The red dragon of China. World dominance by 2025 averted? A Limerick.

Insane is to praise the Chinese

and say they go green, planting trees;

for they lie, cheat and steal,

human rights they repeal.

We must stand, no more time to appease.

Beijing’s massive tree planting campaign has worsened air pollution in the city, a new study by Chinese scientists suggests. The “Green Great Wall” prevented dispersion of as much as 15 per cent of PM2.5 – health-damaging fine particulates less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter – during a major smog episode in the capital in January 2014, according to researchers. At its peak during the period studied, the PM2.5 reached 350 micrograms per cubic metre of air – 14 times the safety level recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Man-made forest slowed down the winds that otherwise help to disperse smog and turned the city into an enormous trap for air pollutants, according to the scientists.

How can that be?

China burned 51.2% of the world’s coal in 2012, USA produced 12.5%. China’s production was more than four times larger. This has now stabilized and was in 2018 47%, because India and the real developing world are increasing their dependence on coal for electricity production, and also for cooking meals.

This of course is with the Paris accord in mind. U.S. and the European countries are to limit their emissions and slowly diminish them, down to a per capita emission comparable to the mid 1800’s, while China, being a “developing” country is allowed to increase their emissions until 2030, and then stabilize them, not decrease them.

How can they be burning nearly half the world’s coal mined?

One reason is they are the world’s state controlled manufacturing company. They are also responsible for half the world’s Steel production. China produced 50.3% of the world’s crude Steel in 2015, USA produced 4.9%. China’s production was over 20 times larger than the U.S.Some of this steel was dumped below production cost to crush our domestic low end steel industry. An example: Rolled steel to make steel cans were exported at about $200 a ton, the production cost in the U.S. is more like $400 a ton. They can do this, since their environmental regulations only pay lip service to pollution. Remember how Pittsburgh was 60 years ago? China is much worse.

Cement production. China produced 51.4% of the world’s cement in 2015, USA produced 1.8%. China’s production was almost 30 times larger.

It takes a lot of concrete to build artificial islands so they can take control of the South China Sea. But they are building many other things,  Ghost Cities, but also an impressive infrastructure with high speed trains on elevated concrete tracks.

Worrisome as that may be, it isnothing compared to China,s dominance in Rare Earth Metals. Let me explain why rare earth metals are so important to our modern economy.

First, rare earth metals re not rare at all, they exist in small quantities together with Thorium and sometimes Uranium wherever other metals are mined.

The Lanthanides occur in quantity in Monazite, a byproduct of mining Phosphates, but also as a byproduct of mining Titanium, and even from some Iron ores. The rare earth metals are free to begin extraction if it was not for one thing, they also contain Thorium, and Thorium is radio-active, so in the mid 1980’s the NRC and IAEA reclassified Monazite and anything containing Thorium as a “Source Material” and after that it became too costly to comply with all the regulations for nuclear material, so all production of rare earth minerals ceased in the U.S.

China saw an opportunity to grab the world market for Rare Earth Metals and is now controlling about 94% of the supply of all rare earth metals.

So what are rare earth metals used for?

China now has a de facto monopoly on all usages of rare earth metals, and in the case of war or an embargo, not only are our precious cell phones and computers in jeopardy, so is our defense, night vision goggles, aircraft engines, navigation systems, laser guidance, just to name a few uses.

And not only that, we import the completed parts from China, even for our most sophisticated military equipment, such as the F35 aircraft, after telling the Chinese how to make the components. The very same components are now in China’s version of the F35, still under development, but in a year or so China will have their faithful copies made! A F35 aircraft contains about 935 pounds of rare earth metals.

This is clearly unsustainable, so in 2014  Congress tried to pass HR 4883 and         S 2006 to remedy the situation, but the bills got killed in review by none other than the defense department, citing National Security! Our only major rare earth metals mine reopened, only to go bankrupt in 2015. It has since reopened, but the ore is shipped to China for refining! One good point is that the Mountain Pass mine is scheduled to reopen the processing facilities late 2020.

The idea was that we should change our electricity production into renewable sources, such as wind and solar.

Wind power uses a lot of rare earth metals to get the most efficient generators, all made by China. Wind power is about maxed out, that is, if you care about birds, especially eagles and raptors. The allowable bald eagle kill was upped from 1200 to 4200 a year for all U.S. wind turbines during the Obama administration. Killed golden eagles and storks has a S250000 fine, paid by the electricity users, and if we build it out more, we may exterminate some species.

Solar power looked promising until pollution was taken into consideration.  China added 53 GW solar capacity in  2017.  The forecast for this year i 45 GW, and for next year 35 GW.

The efficiency of solar panels are drastically reduced by the layer of soot accumulating daily from air pollution. They have to be cleaned daily with water, and water is in short supply in northern China. The yellow river no longer reaches the ocean during large periods of the year, all water is spoken for. In southern India a solar farm used up so much water that the wells went dry and there was no more water for agriculture and people, except during the monsoon season. Germany has given up on their solar program except for special needs.

Where it rains, China pollutes. The Yang -Tse  river carries nearly half the plastic waste that is dumped in the ocean. It can be stopped, but it will mean a lot of energy, both man-power and electricity  to do all the cleanup.

The solution is found in Thorium power. Here are 25 reasons why we shouls jump on the opportunity to solve the energy crisis:

1. A million years supply at today’s consumption levels.

2. Thorium already mined, ready to be extracted.

3. One ten-thousandth of the TRansUranium waste compared to a U-235 based fast breeder reactor.

4. Thorium based nuclear power produces Pu-238, needed for space exploration.

5. Radioactive waste from an LFTR decays down to background radiation in 300 years compared to a million years for U-235 based reactors.

6. Thorium based nuclear power is not suited for making nuclear bombs.

7. Produces isotopes that helps cure certain cancers.

8. Molten Salt Thorium Reactors are earthquake safe.

9. Molten Salt Thorium Reactors cannot have a meltdown, the fuel is already molten.

10. Molten Salt Nuclear Reactors have a very high negative temperature coefficient leading to a safe and stable control.

11. Atmospheric pressure operating conditions, no risk for explosions.

12. Virtually no spent fuel problem, very little on site storage or transport.

13. Thorium Nuclear Power generators  scale  beautifully from small portable generators to full size power plants.

14. No need for evacuation zones, can be placed near urban areas.

15. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors will work both as Base Load and Load Following power plants.

16. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors will lessen the need for an expanded national grid.

17. Russia has an active Thorium program.

18. China is having a massive Thorium program.

19. India is having an ambitious Thorium program.

20. United States used to be the leader in Thorium usage. What happened?

21. With a Molten Salt Reactor, accidents like the Three Mile Island disaster will not happen.

22. With a Molten Salt Reactor, disasters like Chernobyl are impossible.

23. With Molten Salt Reactors, a catastrophe like Fukushima cannot happen.

24. Produces electrical energy at about 4 cents per KWh.

25. Can deplete some of the existing radioactive waste and nuclear weapons stockpiles.

Did I mention that Thorium based reactors do not produce CO2, and molten salt reactors do not use water?

Oh – and wish President Trump well in our negotiations with China. Pray, if you believe.

 

Published by

lenbilen

Engineer, graduated from Chalmers Technical University a long time ago with a degree in Technical Physics. Career in Aerospace, Analytical Chemistry, and chip manufacturing. Presently adjunct faculty at PSU, teaching one course in Computer Engineering, the Capstone Course.

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