Energy with Advanced Nuclear
Coal to Nuclear
NuScale: The Bridge Reactor
Wind and Solar
Nuclear CHP MicroGrids SKYscrubber SEAscrubbing Desalination Spent Nuclear Fuel Why Natural Gas Matters Nuclear Medicine Population + Energy = Prosperity
Planet Earth's CO2 has been stable at about
(parts of CO2 per million parts of air) since the end of the last ice age
about 13,000 years ago. This
stability produced an "optimal" environment that
enabled humans to develop agriculture and civilizations for the first time.
(Click on image, right, to see temperatures of Planet Earth for last 550 million years to see how precious our current climate is compared to the "Ice Ages".)
President Eisenhower advocated switching from
coal to nuclear ("Atoms for Peace"
pdf) in 1953 when CO2 was at
(At the time, he was thinking nuclear would be better than coal for humanity. At the time, many leading environmentalists thought global cooling, not warming, was going to happen.)
Incredibly, in the 1980s after CO2 jumped to
340 ppm, environmentalists still
coal instead of nuclear to make electricity.
(CO2-induced global warming Climate Change was beginning to be understood by the environmentalists by 1980 but they still wanted emerging nations to grow on coal instead of nuclear.)
Today, environmentalists are still putting their anti-nuclear agendas ahead of stopping Climate Change.
We are now living in a Climate Changing World with CO2 at
407 ppm and there's no going back.
It's difficult to understand how, in light of the ppm evidence above, environmentalists are continuing to oppose the advice of Dr. Hansen and many others to switch from coal to nuclear.
It's just plain unrealistic to expect windmills and solar cells to be able to power a highly industrialized world that is consuming the energy equivalent of over 200 million barrels of oil per day.
To a very large extent, the Climate Change problem is the swarming of the world's human population. There are too many people making too many fires. Perhaps 3 billion fires - one for every several people. (Click to enlarge, click again to zoom in.)
"Without a substantial replacement of fossil fuels, which supply more than 80 percent of the world's energy, the current system will collapse into a lower state of organization with far less carrying capacity." - Kurt Cobb
FOSSIL hydrocarbons are our best feedstock resource for plastic. It's madness to pump a substance as limited and valuable as oil and then simply burn it for energy when we have virtually endless nuclear energy on hand. We are living in a plastic world where only about 1/4 of the world's population are enjoying the benefits of abundant cheap plastic. How will the rest of the world become affluent without abundant plastic feedstock to make the relatively inexpensive conveniences and luxuries that enhance and extend our lives?
What We Can Do
I have collected information on the world's coal power plants and think about
3/4 of them could have their coal boilers quickly and economically converted to
small nuclear boilers.
This won't end Climate change but will end more CO2 emissions than is possible with windmills, solar cells, or power plant carbon capture combined. To coal to nuclear section >
Nuclear powered machines (Skyscrubbers) to directly capture carbon dioxide from the air and put it back into the ground are possible. To Skyscrubber section >
The safer nuclear reactors in the pipeline were invented as part of the Manhattan Project but shelved because their used fuel couldn't be weaponized. To New Nuclear section >
I have collected information on the world's coal power plants and think about
3/4 of them could have their coal boilers quickly and economically converted to
small nuclear boilers.
the master resource.
Without energy nothing happens. The more energy we have, the richer we are. The United States is a 10,000 Watt-hour per day per person society; Mexico, 2,000 Wpd; Haiti, 500 Wpd.
This term covers both the heat and the electricity components of a country's energy consumption. 1 Watt-hour = 3.412 BTU or 3,600 Joules.
What would a modern industrialized world powered only by Nuclear + Hydrogen + Biomass energy look like?
Author's rough order-of-magnitude
guesstimate for ALL global energy - both electricity AND heat - for the
world by 2050:
■ 2,000 large 1,500 megaWatt water cooled nuclear reactors for mega-city electricity,
■ 5,000 500 mW(e) ThorCon coal-boiler-to-nuclear conversion steam generators to quickly and cheaply fix the largest coal power plants that are making 30% of all Climate Change
■ 300 "ThorConIsles" barge mounted nuclear power plants for coastal populations in second and third world countries
■ 150,000 medium 300 to 25 mW molten salt cooled nuclear reactors for smaller city electricity
■ 100,000 small 50 to 5 mW helium cooled very high temperature pebble bed nuclear reactors (VHTR) for chemical and biochemical synthesis processes
■ One or more islands in the Ross Sea (Antarctica) for isolation of radioactive worn-out nuclear reactors and waste nuclear fuel
■ 5,000 nuclear powered sea water desalinators
■ Miscellaneous intermittent small sources of wind, solar, and hydro electricity
■ 600+ VHTR nuclear-powered carbon-neutral combustion fuel refineries evolved from today's oil refineries producing unlimited volumes of "drop-in" gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and heating gas. These would be synthetic carbon-neutral combustion fuels - not fossil fuels - that are either half as expensive or twice as powerful
For the United States, the "Billion Ton Biomass" program could be dedicated to supplying biomass to the nuclear powered carbon-neutral combustion fuel refineries - not burning it.
