In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in March, the appetite for new nuclear power plants slipped to post-Chernobyl lows. Regulators from Italy to Switzerland to Texas moved to stop pending nuclear-power projects, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) began to reevaluate the safety of all domestic plants. Yet nuclear power still provides 20 percent of America's total electric power and 70 percent of its emissions-free energy, in large part because no alternative energy source can match its efficiency.
One nuclear plant with a footprint of one square mile provides the energy equivalent of 20 square miles of solar panels, 1,200 windmills or the entire Hoover Dam. If the country wants to significantly reduce its dependence on carbon-based energy, it will need to build more nuclear power plants. The question is how to do so safely.
In the 30 years since regulators last approved the construction of a new nuclear plant in the U.S., engineers have improved reactor safety considerably. (You can see some of the older, not-so-safe ones in this sweet gallery.) The newest designs, called Generation III+, are just beginning to come online. (Generation I plants were early prototypes; Generation IIs were built from the 1960s to the 1990s and include the facility at Fukushima; and Generation IIIs began operating in the late 1990s, though primarily in Japan, France and Russia.)
Unlike their predecessors, most Generation III+ reactors have layers of passive safety elements designed to stave off a meltdown, even in the event of power loss. Construction of the first Generation III+ reactors is well under way in Europe. China is also in the midst of building at least 30 new plants. In the U.S., the Southern Company recently broke ground on the nation's first Generation III+ reactors at the Vogtle nuclear plant near Augusta, Georgia. The first of two reactors is due to come online in 2016.
(Click the above image for more details.)
Like many of the 20 or so pending Generation III+ facilities in the U.S., the Vogtle plant will house Westinghouse AP1000 reactors. A light-water reactor, the AP1000 prompts uranium-235 into a chain reaction that throws off high-energy neutrons. The particles heat water into steam, which then turns a turbine that generates electricity.
The greatest danger in a nuclear plant is a meltdown, in which solid reactor fuel overheats, melts, and ruptures its containment shell, releasing radioactive material. (Want more information? Check out our explainer on how nuclear reactors work--and how they fail.) Like most reactors, the AP1000 is cooled with electrically powered water pumps and fans, but it also has a passive safety system, which employs natural forces such as gravity, condensation and evaporation to cool a reactor during a power outage.
A central feature of this system is an 800,000-gallon water tank positioned directly above the containment shell. The reservoir's valves rely on electrical power to remain closed. When power is lost, the valves open and the water flows down toward the containment shell. Vents passively draw air from outside and direct it over the structure, furthering the evaporative cooling.
Depending on the type of emergency, an additional reservoir within the containment shell can be manually released to flood the reactor. As water boils off, it rises and condenses at the top of the containment shell and streams back down to cool the reactor once more. Unlike today's plants, most of which have enough backup power onsite to last just four to eight hours after grid power is lost, the AP1000 can safely operate for at least three days without power or human intervention.
Even with their significant safety improvements, Generation III+ plants can, theoretically, melt down. Some people within the nuclear industry are calling for the implementation of still newer reactor designs, collectively called Generation IV. The thorium-powered molten-salt reactor (MSR) is one such design. In an MSR, liquid thorium would replace the solid uranium fuel used in today's plants, a change that would make meltdowns all but impossible
(Click the above image for more details.)
MSRs were developed at Tennessee's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the early 1960s and ran for a total of 22,000 hours between 1965 and 1969. "These weren't theoretical reactors or thought experiments," says engineer John Kutsch, who heads the nonprofit Thorium Energy Alliance. "[Engineers] really built them, and they really ran." Of the handful of Generation IV reactor designs circulating today, only the MSR has been proven outside computer models. "It was not a full system, but it showed you could successfully design and operate a molten-salt reactor," says Oak Ridge physicist Jess Gehin, a senior program manager in the lab's Nuclear Technology Programs office.
The MSR design has two primary safety advantages. Its liquid fuel remains at much lower pressures than the solid fuel in light-water plants. This greatly decreases the likelihood of an accident, such as the hydrogen explosions that occurred at Fukushima. Further, in the event of a power outage, a frozen salt plug within the reactor melts and the liquid fuel passively drains into tanks where it solidifes, stopping the fission reaction. "The molten-salt reactor is walk-away safe," Kutsch says. "If you just abandoned it, it had no power, and the end of the world came--a comet hit Earth--it would cool down and solidify by itself."
