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Coal is the Answer


Coal is the Answer28-10-2016 20:24
IBdaMannProfile picture★★★★★
(4926)
Things are looking pretty bad for renewables.

http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-280.html

Renewable Energy: Not Cheap, Not GreenA multi-billion-dollar government crusade to promote renewable energy for electricity generation, now in its third decade, has resulted in major economic costs and unintended environmental consequences. Even improved new generation renewable capacity is, on average, twice as expensive as new capacity from the most economical fossil-fuel alternative and triple the cost of surplus electricity. Solar power for bulk generation is substantially more uneconomic than the average; biomass, hydroelectric power, and geothermal projects are less uneconomic. Wind power is the closest to the double-triple rule.

The uncompetitiveness of renewable generation explains the emphasis pro-renewable energy lobbyists on both the state and federal levels put on quota requirements, as well as continued or expanded subsidies. Yet every major renewable energy source has drawn criticism from leading environmental groups: hydro for river habitat destruction, wind for avian mortality, solar for desert overdevelopment, biomass for air emissions, and geothermal for depletion and toxic discharges.


Maybe we should be looking more at coal. Since that whole "greenhouse gas" thing has long-since been debunked, perhaps we should return coal to center stage with a long overdue apology.

http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Energy.html

Geocraft Coal currently generates about 50% of the electricity used in the U.S., and over 98% of that coal is mined here at home. In 2008 approximately 1.17 billion tons of coal were consumed in the U.S. to produce electricity, steel, plastics, aspirin, cosmetics, asphalt, and a variety of other products. Coal is also a valuable raw material for making liquid fuels like methanol and gasoline, as the Germans were doing during World War II and like the South Africans are doing today.

...

It is astonishing that the great importance of domestic coal to the U.S. energy portolio is seldom, if ever, mentioned by the news media. When it comes to energy, COAL is the greatest security blanket we have. It is our most abundant, reliable, and least expensive energy source.



Global Warming: The preferred religion of the scientifically illiterate.

Printing dollars to pay debt doesn't increase the number of dollars. - keepit

When the alt-physics birds sing about "indivisible bodies," we've got pure BS. - VernerHornung

Ah the "Valid Data" myth of ITN/IBD. - tmiddles

Ceist - I couldn't agree with you more. But when money and religion are involved, and there are people who value them above all else, then the lies begin. - trafn

You are completely misunderstanding their use of the word "accumulation"! - Climate Scientist.

The Stefan-Boltzman equation doesn't come up with the correct temperature if greenhouse gases are not considered - Hank

:*sigh* Not the "raw data" crap. - Leafsdude

IB STILL hasn't explained what Planck's Law means. Just more hand waving that it applies to everything and more asserting that the greenhouse effect 'violates' it.- Ceist
29-10-2016 07:45
Into the NightProfile picture★★★★★
(9597)
This is quite in line with what I know about the power curve of alternative energy sources.

Here in Washington, for example, we have a lot of wind farms. They are up and down the Columbia basin and especially near the Gorge, where winds funneled through the gap in the mountains from the west can reach consistently brisk speeds.

These wind farms were built largely with government money using the 'green' subsidy program. In other words, taxpayers. To be fair, the hydroelectric dams and the one nuclear power plant we managed to get on line are also largely government funded. We have one functioning coal plant in this State.

If we combine the output of all the wind farms across the entire state, the power produced is less than one tenth the output of one reactor of our single nuclear plant. The nuclear plant is about 1/3 the output of our largest hydroelectric project here, the Grand Coulee dam.

The dam creates Lake Roosevelt (named after the president that began the dam project), a large lake with fishing, boating, recreation, and all manner of benefits, including irrigation for a large part of eastern Washington's orchards and farms.

The nuclear plant needs refueling every couple of years. While the fuel is difficult to handle until the radioactivity dies down, it can be reprocessed, producing new fuel and depleted uranium (non-radioactive material) that is useful as counterweights for our aircraft industry and making armor piercing shells or for any other application that requires a heavy material in a small space.

