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Practical Nuclear Waste Disposal

Waste has been depicted as the Achilles heel of the nuclear power industry but then too has as been, safety, water, cost and lack of evacuation planning.

Essentially the industry has a lot of problems but the focus of this piece is the spent fuel.

In 1984, a committee of the International Council of Scientific Unions on the geology of nuclear waste disposal concluded that century-long interim storage was essential and that disposal in subduction trenches and ocean sediments deserves more attention.

The sub-seabed approach was the subject of extensive peer-reviewed research, and as the late Henry Kendall, Nobel laureate in physics, who was deeply involved in the question of nuclear waste, its dangers and disposal, as well as a major nuclear arms control activist, called it a “sweet solution”.

In 1996, however, the 1972 Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter was amended to prohibit the dumping of any radioactive waste at sea and ten years later the “Protocol” entered into force and can not be appealed for at least twenty-five years.

Sweden, however, which is considered one of the most advanced nations in the field has for decades been storing low and intermediate level short-lived waste from power plants, hospitals, and industrial users a kilometre offshore, under the Baltic Sea, at a depth of 50 to 100, and proposes a high-level repository for the same location.

The subductive waste disposal method, invented by this writer, too eliminates nuclear and toxic waste materials beneath the seabed, in repositories radiating from an access tunnel constructed into a subtending tectonic plate, where the material descends within the subducting plate into the mantle of the earth, which is also an approach not proscribed by the London Dumping Convention.

It is also one of only three options recommended by Yevgeny Velikhov of the Kurchatov Institute in a 2004 article, “World has no feasible project yet to liquidate nuclear waste”.  The others are the shipment of the waste to the sun by space freight ferries and the placement into the Antarctic ice cap.

Five years earlier, the Russian Duma presented a draft law intended to remove all the legal obstacles to the importation of foreign spent fuel into Russia because, as Nuclear Power Minister Yevgeny Adamov, pointed out, spent nuclear fuel collection from other countries is a “$150 billion business” and “a golden opportunity for Russia”.

The plan was widely supported in the west but in July of 2006 Rosatom announced it would not proceed with the endeavour.

About 25 years earlier, in 1980, the IAEA-sponsored International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation recommended proposals “for establishing multinational and international repositories should be elaborated” due to their non-proliferation advantages.

“Centralised facilities for disposal of spent fuel and/or vitrified high-level wastes …. would reduce the diversion risk” and be more economical,” the proposal said.

The World Nuclear Association has identified a number of international nuclear waste disposal concepts including; a European regional repository, similar concepts for the Middle East and North Africa and the same for South East Asia and in 2016 a high-level commission in South Australia recommended the establishment of an international repository in that country, which the commission determined would generate more than AUD 100 billion ($77 billion US) in income in excess of expenditures.

The Australian repository would accommodate 90,000 tonnes of used fuel.

The IAEA estimates that 370,000 metric tonnes used fuel has been discharged since the first nuclear power plants commenced operation, with about 120,000 metric tonnes being reprocessed leaving a balance, 250,000 metric tonnes in storage or about 22,000m3 worth.

For 2016, the IAEA identifies 31 nuclear nations producing power from 451 reactors. But of these countries, only Finland has a repository under construction at an estimated cost of $3.9 billion to accommodate the waste of the country’s 4 reactors.

By comparison, the cost of the proposed US Yucca Mountain repository for 70,000 tonnes of used fuel for America’s 100 reactors is $96.2 billion or about $1 billion/reactor, the same as Finland.

So perhaps a rule of thumb for all the nuclear nations would be $1 billion per reactor but Elizabeth and Richard Muller threw this notion out the window this month with their revelation of their Deep Isolation technology that leverages recent advances in directional drilling to provide a safe and less expensive approach to the long-term storage and disposal of nuclear waste.

According to the company’s website, a two-mile-long repository can be constructed for under $10M, and hold 300 tons of waste, so the cost would be under $130,000 per ton.

By this writer’s calculation this should be $33,333 per ton, but even at the higher figure, this is over 10 times less than the US OMB estimate of $96 billion for Yucca Mountain that would hold 70,000 tons of waste.