Although an MSR could also run on uranium or plutonium, using the less-radioactive element thorium, with a little plutonium or uranium as a catalyst, has both economic and safety advantages. Thorium is four times as abundant as uranium and is easier to mine, in part because of its lower radioactivity. The domestic supply could serve the U.S.'s electricity needs for centuries. Thorium is also exponentially more efficient than uranium. "In a traditional reactor, you're burning up only a half a percent to maybe 3 percent of the uranium," Kutsch says. "In a molten-salt reactor, you're burning 99 percent of the thorium." The result: One pound of thorium yields as much power as 300 pounds of uranium--or 3.5 million pounds of coal.
Because of this efficiency, a thorium MSR would produce far less waste than today's plants. Uranium-based waste will remain hazardous for tens of thousands of years. With thorium, it's more like a few hundred. As well, raw thorium is not fissile in and of itself, so it is not easily weaponized. "It can't be used as a bomb," Kutsch says. "You could have 1,000 pounds in your basement, and nothing would happen."
Without the need for large cooling towers, MSRs can be much smaller than typical light-water plants, both physically and in power capacity. Today's average nuclear power plant generates about 1,000 megawatts. A thorium-fueled MSR might generate as little as 50 megawatts. Smaller, more numerous plants could save on transmission loss (which can be up to 30 percent on the present grid). The U.S. Army is interested in using MSRs to power individual bases, Kutsch says, and Google, which relies on steady power to keep its servers running, held a conference on thorium reactors last year. "The company would love to have a 70- or 80-megawatt reactor sitting next door to a data center," Kutsch says.
Even with military and corporate support, the transition to a new type of nuclear power generation is likely to be slow, at least in the U.S. Light-water reactors are already established, and no regulations exist to govern other reactor designs. Outside the U.S., the transition could come more quickly. In January the Chinese government launched a thorium reactor program. "The Chinese Academy of Sciences has approved development of an MSR with relatively near-term deployment--maybe 10 years," says Gehin, who thinks the Chinese decision may increase work on the technology worldwide. Even after Fukushima, "there's still interest in advanced nuclear," he says. "I don't see that changing."
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The nuclear power crowd always has some excuse for why it's "new and improved" designs are accident proof, and they are always terribly wrong, and great misery ensues. The pool of water resting above the reactor could be fractured and drained by earthquake shocks, again leaving a meltdown situation. Again with the talking points about energy density. The claim of big power from a small footprint conveniently leaves out the exclusion zones that result when accidents occur, and the fact that these dead zones are worthless forever, while the electricity lasts for a few decades. Even normal operations have shown increased cancer risks down wind from all reactors, as radiation releases are frequent. The huge amounts of water for cooling are a big factor, especially since thermal pollution and radiation are a hazard to other users of that water. I for one have no more patience to offer nuclear power. We should bury this example of mankind's greatest mistake.
There must be something missing from this article: If thorium-based MSR plants are smaller, safer, more secure, generate less waste with a thousanth the radioactivity and half-life of uranium... and we've known this since the sixties... why in the livin' hell haven't we converted our entire national power grid to thorium-based MSRs already?!?
It's because used thorium fuel cannot be weaponized. Look at this article in popsci for further reading: thorium-reactors-could-wean-world-oil-just-five-years
==> @Steven: Why are there no MSR power plants?
You may as well ask, "Why are there no Sony Betamax VCR's on the market?" MSR technology and nuclear engineering became like "Sony Betamax" and VCR technology. Today MSR technology is nowhere to be found in nuclear engineering textbooks and labs.
Basically Alvin Weinberg (head of the MSRE project at Oak Ridge) was fired for insisting on safer, and more efficient designs for nuclear reactors. This was a politically incorrect attitude when the head of the AEC believed he already had the final answers to safety documentation and safety procedures (via U.S. Navy reactor programs). He had a plan to fill the world with fast breeder reactors, not thermal (molten salt) reactors.
Alvin was deemed irrelevant and out of touch with reality. MSR development was set on a shelf, and inertia kept it there until 25 Jan 2011 when the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) announced their own development program. Reps from the CAS visited Oak Ridge Labs last Fall (2010) to make a reality check, and have now decided to eat our collective lunch by going after the IP and patent rights to molten salt reactors. This is a true "sputnik moment."