See: https://energy.gov/eere/bioenergy/downloads/2016-billion-ton-report-advancing-domestic-resources-thriving-bioeconomy (pdf)
Object Total: 262,900 - That's 262 thousand, 900, folks! The more objects, the less likely it will happen, the more expensive, less reliable it will be.
Reference: World electric power plant reference: http://www.platts.com/Products.aspx?xmlFile=worldelectricpowerplantsdatabase.xml Perhaps the most complete database of it's type.
■ Oh, yes, and the progression of Climate Change would be stopped and perhaps partially reversed.
What would a modern industrialized world powered only by Wind + Water + Solar energy look like?
Stanford University is looking at
what it might take to provide all global energy using only wind, water, and
■ 2.5 million 5-mW wind turbines (60/40 mix of on- and off-shore) (37%)
■ 409,000 0.75-mW wave generators (0.5%)
■ 935 100-mW geothermal plants (0.7%)
■ 1,058 1.300 -mW hydroelectric plants (4%)
■ 30,000 1-mW tidal turbines (0.06%)
■ 1.8 billion 5-kW residential rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems (15%)
■ 75 million 100-kW commercial PV systems (12%)
■ 250,000 50-mW solar PV plants (21%)
■ 21,500 100-mW concentrating solar power (CSP) plants with thermal storage (10%)
■ 13,000 100-mW CSP plants with thermal storage (additional for grid support)
■ 85,000 50-mW solar thermal storage plants (for direct heating)
Object Total: 1,878,310,493 - That's 1 billion, 878 million, 310 thousand, 493, folks! The more objects, the less likely it will happen, the more expensive, less reliable it will be.
Reference: 199 page pdf draft: http://stanford.io/1lvUaVS (pdf) [90.004.17.3.55], [10.256 to 10.259]
This is a valuable work-in-progress, well worth studying if only to learn the mindset of those opposed to nuclear and the possibility of clean coal and carbon-neutral combustion.
The unstoppable mess environmentalists brought us. Back to basics
That the president of the United States could dismiss Climate Change as a "Hoax" shocked this old engineer to his core. To get an idea of where he was coming from, I started to read about Germany's Energiewende (German for energy transition) and began to understand the world's Climate Change movement has fragmented into many sub-cultures that have drifted away from concepts based on sound engineering practices.
While Climate Change is not a hoax, much of what the Greenies are advocating is. Wishful thinking based upon windmills and carbon capture are commonplace now.
So, back to the simple truth of evidence-based basics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat
"Currently CO2 constitutes about 0.041%
(equal to 410 ppm) by volume of the atmosphere, which corresponds to
approximately 3,200 gigatons of CO2, which includes approximately 870
gigatons of carbon."
(2017) - That's 3.2 TRILLION tons of CO2, folks.
Planet Earth is still a big place.
We have to keep in mind that 250 ppm belong there, so only 160 ppm are excess CO2. Or about 160/410 * 3.2 trillion or 1.3 trillion tons are the excess CO2 causing Climate Change.
We have added so much CO2 to the air that adding more CO2 to the air produces only a slight increase in global warming. This is what makes Climate Change so difficult.
We want to get back to where the climate has been during the last 13,000 years - the optimal climate epoch for mankind, the Holocene. What I'm saying is: we can't.
What we are in for.
The above graph shows how long Climate Change will hang around if we just stop using fossil fuels but don't remove the excess CO2 we've added to the air.
Weather Outlook for Remainder of
It could take a century of terrible blizzards to re-set Planet Earth's temperature to 59 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature we were at before Global Warming and normal polar ice.
CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2) in the air:
Like a blanket, adding CO2 to the air slows
the transfer of the Sun's heat back out into the cold of space at night, REDUCING
Planet Earth's ability to cool itself. Due to Planet Earth's mass, this
increase in heat will take hundreds of years to reach a new stable temperature.
The curve below shows how increasing Climate Change's "blanket" amount will cause Planet Earth to hold in more heat and get warmer.
Once the air gets saturated with CO2, adding more CO2 has little additional heating effect.
Planet Earth's air CO2 now has three distinctly different components:
1. The natural CO2 in the air we have always needed to keep the world at a comfortable 59°F.
2. The fossil fuel CO2 we recently added by powering the heat engines that built and maintain the modern world - Climate Change's CO2.
3. The fossil fuel CO2 we are going to add soon to the air to extend the heat engine's benefits for the world's remaining 1/3 still living in poverty.