The nice thing about nuclear is the efficiency. Only 1 ton of fuel can produce the same power as 20 thousand tons of coal. The disposal difficulties seem to pale in comparison to the cost of mining and moving all that coal around with it's attendant losses.

We have lots of coal in parts of the country, however, and it is certainly a great power source. It can burn clean, producing very little sulfur in the air now and much less goes up the chimney as soot (which is wasted energy). The plants themselves have monetary incentives to clean up their stacks. Sooty burns are wasted fuel, and sulfur recovered from the stack collectors can be sold.

Since carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, coal is a great option.
29-10-2016 21:34
jwoodward48
★★★★☆
(1537)
The main issue with nuclear power plants is the waste. Some of the waste is inert, harmless, dense material that can be safely used elsewhere. Some of the waste is still useful as fuel once you remove the neutron poisons that prevented a critical nuclear reaction. But the stuff left over? It's dangerous enough that you need to store it, but it's not emitting enough energy to be useful as a fuel. That's the problematic waste.
29-10-2016 22:19
Into the NightProfile picture★★★★★
(9597)
jwoodward48 wrote:
The main issue with nuclear power plants is the waste. Some of the waste is inert, harmless, dense material that can be safely used elsewhere. Some of the waste is still useful as fuel once you remove the neutron poisons that prevented a critical nuclear reaction. But the stuff left over? It's dangerous enough that you need to store it, but it's not emitting enough energy to be useful as a fuel. That's the problematic waste.


Actually, ANYTHING emitting is capable of producing power, as long as you build a plant for it.

The very thing that makes it dangerous at all is the very thing that can power a plant designed to use that power.

Molten salt reactors are a reactor technology that has been around for some time. They require more space, but they operate at atmosphere pressures. They're safe, too. Any over-expansion of the salt (which has the fuel in it), takes the reactor back below criticality. If the coolant (which is also the salt) gets too hot, a freeze plug melts, dumping the entire mess into a larger containment, where by spreading out it drops below criticality. When the problem is fixed, the fuel in that containment is simply reloaded into the reactor. This safety device is completely passive.

MSR reactors can use up to 98% of the remaining energy in the fuel. These reactors produce only a few hundred kg of waste instead of the 44000 kg a reactor today produces.

Their biggest problem is corrosion (it IS salt!) and sufficient waste material from other reactors (there still isn't enough to be practical). There reactors are larger, too, making them more expensive to build.

Rather than fret about the nuclear waste, it would be better to conduct better research on MSRs so that they can be a practical way of not only using up the 'waste' fuel, but can last a long time as well.


The Parrot Killer
30-10-2016 19:07
jwoodward48
★★★★☆
(1537)
I'm not saying that nuclear power is completely useless. It's a decent energy source. But it's not perfect either.

There's a certain level of emission necessary for a nuclear power plant to produce significant amounts of energy, enough to offset the costs of building it. For the long-lived isotopes that produce just enough energy to be harmful, you really can't extract that much energy from them. So they need to be stored. This is a problem, although not an insurmountable one.

It's not "fretting" about nuclear waste to be concerned about the issues surrounding nuclear power. (Ironically, I appear to be relatively conservative compared to you on this topic.) These problems exist - finding ways to deal with them is good! That's exactly my goal. If we can make nuclear power safe, then by all means we should go ahead.

Thanks for the info on MSRs. Diminishing the effect of user error by making an automatic, foolproof safety device goes a long way toward safe nuclear power. It's very interesting, too.
30-10-2016 20:14
IBdaMannProfile picture★★★★★
(4926)
jwoodward48 wrote:I'm not saying that nuclear power is completely useless. It's a decent energy source. But it's not perfect either.

Let's see,
1. Decent energy source
2. It's not perfect like "Climate."

You had me at "decent energy source".

I don't care that it hasn't divinely asceneded to the status of perfection. "Decent" is sufficient.

jwoodward48 wrote:There's a certain level of emission necessary for a nuclear power plant to produce significant amounts of energy, enough to offset the costs of building it.

Are you sure? I thought the requirement was to be able to produce fission for harnessing, independent of the radioactivity of the fuel or the waste.