The most impressive response to the Chinese challenge has been the founding of Flibe Energy [...] www.flibe-energy.com [...] by Kirk Sorensen, with the blessing of his former employer, Teledyne-Brown Engineering, where he was Chief Nuclear Technologist for the last year or so. Flibe's goal is to have a functional, pilot-design Lithium-Flouride-Thorium Reactor (LFTR) on line by 1 Jun 2015, the 50th anniversary of the first MSR achieving criticality at Oak Ridge. Flibe will take the proven MSR theories and designs of 1965-1969 to commercial reality.
This agressive development program will succeed by using Computer Aided Design (CAD) programs that were non-existent in 1965; off-the-shelf pumps and plumbing; radiochemical synthesis via SCADA and Chemistry Process Control Units (CPCU) (also new since 1965); tapping private venture capital; and enlisting a staff of dedicated, enthusiastic professional engineers, IT, and business folks.
The rest of the world can go their merry way, boiling water, risking explosions, and straining to create designs using solid-fuel thorium. Flibe Energy will create a better way to "burn" all the HEU, spent fuel rods, Pu239, and 99% of the thorium fuel, then reduce the storage/disposal problems by a factor of 1,000 with LFTR's.
a 20-kilometer radius of Japan is now "closed" and uninhabitable due to nuclear radiation pollution from the six generators.
How is that "clean" energy?
-Just a 'bot that is hot in a 'lectronic world.
Molten Salt Reactors, as the second page describes, does not use water in the plant at all, not even for cooling.
This means the reactor can be placed practically anywhere, even potentially deep underground. Though for transmission losses, being close to where the energy is used is always better, unless superconducting transmission lines can be built.
The most promising MSR design uses Thorium Tetrafluoride as fuel, which was even tested in Oak Ridge back in the 60's when they tested the MSR. This design is called LFTR, or Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor.
The molten salt fuel loop is self-regulating, and can not melt down and technically, it is already molten, which is the whole point.
As the temperature in the reactor increases, the liquid fuel expands, causing less fuel to be in the reactor, thus slowing down the rate of fission.
In reverse, the lower temperature it is, the tighter it contracts, causing the rate of fission to increase.
This means it can adjust to the changing demand from the power grid.
So there is no need to actively cool the reactor, since the design will not overheat.
The liquid fuel cycle means that the reactor fuel can be processed on the fly, removing fission product that impede the continuation of the fission.
It also means you can continuously refuel it, meaning that it can potentially run for decades without ever shutting down because it ran out of fuel.
And as it was described in the article, there the passive "walk away" safety system using the freeze plug.
This was routinely used in the Oak Ridge MSR experiment, where they would literally shut off the power to the reactor on Friday, letting the fuel pour in to the drain tank, built for maximizing passive cooling, where it would cool and solidify during the weekend.
On Monday they would just turn on heaters around the tank, and then pump it back in to the reactor and continue.
This is the most robust safety system there is, because it is based on the laws of physics, namely gravity.
Also because of the use of this system, any fission product in the fuel that has not been removed during normal operation at the time of shutdown, will be trapped in the fuel when it solidifies, bonded with fluoride, waiting to be removed once the plant starts again.
The future of nuclear energy is the designs that use liquid thorium fuels, as it is the fact that the fuel now is solid that it can melt down, and current reactors are not designed for molten fuel.
And the thorium fuel cycle is also much, much more proliferation resistant.
The bulk of the "uninhabitable" area around Fukushima has an exposure rate of 3.5 mrem per year. The "hot" spots get as high as 5 mrem per year. Denver Colorado has a natural background level of 10 mrem per year due to elevation and being mountainous. Considering 1000 tons of uranium and over 1000 tons of thorium are dumped into the environment in particulate form every year by just one single coal plant and the US has over 600 coal facilities, Fukushima isn't even as bad as a week of standard fossil fuel operation in the US. You aren't familiar with radiation and fear mongers and the fossil fuel industry are using that to get you to make assumptions and choices against your best interests. Even if you use Greenpeace's numbers, coal still killed far more people in the past 25 years in the US alone than Chernobyl has globally. Nuclear also doesn't dump arsenic, lead, mercury, and half a dozen other toxic heavy metals into our water supplies. You need to look for information sources that don't have an ideology and agenda to promote.