The other gases are beyond the scope of this article.
How much more trouble have the
environmentalists brought us?
CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2) in the air is one of Planet Earth's major thermostat mechanisms.
By advocating coal instead of nuclear, environmentalists have pushed up Planet Earth's thermostat.
Globally, over the course of the year, the Earth
system —land surfaces, oceans, and atmosphere— absorbs and then radiates back to
space an average of about 240 watts of solar power per square meter. Anything
that increases or decreases the amount of incoming or outgoing energy will
change global temperatures in response.
Notice how as CO2 goes up, the heating curve increase slope approaches zero (horizontal).
We are deep into man-made global warming.
A 2017 government climate assessment report states: "The
world has warmed (globally and annually averaged surface air temperature) by
about 1.6°F (0.9°C) over the last 150 years (1865–2015). If humans
immediately stopped emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the world
would still feel at least an additional 0.50 degrees Fahrenheit (0.30 degrees
Celsius) of warming over this century."
- This means the (pink) slug of CO2 that's already in the air was warming Planet Earth at the rate of about 1°F per century but now, due to CO2 saturation, we are down to 0.5°F per century.
CO2 saturation: Think about adding so much sugar to your coffee it no longer dissolves. It can't get any sweeter.
Notice the thermostat. Adding fossil fuel's CO2 turns the furnace up but, because the world is a big place and we are adding just a couple of watts per square meter, it will take hundreds of years before the temperature finally reaches the new set-point.
Almost all this heat is going into warming up the oceans. To pull the heat back out, long periods of unnaturally cold weather will be necessary.
To turn the thermostat back down to where it should be, the extra CO2 in the air and sea has to be scrubbed out, returned to the ground, and then we start over using wind, solar, nuclear, and carbon neutral combustion to make modern civilization's heat and mechanical energies.
On the other hand, since the big harm has already been done, and setting things right remote, we could just keep on using fossil fuels and adapt to the intensifying Climate Changes that strategy would bring.
"The rising carbon dioxide footprint may be troublesome, but it is a side effect
of the creation of immense benefits." - Peter Allitt, quoted by M.J. Kelly.
Energy is the master resource. Without energy nothing happens. The more energy we have, the better off we are. The United States is a 10,000 Watt society; Mexico, 2,000 W; Haiti, 500W. - Sounds good to me.
Is this as bad as it can possibly get? No, it isn't just CO2, it's also methane.
Unfortunately no. There are also massive natural deposits of frozen tundra methane and frozen deep sea methane that some think could be melted free by Global Warming and enter the air. This would bring a second wave of "Climate Change on steroids" problems.
Note methane's similar heat loss curve curve below.
I did the
thermostat image perhaps 2008. It was derived from a 1992 curve someone gave
me. Each blue block on Archibald's chart is 20 ppm of CO2. The first block
is huge because it is causing a lot of global warming. The more recent ones
tiny because we have already saturated the air with more CO2 than is needed.
In my chart, the thermostat plot line is becoming more and more horizontal, at horizontal there would be no additional global warming regardless how much more CO2 was added. Again, saturation.
We've turned the thermostat up. Now we are feeling the house slowly heat up. Only by removing the excess CO2 from the air can we get back to where we started - the beginning of the coal powered steam engine age - about the year 1750.
Planet Earth is already in for a ride regardless of how many windmills, solar cells, or nuclear reactors we build.
Diminishing Global Warming Effect - How much another 20 ppm of CO2 changes
We are adding about 160 million tons of Climate Changing gasses to the air every day but it won't affect the maximum temperature much.
We've gone over the cliff but it may take hundreds of years for the heat to max out. Quitting fossil fuels "cold turkey" isn't what is needed.
To say again with different words and charts:
Man has survived several ice ages. Fire
has served his survival needs well and is clearly part of his genetic history.
Humans who were not attracted to fire are extinct.
(Below) The CO2 situation as it is now.
The extra CO2 in the air and sea has to be scrubbed out, returned to the ground, and then we start over using wind, solar, nuclear, and carbon neutral combustion to make our heat and mechanical energies.
We will have to endure perhaps a century of terrible blizzard winters before enough heat is pulled out of Planet Earth to stop the polar ice from melting any more.
There is no easy way to get the world headed back to pre-industrial environment temperatures. Switching to wind, solar, or nuclear energy now that "the horse is out of the barn" are nearly pointless gestures.
Notice the images of "Skyscrubber". It is a
ethically engineered by Carbon Engineering, Ltd., Calgary, Canada. It is well designed to
suck 100,000 tons of CO2 out of the air per year. They have built a
prototype in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada. Powered by carbon captured natural gas, it
consumes 1/2 ton of natural gas per ton of CO2 it captures.