.


Global Warming: The preferred religion of the scientifically illiterate.

Printing dollars to pay debt doesn't increase the number of dollars. - keepit

When the alt-physics birds sing about "indivisible bodies," we've got pure BS. - VernerHornung

Ah the "Valid Data" myth of ITN/IBD. - tmiddles

Ceist - I couldn't agree with you more. But when money and religion are involved, and there are people who value them above all else, then the lies begin. - trafn

You are completely misunderstanding their use of the word "accumulation"! - Climate Scientist.

The Stefan-Boltzman equation doesn't come up with the correct temperature if greenhouse gases are not considered - Hank

:*sigh* Not the "raw data" crap. - Leafsdude

IB STILL hasn't explained what Planck's Law means. Just more hand waving that it applies to everything and more asserting that the greenhouse effect 'violates' it.- Ceist
30-10-2016 20:53
Into the NightProfile picture★★★★★
(9597)
jwoodward48 wrote:
I'm not saying that nuclear power is completely useless. It's a decent energy source. But it's not perfect either.

There's a certain level of emission necessary for a nuclear power plant to produce significant amounts of energy, enough to offset the costs of building it. For the long-lived isotopes that produce just enough energy to be harmful, you really can't extract that much energy from them. So they need to be stored. This is a problem, although not an insurmountable one.

It's not "fretting" about nuclear waste to be concerned about the issues surrounding nuclear power. (Ironically, I appear to be relatively conservative compared to you on this topic.) These problems exist - finding ways to deal with them is good! That's exactly my goal. If we can make nuclear power safe, then by all means we should go ahead.

Thanks for the info on MSRs. Diminishing the effect of user error by making an automatic, foolproof safety device goes a long way toward safe nuclear power. It's very interesting, too.


No power supply, whether mobile or fixed, is perfect. All have their advantages and disadvantages.

The isotopes you are referring to are the ones that supply power. You are extracting from them. The small amount from an MSR is easy to store. Remember, radiation is always around you. It is you. You contain radioactive isotopes also. They are with you for as long as you live and are still in the body after you die.

When radiation is low enough, it's not a problem. The problem is not radiation per se, it's radiation in a concentrated form. There are a variety of ways to de-concentrate it. MSR allows us to use what is left to produce power, but reprocessing can easily be expanded to deconcentrate the waste that comes out of that. The depleted uranium that comes out of reprocessing is not radioactive either.

The advantage of nuclear power is the small amount of fuel it uses and the ability to reprocess used fuel into new fuel. The plants can be quite safe. The worst nuclear accident we've had in the United States was no more damaging and no more lethal than any other industrial accident.

Yes, I'm talking about three mile island.

The disadvantage is that the plants can be dangerous if not designed properly. I refer to Chernobyl. It was stupid of the Russians to build and operate a plant that way.

The other 'disadvantage' is the fuel storage problem. There is, however, MUCH less fuel per watt to worry about than any other fixed power supply.

You need 20000 times as much coal to get that same watt. Coal, however, does not leave residue that will have to be buried. You cannot reprocess it either. It is cheap, though, and we have plenty of it. Both coal and uranium have to be mined. So does lithium for lithium batteries.

Mining can certainly be dangerous work, but we have a lot of experience in making the job safer. Operating the railroads that transport these materials can be dangerous work. We have made them much safer as well.


The Parrot Killer
12-11-2016 00:44
Myleader73
☆☆☆☆☆
(3)
Nuclear power stations pump huge amounts of boiling wastewater into the oceans.
12-11-2016 01:21
Into the NightProfile picture★★★★★
(9597)
Myleader73 wrote:
Nuclear power stations pump huge amounts of boiling wastewater into the oceans.


No, they don't. Coolant is recycled through all three loops. It's a waste of water to not do so. The condenser loop cools its water by exposure to the atmosphere in a pond. That water is not boiling hot either.

The only boiling hot water is in the reactor loop and the turbine loop.

No water from any loop is discharged into the oceans.


The Parrot Killer




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