Nature is not helping the Anti-Nuclear argument. According to their ideas about radiological contamination, a very large area around the Chernobyl Nuclear Energy Facility should be nothing but a swath of dead land, and should be dead for the next couple thousand years. I guess the pro-nukes have the access required to doctor satellite imagery to make the area look normal.
A little food for thought: If nuclear is pure evil, and fossil fuels are not much better and rapidly depleting, how are you going to produce a constant supply of electricity equaling 16 Terawatts a year? With solar? Wind? Neither of them can provide constant power. Solar PV has an energy output of 5kW/h per square meter, at noon on a clear day. Considering the entire planet uses 30MW/hr, that means you need Six Million square meters, or 6000km2 at optimum input to generate the required electricity. That is an absolutely massive area when it comes to maintenance, not to mention the environmental impact covering such an area will have on the ecology below and the climate above. Then you have the effects of the environment. Wind can cause damage to PV arrays, not to mention what a major disaster will do. Looking at numbers like that, even a 100km seclusion zone around a nuclear reactor is nothing, especially when you can scale said reactor to your output requirements. I took all my source data from www.Wikipedia.com by the way, so feel free to get your output over area data from a more reliable source.
Ugh, so nuke-haters show up here even in a science and technology magazine. The evidence that Nuclear Power, specifically thorium molten salt reactors, are the answer to most of the world's electric energy concerns (and many others) escapes you, even though the evidence is easily at hand. This is because there is so much lies and propaganda out there, trying to deceive you. If I were paranoid, I'd say it was the coal industry trying to stop the only thing that will keep them from taking over electrical generation when wind and solar fail. Coal, with its hazardous mining and dirty, radioactive emissions with lots of carbon dioxide, is not from the last century, but the century before that. A vote against nuclear is a vote for coal. But don't get hung up on the problems of Fukushima - that is old technology, we've got something so much better now, the LFTR, otherwise known as the Thorium Molten Salt Reactor. Read up on it, and you'll learn how it is the best answer.
and the anti nukes attack. as they do with every article everywhere. every comment they post is the same. fukushima doomed for six generations, chernobyl is a wasteland, millions killed in the usa from radiation. i have been debating these narrow visioned activists for what seems like forever on facebook nuclear pages. their "facts" are based on opinion pieces and "uncovered" secret government conspiracies.every interaction with them degenerates into almost hysteria. great article, keep up the good work.for more nuclear info check out "nuke roadie" on facebook. keep the information flowing.
Yeah, it's gonna be sweet when China is up and running with their Gen IV MSR's while we lag behind and run samo' samo' and create more Hanford sites while we wait for any of our old reactors to have a major accident. This is supposed to be one of those areas where the American people have put more than enough money into always being the leading edge, but as with green energy, we now cede even our own proven design in order to produce massive amounts of waste, less power per pound of material, and less safely. Oh yeah, and with a much less plentiful material that is much less efficient...real regular there U.S.D.O.E., N.R.C....
There would be absolutely no negative side effects if we covered every inch of the earth in solar panels, duh!
If that did cause some unforeseen drawbacks we could just cover the earth in windmills to harness the 'renewable' energy from the wind... that couldn't possibly have any negative effects, right?
Am I the only one that thinks that the systems should be self sufficient? During a power outage, the rods are still boiling water and making steam, which is generating power... why the outage inside the plant? I understand that when lines and transforms are down, power can't be transmitted out, but if the systems are built so that it maintains self sufficiency first and foremost, than there *should* never be a condition to cause a meltdown, unless all the plants generators are damaged... I just can't fathom why these plants were designed without internal reduntant power supplies, they knew meltdown was a danger, the way the system *should* be built is that, no matter what happens outside the plant, as long as the generators keep spinning, the cooling systems stay online.
But I guess that's just too much to ask for.
Playing Devil's Advocate since 1978
"The only constant in the universe is change"
-Heraclitus of Ephesus 535 BC - 475 BC
Does the illustration picture the control room directly under the reactor? Should give the operators incentive to prevent melt down.
