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Advanced Nuclear Energy

This chapter will focus on modern safer, smaller, and simpler nuclear energy reactors and how they can be used to Stop Climate Change.

(Below) Advanced reactor development sites in North America.                  Radiation Realities of Nuclear Power

 


 

The "Global Energy Sources" section above illustrates the amount of both fossil and nuclear energy available to mankind.  So far, man's history has shown we will go to great lengths to exploit every source of energy available. 

Just as coal, oil, and natural gas differ from each other, uranium and thorium differ greatly when it comes to using them as sources of energy. 

(Since energy from renewables such as wind and solar are not dispatchable - as much needed when needed - they can't be included as full-fledged energies.)

The dangers of nuclear energy's heat - burning and ionizing radiation -  are different than the well-known dangers of fossil fuel fire's heat - burning and asphyxiation.

While the radiation you typically experience in your environment is considered harmless or even possibly beneficial to health, there is no doubt that as radiation that is made more intense - say radiation strong enough to make heat - is radiation strong enough to damage your body's cells by ionization damage to your DNA.

This means nuclear fission's use will usually be confined to large heavily shielded machines that can generate cash flows large enough to justify their large and large highly trained workforces - like big stand-alone electricity plants or ships and barges that contain nuclear power plants.

Small dispatchable energy systems - cars, airplanes, etc., will continue to be powered by combustion energy but with non-carbon emissions.

There are far more options for things chemical than things nuclear.      (click) 

For now, chemical technology, rather than nuclear technology, are the tools at hand to halt Climate Change.

The radiation dividing line between fission energy and combustion energy will define the tools of civilization's economic future. 

(Above) How long before we will be seeing advanced reactors?

NuScale's timeline to their first running reactor.  NuScale, the least technically advanced (a 'Water Cooled Reactor') but of simple and conservative design is probably the earliest of the Small Modular Reactors (SMR) that use conventional uranium fuel rods cooled by water.

40 far more advanced and safer reactors (China's Rongcheng helium gas cooled 'Pebble Bed Reactors') are already in production in China, putting the United States at least 15 years behind.  Canada's 'Integral Molten Salt Reactor', which uses a blend of thorium and uranium for fuel and is cooled by molten salt (like liquid-hot lava) is perhaps 5 years behind NuScale.

Unlike the water in water-cooled reactors, neither helium gas nor molten salt can threaten the environment.

 

(Below) A quick review of the safe-to-unsafe energy spectrum of nuclear radiation.

(Below) Different types of radiation have different penetrating energies.

 

 


 

(Below)  The powerful radiation of neutrons can be contained (dissipated) by brute force walls or sophisticated composite containment shields.

 

(Below) Reflecting the statistical nature of things nuclear, what is needed to reduce radiation intensities by 1/2.

 

Summaries available through Wikipedia, the on-line encyclopedia, provide a decent quality briefing about the technology.

First experimental fission reactor  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Pile-1 

About nuclear reactors in general  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_reactor 

First large sustained fission reactor  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B_Reactor 

 

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