But beside the tremendous savings, the real benefit of the Deep Isolation technology is safety. Yucca Mountain would emplace waste at a depth of about 300 meters, above the water table, whereas “deep isolation” would situate the waste a mile down, far below aquifers that have not been in contact with the surface for a million years or more and in geologic formations that have been stable for tens of millions of years compared to a region, that has witnessed volcanoes as close as 12 miles away, and as recently as 75,000 years ago.

Deep Isolation, however, is neither a new idea nor is it the most cost-effective solution to the spent fuel problem.

Spent fuel is a viable resource for the production of unconventional oil from tight and oil sands formations.  It is problematic because it is hot and degrades the geology of repositories that are necessary to isolate the ionization emitted by the fuel from living things.

The world nuclear organization estimates that decay heat per tonne of typical used fuel is about 1 kW per tonne ten years after the fuel bundles have been removed from a reactor.

The US Energy Information Administration reports that, on average, a kilowatt-hour costs about $.12 USD across the country and since 250,000 metric tonnes of waste is currently in storage, increasing by about 27 tonnes per year for each 1000-MW plant, this represents an annual $260 million energy resource in the right geology.

As Business Insider pointed out 8 years ago the nuclear assisted hydrocarbon production, invented by this writer, can unlock a portion of the 1.2 to 1.8 trillion barrels of oil within the Green River Formation of the United States and Metal Miner showed how the same  can produce bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands.

Green River Shale and the oil sands represent opposite ends of the oil spectrum.

The following schematic from the Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, shows the progression of living organisms, through kerogen and then through thermal degradation and cracking to crude oil and then natural gas.

Kerogen is a mixture of organic chemicals with carbon chains as long as 215 in the case of the Green River Formation.

The shorter the carbon chains the more valuable is the hydrocarbon.

Kerogen is slowly heated as it is compressed by the accumulating overburden and between 50–150 °C it goes through what is known as the oil window and between 150–200 °C it turns to natural gas.

Spent fuel can provide the heat required to hasten the natural conversion of young kerogen into oil and what’s more, ionization can help to break down the bonds of the long-chain hydrocarbon molecules, making them more valuable.

Instead of relatively young hydrocarbon material, Alberta’s oil sands are the residue of oil that has been consumed by microbes over millions of years, leaving only the bitumen.

Producing this material is a matter of heating the bitumen to make it flow to a producing well and then cracking the long chains by the addition of hydrogen atoms at the breaks.

Here too ionization radiation can facilitate the breaking of the chains, and making bitumen flow is a less energy-intensive process than migrating kerogen through the oil window.

So what is preventing the United States or Canada for that matter, from solving the nuclear waste problem at less than 10 percent of the existing cost?

In Canada, it is a matter of political timidity and short-sightedness but for the US it is the Nuclear Waste Policy Act  of 1982 and now the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017, also known as the  “Screw Nevada Bill.” and the “Screw Nevada Two Bill.”

The original Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 authorized the DOE to consider Nevada, Washington, and Texas as possible repository sites but the DOE failed to carry out the necessary site assessments so in 1987 Congress designated Nevada as the only permanent U.S. nuclear storage facility, thus the “Screw Nevada Bill”.

But besides Nevadans, who have fought the 1987 decision to a standstill for over 30 years, others are being screwed as well, including:

  • nuclear power ratepayers world-wide who have paid billions of dollars into funds intended for repositories that are for the most works of fiction.
  • the citizens of communities in which spent fuel has been building up for decades for want of these repositories,
  • the inventors and their backers who have gone broke seeing their visions for solving the problem unfulfilled, and
  • lastly, the politicians and policymakers themselves who have repeatedly demonstrate their ineptitude at tackling this and the other major issues that have confronted them for over thirty years.

In her novel “Atlas Shrugged“, Ayn Rand explored the consequences of a strike by intellectuals refusing to supply their inventions, art, business leadership, scientific research, or new ideas to the rest of the world. “The men of the mind” instead gathered in Galt’s Gulch, which Rand modeled on the city of Ouray, Colorado, which fittingly is situated near the Piceance Basin, which is part of the Green River Shales.