1. Nuclear power comes with a long, dirty tail that also has to be factored into it's costs and impact: mining, refining, storage, transport, and disposal.
2. I'll accept nuclear power is safe and cost-effective when Price-Anderson is repealed and the government stops indemnifying nuclear power plants.
3. That being said, I'm not opposed to nuclear power but neither am I blind to its faults; it is not a silver bullet and much more research is required before I would recommend it over renewable sources of energy in the long run.
a quick read through wikipedia:
"Thorium is found in small amounts in most rocks and soils; it is three times more abundant than tin in the Earth's crust and is about as common as lead."
"much cleaner: as a full recycle system, the discharge wastes from the reactor are predominately fission products, most of which have relatively short half lives compared to longer-lived actinide wastes. This can result in a significant reduction in the containment period in a geologic repository (300 years vs. tens of thousands of years)"
-abundant sources of thorium doesn't really mean it will never reach it's peak. but it's much better than advocating for natural gas.
-electric cars/vehicles of the future could be powered by thorium plants. although that could mean that thorium would reach it's peak at a more accelerated pace.
-shorter half life of 300 years for waste materials instead of tens of thousands. although 300 years is still a very long time and compound it with the rapid rate of population growth and it's further needs in the development of real estate and other resources, still makes the disposal of the accumulating nuclear waste a huge problem.
-although i have to admit that these next-gen nuke designs are starting to get impressive with their efficiency, which is very commendable as a temporary solution for the energy/climate change crisis.
but eventually, the idea of developing further the technologies that would harness sustainable fuel sources that does not produce harmful waste materials as well as eventually applying the concepts of wireless energy transfer in it's distribution system, is still a goal worth striving for.
A little food for thought: whenever scientists come up with new and better ideas to produce electricity more safely--uncommonly large amounts of national ignorance will kill it (the idea).
Do you anti-nuclear energy posters realize that the burning of fossil fuels is maiming the entire planet? The greenhouse effect, rising water levels every year, ozone depletion, the environmental and ecological effects of pollution, etc. will make our planet unsuitable for life soon. These nuclear power plant meltdowns are disastrous with practically permanent effects on the environment, but they are extremely rare. If the thorium based nuclear plant design is truly as advantageous and safe as is claimed, then it seems like a solution to the energy production crisis that will happen in the near future.
As the article states the land area required to power the world with solar and wind is massive and unless some revolutionary advances are made will not be capable of producing enough energy. I'm sure we will find better ways to produce energy in the future, but we have not yet discovered or refined them and are running out of time. Maybe some type of geo-based plant that uses the heat from the Earth's core to produce energy or safe fusion. We can also reduce our electricity needs by redesigning the systems/devices that use the most.
However, industrial countries everywhere need to make colossal changes within the century, which isn't much time to make a breakthrough discovery in fusion or anything else and produce it. A resource that literally took millions of years to form will have been entirely consumed by mankind in a few hundred years. And our consumption of it will have severely damaged the planet. Name another short-term solution that efficiently produces as much energy as fission that is practical and capable of producing the increasing amount of electricity humanity requires. If you are capable of answering that question and engineering its design, the world is ready to give you billions of dollars and accolades.
Look, we're running out of fossil fuels and wind and solar will never meet the worlds energy demands. We have to get a little dirty ok.
I would just like to say whoever designed the AP1000 reactor (1st picture) has a horrible placement for the control room... right underneath the reactor.
"is it melting down?"
*looks up* "yep."
@aligatorhardt Gee, your ignorant line of thinking is what has the US stuck with aging Gen II reactors just like all the others that have had meltdowns. Anti-Nuclear activists will doom the US to having a meltdown scenario in the near future unless we can break their ignorant blockades and build newer and safer reactors.
How the heck is nuclear "efficient"? Nuclear is only about 30% efficient, and the rest is dumped into the ocean as thermal discharge.
And RADIOACTIVITY is "clean"? In your dreams...
I am SO sick and tired of these nuclear idiots playing Russian roulettes with our lives! WE CAN NOT CO-EXIST WITH RADIOACTIVITY. WE WILL DIE FROM BEING EXPOSED TO IT. GET. REAL.
When there was an accident at the Gen I reactor, their excuse was that Gen II reactors are much more safe.
