The role of nuclear power in a low carbon future

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Given the period within which the first two units were constructed, one would think they would have had a better handle on cost estimates, but then you look at the Bruce units and you realize this was an industry-wide issue. Were we really that daft or was the idea to pitch a low price to get things rolling and then once the project was in motion and the real cost came out, the project was too far along to pull out of? If I was a cynic, I'd be inclined toward the latter ;)
This is actually what is going on for all large project these days in developed nations. Opposition, environmental studies, financing, delay half way into projects, inflation, etc. It is pretty much expected in most large infra project that you are better paying as you go for variable cost and don't bother building infrastructures anymore (i.e. toll road, flying planes instead of passenger rails, spend more money on SUVs and fuels instead of fixing potholes, fixer upper instead of teardown and rebuild).
 
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I have not read all of the replies here but........has any one brought up Thorium.From my limited laymans research it is a a much better fuel than Uranium.A half life comparable to the age of the universe.....no waste.I think a pebble bed thorium reactor would be basically endless energy production.Just replace moving parts as they wear out.India and a few other countries have constructed reactors already.Here in North America we seem wedded to the Uranium industrial complex.This would seem to be a better alternative.
 
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This is actually what is going on for all large project these days in developed nations. Opposition, environmental studies, financing, delay half way into projects, inflation, etc. It is pretty much expected in most large infra project that you are better paying as you go for variable cost and don't bother building infrastructures anymore (i.e. toll road, flying planes instead of passenger rails, spend more money on SUVs and fuels instead of fixing potholes, fixer upper instead of teardown and rebuild).
Yes, these are first world problems. We’ve lost our pride in getting projects done. What we need are a few more incidents where the lights go out before the proper attention is paid to the issues. Millions of people in India would love to have electricity.
 
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Yes, these are first world problems. We’ve lost our pride in getting projects done. What we need are a few more incidents where the lights go out before the proper attention is paid to the issues. Millions of people in India would love to have electricity.
I wouldn't call it "lost our pride", but it is always more expensive to keep everyone happy than to just dig up the habitats of an endangered frog and hire thugs to kick out squatters. It just means there's a cost to our quality of live.
 
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I have not read all of the replies here but........has any one brought up Thorium.From my limited laymans research it is a a much better fuel than Uranium.A half life comparable to the age of the universe.....no waste.I think a pebble bed thorium reactor would be basically endless energy production.Just replace moving parts as they wear out.India and a few other countries have constructed reactors already.Here in North America we seem wedded to the Uranium industrial complex.This would seem to be a better alternative.
Yeah we have, the summary of what I heard from OVERKILL and others are:

1) We need to spend money on the research and the risk of being the #1 to market when we already have a good enough Uranium design
2) We need to breed Th into fissile before we can use it, complicating the design.
3) We want to sustain the existing U235 industry instead of letting them starve and die, because Th is liquid fuel instead of solid fuel rod, so no money is in it for the existing industry
4) The weapon industry may want to keep U based design as the priority so in case we need to we can breed warhead, you cannot breed warhead with Th design.

This is why India and China are doing Th, and nobody else in the world is.
 
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So we're trading short term pollution for extremely long term pollution, but the greens never see beyond their nose.

Gates is pushing MSR and MSR like reactors that reduce the amount of waste by 99%

The high energy waste that is produced becomes useful for passive nuclear and degrades to a lower risk in a shorter time than traditional spent fuel.

In the future spent fuel might become a valuable resource to dig back up for reuse.

Out of all the options nuclear is one of the better ones even if it costs more
 

OVERKILL

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I have not read all of the replies here but........has any one brought up Thorium.From my limited laymans research it is a a much better fuel than Uranium.A half life comparable to the age of the universe.....no waste.I think a pebble bed thorium reactor would be basically endless energy production.Just replace moving parts as they wear out.India and a few other countries have constructed reactors already.Here in North America we seem wedded to the Uranium industrial complex.This would seem to be a better alternative.

There's a ton of hype around thorium and a lot of it is mythology.

- A thorium fuel cycle definitely produces waste
- Thorium is more abundant than uranium, that's why there was originally interest in it. There are many places that do not have significant uranium resources. Canada is not one of those places, yet amusingly, we are one of the only countries that has demonstrated a functional thorium fuel cycle, and this is in an existing reactor design (CANDU).
- There is still an obscene amount of uranium. Technically, the supply is likely endless if we include seawater extraction.
- Many 4th gen reactor designs are capable of using existing spent fuel, either directly or as a blend. The CANDU can also do this (See: Qinshan)
- Thorium is not fissile, it is fertile, that means that it needs to be blended with something else to sustain fission. We tested both uranium and plutonium with thorium in the CANDU as a "proof of concept" however, there was no desire to take it beyond proof of concept given our abundance of uranium and, as @PandaBear noted, the existing infrastructure.

