Nuclear phased-out, timed-out or not well understood
As well as Three Miles Island Nuclear Power Plant accident was a “before” and “after” in nuclear regulations, there are one pre Fukushima and other post Fukushima facts, in a world where other similar races run the same, or worse way. By Major L. Loureiro.
Going to seven billion population figures before the end of the year has pointing us that our problems are far to be resolved. Other certainly very hard situations compete with our intentions to better provide cheap, easy and costless energy to go on growing more quickly than we’ve done, such as for example Solar or man produced EMP over dense territories, peak oil and related dreams for some more decades of easy oil and coal extraction, climate change, soil and water depletion, etc.
Some people think Nuclear Fusion will be the best. Indeed in some 45-65 years, but today ITER – IGNITOR competitive discussions more retard than fuel future cheap energy production.
A lot of Materials Research for hardener known metal claddings and blankets, as well as very energetic and electrically interacting hot plasma contention is going to be resolved in the coming future, independently of which hot source combination of energetic lasers, radio beam and ohmic heating be used to.
Men has resolved to get some Tritium for Nuclear bombs but has not resolved how to get some kilos during some months for ignition and first operational phase of any Fusion breeder Plant to be commercially available some day.
At this point I can think about PHWR operators training to overpass accident conditions with gaseous Tritium from irradiated heavy water used as neutron moderator and coolant.
Must we phase-out Fusion alternative because we couldn’t get this energy so far?
Common sense may say us: please, insist!
Now some easy available bulk water resources may turn most of expectations to Hydropower. Again, man learned to be cautious. Great hydro dam sites open our mind for new challenges: a lot of people to be displaced, cultural sites and productive resources could become underwater, some environmental changes such as water temperature modification and then local climate modification too, potential seismic disturbances, and more.
Energy is not for free, we ought to pay something for it and exercise our choosing option among different approaches. Then, energy outage and energy demand are more related to developed countries with a high increase in per capita energy consumption than not yet developed and still developing countries (will they succeed?)
Present energy mix considers fossil fuels sources in the range of 85 %. In respect to electrical generation appears to be a 16% to 20 or 25% depending of the considered world region. From this figure, only 14% comes from nuclear fission applied to electric generation, just only 1 to 2 percent of the whole mix, though in accident discussions News Papers and TV spaces comments are not proportional to these figures.
Our post Fukushima prognosis could be quite different if you consider developed countries, emerging economies and developing countries.
Will all resign to nuclear power generation? No if they have an ambiguous civil-military interest in going on attending this technology through all the industrial and economic field of the civilization. And what emerging economies, which need more and more energy without access to very deep oil extraction and nuclear dreams not too well matured, will do? Indeed nuclear development culture is quite more than a cold war era assumption: a great portion of industrial new materials field, scientific research, automated calculus programs, control and instrumentation and technological developments. Many people want to be very close to this “ticket to the future” and “ticket to participate” technology.
Not only base energy you can get from nuclear fission, an attractive development tools basket with all kind of applications mainly in technology and defense development systems, regulations, QA and QC rules, applied sciences, security and harsh environments management, home’s risk assessment, specialized computational codes and Earth related sciences applied as well.
At the time there are problems you get . We would like to think our world is learning everyday to responsibly handling nuclear power application consequences…
Most nations prefer to adopt a non-nuclear (yet) position and to look from the neighboring side what’s happening subsiding electrical generation with non-renewable mix of (so far) easy to extract energy sources. Others prefer to just buy electricity trough interconnected grids to satisfy an important portion of the demand, and insist in exploring renewable such as wind an solar options.
If we talk about wind, a necessary visit to Risoe National Laboratories in Denmark (near Roskilde) will let you make a real experience about. If you do, you still will look for other complementary energy sources for the stability of your electrical grid including such as diverse sources as you could. Electromagnetic “white pollution”, birds migration control, telecommunications noise interference, main turbine components replace and other defense related issues also account to.
Solar has a military antecedent with the so called Solar Satellite in the 60’s and then the reception of huge non-ionizing radiations over dedicated surfaces on earth. Then the atmospheric consequences of such irradiation, the electromagnetic disturbance of our electromagnetic field around us and the human temptation to go farther in defense applications. Solar panels may consume a lot of energy to manufacture them and need a complementary battery backup for grid connection.
Solar sail was demonstrated by Japanese satellite Ikaros and probably will be complementary used for space navigation in presence of ion wind..For the first moment you need to use chemicals in elaborated liquid and solid propellants to overcome the gravitation attraction. Solar you need for electrical chargers where no other energy source be available, or other complementary use. Also for concentrated huge solar oven for industrial applications with liquid metal or molten salt transmission of heat.
After Fukushima, with estimated more than one year to reach cold shutdown , some very radioactive hot points distributed over the terrain where no explanation could be elaborated yet, people irradiated close to non-stochastic radiation limits, thousands of tons of contaminated water spilling to a great daily rate, protection of workers in almost 99 % of water heated vapor environment and a society feeling that not all was explained before… World become more cautious?
Some economies need the base source energy that only nuclear fission power can provide today, at risk. Old Soviet era territories, China, India, Korea, some Arabic countries and developing countries such apart of Japan as Brazil, Argentina, and others, are retarding, not excluding, the fission nuclear option.
United States and Russia, China and India, Pakistan and Iran, everyone with its own arguments, can’t go back because the inexorable increase in energy demand and nations’ s prestige forces them to go beyond.
From these requirements and the convenient mix of options mankind will get the impulse to survive the next 55 to 65 years until Nuclear Fusion be available.
Probably when men could built a semi-permanent base in the Moon, Mars -or other places distant from our Sun-, will sustain nuclear fission reactions as well as radioisotopes electrical current production as well as solar advanced applications to expand human civilization all over their dreams, with more experienced and captious developed tools.
I hope so.
By Major Luis A. Loureiro, expert in nuclear technology.