And now that there was an accident at Fukushima, their excuse is Gen III reactors are much "safer". And if there was another accident, then they will probably say that Gen IV reactors are much "safer". It just goes on and on. NO TECHNOLOGY IS 100% SAFE! GET REAL, NUCLEAR IDIOTS.
The nuclear dream is OVER! WAKE UP, NUCLEAR IDIOTS, YOUR DREAM IS ALREADY OVER. NUCLEAR IS NOT GOING TO RECOVER, EVER. IT IS ALREADY DEAD AND IN DECLINE.
We do NOT need expensive and dangerous nuclear plants just for pretend "clean, cheap and efficient" energy. We know that all these claims are pure lies. It is not clean, it is not cheap, and it is not efficient. It is financially impossible to build so many new expensive nuclear plants. It may even be politically impossible in many places. Renewables are going to take over in 20 years. Nuclear is already dead.
There are 10,000 times more sunlight than we need to power up the entire world's electricity needs. We just need to use that 1 part in 10,000. And the sun is going to last for billions of years, while the precious uranium will deplete in as early as 40 years.
We can store the electricity in nano-engineered fuel cells. This is already happening. This is the future. Not needlessly dangerous and expensive nuclear with no future. And how the heck are we going to deal with the radioactive waste that we'd have to manage for centuries to millennia? Come up with a proper solution before going nuclear, please. Otherwise, going nuclear is just insanity, with NO plan or solution.
Thorium MSR sounds amazing and appears to have amazing potential. Hopefully China's interest in it will be a wake up call for us. I find it interesting that so many protesters who are anti- something focus only on negatives. If they would focus their energy on creating technology that will produce clean energy at a lower cost the world will be happy to switch over. When will people realize that the world needs energy and it is best to be productive rather than negative.
these next-gen nukes are just a temporary fix at best for at least the next 50 years or the worst global ecological disaster waiting to happen.
but the drastic effects of climate change nipping at our heels is probably what's gonna force our hands and bite the bullet and go partially nuclear.
phase out the coal, oil, natural gas, gen 1 & 2 nuclear power plants. bring in the renewables and augment it with gen 3 nuclear.
hopefully, even develop a wireless energy transfer distribution system while we're at it. which would allow electric vehicles continuous access to energy, with no longer the need to recharge it.
energy moguls might vehemently oppose that at first (jp morgan. *cough*). but since they can monitor the energy output from each powerplant. then i'm sure they can still find ways to monetize such a procedure.
but i really don't get this binary way of thinking about pro and anti nuclear propagandas..
just because some of us pro renewables doesn't necessarily mean we're anti-nuclear.
some of us are actually willing to look at the pros and cons of each and every technology offered on the table.
but at the same time we're also aware that there are other technologies out there being developed for renewables and look forward to the time when it reaches a stage where it can finally provide for all of our energy needs.
as a side note: unlike solar PVs, solar thermals can store heat via molten salts which can be used even at at night. the larger the storage capacity, the longer it can operate without sunlight.
a fresnel lens can focus sunlight to generate enough heat to melt concrete.
a parabolic mirror can can redirect sunlight and focus it a singular point.
greenhouse gases can allow sunlight to pass through while having heat retention properties.
a hermetically sealed dome lined with fresnel lenses, filled with greenhouse gas, and a parabolic mirror at the bottom refocusing ambient sunlight towards a pipe at the center of the dome containing the heat transfer liquid (ie: molten salt)
could theoretically generate the same amount of power as a traditional solar power tower that uses mirrors surrounding the tower to reflect sunlight towards it. while at the same time occupy less space (ideally small enough to fit on top a skyscraper) and it's dome shape can protect it from any adverse effects from the elements.
now, if augmented in urban settings along equatorial areas. it could add a significant impact to the power grid.
while at the same time, allowing the technology adopters a certain degree of freedom from power companies who would rather continuously leech money from them.
and that is what's important to some of us. being able to be free from the leash of those power moguls.
i'm not saying the above suggestion is a complete solution to the problem at hand. but i'm just trying to point out that certain innovations are being developed all of the time to address some of the faults that current renewables have.
just as nuclear is constantly improving, renewables are constantly improving as well..
anyway, this is just an example out of many technologies out there. there's also OTEC, CETO, etc..
and if we could only harness efficiently every sources of renewable energy that is available to us to it's full potential. then we have finally paved our way towards a clean and practically limitless energy source.
also, i would like to add that there are wind turbine designs that can be placed on top freeways where the vehicles moving below it can generate enough wind as they pass through.
just imagine the length of all of those roads combined and how much wind turbines can fit it. and how much traffic passes through it. then you now have an effective way to harness wind energy.
anyway, the point is that some of these wind, solar, etc. technologies can eventually be harnessed and augmented right inside urban settings with minimal impact to the environment or to the people that lives within it.