Since the book, which was published in 1957,  recounts the founding of Galt’s Gulch in 2011 and events through 2019, Rand was strikingly prescient and perhaps an intellectual boycott is long overdue currently as well?

Jim Baird's picture

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Apr 6, 2018 4:37 am GMT

Jim, the nuclear “waste” issue is not…an issue. Never has been.

The combined global spent fuel from power reactors, since the dawn of the nuclear era, would sit 9 meters deep on a single football field. It would be safely stored at Yucca Mountain for eons longer than the human race will survive the effects of runaway climate change.

The spent fuel from all the electricity I’ll use in my lifetime would fit inside an empty Coke can.

If we continue to allow irrational, primitive fears to dominate reason, to deny nuclear’s usefulness for fighting climate change, we are doomed.

“There is no credible path to climate stabilization that does not include a substantial role for nuclear power.“
Open Letter – COP21
James Hansen, Columbia University
Kerry Emanuel, MIT
Ken Caldeira, Carnegie Institution for Science
Tom Wigley, University of Adelaide

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on Apr 6, 2018 3:00 pm GMT

“No credible path”?


30 Terawatts, 3250 Years, 13.7
Degrees Surface Temperature

“The nuclear “waste” issue is not…an issue. Never has been.”

One mans opinion.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Apr 6, 2018 4:51 pm GMT

Jim, OTEC might one day be considered a credible path after a single working system of scale has been demonstrated. But right now, like solar and wind, combined OTEC systems necessary to meet global electricity needs, plus the transmission necessary to distribute it, plus mitigating its vulnerability to severe weather would require resources best described as imaginary.

My opinion on spent fuel is not mine alone. In fact, pretty much anyone you ask who has experience with radioactive materials and storing spent nuclear fuel would agree. Let’s start with this: can you give me an example of a human, plant, or animal which has been harmed or killed by contact with spent nuclear fuel from a U.S. power reactor? Then at least we’d have some empirical, non-imaginary evidence to consider.

Jarmo Mikkonen's picture
Jarmo Mikkonen on Apr 6, 2018 8:32 pm GMT

nuclear power ratepayers world-wide who have paid billions of dollars into funds intended for repositories that are for the most works of fiction.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onkalo_spent_nuclear_fuel_repository

Jarmo Mikkonen's picture
Jarmo Mikkonen on Apr 6, 2018 9:44 pm GMT

Sorry but OTEC seems a marginal technology. Poor EROEI, works only in tropics in deep waters.

30 TW seems a bit far-fetched when the biggest existing plant is 100 kW.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Apr 6, 2018 9:51 pm GMT

Regarding your question; there may be little evidence of health harm by nuclear in USA due to little research done.
But clear health and genetics harm are shown in other countries, such as e.g. UK regarding nuclear waste dump Sellafield.

Sellafields male workers got 39% more boys than girls
And of course also increased frequency of still birth and cancers when the father got more radiation during his work at Sellafield.

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on Apr 6, 2018 10:57 pm GMT

Bob I think the point is life forms have to be kept from contacting spent fuel. Thus the need for a repository. It is seems to me it would best if it was one that can pays its way with $270 million of energy capable of producing hydrocarbons. The EROI for SAGD operations is between 3 to 4 so you would get over a billion for the oil.

Whether you think waste is a problem or not, it has become an impediment, psychological or not, to the industry the same ways as emissions are a problem for the hydorcarbon producers.

Win/win or lose/lose?

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Apr 7, 2018 9:39 am GMT

Sweden, … has for decades been storing low and intermediate level short-lived waste … under the Baltic Sea, at a depth of 50 to 100, and proposes a high-level repository for the same location.

Those and other contributed to a roughly 10 fold increased radiation level of the Baltic Sea. Together with the Irish Sea where UK dumped radio-active material, it made the Baltic sea the most radio-active contaminated sea in the world as reported by a.o. an Helsinki convention commission.
Note that the graph below (from the linked report) has a logarithmic vertical scale.

