if they have any plans for conversion to clean energy for individual house owners: sometimes they will have incentive plans to help you purchase PV's etc with loans that you pay back to the company

your state offers limited incentives, i see: http://www.cleane...klahoma/

http://www.occ.state.ok.us/

you may be able to get very low interest loans for PV's through banks and other sources

but assuming limited income: consider a piece-by-piece gradual build of a system
to do that purchase this book (an older copy of the last edition -13- will be cheaper and have most of the info the modern one has) http://realgoods....-edition

build your plan and gradually work yourself to that end
it may take time, but every little bit counts
RealityCheck
1 / 5 (2) Aug 19, 2017
@Da Schneib.
[DS to antialias:]...I freely admit I wasn't sure there weren't any before we did that research. It would be good if you would admit that too.
If that had been me you misconstrued (as usual), you would have been crying "liar" at the drop of a hat, DS. But since it was antialias you misconstrued, you just pretend (as usual) it's someone else's fault YET do not insult him like you do me! Hypocrite much? :)
[Again, DS to antialias:] Don't bob and weave. It's OK to be wrong; everybody is occasionally. I'm not @RealityCheck, and instead of attacking you for agreeing we were wrong, I will praise you for sticking to reality rather than attempting to double down on something that is shown incorrect. And I do. Just don't bob and weave at the beginning.
DS, @antialias's silence tells he (like the rest of us onlookers) isn't buying your unreal/hypocritical version/excuses for your faults (not his; or mine).

Time you 'disengaged ego' and 'engaged honesty', DS. :)

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