That being said, India copied the CANDU after we sold them the Douglas Point design, so they could quite easily put that into practice. However, some of the newer reactor designs (4th gen) will better utilize the fuel elements, resulting in less in the way of waste product.

With existing solid fuel reactor designs, the waste is ridiculously easy to manage. With a liquid or molten fuelled reactor like one that uses salts, the used fuel will be much more difficult to manage, so it will be interesting to see how that's handled. This presents a challenge even if the overall storage period requirement is greatly reduced. The Moltex SSR for example, which is designed to run on spent CANDU fuel, projects the final waste product having a required storage life of 200-300 years (molten salt fuel), so we'll need to figure out how that's handled. Existing fuel bundles are just stacked in casks presently, which works quite well, as a solid has nothing to leak.

"Nuclear twitter" calls the guys that are crazy over thorium the "thorium bros". They pitch it as the universal answer to anything, despite there being no operating thorium fuelled reactors in service. Despite many of the theories, this isn't a conspiracy, it's simply that the uranium fuel cycle is already established and easier.

Personally, I'm more interested in the breeder reactors that Russia is actively constructing to consume existing waste stores than I am in thorium. This is actually a solution to something we are dealing with presently: used fuel. That allows further utilization and reduction in overall volume. I think that's a far more logical pursuit than a thorium fuel cycle for the West at this point.
 
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I don't think Th is the universal answer to everything, but money "almost" is. So far from wikipedia at least I know molten salt reactor has problem dealing with 1, 2, 1.5 pool design that looks like a plumbing mess, and I am wondering what happen to the molten stuff after fission, do they fell out of suspension and clog somewhere? Wonder why don't they put the "liquid Th" fuel inside a rod like the enriched U and then replace them as needed.

Moltex SSR is awesome, I was always wondering why don't they already have something like that.
 

4WD

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Headed down to the coast early afternoon yesterday … it was cloudy but still 89F … passing the 48 unit wind farm
(47 really since one shucked 2 blades) and nothing turning. I pulled over and barely enough air moving to clear your breath. I’d say one out of six trips I see that - and it’s only 20 miles to the ocean - flat as a pancake …

7076800D-CDA5-409D-932E-963EDBFF08B8.jpeg
 

OVERKILL

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Headed down to the coast early afternoon yesterday … it was cloudy but still 89F … passing the 48 unit wind farm
(47 really since one shucked 2 blades) and nothing turning. I pulled over and barely enough air moving to clear your breath. I’d say one out of six trips I see that - and it’s only 20 miles to the ocean - flat as a pancake …

View attachment 72699
This is Ontario's 5,000MW wind fleet today (I cut the top of the list off):
Screen Shot 2021-09-29 at 2.38.55 PM.jpg


Yes, that's 47MW of 5,000MW; 0.9% capacity from the thousands of turbines dotted across this massive province.
 
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The accident at TMI wasn't a failure of technology, instead if was a failure of the control room personnel who couldn't keep their nervous fingers off the buttons and let the system take care of itself. Had they just sat on their hands, there would have been be no TMI accident.

Read "Nuclear Accidents" by James Mahaffey and you'll know more than 99.99% of the world knows about past nuclear accidents. You'll also be able to smell fear-mongering about nuclear power.
TMI was a little more complicated than your description. The operators did exactly as their procedures told them. There were some misconceptions and some errors in procedures. There were also some inoperable instruments. But, the operators performed as they were directed.

I have taught the TMI accident for many years and to many operators, regulators and countries. But, I am retired now.
 

4WD

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This is Ontario's 5,000MW wind fleet today (I cut the top of the list off): View attachment 72827

Yes, that's 47MW of 5,000MW; 0.9% capacity from the thousands of turbines dotted across this massive province.
Not that it matters much … but my understanding is these are larger 3 MW “fans” …
Not sure how they feed the grid … but conveniently darn close to both STP and a natty gas plant with 6 large GTG’s 😷

The big wind farms are not on the gulf coast
 
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you know what ? i got good laugh on this ecology nonsense.
we aim to improve ecology, but in the end we may die sooner...

for example nonstick coated paper/pans or r1234yf, etc... these may release/contain "forever chemicals"; which does not degrade but stay in environment and concentrate in living organisms....
what a pain in the a**o_O
likewise the the cigs solar, which contains cadmium carcinogen. you pray not to break it.
...and countless studies how turbines killing birds.
 

wwillson

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TMI was a little more complicated than your description. The operators did exactly as their procedures told them. There were some misconceptions and some errors in procedures. There were also some inoperable instruments. But, the operators performed as they were directed.