Though difficult to show with high significance levels, it’s clear that slightly increased radiation levels have an important detrimental effect on the quality of the genes of newborn & next generations.
Also on the chance that newborn suffer from major diseases such as serious neural tube defects (Down syndrome, etc), abnormal limbs, etc.

Permanent separation of nuclear waste from our habitat is extremely difficult as shown by the German experience with their nuclear waste store in the geologic stable old salt mine Asse2, 600meter below the surface. The heat from the waste in the casks made the stable salt more fluid so cavities collapsed, water could penetrate, etc.

Geologists estimate that that contaminated water may reach the surface in a few thousand years making the land above unsuitable for agriculture, etc.
So the nuclear waste has to be brought up to the surface which only to be developed robots can do safe. Because of the now increased radiation levels in the repository at 600meter deep. A major burden for next generations…

Jarmo Mikkonen's picture
Jarmo Mikkonen on Apr 7, 2018 10:11 am GMT

Childhood leukaemia is rare, but the committee looked at all cases within 5, 10 and 25 km of nuclear power plants and compared those with incidence elsewhere. They found that the risk was “extremely small, if not zero” for those living in close proximity to nuclear plants.

They also analysed incidence around seven sites earmarked for nuclear power plants which were never actually built. Around these areas they did find an above average incidence of leukaemia. The scientists said this anomaly showed that where clusters of cases are found, care is needed in attributing the root cause.

Previous studies have shown that the incidence of childhood leukaemia differ more than would be expected from chance – in other words, there must be a cause for clusters of cases. But the oncologists, epidemiologists and nuclear experts on COMARE do not think radiation from nuclear plants is responsible.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/ferguswalsh/2011/05/childhood_le...

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on Apr 7, 2018 2:41 pm GMT


Greenhouse warming 100 times greater than waste heat

In 3,000 years time the waste heat from nuclear and/or fussion will be a massive problem.

With “heat pipe OTEC” global temperatures will be back to pre-industrial levels.

There is only 100kW currently but there is only about 280 GW of nuclear power which is a long way from 25 TW.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Apr 7, 2018 2:55 pm GMT

Psychological or not? Jim, if we assume “waste” is a psychological problem, it’s not a liability of nuclear technology but of public perception. Kind of like blaming an accident on a car’s inadequate braking system, instead of the half-empty bottle of whiskey at the driver’s feet.

If some are terrorized by imaginary concerns about spent fuel it’s a problem best addressed with education and counseling. Our goal should be to make carbon emissions, the existential problem for humanity, an existential problem for the fossil fuel industry. Currently it’s little more than a PR nuisance.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Apr 7, 2018 4:20 pm GMT

Bas, do you even look at the sources to which you link?

Current cs137 contamination in the Baltic is the result of weapons testing in the 1950s-1960s. It has nothing – repeat nothing – to do with Chernobyl or any discharges from nuclear power plants.
cs137radiation, which according to Greenpeace will supposedly threaten humanity for “millions of years”, plummeted after the accident and has since 1994 been at lower levels in the Baltic than before.

http://www.thorium-now.org/images/cs137-baltic.jpg

Geologists estimate that that contaminated water may reach the surface in a few thousand years…

What geologist would make such an absurd statement (is Hagen Scherb calling himself a geologist now)? Cesium’s density is twice that of seawater – it sinks like a rock. You might as well say, “Geologists estimate that the Titanic may reach the surfce of the Atlantic in a few thousand years…”

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Apr 7, 2018 5:59 pm GMT

Jim, SkepticalScience.com is a climate denier portal. There was a time when links to such websites could get you banned from theenergycollective.com – don’t know if that’s still the policy, but please don’t do it anyway.

In this case, someone there skipped a few decimal places – waste heat from industry is not 1/100 of solar insolation, but at least two orders of magnitude less than that. The problem is not even heat from the sun, but the greenhouse effect – that it’s being trapped by atmospheric CO2.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Apr 7, 2018 9:41 pm GMT

Your study concerns a different subject, not relevant to my comment.

The cancer study in my comment refers to the children of male workers at Sellafield which may live & were born far away. It is distance independent from Sellafield as their damaged genes came from the their father whose sperm contains damaged genes as shown by the fact that they produced 39% more boys than girls.