"Johnny had three truckloads of plutonium/thorium. He used three of them to light New York for 1 year. How much plutonium/thorium did he have left? -Answer: 4 truckloads."
Breeder reactors for the win! If you don't know what the thorium fuel cycle is, what the differences between Pu-235, Pu-238, and Th-232 are, why today's Nuclear Reactors require water, the difference between heavy and light water, what the conservation of energy entails, how power efficiencies are calculated, what the curve of binding energy tells us, the difference between fission and fusion, then you probably have not educated yourself to the point where you can intelligently partake in physics/engineering conversations.
Do yourself a favor and grab a copy of Serway and Jewett, and probably Townsend's Introduction to Quantum Mechanics and teach yourself!
People are focusing on the "negatives", because there ARE negatives. Not everything is just roses and peaches and everything will be magically all right if we only blindly supported it. My God, I can't believe that after Fukushima, people are still blind to the faults of nuclear. People are still blind to the fact that nuclear plants can meltdown. In fact, they are downright denying that it has even happened, or at least they're denying that it's bad as it is. They're in denial. I'd say this is an emotional blindness... they've been fervently and blindly supporting nuclear for so long that they just can not see the faults of nuclear. They see things through rose-colored glasses. It's almost like a religious support. Nuclear supporters are usually very dogmatic and zealous, it's always simply nuclear, or else. False dichotomies, denial, justifications and rationalizations are some of the nuclear peoples' favorite lines of defense.
Typical rationalizations used by the nuclear people:
False dichotomy = "It's either nuclear, or coal". "Nuclear or we go back to the ice age". "Nuclear or have the economy plummet". "Nuclear or we'll have an energy crisis".
Denial = "A nuclear meltdown will never happen." "A meltdown at Fukushima is impossible." "Fukushima is nothing like Chernobyl, and it will never be like Chernobyl." "Nuclear is just 100% safe, a nuclear accident will never occur, it's impossible."
Rationalization = "A meltdown at Fukushima is not so bad." "Radiation is not so bad, in fact it may even be good for you." "Radiation is harmless." "Radioactive waste is harmless and easy to manage." "We're all going to die anyway, so what if nuclear kills us?"
Justification = "We NEED nuclear to reduce the CO2." "Nuclear is a lot better than coal." "We need nuclear for the economy." "So what if nuclear killed a couple of people from exposure to radiation?"
Every technologies has advantages and an equal amount of opposing disadvantages. The advantage of nuclear fission is that it produces so much energy from so little material, the disadvantage is containing so much energy that it releases.
ROFLOL, good luck trying to find a breeder reactor, the entire world has been working on the fast-breeder reactor for over 50 years, and there are NO working fast-breeder reactors in this world.
Thomas B. Cochran, nuclear physicist and senior scientist in the Nuclear Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said:
“Fast-breeder reactor development programs failed in the: 1) United States; 2) France; 3) United Kingdom; 4) Germany; 5) Japan; 6) Italy; 7) Soviet Union/Russia 8) U.S. Navy and 9) the Soviet Navy. The program in India is showing no signs of success and the program in China is only at a very early stage of development. Despite the fact that fast breeder development began in 1944, now some 65 year later, of the 438 operational nuclear power reactors worldwide, only one of these, the BN-600 in Russia, is a commercial-size fast reactor and it hardly qualifies as a successful breeder. The Soviet Union/Russia never closed the fuel cycle and has yet to fuel BN-600 with plutonium."
The delusions of the nuclear people... it just never stops. Again, they only blindly look at the good, while ignoring what's not even possible! Intelligently partake in physics/engineering conversation, my ass. What you're engaging in is pure sophism.