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Author Topic: Obama could kill fossil fuels overnight with a nuclear dash for thorium  (Read 15259 times)
Phoenix
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« Reply #30: November 10, 2010, 11:33:26 pm »

At least for the US designs. Chernobyl was a purposeful disregard of basic safety procedures. One learns all sorts of things going to a school that trains steam plant engineers and had, at the time, a reactor on campus.

More like the purposeful disregard of basic 3rd-grade physics
Add water to a hot reactor and act surprised when it turns to steam
Act even more surprised when the steam expands and exerts pressure on a closed vessel
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« Reply #31: November 11, 2010, 08:39:28 am »

Without enough fissionable material in place to create a critical mass ...
That would be nearly impossible

Exactly. However, most people in the US don't understand this. I took a piece of pitchblende (borrowed from the geology department) to a government class where we were discussing nuclear energy policy when I was in college. People sitting near me moved away to avoid the "dangerous radiation" and one person was worried that if I dropped it, it would explode like an A-bomb. I kid you not.
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« Reply #32: November 11, 2010, 09:10:46 am »

People sitting near me moved away to avoid the "dangerous radiation"

And yet, how many were wearing radium dial watches?
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« Reply #33: November 11, 2010, 04:49:27 pm »

And yet, how many were wearing radium dial watches?

As this was 1977 or so, I would guess quite a few were.  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #34: November 12, 2010, 07:22:13 am »

Nuclear power may indeed  be the lesser of two evils, but we should seek to minimize the evil to an even smaller degree and to look for non-evil solutions as well (like solar and energy efficiency).

If you could answer one fundamental question and find a way to make a useful application of that answer, it could open the door to changing the fission game dramatically

Question being: Why is it that this atom will decay tomorrow, while that one will be stable for the next 100k years?
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« Reply #35: November 12, 2010, 12:06:59 pm »

Exactly. However, most people in the US don't understand this. I took a piece of pitchblende (borrowed from the geology department) to a government class where we were discussing nuclear energy policy when I was in college. People sitting near me moved away to avoid the "dangerous radiation" and one person was worried that if I dropped it, it would explode like an A-bomb. I kid you not.

ROTFL!!!!  That is good!
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« Reply #36: November 12, 2010, 03:56:38 pm »

If you could answer one fundamental question and find a way to make a useful application of that answer, it could open the door to changing the fission game dramatically

Question being: Why is it that this atom will decay tomorrow, while that one will be stable for the next 100k years?

Are you talking about two atoms of the same element?  or two atoms of different elements?
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« Reply #37: November 12, 2010, 05:12:52 pm »

Are you talking about two atoms of the same element?  or two atoms of different elements?

The same element
Basically, I'm suggesting controlling the half-life of the fissionable material so that the majority of the fuel rod is actually useful during the duty cycle
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« Reply #38: November 12, 2010, 10:26:02 pm »

The same element
Basically, I'm suggesting controlling the half-life of the fissionable material so that the majority of the fuel rod is actually useful during the duty cycle

I don't see that happening any time soon. Half-life is a statistical answer to dealing with trillions of atoms of a specific radioactive element. We are more likely to get a Faster Than Life star drive before we could control decay of specific individual atoms.

There is a method of getting rid of some of the radioactive elements, but it's politically / public relations impossible. That's the fast breeder reactor.
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« Reply #39: November 13, 2010, 03:10:32 pm »

We are more likely to get a Faster Than Life star drive before we could control decay of specific individual atoms.

You're probably right.
By the time we are able to manipulate the Quantum State on such a huge scale, we will probably have found a better way to solve the problem
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« Reply #40: November 14, 2010, 06:04:33 pm »

By the time we are able to manipulate the Quantum State on such a huge scale, we will probably have found a better way to solve the problem

I was thinking ....
If you could do that, you could do direct matter-energy conversion and fission would be obsolete
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« Reply #41: December 08, 2010, 08:23:07 pm »

Obama could kill fossil fuels overnight with a nuclear dash for thorium

So, what do you guys think?  Is this overly optimistic, perhaps even naive?  Or is it a real possibility.  I'm terrible at physics, so I'd like to hear from people w/a better grounding in it than myself.

And if it is a real possibility, what can we do to make it happen?

I'd rather make a dash to fuel cells.

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« Reply #42: December 08, 2010, 09:38:49 pm »

I'd rather make a dash to fuel cells.

Fuel cells are probably more iffy than a thorium reactor. Fuel cells are hard to make in mass quantities at affordable prices -- despite many years of trying.
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« Reply #43: December 09, 2010, 07:42:07 pm »

Fuel cells are probably more iffy than a thorium reactor. Fuel cells are hard to make in mass quantities at affordable prices -- despite many years of trying.

Since the Apollo program - one would think something would have improved by now.  About ten years ago Ford had a 75 amp fuel-cell Taurus prototype.  I wonder what happened to it.

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« Reply #44: December 09, 2010, 08:24:11 pm »

Since the Apollo program - one would think something would have improved by now. 

They have improved a huge amount, just not enough to be competitive in production cost and maintenance cost with the internal combustion engine (even with all its pollution control equipment).
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