Furthermore your study considers only leukemia, a rare form of cancer. So anyway less chance to find something significant….

Jarmo Mikkonen's picture
Jarmo Mikkonen on Apr 8, 2018 6:19 am GMT

In 3,000 years time the waste heat from nuclear and/or fussion will be a massive problem.

Jim, 3000 years is a mighty long time and perhaps the lack of heat as the current interglacial ends will become an even greater problem.

But I agree with you with the idea that the future belongs to nuclear energy. And renewables.

There is only 100kW currently but there is only about 280 GW of nuclear power which is a long way from 25 TW.

Actually, there is close to 400 GW of nuclear power capacity, which is only 4 million times more than 100 kW….. it’s a very, very long way from 100 kW to 25 TW of capacity.

25 TW of capacity seems excessive. The current global electricity generation is 25000 TWh which could be supplied by 2500 large NPPs.

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on Apr 9, 2018 2:34 pm GMT

“Because of power cycle operating conditions, nuclear power plants reject more waste heat per unit of electricity produced than comparable fossil stations.”

https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/6495905

Even if the quote is from SkepticalScience, the references from Flanner, Integrating anthropogenic heat flux with global climate model and Chaisson Long-Term Global Heating From Energy Usage are valid.

Chaison says, “If global nonrenewable energy use continues increasing at its current rate of about 2% annually and if all greenhouse gases are sequestered, then a 3ºC rise will still occur
in roughly 8 doubling times, or about 280 years (or ~350 years for a 10ºC rise).”

The way to avoid this is to recycle the heat already in the atmosphere and the ocean.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Apr 9, 2018 4:59 pm GMT

Jim, your OSTI study is forty years old. We could assume nuclear plants will forever remain as inefficient as they were forty years ago, but why – unless we harbored irrational fears of nuclear spent fuel, or were were aiming to undermine the legitimacy of climate science?

Total non-renewable, primary energy generated by humans is 141.5 petawatthours/yr (coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear). 5,556 times as much energy reaches the Earth’s surface from the Sun every year (786,268 pWh), and before the Anthropocene Epoch all was either reflected or radiated harmlessly back out to space as black-body radiation.

As a result of anthropogenic carbon emissions some of that energy is trapped, so the Earth is getting warmer. It has nothing to do with heat energy emitted by coal plants, by nuclear plants, or any other terrestrial source of heat.

I have no idea why Chaisson fails to account for the correlation of intensity of black-body radiation with temperature (the hotter a planet gets, the more energy it emits) and I honestly don’t have any interest in chasing down assumptions in sources derived from climate-denier websites. Who has time?

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Apr 9, 2018 5:03 pm GMT

Jim, your OSTI study is forty years old. We could, of course, assume nuclear plants will forever remain as inefficient as they were forty years ago. But unless we harbored irrational fears of nuclear spent fuel, or were were aiming to undermine the legitimacy of climate science, why?

Total non-renewable, primary energy generated by humans is 141.5 petawatthours/yr (coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear). 5,556 times as much energy reaches the Earth’s surface from the Sun every year (786,268 pWh), and before the Anthropocene Epoch all was either reflected or radiated harmlessly back out to space as black-body radiation.

As a result of anthropogenic carbon emissions some of that energy is trapped, so the Earth is getting warmer. It has nothing to do with heat energy emitted by coal plants, by nuclear plants, or any other terrestrial source of heat.

I have no idea why Chaisson fails to account for the correlation of intensity of black-body radiation with temperature (the hotter a planet gets, the more energy it emits) and I honestly don’t have any interest in chasing down assumptions in sources derived from climate-denier websites. Who has time?

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on Apr 10, 2018 2:01 am GMT

Power paradox: Clean might not be green forever

Over the past few thousand years, Earth was roughly in equilibrium and the climate changed little. Now levels of greenhouse gases are rising, and roughly 380 TW less heat is escaping. Result: the planet is warming.