Notice how much larger a full-size Skyscrubber is when compared to the single fan prototype.
We will have to remove more than the 1.3 trillion tons of excess CO2 we have added to the air to get back to the "Optimum Climate for Man", about 270 ppm (parts per million).
At 100,000 tons CO2 per year per Skyscrubber, we would need 13,000,000 (13 million) Skyscrubbers to do the job in one year.
And this is only 57% of all the gasses that are causing Climate Change. (See below.)
Scientists dream great dreams. Engineers build them.
Man-made CO2 emissions accumulating in the air since the Industrial Revolution began in 1750 are the main drivers of Climate Change.
We are well beyond the point of no return - and locked on autopilot.
There are probably several climate changes worth of excess
CO2 in the air already and a half dozen more Climate Changes still in the ground as fossil fuels.
If this is so, the tiny improvement to be had by switching from coal power plants to windmills is an exercise in futility.
Environmentalists are being as anti-science as Trump by not working to remove the "Pink Cloud" causing Climate Change. Can't blame them too much because more than that will have to be removed to get Planet Earth to loose the global warming it has already picked up.
Once the "CO2 Genie" is out of
the bottle, you'll pay hell trying to get it back in.
The main barrier to removing the "Pink Cloud" is the fact CO2, at 400 parts per million, in the air is a trace gas. This means massive volumes of air need to be "scrubbed" to extract even small amounts of CO2. Coal smoke is a much easier 120,000 ppm.
Seawater's chemicals draw CO2 from the air to produce a higher concentration. More than 98% of the carbon of the atmosphere-ocean system is stored in the oceans as dissolved inorganic carbon.
Adding wind, solar, or nuclear energy to our daily lives cannot reduce the global warming CO2 we've already placed in the air.
Why all the fuss about the
world's warming perhaps 2°C? Like Planet Earth, your body is an environment
for living cells that depend upon it for sustenance.
Here’s an analogy that Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, who helped compile some of the climate research data for the World Bank, likes to use.
"Take the human body. If your temperature rises 2°C (3.6°F), you have a significant fever. If it rises 4°C (7.2°F) or 6°C (10.8°F) your organs begin to fail and you can die.
I find it interesting there are few organizations dedicated to "picking away" at the problem of sucking the pink cloud out of the air and ending the very real threat mankind faces.
This lends credence to Trump's assessment that the Climate Change fuss is just a hoax.
Extreme difficulty doesn't seem to be a problem to those groups picking away at travelling to Mars and establishing a colony there.
Fighting Climate Change without nuclear energy was like boxing with one hand tied behind your back.
I'm beginning to realize most of the leading "Green Talking Heads" actually don't understand Climate Change very well and are inadvertently misleading us. Time to reexamine Climate Change's entire "Big Picture".
First Wind, Then Fossil Fuel Heat Engines, Powered The Human Race
The dramatic increase in the world's population came largely as a result of having heat engines rather than horses, wind, sails, and waterwheels do much of life's labors. (Left)
5 billion people use heat engines to grow food, transport, and comfortably shelter themselves. This has resulted in increased life expectancies. (Example: Japan, 84.6 years.)
2 billion people are not able to take advantage of heat engines. Their average life span is short. (Example: Central African Republic, 48.5 years.)
It has been speculated that there is a heat engine or a fire for every two humans on earth. That would mean perhaps as many as 4 billion fires. It is understandable that this number of fires, burning more or less continuously, would add a substantial amount of fire's major combustion product, carbon dioxide gas (CO2), to the air.
Frankly, it is the fossil fuel powered heat engine that enables humanity to swarm.
Recall the song "John Henry"? It marked the end of muscle slavery and the beginning of wage slavery. Wage slavery issues are what is keeping Trump in office. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Henry_(folklore)
Energy enables modern states to project their power over very long distances. Loss of energy causes modern states to fail.
Study Shows Comparison Of Countries’ Indirect Emissions From Battery-Electric Vehicles.
The Detroit Free Press (11/13, Lawrence) reports a new study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute “finds that gas-powered vehicles need to average 55.4 miles per gallon in the United States or 51.5 mpg worldwide in order to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a battery-electric vehicle.” Most electric cars “aren’t oil or coal free” – their batteries “are charged by electricity generated at power plants” using mostly oil or coal. The disparity “between electric vehicles and conventional gas-powered cars depends on what is used to make the electricity that charges a battery.” Michigan researcher Michael Sivak said, “The reasons for conducting such a country-by-country comparison are that the indirect emissions from (battery-electric vehicles) depend on the mix of fuel sources used to generate electricity and countries differ widely in their fuel-source mix.”
Disclaimer: This web site is energy talk by an engineer exploring Climate Change's educational concepts, not professional engineering advice.
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