I have taught the TMI accident for many years and to many operators, regulators and countries. But, I am retired now.
Is it true that the operators at TMI were so focused on not letting the steam generator go solid (a Naval submarine nuke rule), that they lost focus of the fact that they were pumping water out of the core?
 
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Is it true that the operators at TMI were so focused on not letting the steam generator go solid (a Naval submarine nuke rule), that they lost focus of the fact that they were pumping water out of the core?
While this is somewhat true, it is misleading also. The operators were following procedures and at the time they had no indication of vessel level. They were following the emergency procedures and training of that time period. Much changed in the industry after TMI.
 
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Is it true that the operators at TMI were so focused on not letting the steam generator go solid (a Naval submarine nuke rule), that they lost focus of the fact that they were pumping water out of the core?
It was actually the pressurizer going solid that they were worried about. And for a PWR, this is a very bad thing. They actually turned off the ECCS pumps because of pressurizer level. A leak/stuck open relief valve in the pressurizer was not addressed in the EOPs of that time and the operators were not trained in analyzing or understanding what indications to follow. It was a quit complicated event for the time in nuclear history. The operators did as instructed and were never penalized for the actions.
 
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While I am entirely open to and endorse the sort of power Overkill likes, he is missing some of the finer points of different types of Thorium power.

The long ago understood good points of "candle" type thorium power is that neutrons from another source must be added to the thorium for it to be able to achieve a chain reaction. This means that the thorium fuel can be "sprinkled" with so called atomic waste. Atomic waste is highly valuable. Old estimates were that US stockpiles of "waste" could meet the entire world's electricity needs for 100 years on thorium, while at the same time eliminating that stockpile. When a thorium candle reactor is finished firing, it is more or less simply left in place underground. "Relatively" small amount of neutron radiation left in a spent thorium candle. The thorium cycle, like the uranium cycle, produces some plutonium.

Energy Industry is not so interested in thorium candle power because it would require the complete cooperation of Gov't to allow stockpiles to be got into, and also because surface area to volume ratio's come into play with a thorium candle reactor. That means that the optimal size would have a much smaller generating capacity, say suitable for a small metro area. The designs for a thorium candle reactor are so relatively simple that a steel factory or large auto assembly plant (for instance) could theoretically built their own candle reactors, for their own use. Maybe not enough profit motive for the large energy concerns... 😳

Thorium reactors in the '50's were seen as a way to end war and poverty in third world countries by providing a safe and meaningful source of electricity. So... of course it was never done. ;) The thorium candle would be supplied pre-fueled, and the plutonium or hot uranium sprinkled into the thorium fuel pellets would be almost impossible to retrieve and use for a bomb, etc.
 
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While I am entirely open to and endorse the sort of power Overkill likes, he is missing some of the finer points of different types of Thorium power.

The long ago understood good points of "candle" type thorium power is that neutrons from another source must be added to the thorium for it to be able to achieve a chain reaction. This means that the thorium fuel can be "sprinkled" with so called atomic waste. Atomic waste is highly valuable. Old estimates were that US stockpiles of "waste" could meet the entire world's electricity needs for 100 years on thorium, while at the same time eliminating that stockpile. When a thorium candle reactor is finished firing, it is more or less simply left in place underground. "Relatively" small amount of neutron radiation left in a spent thorium candle. The thorium cycle, like the uranium cycle, produces some plutonium.

Energy Industry is not so interested in thorium candle power because it would require the complete cooperation of Gov't to allow stockpiles to be got into, and also because surface area to volume ratio's come into play with a thorium candle reactor. That means that the optimal size would have a much smaller generating capacity, say suitable for a small metro area. The designs for a thorium candle reactor are so relatively simple that a steel factory or large auto assembly plant (for instance) could theoretically built their own candle reactors, for their own use. Maybe not enough profit motive for the large energy concerns... 😳

Thorium reactors in the '50's were seen as a way to end war and poverty in third world countries by providing a safe and meaningful source of electricity. So... of course it was never done. ;) The thorium candle would be supplied pre-fueled, and the plutonium or hot uranium sprinkled into the thorium fuel pellets would be almost impossible to retrieve and use for a bomb, etc.
I think you meant breeding and pool type reactor. China and India are doing that design right now because US and Europe are not. We'll probably have to wait till they finish and then license the design (unlikely, the US won't even use CANDU reactor due to political reason).
 