The warming due to the 16 TW or so of waste heat produced by humans is tiny in comparison. However, if humanity manages to thrive despite the immense challenges we face, and keeps on using more and more power, waste heat will become a huge problem in the future. If the demand for power grew to 5000 TW, Chaisson has calculated, it would warm the planet by 3 °C.

If you a problem with SkepticalScience, perhaps Chaisson’s mentor, Carl Sagan, is more compelling, “any intelligent civilisation on any planet will eventually have to use the energy of its parent star, exclusively.”

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on Apr 10, 2018 12:41 pm GMT

Let’s do the math here:

However, if humanity manages to thrive despite the immense challenges we face, and keeps on using more and more power, waste heat will become a huge problem in the future. If the demand for power grew to 5000 TW, Chaisson has calculated, it would warm the planet by 3 °C.

That’s an increase of roughly 300x, 2.5 orders of magnitude.

It’s pretty safe to say that any civilization using that much energy will have made energy extremely cheap, and will be able to afford to move its heavy industry off the planet.  The Earth receives ~174,000 TW of sunlight; relatively speaking, it won’t take much radiator area off in space to get rid of a measly 5000 TW of waste heat.

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on Apr 11, 2018 4:39 pm GMT

The math is, roughly 380 TW less heat is already being radiated back into space and mainly accumulating in the oceans. It needs to be recycle into work. This “measly” 380 TW is what is killing us.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Apr 11, 2018 6:35 pm GMT

Jim, no. As EP points out, 174,000 TW reaches the Earth from the sun and all of it, except for .15 W/m^2, is reflected or radiated back to space. Trapped energy from the Sun, responsible for Earth’s energy imbalance, is the cause of climate change and is entirely due to atmospheric carbon.

380 TW is an insignificant addition to the problem, and will be even less of a problem 3,000 years from now – Homo Sapiens will have long since succumbed to an environment 22ºF hotter than the one in which it evolved.

TV personality Carl Sagan was an astronomer who became famous by pretending to be an expert on everything else (alien intelligence, spirituality, altered states), and who couldn’t even get it right in his chosen field. If you really want to understand Earth’s energy imbalance, read the work of a renknowned expert on the subject.
Earth’s Energy Imbalance and Implications

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Apr 11, 2018 11:06 pm GMT

Bob,
So you did even not read the introduction (page 7-8) of the Helsinki report and start accusing me with a single graph that concerns only Cs-137 measured at one point only…

Start reading the Helsinki report about the increase of the radio-activity levels of the Baltic sea, then it becomes obvious that Chernobyl and other are the major contributing factor.

Even your linked Cs-137 graph demonstrates a peak in 1986 (Chernobyl) and another ~5 years earlier. Though those decrease relative fast as cesium is assimilated fast (the reason the Cs-137 graph is misleading).

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on Apr 12, 2018 5:33 am GMT

You should not be citing the co-author of the “Illuminatus” series as an authority contra Carl Sagan.  Sagan un-ravelled the mystery of the surface temperature of Venus.  Robert Anton Wilson was a fantasist.

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on Apr 12, 2018 7:53 am GMT

Bob perhaps you should have another look at Hansen again. It says The inferred planetary energy imbalance is 0.59 +-0.15 W/m2. Since the surface is 510 million km2, this is 306 TW though in the New Scientist piece they estimate it a 380 TW.

I have usually gone by the Lyman, NOAA articleOcean Stored Significant Warming Over Last 16 Years that says the “world’s ocean has warmed since 1993, indicating a strong climate change signal, according to a new study. The energy stored is enough to power nearly 500 100-watt light bulbs per each of the roughly 6.7 billion people on the planet continuously over the 16-year study period.” Which would be 335 TW.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Apr 12, 2018 1:41 pm GMT

No EP, Sagan did not “unravel the mystery of the surface temperature of Venus” – he started the discussion.
James Hansen unravelled the mystery, and tied it to terrestrial global warming.

Hansen had originally become interested in the greenhouse effect when, in response to Sagan’s primitive calculations, he tried to derive a better explanation of why the planet’s atmosphere was so hot. Now Hansen’s findings about sulfate aerosols strengthened his belief that these particles could make a serious difference for the Earth’s climate as well.

