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Shaping the U.S. Energy System
In the world of energy, efficiency is the most important attribute.
Poor efficiency made the first steam engine - the 1712 Newcomen - obsolete within 70 years, and we are beginning to realize the poor efficiency of the first generation of commercial nuclear reactors is making them obsolete also - another 70 year interval. History might not repeat itself but it sure does rhyme.
The second generation steam engine to hit the market - the 1781 Watt piston engine - about the time of our Revolutionary War - is still in use today although slowly being replaced by the third generation steam engine - the 1884 Parsons steam turbine.
The Chinese are currently building 40 third generation
"pebble bed" nuclear reactors for their Rongcheng electricity generation
complex. The United States has become a nuclear backwater.
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