OVERKILL

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While I am entirely open to and endorse the sort of power Overkill likes, he is missing some of the finer points of different types of Thorium power.
There have been a few different types of reactors that have claimed to be able to run on thorium, many of these the molten salt type, which have their own share of problems. Breeder reactors are able to utilize it as well, but currently breeders are primarily used to deal with used uranium fuel and the only few in operation are in Russia.

I don't think I'm missing any "finer points", it's that the only reactors currently in production that can run on thorium are HWR's like the CANDU and there's no real point in Canada, because of the amount of uranium we have.
The long ago understood good points of "candle" type thorium power is that neutrons from another source must be added to the thorium for it to be able to achieve a chain reaction.
I've not heard of a "candle" type reactor, but the reason you have to mix it with something else is the reason I outlined earlier, and that's because thorium isn't fissile, it's fertile, so it needs to be mixed with something that is fissile, like plutonium or uranium in order to undergo fission.
This means that the thorium fuel can be "sprinkled" with so called atomic waste.
No, it means it needs to be mixed with a fissile isotope so that fission can commence. Yes, that can be spare weapons material, like plutonium from warheads, but it can also be dirtier plutonium from used fuel or even uranium.
Atomic waste is highly valuable.
No it isn't, not in the form of used fuel without reprocessing. It's a pain in the butt, because it has to be stored and the US has no DGR, so it just gets stored in cooling ponds until it can go into casks, which then sit around. That's the case at every plant in the US.
Old estimates were that US stockpiles of "waste" could meet the entire world's electricity needs for 100 years on thorium, while at the same time eliminating that stockpile.
The US could also reprocess that waste (PUREX for example) and run it in their existing reactor fleet. Nobody has been willing to invest the money to build a reprocessing plant, that's the issue.
When a thorium candle reactor is finished firing, it is more or less simply left in place underground. "Relatively" small amount of neutron radiation left in a spent thorium candle. The thorium cycle, like the uranium cycle, produces some plutonium.
Yes, there are always waste products. The CANDU fuel cycle, which in most instances uses natural uranium, has a "lesser" waste stream than an LWR or BWR, but you can also run a MOX or a DUPIC cycle where you use spent LWR/BWR fuel in the CANDU. China is doing this at Qinshan with the two C6's located there.
Energy Industry is not so interested in thorium candle power because it would require the complete cooperation of Gov't to allow stockpiles to be got into,
The US already used surplus weapons material (warheads) in reactor fuel after the cold war. The burned tons of former Soviet weapons material this way, which is why US uranium production tanked during that time period.

The issue isn't government cooperation, it's somebody being willing to spend the money to build something. PUREX is a tried and true reprocessing technique for LWR and BWR fuel, used extensively by France, they even reprocess used fuel for the Japanese, but the US doesn't have a single PUREX facility.
and also because surface area to volume ratio's come into play with a thorium candle reactor. That means that the optimal size would have a much smaller generating capacity, say suitable for a small metro area. The designs for a thorium candle reactor are so relatively simple that a steel factory or large auto assembly plant (for instance) could theoretically built their own candle reactors, for their own use. Maybe not enough profit motive for the large energy concerns... 😳
Anybody handing SNF or anything radioactive needs to be approved by the appropriate regulatory body. So while the ability to factory assemble a given reactor type might sound wonderful, they still are required to be monitored by and compliant with the nuclear standards, which immediately torpedoes the simple and cheap part because then you are into permits, monitoring, regulation, approvals, oversight, site visits...etc.

This is why these things are typically operated by large utilities who have the money to jump through these hoops and regulatory hurdles.
Thorium reactors in the '50's were seen as a way to end war and poverty in third world countries by providing a safe and meaningful source of electricity.
So was the CANDU. It didn't require enrichment, which only countries pursuing atomic weapons (like the US and the Soviets) had. We had developed a number of different designs that were supposed to vary suitability for different sized markets. Ultimately, the anti-nuclear movement coupled with Chernobyl killed that.
So... of course it was never done. ;) The thorium candle would be supplied pre-fueled, and the plutonium or hot uranium sprinkled into the thorium fuel pellets would be almost impossible to retrieve and use for a bomb, etc.
There's actually a new twist on the "pre-fuelled" reactor design here in Canada. It's the USNC/GFP MMR, which is basically a reactor and power unit about the size of a shipping container designed to power remote communities. The fuel load is designed to last ~20 years at which point you swap out the reactor portion for a fresh one.

This is the first design slated to be built at Chalk River.

Bombs typically aren't made with reactors anyways. All you need is a gas centrifuge. That's why North Korea has nuclear weapons and no nuclear reactors.
 
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