Sagan was responsible for important research on how humanity would react to contact with space critters. It gave pothead futurists much to think about in 1985.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Apr 12, 2018 1:49 pm GMT

Jim, thanks for correcting me on solar irradiance. .15W/m2 did seem low to me.

My premise stands: yes, the ocean is storing tremendous quantities of added heat energy. All but .018% of it came from the Sun, and it’s only happening because of anthropogenic climate change. Heat energy from nuclear plants never has been, and never will be, a problem.

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on Apr 12, 2018 5:59 pm GMT

“Heat energy from nuclear plants never has been, and never will be, a problem.”

Even if nukes were 50% efficient, 25 TW of nuclear power would produce 25 TWh of waste heat or 7.5% of current global warming.

In the alternative 25 TW of heat pipe OTEC, over 3,250 years would convert all of the current heat of warming to productive energy.

I guesss there is no convincing the nuclear true believers.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on Apr 12, 2018 7:59 pm GMT

In the alternative 25 TW of heat pipe OTEC, over 3,250 years would convert all of the current heat of warming to productive energy.

25 TW of heat-pipe OTEC at 3% thermal efficiency would mix 808.3 TW of waste heat down into the deep ocean, 24/7/365.  This is more than double the current ocean-heating rate.

I guesss there is no convincing the nuclear true believers.

Despite its demonstrated failure to become commercially viable even after 4+ decades of development, the OTEC true believers soldier on.  You have to admire their optimism, but you can’t fix our problems with a technology that hasn’t been made to work at scale.

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on Apr 12, 2018 8:49 pm GMT

The efficiency of heat pipe OTEC system using ammonia as the working fluid is 7.6%,
Heat transfer for ocean thermal energy conversion

Thus 335 TW of warming.

The reason OTEC hasn’t become commercially, amongst other things, is the fact the only that has been put into the technology has been for upwelling strategies that are only 3% effeicient. Try doing it the right way and you will get the right result.

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on Apr 12, 2018 8:57 pm GMT

It still isn’t operating.

Finland has only 4 reactors and the advertised cost of this repository is $3.9 billion. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/09/science/nuclear-reactor-waste-finland...

How happy are you paying 10 times for waste disposal than you should be paying, which was the point of this post in the first place?

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on Apr 13, 2018 12:04 am GMT

Filed in 2006, 12 years ago.  Why no action yet?

Let’s see this in practice before we bet the rent on it.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Apr 13, 2018 3:17 am GMT

Jim, you’ll have a hard time convincing anyone with a fundamental understanding of geophysics. You’re basing your argument on the mistaken idea 100% of energy generated by nuclear plants is absorbed by the atmosphere or the Earth itself.

An average of 342 W/m2 of insolation reaches the Earth’s upper atmosphere from the Sun, and .59 W/m2 is trapped by carbon in the atmosphere – the Earth’s energy imbalance. An average of 341.4 W/m2 is reflected or radiated out to space – energy is leaving Earth almost as fast as its arriving. The same thing happens to all thermal energy generated at the Earth’s surface, whether it comes from a nuclear plant, a coal plant, or a forest fire. 99.82% of it radiates harmlessly out to space.

If the Earth trapped every photon which arrived, as you seem to believe, the Earth would have boiled away billions of years ago. If the Sun suddently turned off, within a year the average temperature of the Earth’s surface would be -100ºF, warmed only by heat conducted from within.

Jarmo Mikkonen's picture
Jarmo Mikkonen on Apr 13, 2018 4:31 am GMT

Onkalo is owned and run by Posiva which is owned by NPP operators. As you may know, spent fuel rods are kept in pools of water for 40 years or more more before they are ready for repository. The facility is ready when needed, since the first reactors started operating 1977-1982. The facility will take spent fuel until 2114 when it is locked and sealed.

The cost is paid by nuclear operators. The additional cost to nuclear power price is calculated as 0.17 cents/kWh. Finland enjoys one of the cheapest electricity prices in Europe which makes me happy as an electricity consumer.

Another way is is to calculate the cost for 100 000 years. It is 85 euros a day.

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