The August 2008 Energy Update

  • One word that should strike fear in the nuclear power advocates: [font="Verdana"]CHERNOBYL[/font]. Nuclear power is ultra dangerous and should be avoided at all costs, once the genie is out of its bottle it is impossible to get back and the half life of plutonium is 250,000 years - or about 40 times the recorded history of man.

    Steve, you should remember Newton's fourth law when advocating nuclear power viz:

    For every advantage there is an equal or greater disadvantage

    My apologies to Isaac Newton.

    Tim Brimelow

  • good point and I don't disagree that nuclear has dangers. However chernobyl was amazingly poorly handled. Bad design, things switched off, it's incredible they didn't have more accidents.

    I don't think that could happen in the US, but it does show that people will make huge mistakes, given the chance. I don't think it means nuclear is a bad idea, but rather that we should proceed carefully and there should be oversight on the plants, from an independent body.

  • Well, since this is my area of interest (having worked for an energy company), I will enter the fray.

    First, some new tech. in nuclear is about to give everything else a good run for it's money. The technologies are: Annular Fuel, waste recycling and nano-spiked coolant (MIT and Westinghouse researchers). They make the plant safer, and together they stand to lower generation cost about 70%. That means it will be cheaper than coal and produce no emissions. Say good night to coal.

    Next is Solar power, A company ( in Silicon Valley has figured out how to "print" solar cells on paper thin metal sheets running through a printing press. This one has some very serious investors ($500 million in cash) backing them. Nobody is putting out hard numbers, but it has been speculated that it could reduce Solar power generation costs to just 9% of current cost and have twenty times the production capacity. If they install the power plants in the high deserts of the Southwest (High elevation = low temperature and more sunlight due to less atmospheric dispersion), they should rapidly become competitive. Not to mention solar cars, solar roofing on industrial buildings etc.

    Last is Ethanol; It is about to lose ground to Butyl alcohol - Butanol in a big way. Everything Ethanol has issues with, Butanol solves. Butyl alcohol is already cheaper to produce and can be made from waste sources. Additionally, current automobiles can burn a 50% Butanol - 50% Gasoline mix without modifications.

    Butanol can also be transported across all the same infrastructure as Gasoline is now - Ethanol can't, it's corrosive and wicks water from every source. Butanol can be used in jet engines as well - the Air Force is half way through certifying all its airframes to run a 50% Butanol - 50% Jet fuel mix. However, the future is where the real market for Butanol is, it burns at near zero emissions in fuel cells for electric cars. Specifically, supplying power through a fuel cell to drive solar electric cars when there isn't enough light to power the systems.

    Please don't take my word for it, Google these subjects and become informed.

    There's a lot of hope, but it is also a scary time, since 1/3 of the worlds countries depend on Oil sales for their budgets.

    Randy M.

    Drive it like you stole it[/size] :w00t:

  • Randy,

    Thanks for the links and I'll check them out!

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